I’ve written about why wineries should use the internet in their direct marketing efforts for some time now and I have first hand experience with the subject in my consulting work. So it was with interest, and a bit of frustration, that I read Mike Duffy’s post that his Winery Website Report is on hiatus due to lack of interest from wineries. Paul at the REthink blog also posted his disappointment early this morning.
So why do wineries not value their websites or see them as strategic to their direct to consumer marketing? I think it’s due to a few factors. First, many wineries do not have a marketing person with much online experience. Other than hiring an agency or consultant to put up a brochure site, a lot of wineries don’t see the value of their websites. Another reason is that most small wineries don’t have any marketing people. There also seems to be a view that marketing is something “nice to do” after getting a sales plan in place. This makes sense since generating cash is a winery’s first priority and there are a number of other activities more important than marketing, let alone an optimized website.
So does this mean winery websites are not important? Hardly, as there are compelling examples of wine brands using their websites (or blogs) to dramatically increase sales in a short period of time. It’s just that those wineries are very far ahead of the curve right now. As more wineries seriously map out their consumer direct strategies, they will spend more time crafting their web presence to meet the needs of customers. Until then, their websites are, frankly, not that important to them. Which is most disappointing to those of us marketing wine online.
I’ll bet Mike has plenty of business later this year and into 2008 as more wineries understand the importance of their websites… as they say, the pioneers are the ones with the arrows in their backs.
Paul Mabray says
Great post – we agree 100%.
Inertia – Powering the Wine revolution
—Paul Mabray – CEO
Mike Duffy says
Uhhhhhhhhhh….unh. (wince) Excuse me while I pull this arrow out of my back…
I like to think The Winery Web Site Report was a bit ahead of the curve. And I believe, although we never got much chance to prove it, that we can return more than $495 of income to a winery that listens to what we have to say about their site. For a high-end boutique, one or two case sales covers the nut, so to speak. And for a larger operation, the competitive information couldn’t be obtained for that price.
The fact remains that $495 is still a lot of upfront money to a small winery (where it comes out of the owner’s pocket), and using the information thus gained is likely to require a bit more cost and time to make good on it. And there are so many other things which require cash. And larger wineries don’t do as much direct selling via their Web sites. Oh, well. I’ve learned a huge amount and made great contacts like you, Tom, Mary, and Paul.
In the meantime, I plan to make our expertise available (for free) to those who are interested enough to ask what they might do to improve “visitor experience” on their Web sites. Of course, it won’t be the report, but at least I’ve spent some time and money gaining expertise to share.
Thanks for the kind words, Tim. Much appreciated. And of course, I hope your prediction for 2008 is accurate.
I don’t think the price charged for the report is the issue, as even the smallest winery can justify a $500 marketing investment. I think it’s that most wineries don’t think their website contributes to their sales efforts.
Hang in there and keep blogging; the industry will catch up with you.