Once a winery has developed a compelling story, the next step is to create a marketing plan to tell it consistently to the right people. The Where, Who and How are always answered in a solid marketing plan. (They are essentially a simplified version of the classic Four P's of Marketing and incorporate the newer P's -- People, Process and Physical environment.)
Where - This corresponds to the "Place" aspect of the traditional four "P's" of marketing. A winery must first answer the question of channel -- in what channel(s) will I sell my wine? (This is the breakdown between wholesale, direct-to-consumer and possibly the emerging direct-to-trade.) Then, how much will be sold in each?
After determining the channel breakdown and target case allocation, the next step is to select markets. I always challenge clients to commit to a written plan of specific markets, the breakdown between representative distributors (if applicable) and the target account types. Part of working well with wholesalers is providing specific goals and discussing progress frequently -- a winery that doesn't provide its distributor partners with a proactive plan is not working to its potential.
Who - This is a newer "P" added to the traditional set -- a winery's "People". It is critical to identify the key storytellers and outline a plan of action. These commonly include winemakers and principles conducting market visits and hosting key events, plus hospitality and other representatives. The main point is that the full scope of story tellers is schooled in the message and the benefits it provides each audience. Another important step is creating a Process of how to communicate feedback to the home base.
How- this step combines the "Promo", "Process" and "Physical Environment" aspects of marketing. It includes what I refer to as the "wheel" of marketing -- events, website, public and media relations, advertising, social media, programming for wholesale and trade accounts, printed materials and location (either winery physical or virtual).
The "How" will vary greatly depending on a particular winery's size, goals, needs and resources. Every winery may not need every aspect of the marketing wheel but a thorough examination of the possible outlets and how the relate to each other is a best practice for all.
A marketing plan should start at the strategic level with the winery's specific goals and future vision. Each initiative and tactic used from this "wheel" should support one or more of the stated business goals. (Operating in this fashion serves to prevent the tendency to engage in reactive planning and therefore, miss opportunities to fully leverage marketing investment. Doing so also provides a benchmark from which to measure results.) For example, XYZ event is an initiative because our target audience will be there; we will have the opportunity to sell wine, collect consumer data and network with key media in the market.
The plan should also assign a budget to each line item. The true cost includes that of participation as well as travel, time, samples, materials, etc. Measuring real return on investment is only possible if a winery knows the true scope of the investment.
In closing, the marketing plan should be written (not "in my head") and distributed to key people within the winery for comment. After agreement has been achieved, I recommend assigning each initiative a specific slot(s) on a central calendar so that all of the time spent planning is honored with actual implementation. Planning is one thing, but committing to and following through with implementation is another!