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Prepare Now for DTC Success in the New Year

Dec 14, 2016   |   Stephanie Friedman Recommended for:   Wine Club, Marketing, Ecommerce, Tasting Room & Hospitality
Chardonnay Day Instagram Chardonnay Day Instagram

As we power through O-N-D and round the corner toward the holidays, it’s important to sustain momentum and make every last business day of this year count. Sure, we’ve worked hard all year long and deserve to relax with friends and family this season, but the reflection and planning activities you engage in now are what will set you apart from your competition and position you for success in the New Year.

Follow these tips to hit the ground running January 1 (okay fine, January 2).

1. Use this year’s email campaign history to plan next year’s communications.

Take a look at the email marketing you did this year and consider what worked and what didn’t. How many did you send each month – will you do more, less, or the same? Did they generate sales or wine club signups? If so, how can you replicate them? If not, why not? Would the same email sent a few days earlier or later possibly have made a difference (especially around seasonal promotions)? Communication planning can feel daunting in early January so don’t reinvent the wheel – use this year as a base line, filter in new ideas and create placeholders for opportunistic communications (like that 90+ score you could be receiving).   

Bonus Tip: Download a free email marketing template to stay organized and track your results.

2. Make a list of “Hashtag Holidays” and mark them on your calendar.

Speaking of your marketing calendar, don’t forget to work some Hashtag Holidays into your social media content. You know what these special days are… for example, when you see your friend’s Facebook post of the cutest puppy for #NationalDogDay, or when a neighboring winery posts a mouthwatering glass of wine on Instagram for #ChardonnayDay. Love ‘em or hate ‘em, nationally recognized hashtags boost the “virality” of your content and can get you noticed by new consumers. Check out these tips and a complete calendar of 2017 Hashtag Holidays.

3. Thank your club members and ask them for feedback.

After all the Black Friday, Cyber Monday and #FreeShippingDay madness this season, a timely and genuine “Thank You” will go a long way for your most devoted customers. Consider sending a New Year’s message to your club members showing your appreciation for their support this last year and inquiring how you might improve, or what they would enjoy most in the coming year. They could have great ideas for events or suggest that you cool it a bit on email, but all feedback is valid and this gives you a chance to (1) show your customers that you care, and (2) solicit feedback in time to take swift action.

Bonus Tip: You don’t need a high-priced company to do this for you. Just be real and ask questions that will help you make decisions. Keep it short and sweet so your members don’t become impatient filling it out, and let SurveyMonkey or a similar service do the heavy lifting and tally the responses.

4. Do a quick audit of your website.

With the hustle and bustle of the busy season, it’s likely you’ve let your website go a bit just like you have your physique. Sure, you can justify those extra five pounds you’ve put on over Thanksgiving and Christmas, but it’s time to get back in shape! Your waistline and website will thank you.

Check that all your links are working. Review your product pages. Join the wine club and place an order. Try managing your personal info through the “Login” feature. Does everything still work like you thought? Are you happy with the look and feel of the site, and the overall user experience? Make a list of updates to be made and block out time on your calendar in early January to tend to them.

Bonus Tip: Boost website performance with these 30 small business SEO tips.


5. Benchmark your tasting room performance and set realistic growth goals.

We’ve come a long way in DTC in the past decade. We’re more sophisticated than ever in our understanding and expectations of tasting rooms as a profit center, and with the help of organizations like Wine Business Monthly and Silicon Valley Bank we are able to benchmark our performance to wineries of a similar size and geographic region. Check out their Annual Tasting Room Survey and see how your tasting room and wine club performance stack up. Take the data with a grain of salt, but use these stats to consider what might be realistic targets for goal-setting, then brainstorm with your team about how to effect change and grow your business. Remember that hope is not a strategy… success takes the right mix of people and process (and product, but you already have that in the bag, right?).

6. Schedule a recurring business planning meeting on your calendar effective immediately.

Have you ever trained a puppy? I have, and it’s hard, frustrating work. You spend a lot of time (and in my case, money) putting protocols in place and getting off on the right foot, only to watch it all fall apart when you stop being consistent. Business planning is the same way. If you do all the five tips above and don’t take measures to continue the process of reflection and assessment, you will veer off course, make excuses and rationalize your setbacks. Do yourself a favor and hold yourself accountable. Block out 1-2 hours a week, or commit to every other week if that sounds too ambitious, and allow yourself time to monitor, measure, analyze and evaluate your progress. Your future self will thank you this time next year.

Guest post by Stephanie Friedman, Director of Consumer Sales & Marketing at Gary Farrell Vineyards & Winery and Founder of affinityDTC

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