By Chloe Cristallini, Marketing Manager for Bloom Studio
Recently, one of our webinar attendees asked, “What advice would you give someone who is first starting to sell alcohol DtC, or who wants to grow their DtC channel?”
Buying a bottle of wine should be as easy for people as buying a pair of shoes. Other industries have nailed e-commerce, and as a company, we like to think about how our industry can, too. In the end, it’s not just about selling alcohol online. It’s wrapping all the components together and making it almost product-agnostic in terms of what someone is buying and how they’re buying it. There is a product a consumer wants to purchase; that should happen with as few roadblocks as possible.
Making things this simple for the consumer comes with complexities for the seller. It’s not as easy as setting up a website and selling some products. There is no magic bullet or single solution. It’s about really knowing your consumer and forming a ten-year relationship with them, and thinking about how you will nurture that relationship continuously.
Based on our experience of running a digital agency for nearly 25 years and understanding the complexities of growing a business, several things must be happening simultaneously and cohesively. While it may look slightly different for each brand, here are the key elements to ensure success in your online endeavors:
Know your business objectives. Think about the big picture and where you see the company in 5-10 years. Having a clear sense of purpose and direction maintains laser focus in an environment full of distractions. It will also help your employees understand what the company is trying to achieve and what is required of them to support the mission. Goals should follow the SMART formula being specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-related.
Understand your Unique Value Proposition (UVP). A concise, straight-to-the-point statement about the benefits you offer customers and what makes you different. It describes your value, to whom you provide value and what sets you apart from your competition. Take Empathy Wines, for example; they are committed to making “ultra-premium wine more accessible” and it’s evident in everything they do.
Get to know your customer. If you want to craft a memorable experience and stand out from your competition, you need to dig deep into who your wine buyer is and what they want. Make an effort to visualize what is in your customers’ heads. Consider using empathy maps, personas, and other tools so you can better understand their pain points, motivations, goals and challenges. Once you know their pains and where you can make gains, then marketing strategies come more easily.
Craft a couple of Ideal Customer Profiles (ICP). Your ICP is the ideal buyer profile that your business serves. Start by making a list of your best customers based on factors like lifetime value and customer advocacy. Merge them into a fictitious character who has all the qualities that make them the best fit for the products you sell. You’ll want to collect information on their demographics, psychographics, interests and objections/role in the purchase process.
Analyze your competition and assess how you compare. Not all businesses will be known for or are good at everything – and that’s ok. What’s not ok is not knowing where those strengths (and weaknesses) lie. SWOT analysis assists you in understanding external and internal factors that can make or break your success towards your business goals. This exercise helps you see what resources you have to execute on an opportunity or forecast what might prevent you from seizing that opportunity.
Start determining your marketing strategy. Your marketing strategy is your game plan; it conceptualizes how your business and marketing goals could be achieved. It is the approach you will take to engage your ICP whilst considering the threats and opportunities posed by the industry. Marketing strategy doesn’t need to be all things at once; moreover, focus on where you can fill the gap and gain a competitive advantage. For example, if your goal at the winery is to sell more of your pinot, the strategy might be to “devise new reasons people should consume pinot”. Think about your UVP and how you can fulfill the needs of an industry problem – use this to drive your marketing strategy.
Use tactics to execute your strategy. While marketing strategy involves thinking, the tactics form the actions you’ll take to get there. With your marketing strategies in place, use tactics like lead generation, building a website or landing pages, social advertising and other activities to support your strategic marketing plan. Tactics will have various tasks, timelines and people assigned to them with milestones along the way to represent the progress towards your objectives. Use both strategy and tactics interdependently to ensure the success and growth of your brand.
Employ flywheels over funnels. For years, the funnel has been used by marketers, salespeople and business leaders alike. It allows businesses to understand the buying process that customers go through when purchasing products. Whilst insightful, they hold a significant flaw; funnels don’t consider how customers can help you grow. Flywheels focus on the energy generated from inputs. The actions taken by each team in your company impact one another. Marketing efforts affect how quickly potential buyers move through the sales process. Your sales motion affects how likely potential buyers will become happy customers. Support and service activities impact your customers becoming brand ambassadors and if they’ll recommend your products to their family and friends (or not). The flywheel model is a comprehensive way of understanding the forces contributing to your growth.
If you are looking at selling wine online, it’s not just about setting up a shop and selling some products. Even if your wine is impressive, if you don’t have clear goals, know your customer, understand your competition or have a solid strategy, you won’t generate the energy needed to grow in today’s “never normal” world.
Built on top of Shopify’s best-in-class e-commerce platform, Bloom provides everything a growing winery needs to sell online and manage their club memberships. Bloom is a platinum certified Sovos ShipCompliant partner—one of the 60+ integrated partners that makes Sovos ShipCompliant a central hub of the direct-to-consumer and three-tier beverage alcohol ecosystem.