Lessons from UNIFIED: Authenticity, Storytelling, and Other Keys to Wine Marketing

The advice flowed freely at the 2016 Unified Wine and Grape Symposium held two weeks ago in Sacramento, California, when several marketing pros took to a stage to discuss “How to Craft and Share Your Story, Stand Out, and Measure Everything Along the Way.”

UnifiedSymposiumThe number one tip to achieve this, according to Shannon Coulter, DoubleKnown Communications, is to actually “have a story.” While it seems obvious, wineries and wine-related businesses need to have something meaningful to say, and be able to say it in a memorable way. Determining the message of your story is the first piece of the puzzle. Coulter went on to explain that emotion is really a crucial element of storytelling; for example, headlines that include emotion are technically more viral, and tend to be shared more across social media platforms, therefore increasing reach.

According to Shana Bull, Shana Bull Digital, “social media is about SOCIAL.” The human connections are what are important, and it is vital that businesses and individuals actually interact with people. Conversation and engagement are important when creating connections.

Bull also suggests following up with new contacts via social media rather than email. After she meets someone, for example, she follows that person on Facebook and connects with him/her on LinkedIn, always creating follow-up actions to reach goals. This strategy can also be applied by wineries seeking to create this connection and brand following with their customers.

Edita Rodriguez, Clever Girls Collective, stated that when telling your story, be true, both to yourself, and your brand. Bull echoed that advice, suggesting that wineries be authentic, and show pictures of people, as it really is not just about how the wine tastes, it is important for wine consumers to have an actual experience.

Aaryn Enos, senior vice president of food & beverage at Current, advises that businesses should ditch the marketing jargon. Savvy consumers “don’t want the perfectly packaged bow on top.” Enos also recommends creating a “social listening” team, which is essentially a team of PR and social media experts that can listen to the online chatter, such as on Twitter. This may not be a resource accessible to every winery, but this tactic, when applied on a smaller scale, can help drive engagement and possibly even open doors to new customers like the social media-driven millennial generation, where we know there is great potential for new wine consumers.

Julie Storer, Deloitte Digital Communications, along with several other panelists, cited millennials as a key influential audience. Bull agreed that millennials are a crucial and growing demographic for the wine industry, especially because millennials are the first generation that actually grew up in the digital world. They are inherently engaged and they love to try new things, creating the opportunity for wine brands to connect with this new generation of consumers.

Storytelling has become the buzzword of marketing, and it has the power to influence audiences and open doors to new markets. It can be used to drive interest and create brand loyalty, but it must contain authenticity to create genuine human connections. In a world saturated with brands and a plethora of marketing channels, authentic storytelling is especially critical to attracting the new consumer.

Photo credit: Unsplash/Sam Zeller and

About the Author

Lisa Adams Walter has a diverse professional background that spans more than twenty years and includes public relations, promotional marketing and writing experience in wine, lifestyle, arts and entertainment, trade and consumer publishing, professional sports and corporate and agency environments. You can find her on Twitter @LisaAdamsWalter

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