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Marketing and communications

Do we mean marketing or public relations (PR)? Definitions aren’t really important, but the distinction is essentially that marketing is directly about selling product, while PR is a broader effort to create goodwill and mutual understanding about you and your business. It  can include publicity, promotional activities, sponsorship, community relations and, in larger organisations, public appearances and speeches, crisis management, lobbying and internal communications.

This section deals primarily with marketing, though the key to successful marketing or PR is the same; be realistic about what’s going to work and get the balance right between what takes time (events) and what takes money (advertising and sponsorship). 

Remember, you have two basic aims in any marketing and PR activity:

  • To create a sense of difference that sets you apart from the competition
  • To answer the question that’s in the back of every customer’s mind – “What’s in it for me?”

Marketers talk about the “AIDA principle”: Create Attention; Generate Interest; Elicit Desire; and Demand Action.  And they say customers buy you first, your ideas second, and your products third.

To whom are you talking?

An important part of marketing is understanding who has the ability to influence your business.  Draw an “influencers” map.  Put your brand in the middle and then slowly work your way out.  This list will include your staff, your visitors, your suppliers, your neighbours, regional association, local tourism operators and local media.

Although we all love a fabulous wine review in a major capital city paper, or a high profile restaurant listing, the people with the greatest ability to influence your business are those closest to it.  Depending on your production and scale you might not need to work too far away from home base.

We all know the power of advocacy, give a great experience to your consumers and find a way to make it memorable.  Engage with them again if you can by getting them into your wine club or database, inviting them back for a special release or dinner.  Encourage them to refer others to your business and keep them coming back.

Ask yourself these questions:

  • Who are your potential customers and how do they find out about wine and wineries?
  • How much do you know about existing (or maybe just past) customers on your database?
  • How and how much you can you work in with broader regional marketing?

Developing your approach

When developing a Business and Marketing Plan aim for a realistic, co-ordinated approach to marketing that will make the best use of your resources, fit in with the other demands on your time, make your wine stand out and motivate you cellar door and sales teams.

Ask yourself the following questions:

  • What specific events, publications, promotions, and media will I undertake?
  • What is the rationale for doing each of these?
  • What results can I expect?
  • What are the specific actions needed to make these happen?
  • Who will undertake the tasks? • When will they be done by?
  • How much money can I afford to spend on them? (% of gross revenue allocated to marketing based on projected sales growth target)
  • What criteria will I use to measure the results?
  • When will I next review and revise the plan?

Most importantly, keep your message, mission and audience in mind. Don’t just grab ideas that look appealing or easy or both if they aren’t right for you – for whatever reason.  And remember that one of the best selling tools remains word of mouth.

If you think your brand and reputation are strong enough to go it alone, all well and good; but if you think most potential customers know about your region first and you second, don’t get left behind.

Communications options

Marketing communications have changed in two significant ways over the past decade. 

The first is the how. The rapid growth of digital media has made us rethink (but not abandon) traditional tools such as newsletters and talking to journalists.

The second area is the tone of communications. We used to talk at customers, whereas today we need to talk with them – and not just when using new social media options such as Twitter and blogs. It’s a subtle but fundamental shift.

You need to engage, you need to encourage dialogue and an enthusiasm to find out more, and you need to find the right balance in terms of frequency and formats.

Each communications tool has its own purpose, based on its strengths and limitations, and you need to understand them to make the right choices and use the best combinations.

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