Uncorking DTC Potential with Wine Marketing Expert Simon Solis-Cohen

October 15, 2020

Marketing in a restricted industry? Interested in subscription-based sales? This one's for you!

In our latest pod, we chat with Simon Solis Cohen of Highway 29 Creative - an expert in DTC wine marketing.

With a hospitality background and experience in the Napa wine scene, Simon took his passion for wine to the digital marketing space specializing in e-commerce, marketing, and DTC sales for the wine industry.

We’ve decanted key takeaways from our chat to help you crush your DTC marketing goals.

Get it? Wine? Crushing grapes? No? You’ve stopped reading? Great. (or should I say, grape 🍇)

🍷 Build a one to one relationship
Marketing in a restricted industry like alcohol, CBD, or cannabis presents a unique challenge, restricted by changing laws and regulations. As Simon put it, you have one hand tied behind your back.

With so many roadblocks and restrictions to negotiate, Simon has responded by pivoting away from social channels and Google towards one-on-one engagement through text and email marketing, freeing him from regulations and exclusions and helping him target an already invested customer base.

🍷 Be the star of your own story
With the wine industry at a crossroads seeing oversupply and increasing competition, it is essential to stand apart. Simon hones in on vision, mission, and values as critical to differentiation. This requires more than, “We make great wine!” - to be successful you have to dig a little deeper and connect with your audience through your values, doing something outside the box, or origin story.

A founder story is crucial for resonating with customers. Turn on your iPhone and talk about your product. Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good - just put your content out there. The more relatable, the more likely your customers will emotionally connect with you.

🍷 Lean into lifestyle
Simon seeks to get into the mindset of people drinking wine and then paint that lifestyle through content. Too often, content is created focusing on the product rather than the lifestyle that surrounds that product. High-quality awareness content is not just about “here’s a bottle of wine,” in fact, Simon has found his worst performing content is bottle photography - it’s hard to connect to an object. The most effective imagery? People.

For example, Simon has had success partnering with chefs and food bloggers to create recipes using or paired with wine. Lifestyle content allows customers to see themselves in the aspirational content and coach them as to how to best enjoy the product, which is especially crucial for the intimidating wine industry.

🍷  Harnessing UGC reviews
People are always posting UGC in the form of reviews. This feedback is essential for growth, but also make great ad content! If you’re in an industry with scoring, point allotments, or any common language used amongst consumers, use that to your advantage! Advertise your rankings/ scores, especially if given by known reviewers. Find those 5-star reviews and share them (giving credit to the source, of course). This is premade high-quality copy - what’s not to love?

🍷  OG DTC & Subscription Sips
Wine clubs were one of the first subscription models out there, and have proved to be a great way to maximize LTV. In Simon’s experience, the high customer acquisition cost (usually looking at a $20-$30 spend) to acquire a subscription is worth the initial loss. Once secured, customers don’t usually fall off until the 11-month mark. If you can earn their loyalty over that first 1-year hump - you’ll most likely obtain a nice, long term, subscription.

Wine Clubs are having a bit of a reckoning at the moment, reevaluating their legacy structure in light of new offerings in the DTC Market. Historically, wine subscriptions have held a more old school “you get what you get and you don’t get upset” mentality, offering 1-3 shipments a year, with predetermined options. Now, looking at other subscription models of have changed this - wine needs to evolve. Rather than forcing your client to take six bottles of whatever you decide, when you decide - now wine club members can choose their frequency, their quantity, and their product - give the customer choice to cater their experience to their needs/wants.

Don't want to just hear it through the grapevine? To learn more about Simon’s 5 stage wine marketing funnel, why cab sauv is king, the legacy of Sideways, and harvesting geekiness in the wine industry, take a listen to your sneak preview the full pod.

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