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A recipe for success: 5 things winemaking can teach us about marketing

There exists an ancient Persian fable about a princess who, in response to falling out of favour with the king, drank the juice of some spoiled grapes from a jar as penance. Though, when she drank the suspect grape concoction, she soon found that all her troubles melted away.

When she brought her discovery to the king, he was so entranced by the miraculous fermented grape drink that she was immediately brought back into his favour.

While the validity of this story is questionable, it does show the importance wine has had on human civilisation throughout the years.

Since then, the process of wine has been fine-tuned and extensively documented – so much so that many of us make our own at home.

Besides the excitement of brewing our own weird and wonderful wines, is there anything the process can inform us about marketing? Here are five compelling lessons that winemaking can teach you about marketing.

1. Comprehensive research is essential

Winemaking can be a complicated process, with many different ingredients and additions needed before you reach the finished, drinkable product. This is why you need to do extensive research before you even think about brewing your own wine.

This is especially true if you want to go off-recipe and add your own unique twist to your creation. After all, does your desired fruit need additional citric acid to complement a specific flavour? Or does your mixture need extra tannins added to give your wine more astringency?

Some additions are essential if your wine is even to be potable, while others are less important but still bring aesthetic changes, such as bentonite to reduce its cloudiness.

Regardless, it’s of the utmost importance that you properly research how you want your desired wine to taste and how your additions will affect flavours before you start brewing it. Otherwise, the whole process could go wrong before you’ve even started.

The same thing can be said for marketing. In-depth research before you implement your marketing strategy is essential if everything is to run smoothly and efficiently.

You should ideally understand your ideal client, what they best respond to, and the most efficient way to reach this perfect prospect.

All of this, and more, should be considered and researched comprehensively before you start marketing to ensure you’re onto a winner. Ultimately, you want to make sure that the process will work before you waste time and effort on it.

2. Planning is the key to a strong foundation

Now that you’ve accrued plenty of information about your perfect wine, the next step is planning out the entire process.

I will always remember my critical blunder of forgetting to get a second glass demijohn to house my wine during secondary fermentation, which in turn upset the timing of the process.

Before you start producing your wine, you should first figure out how long you will leave your mixture to ferment, the exact amount of ingredients you will need, and all the necessary equipment you may need down the line.

Think of winemaking like a long-term investment; you aren’t going to be able to taste your concoction for a good few months at least, and if a single thing goes awry due to poor planning, you could end up sorely disappointed when you sample the “finished” product.

You should also implement a solid marketing plan from the get-go when marketing your business.

With a strong and well-thought-out plan, you can set measurable objectives that can help keep you focused on your end goal without deviation and help you realise how to achieve these goals.

Also, if you’ve planned your marketing strategy out properly beforehand, it could prevent you from rushing any critical decisions that could result in the complete derailing of your marketing campaign.

Like winemaking, marketing can sometimes be a slow and intricate process. By planning everything out to a T, you can ensure that the payoff is worth the wait.

3. Sometimes less is more

When you first thought about making your own wine, you may have imagined a complex creation with many different flavours that will blow away all who hear its name, let alone try it.

Adding many different fruits and flavours to your wine may make it sound sophisticated on paper, but you need to ask yourself: is there really any need for all this?

After all, you could end up bombarding tasters’ palettes with flavours that don’t go well together.

I will admit that I’m guilty of this myself. One of my first batches was grape-based, and I thought I would spice the flavour up by adding nectarines, honey, cherries and more.

I imagined how extravagant my elaborate creation would sound as I introduced it to its tasters, or victims, depending on your point of view. In reality, the jumble of dubious flavours was quite unpleasant, and afterwards, I realised that just a simple grape wine done correctly would’ve hit the spot.

You may want to replicate this line of thinking in your marketing as well as your winemaking. Sometimes, a “less is more” marketing strategy can have more of an impact than a full-on, bloated campaign.

This is especially the case if your ideal customer is already beset on all sides by marketing emails, social media messages, adverts and the like.

For example, is a weekly newsletter needed when a monthly one could pack the same punch? You’ll often find that quality trumps quantity, and a stripped-back but calculated marketing strategy could leave a brilliant impression on your perfect customer.

4. Style vs substance: the perfect balance

When I attended my first Yardstick party, I was excited to bring down a bottle of my wine for my colleagues to try. I even managed to generate a bit of buzz, with several people seemingly eager to taste my creation.

However, all this enthusiasm dissipated when my fellow workers witnessed the questionable colour of my wine.

Now, I’m not saying the taste of the wine was a masterpiece, but it was, at the very least, drinkable. Though, one look at the dubious hue of my brew told my workmates everything they needed to know about it.

And, honestly, I don’t blame them. After all, it was Apicius, the first-century Roman gourmet, who purportedly said: “We first eat with our eyes”.

This all comes down to substance versus style, and the same issues can be seen repeatedly in marketing strategies.

You want people to view your marketing materials and be hit with the sudden urge to read on. Even if the quality of your content is unparalleled, there’s little point in having an aesthetically bland website that bores viewers before they’ve even started reading.

Of course, substance is just as important as style when it comes to marketing, but there is a delicate balance to be struck between the two.

Much like my wine that tasted relatively satisfactory but was shot down due to its unfortunate colour, your marketing materials need to look good and read well. Indeed, convincing people to read on is half the battle.

5. Perseverance is key

This has been mentioned extensively throughout this piece, but winemaking can sometimes get complex. So many factors are at play, and everything can fall apart if just one thing goes wrong.

Regardless of how much research you’ve done, and how comprehensive you were in your planning, some things just aren’t meant to be.

It’s vital that, if this happens, you don’t let it dishearten you too much. You need to pick yourself up, understand what went wrong with your batch, and ensure that you don’t make the same mistakes next time.

Ultimately, there will always be an aspect of trial and error when you make wine.

This same thought process should be reflected when you conduct marketing. If your campaign doesn’t have the desired impact and falls flat, it’s crucial that you learn from your errors, persevere, and ensure that you don’t make the same mistakes in your next round of marketing.

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While trial and error may influence your marketing at times, why not get our help instead? If you would like to find out ways we can assist you in perfecting your marketing, please drop us an email at, or call us at 0115 8965 300.

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