It’s Coming

The start of a long race
Wineries waiting to reopen

It's been a month since tasting rooms closed.

Almost overnight, thousands of Direct-To-Consumer-focused wineries switched gears to intensive email and phone sales campaigns, furloughed employees and entered survival mode.

Virtual tastings; curbside pickups; promotions; library releases; free shipping and local deliveries worked their way through hundreds, if not thousands of winery mailing lists.

It may feel like a standstill, but it's more like the start of a marathon.

The hours prior to a marathon, thousands of participants line up at the starting line in a packed mass. Stretching, telling stories of other races, discussing their time goals, focusing.

The qualifiers, the leaders, the ones who are really vying for top positions line up in the front. They will face less resistance at the beginning of the race as they run into open space, and quickly establish their own pace and distance from the pack.

If you are further back, you will spend the first mile or two struggling through a packed track, having to dodge left and right to pass slow-starters and the walkers.


The date wineries are allowed to reopen, thousands of them will be vying for visitors; clamoring their "Yes, we are open again, and we missed you too!"

A couple of thoughts:

  1. Open rates for the emails communicating you are re-opening will likely be low
  2. What channels are valid to bugle your re-opening and inviting guests, new and familiar?
  3. How to get message ahead of the literally millions of "Yes, we are open!" emails?


Hang with me; this marathon metaphor is juicier than I anticipated...

The main reasons that made me connect the COVID-19 quarantine and a marathon are:

  • the intense competition
  • the chaotic start
  • It's going to be a grueling race


So you can work on addressing them; these are some of the several key challenges you can count on facing at the start:

  1. The noise will be deafening - tens of thousands of businesses will be opening at the same time, clamoring for attention
    • "We are open for business" will be repeated endlessly. What are you going to do to stand out and gain positions in your target audience's mindshare?
  2. Some furloughed employees may not come back. Some wineries will be limping with a partial crew and hiring and training take time and attention.
    • Check in with your furloughed staff, they are going through rough times too. A personal touch and showing care can make a positive impact in their life.
  3. The discounts and promotions won't disappear, they will need to be reallocated
    • Currently, all promotional efforts seem guided towards shipping/pickup sales. What's going to happen with those once you re-open?
    • Cash may be super tight, but plan on spending smartly to help kickstart your sales and club growth
  4. There's a scent of recession in the air
    • This tends to hit Club growth doubly: lowers signup rates due to commitment resistance and increases attrition - as so many people lost jobs and are seeing their income reduced .
    • Be the one Club that's at the bottom of their chopping block list
  5. Sales/guest pressure
    • The first few months are going to be more about getting out and enjoying the experience than cellar-replenishment
    • How to get the most out of this scenario?

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