Meg O'Hara

LinkedIn — the most professional of all social media platforms. You know its importance, you recognize its value, but you may not fully understand how to leverage its features for your professional benefit.

Unlike other social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, many people check in on their LinkedIn profiles on a less frequent basis. Sometimes seen as the “black sheep” of social media, you might find daily touchpoints unnecessary, but it doesn’t make the platform any less of an essential tool to utilize in your professional life. LinkedIn provides a space for businesses, employees and jobseekers to digitally network with other professionals in any given industry.

So, if you find yourself at a loss for ramping up your LinkedIn profile and making the most of its capabilities, follow A. Bright Idea’s five Cs of LinkedIn to make your profile stand out while adding some weight to your online presence.

CREATE your personal brand
According to Business Insider, many hiring managers make up their mind about a prospective employee within the first seven seconds of meeting them. Meaning, first impressions carry a tremendous amount of weight. Treat your LinkedIn profile the same way. To demonstrate your professionalism in the online world, make sure to upload a recent, high-resolution headshot as your profile image. Paying close attention to these details helps build your personal brand and invites others into the essence of what you offer through your experience and professionalism.
CONNECT with other industry leaders
Expand your network and increase the opportunities available to you by connecting with colleagues, industry experts, high-level CEOs, clients or key community leaders. Doing so can serve as an especially fruitful tool when looking to reach members of a different industry, or one in which you have a specific interest. LinkedIn connections can also garner new skill endorsements, thus building your credibility and profile views.
CAPTURE attention with your experience
Develop a brief but engaging summary of your experience to give profile viewers a glimpse into your professional background. Don’t shy away from including interests, passions and professional development experiences in which you participate. All of these assets build a well-rounded professional background and provide industry experts a clear picture of everything you bring to the table.
CULTIVATE relationships through engagement
We see no exception to the notion of “you get what you give” on LinkedIn. Build relationships with your connections by endorsing their skills a minimum of one to two times per week and engaging with their posted content through likes, comments and shares. Not only will this demonstrate the value you place in the individual you promote, it will encourage them to do the same for you.
CAPTIVATE your audience through content
Use your expertise to write compelling content specific to your industry or profession. Developing useful, sharable content showcases your background and experience for your current and potential connections. Garner their attention by also sharing industry-related articles, further positioning yourself as an expert in your field and staying up-to-date with the latest trends.

By implementing the five Cs of LinkedIn, you will quickly grow your network, business opportunities and partners online – all with a minimal investment of time. Enhancing your personal brand will benefit you and your business. Watch your connections increase and your profile expand in just a few weeks and enjoy the professional benefits that follow as a result!

Tell us about a personal success story or strategy using LinkedIn to create connections in the comments below.

Shawn Nesaw

User-generated content (UGC) takes the form of content, usually photos or videos, created in support of a product, brand, idea or trend. Brands publish the content on social media channels, such as Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, to allow for republishing content on their own social channels to further promote the brand and build loyalty among audiences.

UGC offers a ripe opportunity for businesses to build a community around their brand. Similar to giving a compliment, UGC represents something everyone likes getting because it makes us feel good and encourages us. Similarly, when a business shares content that one of their customers posted on their social media page, the business compliments that person by featuring their content and thanking them for their business. This type of public recognition creates stronger customer loyalty to the brand.

Speaking of loyalty, some may say, “brand loyalty is dead or dying,” but consider these statistics from Accenture describing the behaviors of U.S. consumers:

  • 57 % spend more on brands or providers simply for loyalty
  • 51% show loyalty to brands that interact with them through their preferred channels of communication
  • 55% express loyalty by recommending the brands and companies they love to family friends
  • 14% publicly endorse or defend a brand or organization on social media

Building community around your brand is absolutely still important and UGC can help you achieve the community you want for almost no additional cost to you, the business. Explore UGC with the following best practices.

UGC best practices
After monitoring all your social media properties, it’s clear people tag your business, your products, even your staff in their photos on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. Before you start posting customer content as your own, review a few rules of courtesy to abide by when possible.

  1. Ask for permission to use someone’s photo, video or GIF. Simply message the person using the direct messaging feature built into the respective social media channel. Compliment them and mention how you would love to share on your account. Nine times out of 10, flattered by your request, they happily oblige.
  2. Give photo credit in your post. A photo credit could be as simple as “(Photo cred: @username)” or “(📷: @username).”
  3. Recognize the person or business in your post thanking them for their business or support. You can also subtly weave in a key message. Just make sure the post reflects more about them than you.

Examples of great uses of UGC
If you still can’t envision how UGC works or how it looks for your business, read through the examples of effective UGC use below.

Take a look at each example noting the photo composition, the caption and the tag of the photographer. In each case, the brand used short and simple captions, emojis and tagged the photographer. Using the camera emoji or the word, “Regram,” before the users’ tag signifies the original photographer.

Starbucks:
Buffer:
Bass Pro Shops:
Ben & Jerry’s:
Perfect example of expert use of UGC
While the above examples make it pretty clear what UGC looks like in practice, we offer one more perfect example of how a restaurant successfully executed UGC on social media to promote their brand and turn a visitor into a loyal follower.A restaurant wanted to promote their weekly Wednesday ramen night. They monitored their Instagram account for recent posts for public posts tagging their business or their restaurant location was tagged. They found a sharp photo of ramen from the week before that matched the look and feel of their feed.

This execution checked a few boxes for the restaurant. It promoted the ramen night, garnered awareness and attention for the business and boosted brand loyalty for that person.

Have you considered using user-generated content to build a stronger community around your brand? If you already use UGC on your social media accounts, how’s it going? Let us know in the comments or share your best execution.

Katie MacNichol

In 2017, national Super Bowl ads cost an average of $10 million per minute and with that price tag came the opportunity to reach over 111 million people all in one sitting. Brands of all shapes and sizes use the Super Bowl as a broad reach platform for messaging, and even small- to medium-sized businesses use the game as a strategic and significant investment opportunity, shelling out $70,000-$90,000 for a market-specific Super Bowl ad.

However, following 2017’s big game, research from Communicus, an independent research-based consultancy, found that 80 percent of commercials failed to leave a mark on audience members. What an advertiser does with Super Bowl airtime can directly affect a consumer’s opinion or potential engagement with a brand, and at such a steep investment, keeping your audience in mind while meticulously planning your media buy helps promote Super Bowl ad success.

Communicus research shared that many failed commercials entertained viewers, but did nothing to build the business’ brand. Advertisers must then take part in a balancing act between engaging visuals and strong messaging that, when coupled together, leave an impression on audiences and help move the needle in terms of a return on investment, or ROI. When developing a commercial spot, ask yourself, “who am I talking to?” and “what am I trying to say?” Doritos, for example, consistently places their products and branding within the first few minutes of their Super Bowl ads. Keep a specific audience in mind and showcase your brand attributes from the very start of your commercial. Remember, viewer attention often drops off after just a few moments, so don’t waste any time and get your name up front in your commercial.

When it comes to creative execution, introducing out-of-the-box content seems fun and exciting, but going that route can often miss the mark in terms of drawing a connection back to your brand.

Only 10 percent of consumers even remember the average Super Bowl ad and can recall the brand advertised.

Don’t use the Super Bowl to reinvent the wheel for your business; use ad space to continue telling your story. Tell consumers why your product or service dominates the competitors and do it authentically.

Advertisers shell out massive sums to secure big-name celebrities in their commercials, but if your audience doesn’t feel a genuine connection between your brand and a new spokesperson, they’ll likely see through your ploy. For example, think back on the Kendall Jenner Pepsi commercial from April 2017. Poor planning and lack of input from audiences led to off-base creative execution that not only didn’t resonate, but offended consumers. That being said, playing it safe can also prove risky. Step out of your comfort zone and put your best creative foot forward, but be sure to do the research and find your business’ best fit for cutting through the clutter.

Now, you determined your audience, established a strategic way to message to them and developed a commercial bound to resonate. Don’t put all that planning into one Super Bowl-basket. As with all advertising, the more times a consumer sees or hears an ad, the higher the recall. Make sure to extend your media buy strategy before and after game day, setting viewers up for what they’ll see during the big game and continuing the conversation after the fact. Many advertisers get so caught up in the pomp and circumstance of putting out a game day spot that they overlook simple advertising principles, like a strong frequency of viewing.

The mark of successful advertising campaigns lies in the combination of strong reach, something the Super Bowl obviously brings to the table, and frequency, something advertisers must consider when building out television media buys. The media buy shouldn’t stop at television, however. When considering reach and frequency, don’t forget to build in a comprehensive media mix. Developing an integrated buy around your Super Bowl commercial means maximizing your investment across various media platforms. This approach to planning your media takes into consideration the bigger picture, as integrated buys allow for storytelling across various vehicles, increasing reach and affording your brand added exposure. Keep your Super Bowl commercial momentum going and build strong brand awareness and recognition by considering additional mediums like radio, digital and even outdoor marketing when appropriate. Continue the conversation and extend your reach even further by integrating the messaging and visuals into all organic communications outreach as well.

Not integrating your Super Bowl media mix to elevate your creative assets? Now that could lead to a major fumble. Carefully plan your business’ creative approach and media buying strategy to ensure a successful drive to the end zone.

Tell us who you think did Super Bowl advertising right! Comment your favorite commercials and ad strategies or tweet us during the game — @aBrightIdea96.

Melissa Mauldin

In the midst of a public health crisis, people expect and rely on factual and timely information. Our national opioid crisis is a perfect example of the growing need for accurate data and scientifically backed tips and treatment methods.

Most of us go to the web as a first step to find information, making it even more important that top search results provide relevant, factual information.

In a rare move, Google recently began restricting ads served when visitors used the search engine to search for addiction treatment centers. With so many people experiencing the disease of addiction, drug treatment has grown into a $35 billion market. Too many businesses paid for ads to direct those seeking information on recovery centers to their sites. A person typing “drug rehabilitation near me” was directed, in many cases, to businesses with only a tenuous connection to professional drug treatment.

Professionals in the drug treatment field praised Google’s decision, which Google officials made in consultation with recovery experts. Google’s decision followed a story by The Verge explaining how unethical businesses, and even fraudulent enterprises, use AdWords to direct the public to their sites.

The issue highlighted the importance of sharing good, substantiated, public health information to the growing audience. It not only helped remove untrustworthy information from Google searches, but it also removed much of the visual clutter, allowing critical messaging to reach the people who need it.

Recently declared a national public emergency by President Donald Trump, the opioid epidemic represents one of the deadliest public health crises to face the nation, resulting in more than 64,000 deaths—half of which resulted from legally prescribed opioids.

Like any crisis, strategic, timely and effective communication plays a critical role. For decades, public health organizations have long understood medical science and communication are essential to protect the public’s health.

At A. Bright Idea, our passion, not only for cause marketing, but cause communication, runs deep, particularly when it comes to public health education and treatment on drug and alcohol abuse. Our work with the Drug Enforcement Administration’s annual National Prescription Drug Take Back Day, the National Institute on Drug Abuse and the Bel Air Center for Addictions applies the latest scientific knowledge to our communications and outreach. Those federal and private sector clients recognize getting their message out to the public requires both sound public health science and policies, coupled with effective communication strategies. It is essential to communicate scientific information in ways the public can understand and learn from, helping to make changes in their lives or to help loved ones.

When crafting a message, whether that be public service announcements, editorial columns, speeches or fact sheets, you must understand not only the goal of the message, but the audience. What will make this resonate? How will they respond? What do you want them to do next? How can they take that message and share it further? In some cases, that involves using spokespersons with social media influence, or developing information graphics to demonstrate key data points in a highly visual way, or sharing personal testimonials to help the audience form an emotional understanding or connection.

With the death toll rising from the misuse of opioids, the public needs that partnership of treatment experts and communicators more than ever. We’re proud to support great organizations in the fight and help to educate those in need build stronger communities. Helping people find their way is one of the most emotionally rewarding work we can do.

Meg O'Hara

As business professionals, we’ve heard it said time and time again: “It’s all about relationships,” however, relationships do not grow overnight. There are steps to take and responsibilities to fulfill before anything can flourish.

Putting forth effort to not only go above and beyond for client work, but for the client themselves, makes the difference between a one-time project and a long-standing business relationship. Going the extra mile to get to know your clients, when done consistently and genuinely, not only serves as a recognizable piece of your brand, it becomes your brand.

At A. Bright Idea, we believe in the power of doing “a little bit more,” consistently over delivering for our clients. At our annual team-building summit, we discussed how pushing every project, just a little bit further, leads our team – and the client – to even greater success. As a result, our team identified five easy-to-apply ways to help flourish your client relationships.


  1.  Take meetings off site

Every now and then, invite your client to a working lunch meeting or coffee. This opens a window of opportunity to get to know your client on a more personal level while also staying productive. Environment plays a critical role in someone’s willingness to engage more freely, and you’d find it surprising how relocating to an informal, comfortable setting can enhance your overall working relationship.

  1. Invite casual conversation

In general, we feel less likely to share personal information if we don’t think someone is interested in hearing about it. Shift the focus of your next touchpoint to demonstrate you care about building a relationship. Adjust your opening in an email or conference call from, “I hope you had a nice weekend,” to “Betty, how was your weekend?” This simple but significant strategy tells the client you’re interested in more than the business tasking and gives you insight, connecting on a more personal level.

  1. Stay social

Begin with a LinkedIn connection – the business version of Facebook. Stay up-to-date with client’s important milestones, including work anniversaries and recognitions, and engage with likes, comments or congratulatory messages. Take it one step further and do “a little bit more” by endorsing the skills listed on the client’s page or write up a personal recommendation. These acknowledgements go above and beyond to further build the connection.

  1. Pick up the phone

In a digital world, it’s easy to get lost behind the screen in email. If you need to touch base with your client, make an effort to pick up the phone and call—nothing beats talking directly for clear communication. Going out of your way to make a connection can only improve strong working relationships.

  1. Dive into their industry

Make an effort to stay aware of your client’s industry. Share related videos, news clips or events of interest when applicable even if it doesn’t relate to the project you’re currently working on. This not only demonstrates your expertise, but highlights your willingness to go above and beyond for their success, ultimately paying dividends in your overall relationship.


While some of these tips speak to client-facing relationships, everyone at the organization is a representative and their role in supporting these strategies further positions a business for continued relationship growth.

Do you implement a strategy we didn’t mention? Share how your team does “a little bit more” in the comments below.

Jessy Weiss

Instagram remains one of the fastest growing social media platforms with over 700 million active users. With its ever-changing features, it’s difficult to remain up-to-date on how to effectively use Instagram to complement your business’s overall marketing strategy.

At its core, Instagram is a visual platform. It offers your business an opportunity to present itself in a purely visual manner. Yes, the platform offers captions, hashtags (more on how to use those later), and tags but they are in place to support the photographic message.
When using Instagram, use the following:

A consistent, brand voice is essential for using Instagram. Your audience, especially on Instagram, seeks an understanding of your business’s “personality.” Develop content reflective of your business, but also specific to the platform. Your followers on Instagram will likely vary from those on LinkedIn. With that said, don’t shy away from distributing the same content across several platforms, but give each one its own voice.
Hashtags serve as a great way to reach more people with your content. Instagram users frequently search trending hashtags to discover new content so sprinkle a few hashtags in your posts. While sometimes overused, we recommend, based on our own success rates, between four and seven hashtags. Ultimately, let the content of the post dictate the type and number of hashtags.
Your Photo Feed
Good quality photos make all the difference on Instagram. It’s the platform for beautiful photos, and users know it. That said, while most businesses may not have a professional photographer at their disposal 24/7, it’s still possible to create a compelling Instagram feed. Take photos that represent the brand best and keep it consistent. Make sure all of your photos, professional or amateur, have a cohesive look by using a uniform filter on all of your photos. There is nothing more beautiful than a consistent feed! Case and point: @laurenconrad.
Also, check out Eric Bach’s blog, The Language of Light: How Light Alters Perception, for some tips on how to improve those Instagram photos!

Use stories to share in-the-moment and behind-the-scenes content. This strategy provides another opportunity for your followers to get to know your company’s personality and day-to-day. Get creative with your stories – post a series of videos to create a short storyline or a fun boomerang.
The discover tab gives users, and your potential followers, access to a pool of relevant content based on their existing followers and other Instagram activity. On the flip side, the discover tab provides a resource for your business. Scroll through this panel to see what competitors do on Instagram, and how your followers engage with other accounts to tweak your approach. The discover tab also allows you to find and engage with people who don’t follow your brand. By searching hashtags relevant to your business, you can find users and engage with them.
Carousel Photos
As one of Instagram’s newer features, the carousel photo feature allows users to post multiple images in one post. Strategically order your photos; display your strongest, most compelling photo first, followed by supporting images. Or, use the left/right swipes to create a larger, continuous image, like @subway.

Jump-start your business’ Instagram presence by following some of these tips and tricks. Stay tuned to the A. Bright Idea blog for more advice on how to keep your social media presence on brand, relevant and an integral part of your overall communications strategy.

Shawn Nesaw

Marketers always look for new and exciting ways to reach their customers and grow their brand. In recent years, while digital advertising has seen steady growth, standing out from the din of every other advertisement out there can be a challenge.

For businesses looking to target audiences towards the bottom of the sales funnel, converting interests into sales, podcast advertising might be a worthwhile option as part of a strategic advertising effort. Podcasts target a niche, captive audience to which a brand can push its product or service directly into the ears of listeners interested in first, the podcast content, and second, products or services that meet a need and/or match the content of the show.

Any effective advertising campaign works through the sales funnel to figure out where customers are along their buying journey and how to get them to convert while spending as little as possible per conversion. TV, radio and digital ads all play important roles throughout the sales funnel from building awareness and interest to conversions. The old saying, never put all your eggs in one basket, holds true in advertising. Use podcasts in conjunction with other mediums to ensure your brand hits a wide range of people in the funnel.

As podcasts continue to grow as an important and worthwhile medium for marketers and brands, businesses must understand what makes a podcast advertisement unique. Once you’ve gained a better understanding of the medium, consider if your business and podcasts are right for each other.

Here’s what you need to know about podcasts before adding the tool to your advertising strategy.

  1. Trusted voice – If there’s one thing podcast listeners have in common, it’s their trust in the host. Podcast hosts fall into the influencer category. The audience views podcast hosts as experts and their shows are a manifestation of their interests and expertise. By creating engaging content audiences come back for repeatedly, they build an audience that genuinely trusts them. It’s that trust that plays well for advertisers. Most ads use live reads, delivered directly by the host at the beginning (pre-roll) or midway (mid-roll) through the show. Live reads, similar to radio, come across like a recommendation from a friend with an authentic feel. Considering your audience, find podcasts/hosts that pair well with your product or service. If their show, voice and audience all match your organization’s brand and target audience, you’ve found a good fit.
  2. The product/service – If you want to advertise on podcasts, you need a product with a broad user base. This is due to the fact that podcasts have a fairly wide range of demographics in their audience. Ads for essentials like underwear, razors, beds and other products are the norm on podcasts because just about everyone uses them. Pairing the right product with the right audience allows the brand to reach more potential customers. A podcast framed around exercise, with a core audience of health enthusiasts, is more likely to advertise jump ropes, foam rollers and Whey protein than it would a new brand of coffee or an online flower delivery service.
  3. A special offer – It’s true, sometimes you just can’t pass up a sale. Podcast ads not only win over audiences with trusted recommendations and useful products, but they almost always tack on a special offer code at checkout. Brands will offer podcast listeners an even deeper discount to further entice on-the-fence buyers.

Podcasts have risen in popularity over the past decade, gaining the attention of brands and marketers who happily fill the podcast niche with quality ads reaching dedicated audiences, something difficult to come by these days. Consider adding this strategy to your marketing toolbox when the brand, audience and budget match up with what podcasts have to offer.

Katie Bouloubassis

Businesses constantly test new ways to connect with their customers. Traditionally, surveys, newsletters and courtesy follow-up calls served as key methods for businesses to connect with customers. While these strategies still hold value, new outreach methods now take center stage thanks to social media. According to Statista.com, 81% of the U.S. population uses social media in some form.

Smart, social-savvy businesses are now using the power of one social media feature, direct messaging, to connect more efficiently with their current and potential customers by breaking through the clutter.

Direct messaging, or DM as it’s commonly referred to, is available on all major social media platforms. Similar to sending a text message to a friend, a direct message allows you to send a private message to a person directly to their inbox, instead of posting on their social feed. DM achieves most of its popularity on Twitter and Instagram.

Businesses use DM to:

  • Connect with new followers and point them to the content or a product on their website
  • Ask questions about buying experience or quality of service
  • Answer questions customers ask on social media
  • Handle negative feedback or complaints privately instead of in the public feed
  • Send targeted messages to different types of followers
  • Request user-generated content for social media feeds

To add to the DM experience, personalize messages using the customer’s name or handle. Also, if you have a large audience list to reach with the same message, create a document with consistent messages you can easily transfer into a DM to help save time and maximize efficiency.

The images below illustrate a few sample implementation strategies for using DM.

Relationship building with new followers

To begin the relationship with a new follower, depending on the platform, a DM may take the form of something like the photo to the right.


Handling negative feedback

To handle a negative comment or feedback, acknowledge the communication and direct the conversation off of social media with a DM like this:

ABI: “We appreciate your feedback and want to learn more about the issue to discuss how we can help ensure the best service possible. Let’s set up a time we can discuss over the phone.”


Soliciting user-generated content

If your fans post great photos of your product and tag your company, use DM to ask for permission to use their photos on your feed. Engaging in this way creates customer loyalty and allows you to harness the power user-generated content. That DM might read something like the photo to the right.

[Pro-tip: If they say “yes,” thank them and make sure to give them credit for the photo in your post, e.g., (📷: @TomEdison96)]


Direct Messages serve as a great way to personally reach customers on social media. While some may scoff at the idea saying, “It’s too intrusive,” DM allows you to speak directly to your target audience. If your business would like to initiate conversations and build relationships with current and potential customers, DM provides a simple, personal touch-point that can lead to new followers, customers or clients.

Test out your DM skills with us! Send us a message via Twitter DM or any other social platform. Let’s start the conversation!

Twitter: @aBrightIdea96
Instagram: @abrightidea
Facebook: A. Bright Idea Advertising & Public Relations @abrightidea

Happy messaging!

Teri O'Neal

No one likes to think about the worst. Crisis communication planning remains a topic that many businesses and organizations would rather not think about when it is not needed. At its core, the perception of crisis communications screams negativity and causes people to think about catastrophic disasters. The response for most, albeit the wrong answer, typically is to bury one’s head in the sand.

However, crisis communications boils down to two basic principles: adequate planning and building relationships. Three mantras in a crisis all surround the plan and the people: prepare for the worst, hope for the best and expect the unexpected.

Prepare for the worst

  1. Know and understand your business and any possible threats against it.
  2. Develop relationships with those media and organizational allies, which could assist you in an emergency.
  3. Identify the spokespeople, who will control the message during a crisis.
  4. Prepare your virtual “go bag.” Gather all social media and website password and logins, as well as any standard operating procedures for efficiency in a crisis.

Hope for the best

  1. Develop the key messaging necessary to allow spokespeople and staff to speak with one voice about the company, accentuating the positive and allowing potentially negative questions to circle back to a key message.
  2. Train your staff on delivering exceptional interviews and teaching the concept of bridging and redirection. This can benefit your organization in good times and bad.
  3. Build trust by ensuring you circle the wagons immediately during a crisis to allow your internal audience, the staff, know they remain the priority.

Expect the unexpected

  1. Remain flexible in your plan to allow for quick-turn changes. A crisis rarely looks the same twice, so leave room in your plan to adjust, when needed.
  2. Anticipate a fluid situation, which often lasts longer than expected. Back up your plans to allow for a longer situation. Avoid burnout, if possible!
  3. During a crisis, communicate early and often. If you leave a void, expect your adversaries to fill it.

Post-event evaluation remains an essential main component of a solid crisis communications plan, though often is the component left undone. The evaluation plan is usually placed boldly at the end of the plan awaiting execution. Most practitioners and business owners, ready to put the negative event behind them, avoid it like the plague.

Ideally, conducting a hot wash of the event and the application of the plan immediately following the event leads to key adjustments to improve the execution. Take the time to assemble the team, even the external partners, if possible, to discuss the execution and brainstorm ideas to make it better for the future.

Our work with clients allows us to assist in planning for the unknown and developing key relationships with people and organizations, which ultimately leads to better responses during a negative event while managing crisis PR effectively.

What tools do you have in your crisis communications toolbox? Share with us by commenting below.

Kristie Sheppard

Marketing your small winery can seem overwhelming and challenging, especially for those small shops with just one, or maybe a few employees. During harvest, there is never enough time to even think about marketing, and by the time you get everything else done from, bottling to distribution, it’s almost harvest again! However, you know creative and customer-focused marketing is critical to the success of your winery.

Adding a few simple tools to your marketing toolbox can assist in strategically and successfully promoting your wine brand. Even a minimal time investment pays huge dividends with the following tips.

  1. Know your audience. Defining your target audience is the first step in effective marketing. Keep in mind your audience is much larger than just wine drinkers. Analyze and organize your current customer base by categories, such as millennials, baby boomers, women or wine drinkers who are new to enjoying wine.
  2. Define your message. Determine a key message to connect your brand with each group of ideal customers. The message should be clear, direct and consistently used so it resonates with potential customers. For example, if your millennial audience group is interested in scores from Parker, make sure your messaging includes your recent ratings. Key messages help tell your story to compel your audience to take action.
  3. Get to know the media. Sending a press release about your upcoming winemaker dinner to the local food and wine critic without building a relationship with him/her will appear self-serving and may get pushed aside. Build a relationship with wine writers and influencers. Read their stories, engage with them on social media platforms and share their stories. Are you getting ready to promote a new wine and want some press? Invite the writer to a private tasting before the release to allow for personalized face time. Prepare materials in advance to make packaging the story easy for the reporter; include photos, content and potential alternate interview contacts.
  4. Engage on social media. Social media used to be about likes and followers. Now, engagement determines success- how many people, when they see your Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat or Instagram post, actually like, share, or comment on that post. Engagement is a two-way conversation. The best way to get engagement is to give some as well. Scrolling through your social media feeds for 10 -15 minutes per day looking for like-minded brands, wine influencers and your customers so you can comment, like and share their posts, will show your investment in the industry. Social interaction creates an awareness of your brand with audiences, who may become followers or customers. Social engagement will keep you in the minds of your customers and strengthen your consumer-producer relationship. Wineries can be hesitant to post on social media because of the Federal Trade Commission laws on advertising to minors, but with advances in data collection on most of the major platforms, you can confidently and legally promote your brand.
  5. Kieran Robinson Wines’ Sparkling Brigade is eye catching and meaningful.

    Let the label tell the brand’s story. If your wine is in retail shops or on display at a restaurant, the packaging is your most valuable asset. You need a label that stands out from the crowd, but also represents your brand and identity. Make sure your key message is translated into the label through visuals or text.

  6. Utilize influencers. Invite top wine influencers to a tasting. Engage with them on social media. Meg Maker, Amy Lieberfarb, Jancis Robinson, Jon Thorson and Antonio Galloni are just a few, but like we mention in Tip #1, do your research to make sure chosen influencers are appropriate for your brand.
  7. Participate in tasting events. For most small producers, providing complimentary cases and cases of wine to a special event may put a big dent in your potential sales, but don’t underestimate the value of attending these events. Yes, you will definitely get quite a few people who are attending the event just to get intoxicated. You will also get serious wine drinkers and media. Many tasting events host a trade/media hour prior to the general public. This is your opportunity to meet media face-to-face and make a lasting impression. Do your research about tasting opportunities. Find out what reporters and influencers have attended in the past. Ask fellow wineries if they have participated and what their thoughts are.

These cost-effective and simple tips will be the start to successfully marketing your winery. We’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences about wine marketing. Comment or share on social media and tag A. Bright Idea so we can reply!