4 Agritourism Destination Marketing Tips

Kenwood Vineyards in Sonoma County, California

A couple weeks ago I had the pleasure of presenting the keynote address at the Sonoma County Spring Tourism Forum.  Not only was the session fantastic, but the Bureau members provided an interesting perspective on attracting visitors to the region.

While the obvious appeal of wine country is, well, the wine, I was surprised how many members wanted to talk about ecotourism, digital marketing, green, social, blogs, posts, check-ins and story.

These marketers got it. The realized the value of the visitors. The appeal of green tourism.

But, they had questions about integration, strategic planning and message.

Building upon my answers, here are 4 tips for marketing your winery, farm or organic destination.

4 Agritourism Destination Marketing Tips

1. Keep it Authentic

Authenticity should be a key for every marketer, but especially for those within agritourism. Consumers want a peek behind the label, to see the family responsible for and passionate about the wine.  They want to know the vintners approach to sustainability.  The average tourist could purchase a nice looking label in their local Safeway (or Publix for our Florida readers), but they secretly want more than a cheap wine with an appealing label.

Example: Take a look at the About Us page on Arista Winery.  Family photos, stories about the kids and even a bio of the winery dog, Lucy.  And we love the Sustainable Business info from Kenwood Vineyards, a nice explanation of their green approach to wine making.

2. Tell the Whole Story

Yes, tell me why Zinfandel vines look like that.After the presentation, one audience member asked about what type of content they should populate there newly launched blog with.

Anything and everything behind-the-scenes, informative or inspirational, I replied.

Leave out the promotional and sales messaging.

As a consumer, I want more of that authentic, insider look at the winemaking process.  The growing process, how and why barrels are used, label design, staff interviews, recipes, photos, video…indulge the winemaking fantasy I have swirling around in my head.

Example: Love this blog entry from Kim at Dry Creek Vineyards.  Knowledge, photos and comments from readers.  On the other hand, I really don’t know what to do with this post from Reynoso Wines.

3. Use the Location Advantage

This should really be step 1, but it made into this list at number 3.  Before you do anything else in the digital space, including website development, claim and update your local presence.  Google, Yahoo!, NAVTEQ (GPS Units), Foursquare, Yelp, etc, etc.

Here is where to start:

Example: The folks at Martinelli Vineyards & Winery really need to claim their Yelp listing.  Too many negative comments to compete with the myriad of nearby vineyards.

4. Mobilize Your Army

Your army of Twitter followers is worthless without orders. Like most deserving Agritourism destinations you likely have a sizable and loyal group of patrons who visit your farm, winery or orchard on a regular basis.

Mmmmm......mobile food.

But what about those who know of you, but have yet to convert to a true agri-loyalist.  Well, if you are situated near an urban setting, say Sonoma County to San Francisco, take the agri to them.

Food trucks and epicurean raves might be a bit much, but the idea of a pop-up visit to Golden Gate Park or Nob Hill (announced via Twitter) could be the ideal introduction for your organic wares.

Example: (Here is the social strategic stunt I am waiting to hear about.)  Winery follows numerous fans on Twitter…listening and learning.  One of their loyal patrons tweets about a bridal shower, birthday party, backyard BBQ (Pro Tip: Make sure they have a decent following).  Winery X finds out the details via evite, drops by unannounced with 2, 4, 6, 18 bottles of wine.  Drops off the wine and some recycled wine glasses (go ahead, print the brand name on them) and disappears, leaving the partygoers to chat and tweet endlessly about the vino surprise.

Oh, and be sure to send out some helpful PR materials highlighting the wine drop.

Comment? @travel2dot0 or email.