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Video Marketing Guide for Wine and Hospitality Brands During COVID-19

Maybe you've already noticed this as you browse the web on your own, but video ads are on the rise.

Just to illustrate how drastically things have changed, according to one survey, in 2016, only 61% of brands used video as a marketing tool.

Last year, that number climbed to 87%, with 20% saying that they used video for the first time in 2019, but 99% saying they will continue to use it into the foreseeable future.

This trend makes sense when you consider that YouTube is the second largest search engine in the world—video ads can be used across platforms and archived on YouTube for later viewing by curious customers, boosting website SEO.

In the wine and hospitality industry, video marketing is commonly used to create tasting videos, winery tours, event space testimonials, and video ads. Many of the leading companies have been using video for years to build brand awareness, and with today's technology driving costs lower, even small wineries can afford to create stunning video content that promotes brand identity and encourages sales.

But before we get into the nitty-gritty of video marketing, let’s call out the elephant in the room: COVID-19 and social distancing have changed everything about restaurant and wine marketing for the time being, and successful wine brands must take this into account.

Video Marketing to the Rescue: Bring the Community Together During Hardship

Usually, difficult times draw people together.

That is part of what makes the current shutdown so tricky. Unable to visit each other physically, families and friends around the world are turning to video apps for solace, with Zoom alone seeing a user increase of 22 million people from February to March.

More relevant for marketers is the 31% increase in video views Twitch has seen in just two weeks, and the 27% growth TikTok has seen in three weeks. Meanwhile, Facebook use is up 50-70% in countries affected by the coronavirus.

For psychologists, the appeal of these social media platforms is undeniable.

As humans, we need contact with one another.

Seeing someone's face allows us to mirror their emotions and find solace in their empathy. Even when we are watching someone play video games on Twitch, making a humorous dance video on TikTok, or watching someone sing a song from their living room on Facebook, seeing someone else's creation gives us a sense of connection.

This connection pulls us out of our coronavirus-induced stress and provides us with a feeling of relief, if only for a few minutes.

As a result, video watching overall is up among adults, as this illustration shows:

How COVID-19 Has Impacted the Wine and Hospitality Industry

COVID-19 has hit the wine industry hard, starting with the cancellation of significant wine marketing events like Divinum, Vinexpro, and Prowein.

With restaurants and hotels shut down around the world, many of the public places where wine is consumed are no longer making sales. Exceptions in states like Tennessee, where restaurants can sell alcohol curbside in sealed containers, have had little effect on overall sales.

On the supply side, at least 20% of wineries have simply ceased production in anticipation of plummeting demand in late spring. All of this is occurring against a pre-existing excess in supply, which only complicates things.

According to a survey by Wine America, losses in March alone are estimated at $40.4 million and might be ten times higher than that. On average, wineries are expected to lose at least $37,000 a month, not to mention layoffs. While the CARES Act will provide some relief, the first round of funding has already run dry, and a second round has yet to make it through Congress.

Wineries can take lessons from the recent wine country fires when considering how to survive the coronavirus outbreak and rebuild. Video can be used to reach out to social media followers and to engage wine club members.

Despite fears that this economic shutdown will be the end, companies should be encouraged that this is only temporary.

Now is the time to return to core business strategies, to trim the excesses that may have snuck in during the economic growth period of the last few years, and position your winery firmly in its niche so that when the economy returns to normal, you are poised to take advantage of the boom.

How to Use Video to Connect with Your Customers

For wineries and tasting rooms, since consumers won’t be visiting your businesses for the near future, using video marketing effectively is a great way to cultivate new and existing relationships using the best parts of your brand.

While shooting and producing videos can be expensive, changes in technology and consumer preference are driving down costs so much that even the smallest brands can now create high-quality videos on a limited budget.

Just look at apps like TikTok to see how people are creating high-quality shorts with nothing more than a smartphone and a ring light.

Facebook Live is another example.

Having a simple conversation with your followers can generate significant buzz around your brand. And over the past few months, virtual wine tastings have taken off as a way to engage existing customers as well as attract new ones.

Or there are plenty of websites that offer easy to use video creation tools like Toonly and Magisto if you decide to take the Do-It-Yourself route on a budget.

And of course, there are thousands of creative agencies offering professional, high-quality video production, so you don't have to worry if you've got some budget and making videos is not your forte.

Here are some simple ideas that can make your brand feel more accessible to your target customers:

Idea 1: Create A Sense Of Intimacy With “Raw” Footage

You can make effective videos on a skeleton budget.


People are craving intimacy right now, and self-shot videos can make people feel as if you have taken your guard down and humanized your brand.

What does this look like?

It could be shooting a tour of your vineyard on your iPhone, or sitting with your sommelier or winemaker as they sit on the patio and drink their favorite wine at sunset. Your goal with this type of unedited footage is to create a sense of warmth, like your viewers are right there with you.

Note: You can still stay on-brand with these videos.

A casual brand might show someone in shorts and flip flops, while a more sophisticated brand would show someone in formal attire.

A story focused brand might give a tour and talk about the history of the family that started your vineyard, while another brand might focus on how rare their grapes are, and which cultural elites preferred their wines at their parties.

Because these videos aren't live, you can still redo scenes, edit, and add logos in simple post-production on your computer.

Idea 2: Host A Facebook Live And Provide Updates With Q&A

Facebook Live is an easy way to connect with existing fans of your winery.

Because people can comment and leave feedback, you can also interact and follow up with anyone who has questions or wants to make a purchase.

Unlike the raw videos previously mentioned, since these are live, it's good to have a rough outline of what you'd like to talk about or feature someone who is enough of an expert that they can speak for the duration of the video without struggling.

When hosting a Facebook Live, it's good to have someone else from your winery logged in who can respond to and moderate the comments coming in. And in the week or two leading up to your Facebook Live, make sure you promote sufficiently on your site and across your other social channels.

Another way to engage customers is to hold a daily or weekly Facebook Live at the same time of day.

For example, try hosting regular virtual events like a daily virtual happy hour, or a Friday afternoon wine tasting with an expert, featuring a rare or vintage wine.

These videos are also opportunities to share how your winery is handling the COVID crisis and to offer sales or other updates.

Idea 3: Partner With A “Cause” To Promote Your Product While Doing Good

87% percent of consumers state that they would purchase a product that advocated for a cause they care about.

In an industry that is complex and undifferentiated for the average consumer (who shops primarily based on label and price), affiliating your brand with a cause can increase sales and set your bottles apart from the similarly-labeled products on the shelf next to them.

If you are thinking of selling bottles at a discount to get rid of excess inventory, consider donating all or part of the sale price.

For example, instead of a 30% off sale, keep the price the same, but donate 30% to COVID-19 relief. Or offer a 20% sale and donate an additional dollar per bottle. Your bottom line on each bottle will be the same, but you may drive demand through this cause affiliation.

Most importantly, you’ll be doing good.

Insaterra in Italy has been doing this successfully, donating all profits from one of their Sangiovese wines to the Italian Red Cross. Your video campaign can feature the heroes who are on the front lines of the fight against coronavirus, while also promoting the wines you need to clear out of your cellars.

One of my favorite companies helping brands with cause marketing is GiveWith, which creates stunning video and ad campaigns pairing your content with the content of the nonprofit you partner with.

Unique to GiveWith, they do it using your existing ad budget, so there are no extra costs required.

Idea 4: Make A Mini-Drama

Some of the most effective video campaigns blur the line between advertising and entertainment.

This video trend dates back at least as far as Ridley Scott's "1984” commercial for Apple, but also includes Wes Anderson’s Prada commercial, “The Red Stain” commercial for Francis Ford Coppola Winery:

Creating a mini-drama will require a bigger budget than just shooting some raw footage or a Facebook Live.

Still, the investment can set you apart from the competition and lay the groundwork for future ad campaigns in the post coronavirus world.

Here are some great storyboarding tools to get you started.

Idea 5: Use Interactive “Smart Ads”

From Deloitte to Dylan, forward-thinking companies are creating interactive video ads that respond dynamically to user actions.

Savvy wine brands picking up on this trend could, for example, offer the choice between a cabernet and a chardonnay, with different visual and storytelling content depending on the choice the viewer makes.

This type of cutting-edge video can set your brand apart as innovative and is likely to generate more likes and shares than standard video content.

This article first appeared at Hearst Bay

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