Bright Ideas: Salut, Manchester

ArticlesBright Ideas

Host online Q&As

Bob McDonald
Salut, Manchester

In a nutshell …
Using social media, invite questions on all things wine related, gather up the best ones and address them in a series of online videos. It keeps existing customers engaged, reminding them you’re open for business, and attracts potential customers too.

Tell us more.
“More than ever, you have to find new ways of reaching the customers,” says Bob. “Pre-Covid we had already decided to focus on e-commerce and the shop side of the business and our brand new website went live in November. I found the hardest thing about being online is getting your personality across, so we have categories like Box Set Bingeing, Date Night and Lockdown Survival Kit. So this idea is about interacting with people and having a bit of fun. I think everyone has got a bit more time at the moment to watch this kind of thing.”

What sort of questions have been asked so far?
“How long can I store a bottle of port once it’s open? Why are sparkling reds not more popular? Should you chill orange wine? If you put a spoon in a bottle of sparkling wine, does it stop it going flat?

“I think those questions reflect the broad range of our customer base. We have a lot of hipsters wanting natural wines and cool labels, so with the sparkling reds question I will probably take the opportunity to mention pet nats.

“Someone did ask a pretty open-ended question, which I may have to serialise: what makes a wine bad? That’s a good one!

“We’re keeping the videos short and sweet – about 90 seconds. There’s only so much information you can put across in that time and we want people to be able to relate to it. I don’t want to start talking about TCA and that kind of stuff.”

Have you had to invest in any special equipment?
“No, we’re just filming on an iPhone and posting it on Twitter and Instagram.”

When your bar reopens, will you continue to focus on these kinds of initiatives?
“Normally about 75% of our sales are drink-in and Manchester has been under much stricter restrictions since the summer anyway so we were kind of treading water.

“Having to shut the bar, we’ve got rid of all the tables and chairs but that’s made room for more retail display, so we’ve picked up new customers who didn’t realise we were a shop. Moving forward when the bar reopens it’ll be interesting to see how much of the retail we can hold on to and how that drinking-in and retail split will play out.

“We’re in the business district, so historically we’ve done really well with after-work drinkers and commuters so without really realising it we’ve not been very good at tapping into the people from the city centre. This project, along with the website, means we’re reaching new audiences. You’ve got to try new things and, with stuff like this, what have you got to lose? People who aren’t adapting are just dead in the water.”


Bob wins a WBC gift box containing some premium drinks and a box of chocolates.

Tell us about a bright idea that’s worked for you and you too could win a prize.


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