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October 29, 2007 | Customer Relationship Management (CRM) | WineDirect Admin

Building Your Customer Database and Meetup.com Marketing

If you’re interested in expanding your email list and building more direct-to-consumer one-to-one relationships for your winery, I have an easy and simple idea for you.

As one of the few remote employees for Inertia and an ardent wine enthusiast, I joined the “wine” group at Meetup.com for Indianapolis, IN, my hometown.

To say that I’ve been surprised by how active and engaged the members of this group are would be an understatement. I continue to be astounded at how this service is used as an organizational tool for people with a shared affinity for wine, but little other social connection.

In simple terms, Meetup.com is an online organizational and management tool that helps people find others who share their interest or cause, and form local community groups that regularly meet face-to-face.

I see the coalesced organization take place several times a week as the emails roll in with a wine event at a retailer, a visiting winemaker wine dinner, or a wine charity event and a subsequent RSVP tally of folks from the group (now numbering close to 250) attending the event.

As I think about this as a marketing tool for wineries, I think about how this is a non-invasive, friendly way to increase your exposure to passionate wine enthusiasts.

I did a quick audit of member levels in some major metros—and most major metros have several hundred “enthusiasts” signed up for a meetup group. New York City has 2300—that’s a ripe group of collected people to try and get acquainted with.

How would you do this?

There are a number of ways you could get really creative and get engaged with an actual sponsored wine meetup, but my suggestion is to start simply.

Look at your existing customer database and see where you have an existing cluster of wine club members. Or, if you’re just building your list then pick a market that has some interest to you. Join the meetup for that geographical area, and then send an email to the organizer that says something along the lines of,

“Hi Jane. I’m the (owner, winemaker, marketing person, etc.) for XYZ Winery and I wanted to send a note to you to say ‘hi.’ Our winery has quite a few wine club members in the , and I was surprised and excited to see that there are so many wine enthusiasts that get together in your group. Since we already have a good base of wine club members in the area, I know wine enthusiasts in the area enjoy our wine and I wanted to extend an exclusive discount code to your enthusiast group to use.”

Here’s the thing on this email: don’t write it as a blanket email that you send out all over the place, make it meaningful and personal. Customize the email to the person you’re sending it to and craft the email as an open-ended dialogue, as opposed to an email come-on. And, I would wait to give the discount code until after you receive a response from the organizer.

Sampling to the organizer can never hurt either, but you’ll want to be careful with compliance. Wine sampling occurs frequently with wine bloggers, who can fall under the umbrella of journalism where sampling is legal and accepted, but you’ll want to double-check to ensure you’re playing inbounds here.

When you do receive a response from the organizer, you can then set-up a meaningful discount code for purchases that has a short, finite expiration date to drive short-term sales to your site. Then create another code that is longer in length, perhaps through the end of the year. Again, make it a meaningful discount and build an email rapport with the organizer.

I would be very surprised if this tactical effort, across a couple of different cities, didn’t yield more customers to your list either as direct commerce or sign-ups to your wine club.

Give it a try and let me know how it goes.
 

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