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March 12, 2007 | Wine Club Management | WineDirect Admin

REthink Your Wine Club – Building Your Wine Club

There are thousands of wine clubs out there, how will you set yours apart?

For those that think the wine industry is over-saturated with clubs, you are absolutely right. So how do you differentiate your wine club from all the others? How do you turn your new or stagnant wine club into a flourishing community from which a brand or winery can gain recognition, incremental sales, and a multitude of new and loyal customers? To build a wine club, you must start at the beginning, and you must have a plan.

What is a wine club?

We have defined it as: “An organization that offers its customers exclusive benefits, such as discounts, bonuses, or interest, in return for regular purchases of wine.”

Step 1: No Excuses.
No tasting room? No problem! If your winery does not have a tasting room, this should not prevent you from having a successful wine club. You will need to build your list of contacts and turn them into customers, then club members, and eventually into brand ambassadors. Try to keep your list of contacts and customers to include only those who are truly interested in receiving your regular wine shipments.

What if I am a small production winery? This does not exclude you from having a successful wine club. The best way to build your brand and wine club is to allocate some of your limited release wine. A small percentage of wine that you have set aside for your direct sales channel can be set-up as a “mailing list only” distribution. Create a sense of exclusivity – those on your mailing list each get an ‘allocation’ of a certain amount of wine each release, until you are sold out. If they do not buy, they are taken off the list, and the next person on your waiting list now becomes your new allocated customer. A waitinglist/allocation method allows you to control the growth of your club, maintain stability with completely satisfied customers, and provide members with the exclusive benefit of enjoying your wine. What if I am a brand new winery? First, focus on building name recognition. The quality of your wine will draw customers to your brand. Build a mailing list for those who are truly interested in your brand, and begin laying the foundation for a wine club in the future.

Step 2: Building on what you already have…
What if I already have a wine club, but it isn’t growing? Take a look at your club from the inside out. How much do you know about your wine club members? Are you keeping in contact often enough? Are you shipping too frequently or not enough? Most importantly, what do you have to offer? Make sure the benefits you make available to your customers keep them wanting more. What if I have too many clubs? The key to a successful wine club is consolidation. Keep the number of club members limited, and for larger wineries, keep tiers. The highest tier level should receive the most exclusive benefits, and moving up a tier is a benefit to customers at lower tier levels. With a large club size, you should have money set aside for your club-member marketing plan: email campaigns, a calendar of events, winemaker dinners, celebrating great reviews, and publicizing low inventory, etc. should all be key in maintaining happy club members.

Step 3: Where do I go from here?
Once you have a successful wine club, don’t neglect it. Clubs are a good source of revenue stream, but don’t treat your members as credit card numbers. Those customers are loyal for a reason and the moment they don’t feel appreciated they will look for another alternative. Continually monitor your club’s benefits to ensure your club differentiates you from all the others. Use past vintages as exclusive benefits available only to your wine club member; call your top club spenders
or frequent club purchasers; know what your members want and deliver it!

Remember, DIRECT is the best way to Communicate with, Acquire, and Retain your customers.
 

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