Wine club membership totals at the end of 2012 are higher than they were end of 2011. (In aggregate, about 12%.) So that’s good. Unless you are one of the wineries (and there are several) whose numbers went down in 2012. If your club is one of the many that’s doing well, you can stop reading now, and go back to Facebook and sending fun posts to your friends.
If your club’s numbers are down, read on, Macduff! There are steps you can take to reverse this trend.
First, make better wine. Ok, you actually make good wine, so this flip response was just to get your attention. But there are things you can do.
- Do you treat your wine club members well? If all you do is send 2 bottles every 3 months at a discount with no follow up, you may very well be discontinued. Why not send a gift every now and then, even non wine-related, such as a jar of wine mustard, or a little trinket? Perhaps as Christmas approaches, a tree ornament related to your brand?
- Do you offer them specials? With special emails too? Not just a general sale email saying 20% off, wine club members additional 10%. But something just for wine club members, such as first dibs on new wines, specially priced closeouts or events such as barbecues or dinners at the winery just for club members. Wine club members are special; they are your best customers. They want more of your wine. Treat them well.
- If a member comes to visit your winery, do you have a special place for them to taste? It’s great that you offer free tastings to members (you do, don’t you?), but if they were tasting at a separate bar or even tasting room, you can offer them tastes of wines non-members can’t taste. If you taste members and non-members at the same bar, and a member is offered a taste of a wine club wine, what if a non-member asks for it? You can’t really refuse them as you will lose a customer and potential club member. No one wants to be told, “This wine’s not for you.” So keep them separate if you can.
If someone quits your wine club, do you ask them why? Do you want to know? If all you do is say, “Ok, we will remove you from our membership list,” then this is indicative of why your membership is down. So you do need to ask why.
- Perhaps they are moving to a state you can’t ship to. Can’t do anything about that, can you? Well, you can ask if there is a nearby state where a friend or business is located that can receive shipments. Most likely not, but some might be very eager to pursue that as they really do like your wines.
- Maybe they have have suffered financial reversals and are cutting back generally. Do you have a smaller quantity of wines you can offer to ship? That will cut back on their expenses. Perhaps ship less frequently? Perhaps offer a different and less expensive selection of wines?
- Do they say their tastes have changed or perhaps they need to eliminate some wine clubs and choose others? Can you provide information about new and exciting wines that will be forthcoming in wine club shipments? Do you make wines that are available only to members?
- Have you thought about telling them you can put them on an “inactive” list, yet they will still be able to receive wine club newsletters via email (a good way to keep enticing them to reactivate their membership). Perhaps you can tell them for a limited time they can still receive club discounts on any wine they do choose to order while they are inactive.
- Keep in touch with them. Down the road offer them a special to become active again. But don’t forget about them. A friendly reminder that you still think of them and hope to see you again soon is rarely resented. And people do rejoin clubs once the issue that caused their cancellation is resolved.
When a shipment is ready to be sent, do you notify members of its impending arrival? Some members might be out of town and then UPS or FedEx will return it to the winery after several attempts.
- Do you provide tracking numbers for shipments so they can know the day the shipment will arrive or possibly make arrangements to pick it up at the depot?
- Do you keep track of who re-orders club wines? Do you care? If you don’t care, the members won’t care either. Depending on how much they buy, you can offer a special to them or perhaps send them a gift in their shipment. The gift doesn’t have to be alcohol.
Here’s a thought: Have a special Facebook group for wine club members, so you can take more time with them than with just the casual visitor. You can offer specials to them that others won’t see. And for your regular Facebook page, put up some videos of wine club events. That’ll make them jealous (and join).
Pinterest is an excellent place to show photographs of wine club events, showing images of food presented at these events. Are you on Pinterest? It doesn’t take long to upload these images. Even non-members will get to see them. And people do re-pin images so many more can see them. Some people put up images of your wine bottles themselves if they’ve liked the wine. You can re-pin those.
If you have a mobile site (and you should for so many reasons, including that people are using mobile more and more and the PC less and less), you can have a fast way of communicating with club members. If they’re in your area, invite them in for a visit to taste special wines, perhaps offer a food or cheese pairing. The key is always to make them feel special.
Here’s a query: A wine club member’s shipment gets returned (after 3 attempts to deliver). The member then calls you saying they were out of town, please re-ship. How do you handle this? Do you charge them again for shipping? Absorb the cost? Ask for another possibly business address? If you’d like to respond, we can publish the results (without attribution) together with our thoughts. Write to: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
If you would like further assistance with wine clubs, analytics, SEO, or social media, just ask. We want you to do well, do better, and continue making good wine. (We are a thirsty bunch.)