Wine clubs are the lifeblood of our direct-to-consumer program. We can’t let them just run on autopilot if we want to keep our members. Here are 10 tips to consider that will strengthen both our wine club and our relationships with our members for a successful wine club program.
- Customize our club
One size does not fit all. Traditionally, we expected our club members to take the wines we want to sell, and that was that. Nowadays, every business is customizing to let customers get what they want and we need to do the same. If we want to keep and grow our most lucrative sales channel, then we need to offer customization – the percent of customers who actually choose to customize will be surprisingly small, but the return on our investment will be huge. If people see we’re willing to send them the wines they want, they way they want, they’ll be more likely to join and buy more.
- Be a good tasting room partner
If you are working in the wine club department, come and work in the tasting room one Saturday afternoon each month, especially during the summer when club members will visit and shipments are fewer. It’s a chance to hear firsthand what our members are saying about our club. Since members frequently bring friends, it’s a chance for us to sign up more like-minded members. It also shows our tasting room partners that we’re with them and not just managing the club from the office.
- Create benefits for tenure
Just like a marriage where the first anniversary gift is paper and the 50th is diamonds, your relationship with your club members should get better over time. Find a way to reward long-time club members. This doesn’t necessarily mean bigger discounts, but rather think about privileges that give our members bragging rights. Lunch with the winemaker for local members or a stay in the guest cottage for top out-of-area members could fill the bill. Clubs that include benefits for long-term members and promote this benefit are more successful, especially with lower attrition rates.
- Create benefits for out-of-area members
Are your members day-trippers? Or do most of your members live further away? We know that we need reasons for out-of-area guests to join the club since they can’t come in for frequent complimentary tastings. Some benefits that could be considered are: letting members gift their privileges to local friends or others who travel to wine country, make sure they are the first to know about winemaker dinners in their area, etc.
- Offer a party in a box
One of the big enticements to join a wine club is our incredible member parties. For those who can’t join us at that event, create a party in a box. Give them the theme, the recipes, and a deal on the wines that will be poured at the party. Encourage them to host their own event and post the pictures on Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest.
- Stay in touch beyond shipment emails
Relationships are based on frequent communication. Nobody likes to hear from our winery only when we want money. One of the main reasons people join our wine club is the insider connection to our winery. Create a communications calendar with topics for monthly emails to members. These don’t have to be long, just relevant to our club members’ interests. Tell them what’s happening in the vineyard, introduce new club or tasting room staff, spotlight the winemaker or the winery dog, and invite them to visit.
- Clean up our database
Let’s do ourselves a favor and be ruthless about clearing out members who have been on hold forever. Contact the lapsed members and give them a last chance to opt in for a shipment or cancel their membership. A clean database will help us when it’s time to budget since then we can be realistic about the volume each club shipment will generate.
- Send an annual survey
Make sure our club members are as happy as we think they are. Let them know that we are listening. Send an annual survey to find out what they really value about our club and act on the results. Nothing says love like introducing a new benefit that was suggested by our members.
- Make friends with our software provider
Squeaky wheels get the grease. Are we attending our systems provider’s user group meetings? There’s strength in numbers, so when we band together as users to request on a system enhancement that we all need, we’re more likely to see progress. Let’s tell our tech folks what problems we are trying to solve and what information we need to run our business. The good systems providers will welcome our suggestions because these will make their system more effective and desirable.
- Don’t forget the whales and the exes
We all have a bunch of great customers who would never join a club. We also have a bunch of club members that have quit our club, but NOT our brand. They deserve privileges too if we want to keep them coming back. Create a program that rewards their spending and treat them like the valued customers they are.
It’s all about our relationships. How strong are yours?
Read this same article on Wines & Vines or want to read more on wine clubs? Try these articles: