I just returned from the Direct to Consumer Symposium held in Sonoma, California. Mobile marketing via short message service (your phone's SMS setting) was the most interesting emerging trend discussion. Craig Harper, CEP of Apisphere, educated attendees about how wineries can use text messaging to connect with consumers. For example, a winery might use text wine club members in a specific area of a retailer tasting. Or communicate with opted-in customers when they travel to the surrounding area about wines available to taste that day.
I was also drawn to a finding that 90% of wine club sign ups are done in the tasting room. While not surprising, it certainly speaks to the power of the winery experience in connecting with higher value customers. The chances that a more impersonal website purchase will lead to a club membership are therefore relatively low.
A recommended quick tip is continuing to treat customers who have had to drop out of your wine club due to financial reasons as if they were still members for four to six months (i.e., offer tasting room fee waivers, purchase discounts and any other benefits). This will build goodwill, demonstrate loyalty on behalf of the winery, and increase the chances that they will return when their financial situations have improved.
Check out my latest article, Selecting Software for Direct Sales, published in the January 2010 issue of Wines & Vines magazine. It outlines a three-step strategic process -- needs evaluation, competitive analysis and interview, to help wineries select the best fit and avoid common hassles and problems.