Consider Creating a VIP Wine Club Area at Events
Do you need to make some changes to your winery's DTC marketing?
You probably offer a lot of benefits to your Wine Club Members. You may have special events, discounts, free tastings, cool recipes, and newsletters. But how many are cashing in on those benefits? Do you tend to see the same small handful of club members over and over? Do find that they just aren’t buying much when they visit?
Are you seeing fewer and fewer Wine Club members at big weekend events?
The number of sales made to Wine Club members at events seems to have gotten smaller and smaller over the years. As people join more Wine Clubs and they are offered more free benefits from all of these Clubs, the return per member decreases.
But it doesn’t mean it’s time to give up and just accept the status quo. If your members aren’t buying wine when they come to events, the question is how can you change that? What changes to your winery's DTC marketing will make a difference? What is the real reason fewer wine club members are buying?
Why Aren’t They Buying?
There are a few different reasons why current Club members may not be buying wine when they come to events or why they are attending fewer events:
1) They feel they already have enough of your wines thanks to their Club shipments. They’re willing to buy more wines from other places but there is no sense of urgency to buy more of the same brand they already have at home.
2) They have come to enjoy the benefits of being a Club member (free tastings, discounted event tickets and so on) and don’t feel pressured to buy during these experiences. Instead, they feel these are privileges they deserve and come with their commitment to those club shipments per year. Every Club offers them similar perks.
3) You aren’t creating a sales plan that focuses on showing wines that will compel them to buy. Such as:
* Older vintage wines
* Small production wines they can’t taste in the tasting room
* Deep discounts on cases of wine (think stuff that’s still good to drink but that should be drunk now… or wines that you have too much of and would like to change vintage on, whites/roses that need to be sold before they get seen as ‘old’). Deep discounts work and they don’t taint your brand or hurt you if they are for specific products and for specific reasons
4) When they come to events, they don’t get as much individualized attention. And, the big weekend events have gotten more crowded over the years, to the point where Club members may be avoiding these events altogether.
The VIP Advantage
If you haven’t tried creating a special Club Member VIP area at your large annual events, this may be something you want to consider putting the effort into testing out.
Having a special area dedicated for Club members does the following:
a) Gives your members a less crowded place to hang out and makes them feel special
b) Allows you to pour special wines or offer additional goodies such as food pairings, without having to provide these to the general public and
c) Creates a visible incentive to non-members to become Club members or to at least ask about how they can get into that special area and what your Club-entails.
Why do large-scale events have such high potential?
- It’s the big annual events that get the largest turnout. People often schedule trips to a wine region around attending a big weekend event that happens every year (because it’s easier to attend events that happen on the same weekend/dates every year). These are the events where you see the Wine Club members you don’t see the rest of the year. Or at least, you should be seeing them. If you’re not, it means they’re going somewhere else!
- Those who travel to wine country from out of state and only come once or twice a year generally come with the intention of taking more wine home than those who are local or who get to wine country more often. Take advantage of this willingness to spend money and ship wine home and give them the VIP experience.
Special Tip: Allow non-members who are big buyers or who you think will be big buyers to enter your ‘Club Only’ area. Assign a key winery manager/representative take care of them and show them the benefits to joining your Club. You can sign up new high-value Club members easily and more than pay back the cost of having extra staff dedicated to the VIP Club area.
A successful alternative to a VIP Area:
Create a special pre-event event for Club members. For example:
1) A Friday afternoon barrel tasting (the Friday before a big ticketed event weekend)
2) A morning tasting & tour or cellar tasting with the winemaker (before the main event starts)
If these VIP events or VIP areas are marketed well (and in enough advance) before the events so that all of your Club members are aware, they can be a significant revenue builder that takes some of the pain out of working harder and harder to sell less and less at these big weekend events.
You can generate a better return from your winery's DTC marketing at events with a VIP area. You will delight existing members and entice others to upgrade. This is also an area that will allow you to cultivate relationships with high volume customers. That means more sales. The club members who visit are more likely to talk about your winery after the event. That means new members down the line and a higher ROI from your winery's DTC marketing spend.
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