Vineyard Scene

5 stages of a club members life cycle

Wine Club

What is the path of a customer through wine club member and how can you influence it?  Can you tailor your customer’s experience, so they have a higher chance of becoming a club member through signage, staff interaction, POS, club benefit displays, guest books/kiosks and tasting sheets?  You betcha!

stage 1 – prospects

Prospects are your widest net and some feel are the most difficult to manage.  They are people who are not yet customers.  You need to drive them to your tasting room or ecommerce site.  Perhaps they have no idea about your winery or wine.  You can reach them via email, mail, advertising, referrals from club members, and referrals from other businesses.  You can contact local limousines, car services, and hotels and offer something for their turn down service, or special tastings at the hotel.

stage 2 – visitors

Visitors have made it through the first gate.  They are affected by every part of their visit, from what they did the day before to how the rest of their day went after they left.  You can’t control what happens outside your business, but you can maximize their experience while they are visiting.  Make it easy for the visitor to purchase and become a customer.  Whether in your store or online, there shouldn’t be any obstacles to the process.  Make checkout easy.  Passively present the club and its benefits during their taste, on the tasting sheet, during the tour, at the register, and as part of the ecommerce checkout.  This can be as easy as mentioning a club event, showing pictures of the club community, and having “free tasting” listed for club members.

stage 3 – customers

Once your visitor makes a purchase, they are a customer.  If they are not a club member, be sure to mention the discount (if applicable) the club membership would earn them.  Even if they don’t join the club, get the customer’s information so you can follow up with them later.  This is easy when purchasing online but also try to get their phone number, email and physical address during a face-to-face purchase.  Actively present the club during checkout.  Talk about the last club event and how much fun it was.  After the sale, follow up with the customer.  Thank them for the purchase.  Make sure the shipment arrived (if shipping).  Use that as an opportunity to build a relationship.  Check in every other month (or more often) to see if they need more wine.

stage 4 – club members

Hopefully, your customer will become a wine club member.  Your club members are your best customers and your brand ambassadors.  Your deepest connections are with your club members.  Cultivate that relationship starting with the thank you note for joining and continuing with special emails, events, and offers.  Recognize them online and in your tasting room and thank them for being club members.  Be sure to communicate how special they are and always be sure to let them know about the most recent releases and offers you have.  Connect with them via social media, if you can, and make sure they are part of the creation of your brand, not just passengers.  That way they’ll be invested and more likely to stay club members.

stage 5 – former club members

Every club member will eventually leave the club.  How you manage that exit will determine how long you can continue a mutually beneficial relationship.  When they cancel their club, be sure to be courteous; honor their decision and acknowledge their desire.  Also, find out why they are cancelling so you can give them options to stay.  Can you find ways to save them money or send only wines they want?  Also, be sure to send an exit email with a survey and an unsubscribe link.  This will keep them in your conversation and allow them to answer questions about their membership and how they feel.  They may be more likely to give honest and complete answers if they aren’t talking on the phone.  Let them know about the specials, releases, and events so they can still be an active purchaser and perhaps join the club again in the future.

By Lloyd Vance, Napa, California