Vineyard Scene

Designing your club for maximum membership

Wine Club

When designing your wine club there are many decisions to make that can help maximize your membership.  The schedule and contents of your shipments, the club signup form, communication, and events can all help drive membership.

what products will you offer your members?

Before people can sign up for your wine club, you need to know what they’ll be getting.  The average American drinks about a case of wine per year.  So, a good place to start is a case as the total number of bottles sent in a year, spread out over several shipments.

A contributor to how much wine you can send and across how many shipments is how many different wines are produced.  It may turn off some customers to get a full case of the same wine each shipment.  Can a special lot be created just for the wine club members?  If you have a widely distributed wine, you may consider excluding it from your schedule or cellaring enough of the current vintage to send as part of a shipment a few years from now.  Alternatively, could some of the wine be bottled in magnums?  These options make the wine more special since the customer might not otherwise have access to it.

club signup form

Once you’ve determined what you’re sending, turn your attention to the club signup form.  The form should be clean and straightforward.  If they are singing up in the tasting room, give the customer plenty of room to write – penmanship can degrade after a few tastes of wine.  Make the decision easy.  Don’t have too many options for them to choose from.  Remember, they are on vacation and everything should be as relaxed as possible.

communicate with your members

After the customer becomes a club member, make sure you communicate with them.  Be active with email and social media.  If you only reach out to them with sales and special offers, you’ll see cancellations spike when you email.  If you instead communicate regularly with your winery’s lifestyle, message and feeling, you will keep them emotionally connected to the winery and they’ll stay members longer.

Tell your club members about events, festivals, and dinners you have planned.  If you are pouring at a fair, festival or tasting event, let them know. Not only might some members attend but it keeps you in their minds and hearts.

When planning out your communication, be sure to include phone calls along with the emails, blogs and social media posts. While electronic communication is easy and effective, the personal connection that can be made during a phone call is much more effective.

offer club-only deals

Of course, one benefit of membership is great offers and deals on wine.  Make them feel special with club-only deals.  Feel free to post the deals on social media – it can generate club signups if the deal is good enough.

And don’t forget events for your club members.  This is a great way to make the club member feel like family, to really get in touch with them and make that emotional connection.  Be sure to have events around holidays that are already special, such as Valentine’s Day and Christmas.

loyalty programs

Another way to maximize club membership is to have a loyalty program.  Something as simple as an increased discount can increase the length of time a club member stays active.  You can reward on time, dollars spent, or number of club shipments.  You can give gifts, points, rebates, coupons, or increased discounts.  There are an infinite number of possibilities and combinations.  The key is to have something easy to identify and understand by the customer as well as easy to manage by the staff.

handle cancellations

The “last chance” to increase customer longevity is when the customer calls to cancel.  Be sure to ask them why they are cancelling and give them the opportunity to not quit.  Most of the time, a little flexibility will keep them in the club and happy.  Customizing the wine in their shipments and/or reducing the number of shipments they receive can keep your members from cancelling.

So, when designing the wine club, you really want to consider what the club members will want, when they want it as well as using all the tools at your disposal to deepen the emotional bond between your winery and the club member.

By Lloyd Vance, Napa, California