For independent wineries to survive and thrive in the challenging present, they are going to need to adopt business strategies that go beyond the conventions of this industry. One of the best ways to do this is to learn from outside the wine business and adapt what you learn. Of course, the challenge is to find something both powerful and cost effective.
I recently came across an idea that is easy and inexpensive to implement with the power to revitalize the most profitable sales channel for independent wineries.
The Winery Wine Club.
Imagine you’ve just joined a winery’s wine club. Perhaps you visited the winery and had a wonderful time. You tasted delicious wine, met some cool people, and enjoyed a beautiful view of the vineyards. You will now be sent an interesting selection of wine every couple months.
Congratulations! You have become one of the winery’s most profitable customers — but you will be out of their wine club in 18 months!
For all the time effort and money put into customer acquisition, the average winery club member only lasts for eighteen months. That is a painfully short time for the most profitable part of a winery’s business.
Anything that can increase that average - even little bit - will put real money towards the bottom line. It is vitally important.
Allow me to introduce HighRIse - a customer relationship management company.
—I’m not selling their service, I want you to imitate one of their great ideas—
They have been so successful that, as of this writing, they are no longer accepting new customers. They attribute some of that success to an unconventionally human interaction.
After signing up a new customer, the support team at HighRise records a short personal video for that customer. The customer is addressed by name, given access to a real human being, and asked what help they specifically need.
It’s an absolutely amazing relationship-builder between the business and its customers. The videos aren’t professionally shot - most are taken from a shaky camera phone, with poor lighting - but they are always well received. So well received, in fact, that they tend to get shared on social media quite a bit, generating a lot of press for HighRise. Something as simple as a thirty-second video welcoming a customer to a product has real capacity to build goodwill, social capital, and genuine connection between a customer and a company.
In the wine business, we call this hospitality. This is just the digital version.
Can you imagine the impact on club members if the owner or winemaker would take the time to send them a personal video once a year?
*Quote from “Company of One” by Paul Jarvis.