The following was originally posted on the REThinkWine blog in Oct 2008. Thanks to IBG for the repost rights..
No one doubts that when it comes to electronic commerce and e-marketing in the wine industry, wineries with a tasting room have a significant advantage. The visitors that walk into the tasting room immediately become customers or well-qualified prospects that can be added to a winery’s “contact list” for future outreach. But if you don’t have a tasting room, building a contact/customer list is a much more daunting task. But if email marketing and online sales is part of your direct sales strategy, then it’s a task you must take up and address.
Here are just three creative strategies for building customer and contact lists that have been successful for other wineries without tasting rooms.
1. Business Teaser Cards: A few wineries, when printing business cards for all their employees, have used the back of the card to offer the holder a 10% or even 20% discount on their first purchase. Often each card has a code on it that buyers can use to assure their online discount and to track who’s business card led to the sale. It’s a creative way to invite new acquaintances to the website when without the discount/invite you’d only be handing out a business card with no call-to-action.
2. Event Giveaways: One Sonoma winery with no tasting room but with a guest house on their property always brought a sign to the tastings they attended announcing that following the tasting a drawing would take place for a weekend getaway at the winery’s guest house. The sign carried beautiful pictures of the guest house and the property. All the attendees had to do was drop their business card in a fishbowl or fill out a simple slip of paper with name, state and email. Within a day of the tasting the winery did their drawing, contacted the winner and set up when they would visit. But more importantly, the winery would also contact via email every single person who entered the drawing with a “thank you” message and an offer of 15% on their first purchase. Their list continues to grow.
3. Contests: A number of wineries without tasting rooms have found that contests are a fantastic way to draw prospective customers to their website. The best contests should be easy to enter, but also give the entrants a feeling of participation or connect with the winery, winemaker or brand. One winery has used its back label as a canvas for the contest by inviting entrants to design their own 100-word back label on a specific subject. The winner had their entry published on the label when the wine was bottled! The contest was announced with a press release and an ad, and the winner was announced on the website and in a press release. They received hundreds of people visiting their site to participate, all providing their entry of back label copy along with their e-mail address. The winery grew their mailing list and customers were able to engage with the brand. Win-Win.
Prospecting and building your email contact list must be an ongoing project if increasing online sales is part of your marketing strategy. If you don’t have a tasting room, you’ll need to think creatively. The time and effort that goes into a very creative customer prospecting program will pay off in an enhanced email list, and ultimately increased sales.