I’ve Got a Little List

“I’ve Got a Little List” (W.S. Gilbert in “The Mikado”)

 List Building. Good Idea or Bad Idea?

Here’s a list to help you decide:

  • Do you want to increase your business? If so, building a list is a good idea.
  • Are you looking to go out of business and retire next week? If so, building a list is a bad idea.

Does this help?

Ok, so let’s assume you want to build a list. (If you already have a list, we’ll help you make it a bigger one. Size does matter. )

Is it difficult to build a list? Let’s put it this way. Do you need assistance when going to pee? No? Then you already can do this easily.

How to get people to join your list:

  1. Ask them.
  2. See #1 above

Laugh not. We once asked a winery if they had an email list. “No,” they responded. “The place where our wines are tasted doesn’t provide that capability.” “Next time you go over there,” we suggested, “stop at Staples first and buy a pencil and a yellow pad.” (We do amuse ourselves sometimes.)

So when customers come into your tasting room, ask them if they’d like to receive special offers, notices of sales, advance word of new releases, etc.  And then you enter their email on your POS system or iPad, or the yellow pad you bought at Staples.

You can, of course, not just ask for their email. You can also contact people via this brand new invention, the telephone. Telephone wine sales are big. There are several companies that specialize in calling your customers to sell them your wine. One winery, which pays employees $1 for each email they get from customers, will pay that same employee $5 for each phone number. One wine telesales company reports selling about $7 to $14 million in wine each year for all their client wineries.

Since you have a website (you do, don’t you?), do you have a place where people can sign up to receive your newsletter? (You do produce one, right?) Is your sign-up form on the home page? Is it also on every page? Good. (Well, good only if you answered yes to these questions.)

You shouldn’t ask too many questions when asking users to sign up. Email address is a must. Asking for first/last name is good. This is so you can address the emails with “Dear Bob” (if that’s their name) instead of “Dear Unknown”.

Some wineries also ask for the users’ zip code. But ask yourself why you really need it. Do you separate newsletter users this way? There are other questions you can ask, such as wine preferences, but don’t do that here. You don’t want people to say they don’t have time now, but will do it later, because they won’t do it later.

If a signup is on the home page, but not on the other pages, the winery is missing out on an opportunity to really connect with that customer. (Even worse, the signup is not on the home page, but on some obscure page that the casual user will never see, like “contact us.”)

Saying “thanks” is really not good enough. Tell them what they’ll now get. Being on yet another mailing list is boring. Tell them why yours is special. Maybe offer a one-time promo code for a discounted wine as a thanks for getting their newsletter. And what really does “subscribe success” mean? Yeah, we know, but that is silly. It sounds like computer-speak.

Here are some other great ways to collect emails:

  • At events, such as wine store tastings, restaurant wine dinners, and festivals
  • Offer tasting room employees a set amount, perhaps 50 cents or $1 per email
  • Promote your newsletter on Facebook or other social media app
  • Create a contest and promote it through social media and/or on your website

The purpose of building a list is, of course, to promote your wines or whatever you want to promote. You can offer some wines only at a discount, perhaps to move slow-selling products. Or perhaps all your wines to increase cash flow. You can offer special holiday sales, e.g., Christmas gifts, 4th of July barbecues, Mother’s Day, Valentine’s Day, or anything really. You perhaps can offer special deals on case sales, free or reduced price shipping, or anything you want.

Some creative wineries offer bigger discounts the more people buy, e.g., “save 10% on 3 bottles, 20% on 6 bottles, 30% on 12 or more.” Or any combination of discounts on wine, shipping or even free merchandise (free T shirt with any purchase)*where permitted. Free wine is generally frowned upon, but your state regulations will determine that.

Not only can this generate sales, it also reminds your customers of your brand and could get them to think of you when shopping at the local stores too. A customer who buys at Safeway or their local wine store is your customer just as much as one who visits your tasting room or orders wine to be shipped. You won’t make as much profit on that sale, but it still is a sale.

By the way, it’s a good idea when asking for emails, to assure people that you don’t sell or rent your email list to anyone. People don’t like spam, and you don’t want to spam potential and actual customers. And provide an easy way for people to remove themselves from your list. If they ask to be removed, do it promptly.





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