What they could have done
Here are just a few ideas of what they could have done to weather the regeneration and come out of it the other side, with a loyal customer base, when the town would be shiny and new and lots of people would be visiting to find out what it was all about.
People don’t become a customer when they walk through the door. They start their journey way before that. A website is your storefront. It is a way to show what you are all about, why you are there and your expertise. You have control of a website, you can continue to add content and reviews and offers. This website could have been about showing potential customers that they are experts at wine. In the same way that Gary Vaynerchuk built up Wine Library TV.
Be Open with Events:
What could you do with a space and several hundred bottles of wine? The list is almost endless. Those so-called quiet days at the beginning of the week could be used for events. For example, they could have set up a book club. ‘Come for a nice evening and have a glass of wine, some nibbles and let’s discuss this book’. They could have charged a monthly club fee, that included the wine, nibbles and the price of the book and they would have had a regular income and could have grown it to a decent number.
They could have held special evenings just for frazzled Mums, charge a £10 ticket fee, again with a free glass of wine and allowed Mums an evening away from the kids with the chance to meet other Mums and spend the evening moaning about being a Mum.
The town is a very family town but that means all those single adults can feel a bit left out. There is nothing more depressing than spending an afternoon being the third wheel. They could have used Sundays to target to the single men and women of the town. Have a classy single event, a chance for people to make new friends.
I could go on and on and on about the potential repeatable events that they could have held that would have brought in regular income on days when before they had zero money coming in.
I think one of the best ways to grow a loyal following is to create partnerships. They could have had a whole new audience by partnering with some of the other retailers in town. The could have partnered with the local deli and had an evening showing people how to pair wine with cheese and for the ticket fee they walk away with a gift bag or wine and cheese. They could have created an event with the local butcher and had a kebab and wine event on the streets. Or they could have had a popup at the local art gallery for an exhibition.
There are a ton of farmers and local producers in the area so there was plenty of opportunities to create different partnerships maybe popup products. Make it part of an event.
Mixing it up with different partnerships could have created opportunities that they could never have imagined.
By creating a membership club it allows you to be more efficient in income planning. If they had set up a wine club, where people paid a monthly fee then they would have had a regular income. This could have been done through the website. Members could be made aware of new wines early, been sent bottles before anyone else tried, you could create wine tasting events and holidays. People could have been members from all over the country. Wine tasting events could have been streamed live from the wine bar so people trying whilst they were sat in the comfort of their own home.
You can not run a business without telling the story through social media and digital marketing. Anything with wine and food is so Instagrammable for a start. They could have used social media, grown an email list and used it to grow the wine club and book club and also to let locals know what is going on. They could have created videos about reviewing different wines, how to taste wine and how to pair it with food. I think Gary Vaynerchuk may have done alright by talking about wine online.
Social media is critical to let people know what you are all about and being part of the journey before someone even walks through the door.
Old School Marketing:
There are certain times when old-school marketing stills works. In this town, there are thousands of new houses being built and there is an opportunity to welcome people to their new homes and their maybe their new town. A beautifully designed card with a 10% of their first drink could be all it takes to bring in new customers.
There is a way to do old school marketing without it being spammy.
Again why did they sit back and wait for people to walk through the door? They could have created a wine delivery service. They could have created a Saturday/Friday night movie box with a couple of bottles of wine and some goodies from the partnerships they created. They could have created a wine van delivering glasses of wine to your doorstep.