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  • Valerie Passerini

Two Cheap and Easy Ways to Find Your Customer's Voice

Updated: May 11




In the wise words of your mom, If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything.


The same goes for your business where the "something" is how you talk to your clients. If you're trying to reach everyone, you won't reach anyone. Unless you are doing something like the Horror Bar, chances are you are in an oversaturated market. When you're providing the same service or product, one of the few ways you can stand out is to make sure you have captured the voice of your customer (VOC in marketing speak) Companies that listen and craft their messaging to match the language of their potential customers are better positioned to keep the potential customer's attention who will ultimately spend where they feel spoken to.


What are you doing to capture your client’s voice?


Did you pay for a marketing survey about the demographics of wine drinkers? Did you utilize a market research firm? If you have the kind of capital for these methods, great! But there is a lot you can do at a much lower price point.


But how could you know your customer’s voice if you don’t know anything about them? You can rely on industry reports and surveys, but these are a small sample and may not work well for your brand.


It’s about them - not you. If your landing pages, website copy and emails don’t address their resounding, “What’s in it for me?” they’ll move on to find someone who will answer that ever important question.


If you don’t know anything about your ideal customer or the kind of customers you want to sell to, how are you going to craft a website where they’ll want to shop or give you their email address? We’re self-centered creatures who want to see ourselves reflected in what we read.


After all, our inboxes are full so if you make it in there, you had better know how to keep our attention.


(Sort of an aside) This is why having a content marketing strategy is so important. If you’re not publishing blog posts, partnering with like minded companies, or providing something of value, you can bet that another company will and they’ll get their business since people are much more likely to purchase from them after getting to know, like and trust them.


But back to getting to know your customers.


Let’s imagine that you are curious about wine subscription boxes and you Google “best wine subscription boxes” Once you have found your list, you visit the websites of nineteen of them, enter in your email address, check their social media channels and scan the Net for customer reviews.


What I discovered, and these are some big wine companies, is that not enough businesses are surveying their customers - and it shows. According to the State of the Customer Service in 2020 report from Hubspot, 42% of companies don't survey their customers or collect feedback.


Instead, almost every wine subscription company is doing the same thing.

  • Multicultural stock photos of beautiful people laughing and enjoying wine

  • Lots of website text devoted to how they came to start their wine subscription company, how much they know about wine, and what their experience is in the wine industry

  • Halfhearted calls to action like "Sign up to stay in the know/the loop, get recipes from us, or learn more about wine" - to get our email addresses.


If you’re like me, and you love wine and marketing, you persist and sign up because you’re curious about what sets one apart from the others and damnit you enjoy a good glass of vino.


Did any of the wine subscription companies care about us?


Four of them used quizzes as popups, throwing us questions like, Do you like candy? Or the taste of chocolate? (Yes and Yes, because I am not a monster) Most of these quizzes are designed to figure out our tastes so that at the end, we’ll enter in our email address if we want to see what the company has picked out for us.


A few wanted to school us and let us know that we’re likely paying for marketing or middlemen if we only buy our wine from a wine store or big online retailer. We’re told that over $40 wine can be just the same as a $10 bottle and that price point isn’t everything. They're preaching to the choir. I don’t drop that kind of coin on wine unless it’s at a restaurant and that’s just because of the inevitable markup. I don’t care about labels or prices, I care about taste. Doesn’t everyone?


That’s just the thing. Customer demographics are sorely ignored in the world of wine. Craft beer, liquor and seltzer do a much better job at appealing to drinkers who aren’t just WASPY men over 50. They genuinely want to expand their market. And the wine industry must follow suit if it wants to thrive. After all, it was a rough 2020 for wine. Between wildfires and the pandemic, the amount of grapes and disruptions in shipping led to an underwhelming year for wine sellers.


Also, any industry that is slow to change will also face even more of a hangover. The State of the U.S. Wine Industry Report for 2021, talks about a need to appeal to younger wine drinkers but muses, “Millennials aren’t engaging wine as hoped. They lack financial capacity, having been slow to get into their careers after the financial crisis that started in 2007. They have a current preference for premium spirits and craft beers, which have a better value per serving."


The wine industry is completely singular focused, they have discovered wine moms, albeit begrudgingly. These "wine moms" like the super sweet sauce, or a buttery Chardonnay, or and have monogrammed wine glasses that say things like, "It's Mom's turn to wine" and "because kids" We're led to believe that "wine moms" appreciate a good price point and a cute label.


But if wine subscription companies, wineries and wine retailers want to sell more wine, they need to cater their messaging to more than two groups.


There are two ways to do this for them to start speaking in the voice of their customer.


Quizzes and Review Mining


Quizzes:


Four of 19 wine subscription companies are using quizzes but they’re mostly asking very basic questions about wine and claim that they have proprietary methods to scan a billion data points (looking at you Firstleaf) to pinpoint exactly what I’ll like.


Quizzes are an excellent method but timing is everything. If I go to your website and I can’t see anything or browse until I answer your quiz, I am likely to bounce. Why should I do something for you if you won’t even let me look around a little? Never make me pay the toll troll unless you’ve warmed me up a bit to what you have to offer.


What makes your wine special to me? What can I expect if I order from you? What kind of guarantee do you offer if I don’t like what you send? After all, joining a wine club involves risk. You're crossing your fingers and hoping that they won’t send you a terrible bottle of swill.


By the way, the only company I could find that lets you sample is Vinebox, who sends vials of wine first before you opt in to buying a bottle.


If you want to design your own quiz, here are 19 options. Make sure that you get age and gender but beyond that, aim for no more than 10 questions. Also, it’s considered bad form to dangle a carrot like a discount for completing a survey or quiz, but there’s nothing stopping you from rewarding them for making it to the end. Perhaps a % or $x discount of your first shipment.


Almost all wine subscription companies offer some kind of discount code. Some expire after 48 hours and others have no expiration. Although scarcity may work well for companies who face little competition, wine subscription companies should always look to entice that first sale and turn them into regular monthly, or even better, give a discount when after the first month, they pay in full for the rest of the year.


You may want to partner with a marketer to craft the kind of questions you ask in your survey or if you’re the DIY type, here’s a few ideas. Keep them multiple choice unless they’re already existing customers. Open ended questions like, “What could we be doing better?” are only insightful once they’ve moved to current customer status. Another way to ask this question of a potential customer might be “If you have ordered from a wine subscription company in the past and cancelled, why? Below this you can add in choices like “I didn’t like the wine” “Shipping snafus” “Unsatisfactory customer service” or “Difficulty in adjusting my shipments” This way, especially if they must pick one, you will have an idea about what is most important to them.


Review Mining:


The second way to get more customer information is through review mining. It’s not as fun as mining for precious gems but it is crucial for your business. Google “Your competition’s name” and customer reviews” or “Your competition's name and complaints” Many wine subscription customer reviews end up on the BBB or Trust Pilot. You can also get tidbits from Facebook reviews and even the Facebook comments on your competitor's posts and advertisements. Granted, as with any reviews you are dealing with the extremes of overly happy and extremely unsatisfied but you can see patterns as I did with Splash wines about how they send spam emails.


Bottom line: Get to know your customers using short quizzes followed by some kind of thank you and go review mining on yourself or your competition. The insights you pull from these two tasks will help you write more compelling emails and web copy so your would be customers feel like you’ve taken the time to listen and fix their pain points (with wine it is shipping snafus for sure but more on that in another post)


If you subscribe to a wine box or work in the industry, I’d love to hear your thoughts.


Of the 19 companies I looked at, only one, Naked Wines, stood out for their unique funding model (Angels 😇) and for their connection between drinking natural wines for health reasons. Every other company relied on descriptions of wine, how knowledgeable they are about wine and how they came to start their own wine company.



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