I have a fabulous marketing plan in place whereby people pay $50 per person to attend a tour and wine pairing at my shop. They are a captive audience for at least two hours, and the events themselves have become so popular, that my staff now host them 4 evenings a week, and they are sold out until the end of April. Each event hosts 10 people.
With this program in place I have had to spend ZERO on marketing in the past 5 years, and now have 2 corporate stores doing great, as well as a new dealership (like a franchise) in another city.
One word of advice: DO NOT SPEND A SINGLE DIME ON ANY TYPE OF ADVERTISING/MARKETING WHERE THE RESULTS CANNOT BE QUANTIFIABLY MEASURED!!!
I started the events about 6 months after I opened my doors. I used an existing email list of clients for the first few, and also dedicated one event per month to a local charity whereby I would give the charity tickets to a single event. They would sell the tickets, keep the proceeds from the ticket sales, and I would host the event. Usually those events proved very fruitful, as the attendees were appreciative of my company's donation, and they would make signifiant purchases at the end of the evening.
The events are a huge win/win. The organization gets funds. The donor has an entertaining and unique evening, and Choklat gets new customers and great good will in the community.
As always, thanks for the great advice, Brad. I always find your posts most useful. Knowing a fair amount about chocolate but very little about wine, how did you initially determine the pairings? Do you know of any short video clips that could be shown during the party that help explain the relationship between the wine / chocolate? Also, are there any regulatory concerns about serving wine to paying participants (I'm in the US)? Thanks again, John
John, that was a tough one for me because I don't drink.
What I did was poll a series of local wine merchants who were willing to work with my company, and then sit down for a couple of hours with their sommeliers, various beverages, and my various chocolate bars and figure out what works and what doesn't.
The wine merchant who seemed most amenable to working with me got my business, and their referral information on our "official" Choklat wine pairing list that I posted on my website.
I hope that helps.
Thanks Brad. Very helpful! i live in Pennsylvania where wine is sold in State Stores and the staff is not very knowledgeable. Delaware (neighboring state) does have Wine stores with very knowledgeable staff. I'll take a ride to Wilmington and talk to them about the pairings. Thanks again for the help. John