Cover Your Bases

A Wine-Win Situation

No one has to tell the Vaynerchuk family about the growing importance of database marketing. Owners of the Wine Library in Springfield, New Jersey, and winelibrary.com, an upscale retailer of wine, liquor and accessories, credit good data for their exponential growth--30 percent or more each year for the past three years.

"We've always tried to maintain a good sense of who our customer is," says Gary Vaynerchuk, 24, store owner and content creator for the Web site. "Because our marketing vehicles are very expensive, capturing information online as well as offline has made all the difference in reinforcing who our customers are and what media they're watching and listening to."

Through the Web site, Vaynerchuk captures information such as names, mailing addresses, e-mail addresses, wine preferences and how the visitors heard about the site. He then uses the information to send customized messages about new product offerings and other information that might be of interest to the customer. Employees also capture information in-store, including basic customer contact information and sales history.

"We've actually had people come into the store with printouts from the Web page and the information we've sent them," says Vaynerchuk. "That's one way we know it's working."

Because state regulations prohibit shipping wine and spirits out of state, Wine Library focuses on attracting in-state customers and luring the attractive Manhattan market, a mere 20 minutes over the border. They're careful to keep track of customer preferences and alert key customers of special products. The retailer markets non-alcoholic goods, such as its newly expanded lines of glassware and accessories, to out-of-state customers.

According to Vaynerchuk, database marketing is successful on many levels, helping the company narrowly target and cross-sell customers while refining national marketing efforts. This, says Vaynerchuk, is the power of information.

Gwen Moran is a freelance writer and co-author of The Complete Idiot's Guide to Business Plans (Alpha, 2010).

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This article was originally published in the February 2000 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Cover Your Bases.

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