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Last Update: Thursday July 2, 2020

Key Idea: Coddle Customers

Cindy Simpson, manager of the Fess Parker Winery wine club, stresses the importance of membership privileges and unique product offerings.

Key Question:


Like every great retailer, The Fess Parker Winery's shop and tasting room makes guests feel like kings and queens. The physical place is spectacular and the employees are all thoroughly charming.

Q: How does the winery make customers feel special?

It created a private club for them to join. A wine club of course.

People want to belong. We have never belonged to a country club but we know lots of people are happy to pay an annual membership fee to be part of something they enjoy. Some say their country club is their home away from home.

If you join, you have benefits. You are special. You can buy things others can't buy. You will be treated in a way only club members are treated.

It's the 80/20 rule. Eighty percent of your business comes from 20 percent of your customers. So, if you can isolate the 20% who give you 80% of your sales, your focus on them will give you more profits than a marketing effort that treats all customers the same. American Airlines is the king at marketing this way. The frequent flyer program gives special treatment to the more frequent travelers and the special treatment causes those travelers to choose American first. All the airlines followed them when they saw the success realized by treating the biggest spenders in some special way.

Think of a nice way to ask for a person's mailing information. And, be sensitive to the moment. The winery has a huge advantage over most retail situations because when a person comes to the Fess Parker Winery they have driven there with intention. You have to go on back roads, and, the shoppers are not in a hurry. Actually, most are on vacation or taking a long weekend to relax in the beauty.

By capturing the shipping address of the retail store visitors, Fess Parker starts to nuture the prospect with newsletters and special offers. Once the person joins the club, the coddling begins.

Think about it

How do you coddle your customers? Could you do it better? 

Clip from: Fess Parker Winery and Vineyard: Brand Matters

Los Olivos, California: Way back in the 1950s a young Texan by the name of Fess Parker took a job with Walt Disney. He became an actor and the incarnation of two American heroes, Davy Crockett and Daniel Boone. With so much exposure on television, this man truly became an American icon in our time.

We caught up with Fess in beautiful Santa Barbara wine country to continue our studies of the first principles of branding and storytelling.  Fess left Hollywood and bought land then built a hotel.  Here you'll also discover that he believes in real estate and in helping his customers create memorable experiences.

The Fess Parker Winery and Vineyard is located 32 miles north of Santa Barbara on the Foxen Canyon Wine Trail. 

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Fess Parker Winery

Fess Parker, founder

6200 Foxen Canyon Road
Los Olivos, CA 93441

Visit our web site:

Office: 805-688-1545

Business Classification:

Year Founded:

Coddle Customers

HATTIE: (Voiceover) Cindy Simpson says the visitors center and its grounds are available for special events, with the food being catered by the Fess Parker Inn. And, of course, the wine is easy to find.

Cindy, tell me about the wine club, how it got started, how you built your list and what you offer?

CINDY SIMPSON: Basically, the wine club started with guests coming into the tasting room. And we would ask them if they wanted to join the wine club. They would receive two bottles of wine each quarter. Along with the wine, they would also receive our newsletter, which gives them a list of upcoming special events at the winery. And the wines that they would receive in their shipments are all pre-release wines, so the rest of the general public wouldn't have a chance to get their hands on it before the wine club members.

HATTIE: So one of the secrets to getting "a club going" is making sure that you offer something really unique?

CINDY: I think so.

HATTIE: `If you're in the club, you get this.'

CINDY: You're in the club.

HATTIE: OK. Yeah, yeah. The club. Cindy explains that four-color photography gets a much better response than do drawings.

CINDY: I mean, ask yourself if you would respond to this. It's very hard to sell a product that somebody can't see.Like the Coonskin Toppers or...

HATTIE: OK. When you say Coonskin Topper--this is a whole new thing for me, 'cause I didn't know there was such a thing until I came here today.

CINDY: Only at Fess Parker Winery, by the way.

HATTIE: Let's hope so. You guys could sue anybody else. And so this is the Coonskin Topper in sketch. And you're saying you hardly sold any of those until you put it in...

CINDY: You couldn't -- it looks like a wig. I mean, you couldn't really tell what it was. And it sort of is, but it's a wig for a bottle.

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