In 2004, local Wellington wine producer Stormhoek was exporting 50 000 cases of wine to the UK. By 2005, this figure doubled to 100 000. The reason? Creative use of the Internet’s latest communication medium and some serious marketing suss.
Wanting to create brand awareness in the competitive UK market, Stormhoek partnered with blogger Hugh MacLeod, who invited other bloggers interested in receiving a free bottle of wine to send him their addresses. He sent 100 bottles in the hope that respondents would mention the wine on their blog, although this was not stipulated in the message. Word spread about Stormhoek and almost overnight, the wine developed a cult-like following from the UK to Silicon Valley, where it is now known as “the bloggers’wine”.
Apart from doubling its exports, Stormhoek received exposure that would be impossible to buy. Flickr (the digital photosharing website) has over 600 photos of Stormhoek bottles and over 2 100 blog posts have mentioned the estate. The campaign received the Drinks Business Magazine Award for Best Consumer Campaign.
What Is A Blog?
A blog or ‘web log’ is a website, only easier to set up and maintain, where you can post articles that generate comments from bloggers who visit your site. Dave Duarte, blogger extraordinaire, self-confessed geek and co-founder with Mike Stopforth of social media company Cerebra, explains that a blog is different from a traditional website: “Websites, even if they are interactive, are basically a post for the marketing brochure of a company. Blogs allow you to really engage with customers in open conversation and to reach far more people than you could ever do through e-mail.”
It’s the marketing potential of blogging that has specifically caught the eye of most companies. But whether all companies are ready to face the risks associated with setting up a blog is another question entirely. “A blog is a public space, where people can say what they like about your company or your product,” says Duarte. For marketers who are used to controlling the public message of their brand, this might prove difficult to stomach. But, as Duarte points out, not engaging in the conversation is more harmful; people are going to be talking about you so you might as well talk back to them. And, as he says, there are enormous benefits to be derived from taking the leap into real openness and transparency: “If you get involved in the conversation you can really get people on your side. A blog is a powerful relationship building tool.” What it isn’t, is just another place to cut and paste your press releases.
Notable companies who have used blogging to their advantage include the likes of General Electric and Microsoft.