14 January 2008
South African winemaker Stormhoek has gained international recognition in the wine industry for its innovative marketing strategy, which makes use of a blog that attracts over a million hits a day. It currently supplies wine to the domestic market as well as to the US, UK, Norway and Sweden.
Addressed delegates at a Wesgro exporters meeting in November, Stormhoek co-owner Graham Knox explained how his company had gained a competitive edge in the international wine market. Wesgro is the official trade and investment promotion agency for the Western Cape province.
According to a Wesgro statement, Knox told the delegates that the company, which was launched in 2003, had decided to sell their wines wherever there were trade opportunities and where they could get distribution. More importantly, the company decided to market itself using the internet rather than traditional advertising mediums such as television and magazines.
Knox told them that blogging has an enormous potential reach and remarkably low cost, while allowing for interaction between a company and its customers.
To attract people to the blog, Stormhoek got a prominent blogger to publish a piece, offered people a free bottle of wine if they commented on the blog, and also published a premier UK liquor store’s discount voucher on their blog. In 10 days the store had 4-million redemptions, almost all of which were downloaded from the Stormhoek website, doubling their turnover.
Knox says that blogging is a powerful marketing tool, particularly for small business owners who don’t have the time to learn web-based languages or the money to hire a web designer or developer.
He adds that blogging offers an inexpensive alternative to get a company’s name out on the internet quickly, and more importantly, that a blog is immediate, allowing for a company to continually interact with its clients and cater to their needs, helping to create a sense of loyalty among them.
Stormhoeks’ blogging campaign has been recognised by its peers in the South African marketing community, with sales having grown over fourfold since April 2005, when the first Stormhoek blog was posted on the internet.
In addition to their blog, Stormhoek also has a group on social networking site Facebook, a video channel on YouTube and an RSS feed that enable readers to keep up to date with the latest news on the blog.
For its innovative approach to marketing its wines, Stormhoek was included in the American Marketing Association’s World Marketing Top 50 Brand Awards in 2006. Some other winners in this category include Nike, Apple, Microsoft, McDonald’s and Toyota.
Stormhoek also won the 2007 Grand Prix for best Brand Marketing Campaign in South Africa, at the Sunday Times Marketing Excellence Awards ceremony.