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September 8, 2005

blogging and our business


My name is Nick Dymoke-Marr. I'm the U.K. Managing Director of Stormhoek.

I suppose the question a lot of people will be asking is, why are we bothering with a blog? Why not go with more conventional marketing practices? Why are we listening to this mad marketing anarchist Hugh MacLeod, when we could instead be basking in the re-assuring glow of a famous London advertising agency?

Because if we don't rise above the clutter, we will fail. It's that simple.

Stormhoek is a little winery in a country that is probably one of the least skilled exporters of quality wine in the world. The South African currency is weak and there are day-to-day challenges to their existence that most of the Western world has simply not had to deal with for generations. And lastly, and perhaps most importantly, Stormhoek is 6,000 miles away from the nearest significant market for their wines.

We are doing something special... making what we believe to be extraordinary wines that are different, doing things in an innovative way, thousand of miles away from our customers. We were faced with the dilemma of how do we communicate what we are all about to markets half a world away, with an embarrassingly small budget.

We don't think like the big guys. We are not big guys. We do not measure ROI on our "advertising dollar". What we do though is answer our phone and field our emails. We talk to our customers and we do look at depletions through our retail clients.

The phone is ringing and the emails are coming in... from people who we have never heard of before and who are learning about the quality of our wines... They are learning this from somewhere, and it isn't from the ads, because we're not placing any.

We estimate that in the last sixty days there have been in excess of 300,000 people who have now heard of Stormhoek through the blogosphere. With that, we are also seeing increased interest in many sectors of the market. Do we believe that people's blogs have driven store traffic?

Possibly indirectly. But what we are certain of is that there is a conversation ongoing in the blogosphere that we both find interesting for all parties concerned, and that it is good for our little winery.

Based upon what we see, we believe that it is inevitable that the 300,000 people will increase by a factor of 10, or maybe even 100. We see our Google mentions have grown from 500 in June to over 20,000 today. Last June at one of the Geek dinners in London, Robert Scoble said the internet has made the world as small as the room we were having dinner in.

This is a comment that rings particularly true for us, as there are now hundreds, maybe thousands of conversations taking place half a world away from our little South African valley.

People are talking about us. They weren't three month ago. There are hundreds of thousands of wineries all over the world. Yet in the U.K., there are only a handful of major wine retailers. In a former life I was head wine buyer for ASDA, the big supermarket chain, where this reality was all too apparent. Believe me, I know how hard it is to get your wine talked about, let alone spotted by the big retail boys, especially with no marketing budget to speak of.

Something is happening. It may be hard to quantify, but that's also what makes it so damn exciting. Meanwhile, I hope you will try our wine one of these days. Thank you.

Posted by nick at September 8, 2005 3:32 PM


Do I smell the sweet bouquet of Hugh's editorial hand behind this? I thought I read somewhere he would be writing the blog...but maybe I was blogged out at the time

Posted by: Dennis Howlett at September 8, 2005 8:21 PM

Hello, Nick.

I'm intrigued by your experiment in a number of dimensions. 1) I love wine, 2) I'm a (d-list) blogger and have followed the technology and its impact closely for a number of years, 3) I have some strong and profound connections to friends in Cape Town. (If you have any interest, I chronicled a particularly intense part of our relationship to SA here: http://www.jarrettinteractiondesign.com/southafrica)

I hope you will touch on some of the unique aspects of the history and culture of South Africa, and running a business from there as well. As Americans, we often look at the world through a shallow lens and many unsupported assumptions. My relationships in your part of the world have forever changed my views and I would welcome hearing more and more.


Posted by: Jim Jarrett at September 8, 2005 10:26 PM

Heh. I'll still be writing my bits of the blog, Dennis.

Posted by: hugh macleod at September 10, 2005 10:43 AM

Thank you for your comments, Jim. Yes, we hope to be adding more about the day-to-day running of the vineyard, but as I am based in London, that will be more Graham's Knox's department.

Dennis, no, I'm writing this myself... but it was Hugh's idea to include me in the discussion.

Posted by: nick dymoke-marr at September 10, 2005 1:48 PM

Great idea. I just hope the wine is as good as the idea and the way you're doing it. Mine has just arrived at home and I'm exited to get home and try it.

All the best. I hope your creativity will be rewarded.

Posted by: Kev Mears at September 15, 2005 1:08 PM

Will your wine be featured at Tesco supermarkets?

Posted by: Mike Cunningham at September 17, 2005 5:09 PM

You claim to be a little winery.
You don't like bug guys.
You are not big guys.

BUT the only retailers you list are big guys.

I don't like big guys and rarely buy from them.

Please list real wine merchants.

Posted by: Chris Shaw. at March 1, 2006 11:53 AM

Hi Nick,

Well you know what its is like down under, a bit
slow.Really nice to see what your up to.

All the best
Steve Dodd
Senior Winemaker
Kladis Wines Australia

Posted by: Steve Dodd at March 29, 2007 4:13 AM

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