Baking Up Some Mighty Fine Market Disruption

Hugh MacLeod on his South African wine client, and how blogging helped move the needle:

Blogging doubled Stormhoek sales in less than twelve months.
I have been saying this for years, and still not everybody believes me: “Blogs are a good way of making things happen indirectly.”
No, bloggers and their friends didn’t start suddenly descending on supermarkets, buying the wine in large numbers. That’s not how it works.
What happened is that by interfacing with the blogosphere, it fundementally changed how Stormhoek looked at treating their primary customers (the supermarket chains) and the end-users (the supermarkets’ customers).
i.e. It caused an internal disruption, both within the company and the actual trade. Wine drinkers’ basic purchasing habits didn’t change because of the meme, but the meme allowed Stormhoek to align itself more closely with said habits.
You have to remember: there are hundreds of thousands of vinyards in the world, all trying to sell to the twelve or so mass market wine buyers in the UK. So you need a story that cuts through the clutter.
And the best stories have market disruption baked-in.
With the disruption, came a new and different story that the supermarket buyers and the importers wanted to hear. Telling the story made the sales process easier. With easier sales, the curve was raised.
So my advice with business blogs is not to think of them as sales channels, but as disruption channels. Much more effective.

I have to wonder if the success described above would have happened had it been someone other than Hugh behind the keyboard. Gaping Void has HUGE traffic, which the wine blog in question directly benefits from.



About David Burn

I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. Today—after working for seven agencies in five states—I am head of brand strategy and creative at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.