[UPDATE: Of course, I can't do this alone. I'll be needing the help of the Texas Twitter community to help me. If you have any ideas to help make this act of futility somehow less futile, please email me at email@example.com. Thanks!]
My long-term plan is to continue living out here in Alpine, Texas, writing books and making paintings. An ideal West Texas "creative" life and all that...
BUT BEFORE I settle into that role, I have one LAST marketing fandango to pull off.
Namely, making Stormhoek the best-selling South African wine in Texas.
How am I going to do that? Basically, get in my car and drive. Start visiting with people. Start spreading the word. Start finding allies who can help my little adventure along. Stay on the road until I reach my goal.
You can read about my adventures on my EVIL PLANS blog page.
When David Brain asked me what was the appeal of writing books, I replied:
I certainly didn't expect to make any real money from it, and how much it would "help" other people is pretty debatable. But sometimes in your life you have these defining moments, where you draw a line in the sand and declare to the world, "This is who I am, this is what I believe, this is what's important to me." I think we all need these moments at some point, to make us better understand who we really are. Writing a book is a good way to force these moments to the surface. That was really the key driver, here.
I have found that marketing can be a pretty good "key driver" in this department, too.
Especially "Futile Marketing". Yes, this undertaking is insane and futile. It'll probably fail. I'm going to do it anyway.
I recently made the acquaintance of the proprietors of both The Starlight Theater and La Kiva, two prominent bars down in Terlingua. The meetings went well- I liked them both, they seemed to like me. So it looks like we might be selling down there, fingers crossed. Hurrah!
Terlingua, 100 miles South of Alpine, Texas, right on the Mexican border, is probably the strangest place I've ever visited in my life- it has an unreality to it quite unlike anything else I've ever seen. But there's a wonderful appeal to it, that's for sure. If you ever wanted to know what it was like to be living in the old Wild West, this is probably as close as you're going to get, first hand. The people, architecture and landscape seem right out of a Sam Peckinpah movie.
So why try selling South African wine in Terlingua? "Futile Marketing", of course...
[Backstory: About Hugh. Twitter. Newsletter. Book. Interview One. Interview Two. Limited Edition Prints. Private Commissions. Cube Grenades."EVIL PLANS".]
Alpine, Texas. Never a dull moment at Harry's Tinaja. That's my buddy, Israel playing on the "gee-tar".
btw Harry's was the first place in Alpine to sell Stormhoek...
In about twelve hours time I head for the airport, heading for SFO for the anual Techcrunch Party. Like I've done for the last four years, for the event I designed a signed, limited edition print, pictured above- a play on the "Dream Big" campaign I'm doing here in Alpine, Texas.
Hope to be back home, sleeping in my own bed by Wednesday night.
[NOTE TO SELF: Why is it, that the more internet-enabled the world becomes, the more time we all seem to have to spend on airplanes? Don't get me started...]
[Marketing. It's a dirty job, but someone's gotta do it...]
It's hard to do everything....
The wine is selling well here in Alpine, Texas. It's a small town of six thousand, word is easy to spread if you're doing something interesting. But I have my eyes set on bigger horizons.
Like I said before, I'm just going to focus the marketing efforts on the State of Texas. Doing the whole country is just WAY too complicated, not to mention expensive.
I've asked our distributors to send me a list of all the stores, bars and restaurants that they cover in Texas. I'm thinking of going on a road trip. I'm thinking of visiting some of these places. I'm thinking of bringing a video camera along. I'm thinking of asking Jeffro to come with me, at least for part of it.
I'm just thinking...
So this is what's been happening with Stormhoek wine on my end lately...
1. We currently have Stormhoek selling in six places in town (Alpine, Texas), including Harry's Tinaja, Porter's Supermarket and Twin Peaks Liquor Store. We're hoping to double that number. We're also starting to sell it in other neighboring towns like Marfa and Terlingua.
2. The "Dream Big" bumper stickers are a big hit. I've just ordered another thousand of them. Thinking of leaving them in hotel lobbies, for the tourists to take away en masse.
3. Re. Jeffro. Sure, I think a former-punk-rocker, ukelele-playing Texan is the PERFECT spokesman for a bottle of South African wine, don't you? It screams "QUALITY & VALUE!" from across the room etc.
4. People from outside the State always ask me why I like Texas so much. Well, there are many reasons, but the one I cite the most is, "Here in Texas, you don't have to be a billionaire, but if you have a cool, little business that adds something positive to the community, YOU ARE GIVEN RESPECT". I'm a small businessman, after all, so this quality would be important to me. Sure, you can find this quality elsewhere, but I've never seen it MORE TRUE than it is in Texas.
5. I'm excited by the prospect of reaching critical mas here in West Texas, then spreading the good word throughout the rest of the State. As I've said earlier, I'm just focusing on Texas for the time being. That's plenty of business for me...
6. With my book coming out in three days and my print business doing well, I actually don't really have to be doing this for career reasons; I'm just doing it because I want to. Stormhoek and I have been through a lot these last four years, it's already doing great in Europe, I think I owe it to both myself and to the brand to get it going over on this side of the pond. Besides, I'm a sucker for "Futile Marketing". Rock on.
[etc: About Hugh. Interview. Newsletter. Book. Limited Edition Prints. Private Commissions. Cube Grenades. Hughtrain.]
If you walk around Alpine, Texas (my current home), you might start seeing the "Dream Big" bumper stickers everywhere, the ones I made for Stormhoek.
Alpine only has about 6,000 people. We've distributed around 1,000 bumper stickers so far. Plan to do many more. Do the math.
Why can't a small town in west Texas "Dream Big"? Ditto for a small winery in South Africa.
"Dream Big, Alpine, Texas" isn't rocket science. But it seems to resonate with folk.
Yes, the bumper sticker is a "social object".
Watch this space...
Like Loren said: