The inaugural Australian Wine Marketing Conference in 1999 was held to highlight the importance of wine marketing and facilitate the adoption of better marketing practices by wine producers.<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />
Although the Australian wine industry was well catered for with technical and scientific conferences and information exchange, there was no forum for the discussion of branding, marketing and sales techniques and knowledge.
Fuller Communications entrepreneured the concept of the wine marketing conference and approached the Australian Wine Export Council (AWEC) to be the initiating body. We have worked closely with AWEC and wine industry leaders to develop a conference model which is more than just an event it is a communication tool. Our goals are to educate and inform delegates through a series of knowledge building blocks commencing with visionary, big picture thinking then working towards more specific, practical case studies so that delegates can take home messages.
The 2003 conference brought together more than 600 delegates, national and international speakers to discuss wine branding. Now firmly established as the worlds leading forum on wine marketing, the biennial Australian Wine Marketing Conference has is assisted wineries to remain competitive and raised the profile of our client the Australian Wine Export Council.
The conference committee chose the theme Good Wine is not Enough: The Benefits of Branding, as a perennial message for Australian winemakers and in recognition of the need for industry to individually and collectively invest more in brands and brand management to meet the challenges of an increasingly consolidated marketplace.<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />
Developing a conference theme 17 months out from the event is always risky. Since the previous conference the world had experienced September 11 and the subsequent War on Terror and in the lead up to the Third AWMC we had to compete with the Second Gulf War, SARS and declining terms of trade.
The program was developed to provide an in-depth analysis of branding, from the academic theory, through to practical case studies of Australian and international wineries.
Literature review<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />
A literature review of the period 2001-2002 was carried out by Fuller Communications, covering wine industry trends in magazines, newspapers and academic papers.
Delegate surveys from 2001 Australian Wine Marketing Conference
Conference surveys from 2001 were used to establish the type of presentations that were popular and what was wanted for future conferences. Regional branding and branding of family wineries were two of the most wanted issues and were reflected in the 2003 conference program.
The conference committee identified 12 key opinion influencers (leading marketers, CEOs, AWEC international staff) in the wine industry and a survey questionnaire was drafted and conducted over the phone by Fuller Communications.
Conference Committee research
All members of the conference committee took part in the research component, and were heavily involved in researching potential speakers for the program through reference style checks.
Existing AWEC research from international offices
AWEC international offices in the US, UK, Japan, Canada and Germany undertake regular market research assessing opportunities and barriers for Australian wine and perceptions of Australian wines by consumers.
A range of different groups were targeted as part of this public relations campaign:<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />
- Speakers both international and Australian
- Potential delegates including wineries, marketing managers, winemakers, exporters, distributors, financiers and sales managers.
Communication Strategy and Implementation<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />
Fuller Communications was responsible for the entire 2003 Australian Wine Marketing Conference, with the following major components:
1. Formation of committee
Working with our client AWEC and conference chairman Paul van der Lee, our first task was to appoint a working committee. The first committee meeting was held in February 2002, providing a 17-month lead-time. Meetings were held approximately every 6 weeks.
The 2003 AWMC Committee consisted of:
Paul van der Lee Committee Chairman
Zar Brooks Stranger & Stranger
Stephen Couche Orlando Wyndham Group
David Dean Australian Wine Export Council
Peter Fuller Fuller Communications
Ian Hollick Hollick Wines
Larry Lockshin <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" />University of South Australia, Wine Marketing Department
Dominic Nolan Winemakers Forum/Winemakers Federation of Australia
Jonathan Scott Australian Wine Export Council
Sam Tolley Australian Wine and Brandy Corporation
2. Program Development and Speaker Recruitment
Working with the conference committee and utilising the results of our research, the process of program development started in February 2002 and was finished in August 2002.
The conference program was designed so that the individual sessions added up to a coherent whole. In 2003 the Conference focus was on branding with the topic Good Wine is not Enough: The Benefits of Branding.
Branding was chosen because in the current "cut-throat" marketplace - both domestic and international - Australian wineries need to invest more effort in strengthening their point of difference in the minds of consumers.
Program development focused on the creation of sessions within this theme, and speakers were selected for recruitment. The first round of invitations to speakers was highly successful due to individualised invites from committee members. The reputation of the event and the significant lead-time ensured a high success rate of speaker placements.
3. Promotion of the event to potential delegates
The promotion of the event began 12 months prior and covered a number of facets:
Direct mail postcard distribution to 3500 Australian wineries, previous delegates, sponsors, speakers and wine-related businesses seeking a registration of interest.
Building a pre-registration database from expressions of interest, then broadcasting email bulletins were a cost effective method of communication to advise of registration specials and latest news.
Registration brochure was mailed out to pre-registration database (about 300 expressions of interest) the 3500 individuals and companies 4 months prior to the event.
A website was created linked to our client AWECs existing site with program information, online registration, accommodation options and news.
Advertising in key industry journals and in the Australian Financial Review in the four months leading up to the conference.
Strategic editorial campaign distributing media releases and feature stories to industry journals in Australia and overseas, wine writers and fringe media eg business, marketing and finance writers.
4. Delegate Registrations
Registrations were faxed, phoned or emailed through to Fuller Communications for processing. This was a task handled by our administration team.
5. Marketing Collateral
We were involved in the writing, design and production of the following collateral:
- Promotional postcard
- Registration brochure
- Banners for the event
- Satchels for delegates
- Booklet for delegates including speaker details, PowerPoint summaries and notes
- Caps and rugby tops for staff
We were also involved in two new initiatives for the conference:
We employed freelance journalist Nigel Hopkins at attend the conference and prepare concise reports on each of the sessions. This report was emailed to all delegates within 48 hours of the conference. It was also posted on a password protected part of the conference website along with all speaker PowerPoint presentations and notes.
In the past AWEC representatives have given a report on each of the major export markets for Australian wine. This had generally lacked spark and in 2003 we scripted, filmed and edited a video presentation that featured interviews with AWEC staff and footage from key markets.
6. Media Campaign
The conference captured great local and national media interest across both mainstream and industry publications.
Pre- event articles and interviews featured in all major wine industry journals, the Advertiser, Australian and Financial Review, and on ABC national radio.
The number of interviews, journalists requests for event information and the resulting print and electronic media coverage, both on the eve and during the event, once again demonstrated wide media interest.
- 15 interviews across various ABC radio
- 3 interviews with other national radio networks
- 7 interviews with The Advertiser
- 9 interviews with mainstream national print news publications including The Age, The Australian and the Financial Review
- 3 Television interviews with channels 7, 9 and 10 news services
7. The Event
Coordinating such a large conference event involved a range of tasks including:
- Venue coordination and liaison, including audio visual requirements
- Catering coordination and menu selection
- Coordination of conference dinner including venue selection, menu choice and entertainment
- Registration desk and conference enquiries
- Accommodation and flights for speakers
- Speaker liaison, including PowerPoint presentations
- Sponsor liaison, including major sponsor lunch for naming rights sponsor, ANZ Bank
- Media liaison and coordination of interview room
Goal 1: To increase attendance from the 2001 conference.<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />
Outcome: Total attendance for the conference was 613, up by 134 people from the 2001 conference.
Goal 2: To attract more delegates from states other than <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" />South Australia. More than 70% of delegates at the 2001 conference were from SA.
Outcome: Increased representation from other states, especially NSW and VIC. 53.5% of delegates were from SA, 15.5% from NSW, 19% from VIC, 5% from WA, 1% from QLD and 1.5% from TAS. We also increased international delegates from 2% in 2001 to 4.5% in 2003.
Goal 3: To attract more decision-makers such as CEOs and senior marketers and brand managers.
Outcome: Our research from the 2001 conference indicated many of those attending were in graduate level positions. Data from the 2003 conference showed more than 60% of attendees were CEOs or senior managers, a significant improvement.
Goal 4: To attract at least two keynote international speakers.
Outcome: We attracted four international guest speakers. Beringer Blass Wines CEO Walt Klenz was unable to attend due to a last minute family commitment, so we pre-recorded his speech in the US, and screened it to delegates with Australian CEO Jamie Odell fielding questions.
Goal 5: To achieve positive publicity for AWEC.
Outcome: AWECs industry relevance and profile has grown during the three conferences, with exporters seeking increasing levels of support. The 2004 programs lunchtime seminars for wine producers to meet international AWEC representatives for one-to-one export advice was a successful innovation.
Goal 6: To retain ANZ as the naming rights sponsor.
Outcome: ANZ were retained as the naming rights sponsor and have also indicated they will also sponsor the 2005 event.
Goal 7: To gain five minor sponsors to the value of $10,000.
Outcome: We sold seven minor sponsorship packages raising $15,600. All sponsors have indicated they will again sponsor the 2005 event.
Goal 8: To have at least 12 key media attend the event and gain positive media coverage.
Outcome: We had 20 media registrations and 17 of these attended at least one day of the conference.
Goal 9: To introduce a new academic workshop component to the event.
Outcome: In collaboration with the University of South Australia, an academic wine marketing colloquium and workshop series was held on the weekend prior to the conference.
Goal 10: For the event to be a cost-neutral exercise for our client AWEC.
Outcome: Though careful cost control and budgeting the conference achieved a surplus which will be re-invested in the 2005 conference.
A three-page feedback survey was distributed to all delegates prior to the final session on day two. Of the 613 delegates that received forms, 220 responded. If speakers and organisers (34) are deducted from the total delegate list this gives a statistically valid sample of around 36%.<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />
SUMMARY OF SURVEY RESULTS
The average rating for the value of the conference was 7.4 out of 10.
96% of delegates plan to register for the 2005 conference.
97% of delegates said they gained value for their business.
No speakers ranked lower than a 50% approval rating.
Delegates preferred theme for 2005 was distribution. This program is currently being developed by a new committee.
When asked what delegates gained most out of the event the response was even.
Big Picture of the Industry (30%)
Ideas & Concepts (29%)
Market Intelligence (20%)
The majority of delegates found out about the conference through direct mail. 40% received direct mail, 26% were informed by colleagues and 11% were contacted by e-mail.