Breakthrough Moments interview with Guardian Small Business Network

“Stephen Cronk reveals how a YouTube video demonstrating how to open a bottle of wine without a corkscrew helped his family business go viral.” Read the “Breakthrough Moments” interview on Guardian Small Business Network written by Lottie O’Conor on 22 May 2015.

Can you tell us a bit about the story behind Mirabeau Wine?

After talking about it for 10 years, in 2009 we finally took the plunge and moved from London to the south of France to start our new life as wine producers. Mirabeau was founded on a willingness to challenge established wisdom and the ambition to create a truly world-class rosé.

We’ve come a long way since then: people all over the world enjoy our wines and we are proud to have won some of the industry’s most prestigious rewards.

What were the biggest challenges you faced in the early days?

In the early days we were paranoid that people wouldn’t take us seriously as wine producers, as we had no track record and certainly didn’t own a famous chateau. So we made sure that we focused on quality and building a rapport with consumers, both present and future. Inspired by a book on brand building using social media, we just got on with it and it seems to be working well.

Why did you decide to use YouTube videos to build your brand?

We wanted to be different from other wine brands and to present ourselves as non-stuffy and un-snobbish about wine. We believe that while many people enjoy drinking a glass of wine from time to time, consumers often don’t feel confident about ordering wine and sometimes feel nervous about asking for advice or dealing with sommeliers in a smart restaurant. So we thought video would be a good medium to share some of our philosophies on wines and to help people build their knowledge and confidence about the product. I also enjoy goofing around in front of a camera.

Tell us about your best-known video. How long did it take to go viral?

Video number 222, How to open a bottle of wine – without a corkscrew, was posted to our YouTube channel on 7 January 2014, and promoted with a Facebook page post with a €45 advertising spend. Previously our videos had achieved around 100 views after a few weeks – often less. But with this one it felt a little different when we had 1,200 views after 24 hours. A few days later it was picked up by a few media channels (NBC’s Today show, Mail Online and The Mirror) and from there it started to snowball.

After a week, it went past the one million views mark and after a month it was fast approaching 5m. It slowed down after all the initial buzz and is now on 9.9m views.

What effect did that video have on your business?

By pure chance, this was the first video we had ever branded properly and so the impact for us, while impossible to measure directly, was nonetheless helpful and highly fortuitous. A lot of people say to me “so it was you in that video” when I tell them about it, but I’ve only been recognised twice. And have yet to be asked for an autograph.

What are your hopes and aims for the business in 2015?

We are trying to grow this business globally. We’re already selling in over 40 markets around the world but we need to deliver for our retailers by telling our story: the birds in our logo represent our family and the vine represents setting down new roots in France.

Now I’d better go and have a glass of rosé…