In 1986, when we started the Barefoot Cellars brand, we were faced with the same problem that vexes most consumer product companies: How to get the word out with limited funds. A commercial advertising campaign was simply out of the question.
As a new company, we did not yet have national, or even statewide distribution, but we had to be a success where we were for sale if we wanted to expand. A “best seller” reputation would overcome most objections by the gatekeepers.
People talk about different aspects of customer service, but we have found that the ultimate form of customer service to your retailer is to actually send customers into his store to buy your product. So we looked for an affordable way to target consumers in each neighborhood surrounding every store that did have our product. We discovered something that was even more important than our product, and we discovered it quite by accident.
In our private lives, we have always been nature lovers, embraced cultural diversity, supported the arts, strived for good health, and been concerned for the education and welfare of the next generation. So when we were asked to donate our product to non-profits that represented these worthy causes, at first we did it just because their cause resonated with us personally. But then an interesting thing began to happen. Slowly but surely, in the neighborhoods of those non-profit organizations, our product started to sell.
We began to realize that, for us, this was far more effective than advertising. Through our business, we were able to support the worthy causes that were important to us. We used our marketing and distribution channels to promote, and even solicit funds for small non-profits in our marketing communities. We termed it “Worthy Cause Marketing.”
Today, Cause Marketing has become mainstream and is an important source of funding for non-profits. The great work of many large, established corporations has become front page news. The question is: How can start-ups, small, and medium sized businesses with limited resources benefit from Cause Marketing? The history of Barefoot Cellars is a case study. The Barefoot brand started from nothing and grew to a national best seller, winning the industry’s prestigious Fast Track Growth Brand, Trendsetter, and Hot Brand awards, all without relying on conventional paid advertising.
Recently, we were asked to give a webinar for the Cause Marketing Forum. This prestigious group has been an important national advocate for Cause Marketing since 2002. Headed up by David Hessekiel, a noted journalist, publisher and consumer marketing analyst, the Forum promotes the advantages of partnering between companies and NPOs.
Our presentation will focus on the details of Worthy Cause Marketing and how Barefoot Cellars used it effectively to become a successful national brand.
We will give you tools you can use and practical real world examples of how non-profits and small businesses can build their positions by working together. We will give you examples of what your small and medium size company can do on a limited budget that will make a big difference to the NPOs, and what the NPOs can do that cost them nothing to help you get your word out.
We are honored to have been presented this opportunity to share our experience working with non-profits! This promises to be a fun and unique webinar and we hope you all can join us. Looking forward to seeing you at 1:30pm Eastern Time on August 21, 2012. Go here to register.
Who Are We.
Having built and sold a bestselling national brand, we appreciate the value of brands and everything it takes to make them successful. Companies are valued by their brand equity. Achieving and maximizing brand equity requires tremendous respect for all your customers, from your wholesaler to your end user.
Starting in our laundry room with no money and no knowledge of the industry, we built the famous Barefoot Wine brand. We learned a lot they don’t teach in school and much of it the hard way. Although our success was in consumer products, our real world experience will be helpful to anyone looking for information and advice about brands.
We have written the New York Times Bestselling Business Book, The Barefoot Spirit: How Hardship, Hustle and Heart Built America’s #1 Wine Brand, which chronicles the history of the famous brand from its inception through its acquisition. Our book is now required reading in schools of entrepreneurship across the country. We hope this book will provide inspiration and encouragement for all those contemplating starting a brand or wanting to improve their existing brand.
Michael Houlihan and Bonnie Harvey
-Barefoot Wine Founders