Today folks think it’s OK to have a short attention span. We have so much competing for our attention, we’re so busy, and we have such limited time. We tend to want the short answer, the bottom line, or “the one thing” … or we won’t listen, or even watch!
There’s a whole new generation that demands 90-second lessons, simplified process maps, and three sentence explanations to complex issues. The idea seems to be that everything you need to know is clouded in fluff and can somehow be boiled down to a few simple principles. Cut and paste and you’ve “got it.”
But when it comes to physical product brand building, you won’t “get it” – not without a much longer attention span. It’s just too detailed, too widespread and too multi-faceted. Success requires sustained focus, copious note taking, and a lot of trial and error.
Short answers may pander to your impatience, but when it comes to selling your product at retail, short answers will only give you enough information to get you into serious trouble. You cannot afford to underestimate the subtle nuances of the marketplace. Better ideas than yours have failed because their proponents oversimplified the process. We know because at first, we ourselves grossly underestimated what was required to be successful selling a physical product in stores.
Like most inventors, producers, makers, and consumer product producers, we were thrilled to see our product on the shelf. For us, it was a major accomplishment deserving of a celebration. But the festivities were cut short when we did not get a reorder. And we were down right dumbfounded when we found out why, and what we had to do to keep the orders coming in.
The good news was that we were in a big chain store with hundreds of outlets. Just do the math, right? Wrong! The bad news was that we were in a big chain store with hundreds of outlets. And if we didn’t move fast enough off the shelves we would be discontinued from that entire chain – forever!
It seemed like every outlet had a different reason why our product was not selling. Some stores had the wrong price, some still had it in the back room, some never got it, some had the wrong UPC codes, some had no reorder tags, and some had the wrong back door code and our products were refused.
None of it had to do with our quality or our price. Notice that this was all happening under the management of our distributer’s retail customer. But none the less, our products were not scanning through their cash registers. Neither the distributors nor the retailers caught, or cared about, the glitches. It was easier for them to say, “Your product is just not moving” – without taking responsibility for why it wasn’t moving.
There were no short answers, and a short attention span would have been the end of our brand. Eventually we got really good at working closely with our distributers and retailers. We identified and documented hundreds of glitches, and their fixes. The lessons were humbling and they just kept on coming – for our first five years on the shelf.
We have had 20 years of hard-knocks experience building a physical product brand at retail. We compressed the lessons we learned down to five, 1-hr lessons and offer them to you in our new course, How to Get Your Product On The Shelf …And Keep It There. If you are attentive and persistent long-term, you too can be successful building your physical product brand in retail stores!
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