Today’s Flash Back Friday comes from Episode 74, originally published in March 2013.
Jason Hartman invites Michael Houlihan and Bonnie Harvey, co-founders of Barefoot Wine, to discuss “out-of-the-box” marketing principles that led to Michael’s and Bonnie’s highly successful wine business. Though his business card reads, “Head Stomper,” Michael officially served as president and CEO for 19 years. She was Vice President and “The Original Foot” for 19 years. There she had a wide variety of duties, doing whatever was necessary to operate the business. While Michael’s role was “big picture visionary,” Bonnie translated his ideas into workable processes and displayed a genius for managing the millions of details that come with a start-up. She proved to possess a rare combination of creativity and business savvy that served Barefoot well.
Starting with no money and no knowledge of the wine industry, Michael and Bonnie used out-of-the-box thinking coupled with solid business principles to build a leading national brand. They relied on “worthy cause marketing” instead of conventional advertising to grow a loyal following and promote their favorite causes. Their new book is entitled: The Barefoot Spirit: How Hardship, Hustle and Heart Built a Bestselling Wine.
Barefoot Wines went on to win the industry’s top sales awards. They were selling well over a half a million cases annually when the E&J Gallo family purchased the brand in 2005. Since then, along with Bonnie, Michael has been a valued advisor to large and small corporations and start-ups, offering his real world experience to improve their profitability, grow their brands, and improve their culture. Sales, marketing, and performance-based compensation are his sweet spots. He also donates professional time to non-profits to help them improve their image, increase donations and achieve financial sustainability.