Learn How to Build a CPG (Consumer Packaged Goods) Brand by Listening to a Play?


For almost 7 years we’ve been writing on the Consumers Brand Builders site about what it takes to build a national brand that’s sold in stores. We cover everything we know and deliver lessons we have learned in down-to-earth, easy-to-understand terms. Our goal is to demystify the process and debunk some of the most popularly held misconceptions about business and brand building. We’ve backed this up with hundreds of talks, keynotes, workshops, and articles we’ve written for numerous publications.

Now Hear This!

About two years ago, we started to notice that our audiences were unplugging their buds right before we spoke and plugging them back in right after. What were they listening to? What was grabbing their interest so intently that they felt compelled to seemingly use every minute to listen. We asked them, “So, is it rap, hip hop or what?” Surprisingly (to us anyway) they told us they were listening to podcasts on brand building, books on business, and lectures on getting ahead! They liked the true mobility of the audio media and it’s capacity for multi-tasking, like jogging or commuting.

Immobilizing Your Mobile Device

We had already written a New York Times bestseller on brand building, The Barefoot Spirit, How Hardship, Hustle, and Heart Built America’s #1 Wine Brand. It’s the true story of how we started in a laundry room with no money and no knowledge of our industry and wound up in the boardroom of our acquirer, the world’s largest wine company. It recounts the challenges we faced, not unlike the challenges you face. It conveys through story, the hardships, the hustle, and the heart it took to overcome those challenges. We wrote this book to open folks’ eyes about the realities of the product marketing business and save them the pain in wasted time and money, not to mention the many sleepless nights, that we suffered.

But when we’d talk to people about the books, ours and others, few had actually read past the first couple chapters. Before we got discouraged, we realized that we too had read very few books past the first two chapters. And why? Simply because we didn’t have the time. At least, we didn’t have the time to sit there immobilized for 4 hours or more for every book.

Mobile Learning

That was the reason behind the seemingly overnight popularity of podcasts and audiobooks! They were truly mobile thanks to MP3’s, ear buds, and the profusion of mobile devises. Now we can listen to a book in short segments that gets us to work, through our exercise routine, or even on our way to a talk on brand building!

So, as we started to investigate audiobooks, we discovered that most were just read out loud by a narrator. Companies were popping up that offered a narrator, even a celebrity narrator, but still just a narrator. We listened to a few and enjoyed the mobility, but found the narration somewhat single-dimensional. If you didn’t like the narrator’s voice, you were stuck with them for 7 hours, and that could distract from the content.

We wanted something more compelling and a format that would put you, the listener, in the action to experience for yourself the lessons we learned. And we wanted you to finish the book!

Narration OR Performance?

About that time, we began sharing our quest for a better audio book format with our friend, Ryan Foland, UCI Communications Specialist, 6-time TED presenter, and creator of the 3-1-3 Method of Communication. Ryan had worked with an acting ensemble in his Santa Barbara college days and introduced us to Matt Weinglass of Sherwood Players Productions in Hollywood. Weinglass? Santa Barbara where Barefoot started, and Michael went to school? Too many coincidences! We had to check it out.

Ryan and Matt suggested a new, dramatically acted, audiobook format where Hollywood actors play the parts and act out the scenes, complete with sound effects, and an original music score. What fun! And what a challenge! Just the editing alone was more that we could have imagined. But Matt’s people did a fantastic job! After a year of hard work in stealth mode, The Barefoot Spirit Business Theatre Audiobook was born!

We have been invited to more than 30 podcasts to play clips from the book and answer questions about this new format. We hope to spread the Barefoot Spirit to more people who can benefit from the lessons we learned the hard way so they don’t have to. And now you can tune in and experience (and even get a laugh or two) how our popular misconceptions almost ruined our brand and how we ultimately learned lessons that saved the day.

Get the Spirit!

If you want to build a consumer brand, or just learn about business, here is a real story about a brand you know. It’s in a format that works with your time and your mobility. And it touches on everything we have written, posted and spoken about. It’s conveniently broken down into ten, 40-minute segments with scenes, actions and outcomes, punctuated with short interviews by Rick Kushman, our author, with the real Michael and Bonnie at the end of each segment. Will you meet us at the corner of Hollywood and Brand?