by Matt Weik
Maybe I’m old school, but I’m seeing a lot of changes in the dietary supplement and sports nutrition industries, and there are a lot of people complaining and losing money for simply not getting back to basics. Look, I’m not a marketing guru, but it seems like supplement brands think they know everything – and they are very good at it, but most people are scratching their heads these days. What happened to the conversations with your sports nutrition customers?
Sports Nutrition customers will tell you they need to know
Brands spend thousands, if not millions, each year marketing sports nutrition customers. While that’s all fine, while they’re busy putting ads in front of the customer’s face, they have no interaction and no insight into what they want and need.
I remember when I was the regional sales director for a large nutritional supplement company and I left the house on a Monday morning and didn’t come back until Thursday evening or Friday so I could spend the week in different states. What have I done? Get off in front of my sports nutrition customers. Why? Because how should I sell my target group if I didn’t interact with them all the time and understand their wants, needs and weaknesses? It also enabled me to get information that I could provide to our brand manager.
Unfortunately, many supplement companies have eliminated their field service team, and in some cases even their inside sales team, and moved to a digital space where their website and ads do all of the sales for them. I’m not naive to believe that this is the future of the business, but nutritional supplement brands are really missing the boat when they lose touch with their sports nutrition customers.
If you want to roll the dice and bring products to market that you think will sell, go for it. However, if you want to bring products to market that people will love and buy, you need to stay in the trenches and keep communicating with your sports nutrition customers.
If you think you know everything, you will end up discounting your products to blow your inventory
I’ve seen firsthand what happens when a brand blindly launches a product with no feedback, insights, testing, etc. You have a ton of chefs in the kitchen who think they know how to make a killer dish, but once that dish is on the menu, nobody orders it. Why? Because there is no demand. The same thing happens in our industry and can be fixed if you start asking what your sports nutrition customers actually want from you.
Are there certain flavors that you want? Are there certain ingredients that you want to have in a formula? Are there certain ingredients that should be removed from the formula? What do you like about a product? What do you hate about a product? You have nothing to lose and everything to gain when you talk to your sports nutrition customers (and retailers).
Shut up and listen to your customers
Far too often, brands want to have the whole conversation. “Listen to me! Listen to what I say!” The fact is, your sports nutrition customers want to be heard, and it is your job to listen. The roles need to be reversed. They will tell you everything you need to know if you just shut up and listen.
Not only that, they’ll also respect you a lot more if you are there for them and listen to their wants, needs, and concerns instead of meeting them every 24 hours with an email, Facebook ad, or other marketing strategy shoved in front of their faces, in which they are not interested.
How do you go about opening the lines of communication between you and your sports nutrition customers? It’s easy. Use the same social media and email platforms that you all use to spam your ads. This is not my attempt to shoot you, I am telling you to open your eyes and ears and use your list of followers and emails to post new products or flavors.
On social media, you can use polls, you can ask people to leave comments on posts, you can tell them to email a specific address with their ideas, whatever – the vehicle to move this forward, can be anything.
As brands have moved away from having foot soldiers on-site at gyms and retail stores, the only way they can reach and contact their sports nutrition customers is the Internet.
It would still be advisable to take advantage of demos and events to promote your brand and products, gain insights, and increase the trial version of your products. Listen to what people are saying when they try the product. Ask them what products they are currently using and ask WHY they are using the products. Is it the formula? Maybe it’s the taste? Brand loyalty maybe? But it’s a great way to understand your target audience on a personal level.
Additionally, sports nutrition customers (and retail partners) will appreciate your support through in-person events where you can physically interact with sports nutrition customers and show your care. That couldn’t happen in 2020 thanks to COVID, but things are opening up again and now would be a good time to start live events with sports nutrition customers.
90% of you will not do anything after reading this article, which is why the 10% who do will see and hear a lot more from this year.