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What Ever Happened to Talking with Your Sports Nutrition Customers?

by Matt Weik

Maybe I’m old school, but I see a lot of changes in the supplement and sports nutrition industry, and there are a ton of people complaining and losing money due to simply not going back to the basics. Look, I’m no marketing guru, but it seems like supplement brands think they know everything – and they very well may, but most are scratching their heads these days. Whatever happened to talking with your sports nutrition customers?

Sports Nutrition Customers Will Tell You Want You Need to Know

Brands are spending thousands, if not millions, each year trying to market to sports nutrition customers. While that is all fine and dandy, while they’re busy putting ads in front of the customer’s face, they have zero interaction and insight into what they want and need.

I remember back when I was a regional sales manager for a large supplement company, and I would leave the house on a Monday morning and not return until Thursday night or Friday so that I could spend the week in different states. What was I doing? Getting out in front of my sports nutrition customers. Why? Because how was I supposed to sell to my target demographic if I wasn’t constantly interacting with them and understanding their wants, needs, and pain points? It also allowed me to get information to provide to our brand manager.

Unfortunately, many supplement companies have eliminated their field sales team and, in some cases, even their inside sales team and have moved to a digital realm where their website and ads are doing all of the selling for them. I’m not naïve to think that this is somewhat the future of business, but supplement brands are truly missing the boat if they are losing touch with their sports nutrition customers.

If you want to roll the dice and launch products that you think will sell, go for it. But if you want to launch products that people are excited about and will buy, you need to be in the trenches and constantly communicate with your sports nutrition customers.

When You Think You Know Everything, You’ll End Up Discounting Your Products to Blow Through Inventory

I’ve seen first-hand what happens when a brand blindly launches a product without any sort of feedback, insight, testing, etc. You have a bunch of cooks in the kitchen who think they know how to make a killer dish, but once that dish is up on the menu, no one is ordering it. Why? Because there’s no demand for it. The same thing is happening in our industry, and it can be fixed if you start asking what your sports nutrition customers actually want from you.

Is it certain flavors they want? Is it certain ingredients they want in a formula? Is it certain ingredients they want removed from the formula? What do they like about a product? What do they hate about a product? You have nothing to lose and everything to gain by speaking with your sports nutrition customers (and retailers).

Shut Up and Listen to Your Customers

Far too many times, brands want to do all of the talking. “Listen to me! Pay attention to what I’m saying!” The fact is that your sports nutrition customers want to be heard, and it’s your job to listen. The roles need to be reversed. They’ll tell you everything you need to know if you would just shut up and listen.

Not only that, but they’ll respect you a hell of a lot more if you were there for them and listened to their wants, needs, and concerns versus hitting them every 24 hours with an email blast, Facebook ad, or other marketing strategy shoved in front of their face that they have no interest in.

How do you go about opening the lines of communications between you and your sports nutrition customers? It’s simple. Use the same social media and email platforms you’ve been spamming everyone with through your ads. That’s not me taking a shot at you, that’s me telling you to open your eyes and ears and leverage your following and email list to help put out new products or flavors.

On social media, you can use polls, you can ask for people to leave comments in posts, you can tell them to email a specific address with their ideas, you name it – the vehicle for moving forward with this can be anything.

Since brands have gotten away from having foot soldiers on the ground going into gyms and retail locations, the internet is the only way they can reach out and touch their sports nutrition customers.

It would still be wise to leverage demos and events to get your brand and products out there, gain insight, and increase trial on your products. Listen to what people say when they try the product. Ask them what products they currently use and ask WHY they use the products. Is it due to the formula? Perhaps it is due to the taste? Maybe brand loyalty? But it’s a great way to understand your target demographic on a personal level.

Additionally, sports nutrition customers (and retail partners) love to see your support by having in-person events where you can physically interact with sports nutrition customers and show you care. While that couldn’t happen in 2020 thanks to COVID, things are opening back up, and now would be a great time to start live events with sports nutrition customers.

90% of you will not do a single thing after reading this article, which is why the 10% who do, you’ll be seeing and hearing a lot more from this year.

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