FOR BRANDS: 6 Mistakes You’re Making with Dietitian Outreach

If you’re a marketing pro for a health-focused CPG brand, you understand the value of aligning your brand with experts.

But many brands, PR agencies, and consultants make the mistake of not getting to know and understand their audience or making the outreach efforts all about the sale. These mistakes cost brands time, relationships, and trust among key experts.

The goal of expert outreach is not only to improve visibility but also to build quality relationships and a tribe of followers (with credibility and influence) who want to authentically promote and recommend your products. 

We’ve seen it all and understand what works and what doesn’t – from both the brand side and the RD perspective.

Mistake #1: Making It All About You

Any sales expert will tell you this is not the way to get what you want.

Making it all about you makes the relationship feel forced, inauthentic, and all about the sale. This type of relationship isn’t built on trust and respect and instead becomes a very short-term transactional partnership.

Put your customer first. Dietitians (like anyone) want to feel valued and respected. Build a genuine relationship without asking anything in return. Offer to share products for their events or resources for their clients. Ask what you can do to help and provide value to them. Most likely, these efforts will end up helping you in return.

Mistake #2: Not Providing Value

One of the key drivers of your outreach program should be to provide value. Whether that is in the form of product donations, paid partnerships, education, or client resources.

Providing value will help to build relationships, earning you authentic promotion.

Mistake #3: Lacking Personalization

Make an effort to know who the person is on the receiving end.

For example, if you were to send mass marketing kits with a counseling notebook and 100s of samples to media RDs or RDs who don’t counsel patients, it would feel very impersonal and one-sided.

While it’s not always doable, some of the best kits I’ve received include my name and a personal note. Tailor your communication and kit contents to the RD or group of RDs you are hoping to connect with.

Mistake #4: Sending Unsolicited or Excessive Amounts of Product

A few weeks ago I received a nice package from a nice company I’ve never spoken to. I’m guessing they scanned my badge at a conference and got my mailing address. They, unfortunately, took advantage of everyone being home in the early days of COVID-19 to send unsolicited marketing kits.

While it was a nice gesture, it felt very one-sided. They didn’t reach out to me to ask if I was receiving packages during the pandemic, I didn’t know it was coming, and I didn’t have a contact person to thank or connect with afterward.

As far as sending too much product, keep in mind that not all RDs see patients or see 100s of patients regularly. I’ve seen brands send out 50-100 samples per month that often gets wasted.

Instead, create a sample sign up form or product request form so you know your product is going to people who want it and have a use for it. You can even ask how much product would be most helpful for them. Reach out to people before sending marketing kits telling them why you want to connect and share resources with them.

Mistake #5: One-Off Campaigns & Irregular Engagement

I know you know the importance of showing up. As a marketing expert, you know most people need to be exposed to a product 5-7 times before making a purchase. It’s not really fair to expect someone to try a product once and instantly refer all their friends.

Registered Dietitians are looking for relationships. They want to feel like they have a connection with your company and they want to keep in touch with you.

What can you do to continue to build the relationship and stay visible after your first outreach effort?

Mistake #6: Skipping FNCE

While this one may not be feasible for everyone (or anyone this year), FNCE is the annual Food and Nutrition Conference and Expo that attracts more than 10,000 registered dietitians, nutrition science researchers, policymakers, health-care providers, and industry leaders each year.

FNCE is the place to be to get in front of nutrition experts. In fact, many dietitians come specifically for the expo hall and don’t even attend the continuing education sessions!

If you can, host a booth in the Expo Hall at FNCE. Consider additional sponsorship opportunities or ways to get involved with other events going on. Consider hosting a brand-sponsored event to introduce RDs to your products, welcome them into your community, and build relationships.

What have you found to be the most challenging aspect of starting your dietitian outreach? Let me know in a comment or email.

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