By Matt O'Neill, MSc(Nut&Diet), APD
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You're a dietitian or nutritionist with an idea for a nutrition product or service. But you don't know if it will work and are not super-confident about how to create it. Never fear, this brief guide will help you make sense of the logical steps involved in building and sharing your amazingly successful nutrition idea with the world.
The nutrition marketplace is hyper-competitive. If you hadn't noticed, everyone eats, so everyone is a nutrition expert. You need an instant edge to break through the clutter. Not the bog-standard short consultation and long consultation copy on your website.
Do you go with a blog, a book, an app or an online program? How do you package your nutrition knowledge and know-how into something that actually sells? Even better, how do you build a brand, your career and make a real difference to millions of peoples' lives? Yes, think big!
After more than two decades in the nutrition game running my own business as a dietitian and more recently working with dietitians to help them realise their dreams, I've got at least part of the answer for you.
It comes down to five steps. These are the five steps that I've found naturally flow in coaching sessions with dietitian clients and propel them rapidly from the seed of an idea to marketplace reality.
Step One - Vision
It's about you, not me or anyone else. What is your vision for your nutrition product or service? Forget the detail at this stage. Just focus on your idea or ideas and ask lots of questions. What is it that you have in mind that will help people eat better or that solves a nutrition problem? Who does it solve the problem for - the public, other dietitians?
Your personal values and strengths are important at the vision stage. Your nutrition idea needs to align with what you believe in. For example, if you have strong beliefs that habit formation is crucial for dietary change, then your product may naturally focus on behavioural change rather than information delivery.
If your professional strengths just so happen to include motivational counseling, you'll be in a good position to use these skills to solve a problem that is meaningful to both you and your future customers.
What you are aiming to do is find the idea that you are extremely passionate about, one that your customers will love and the one that you are the only person who can deliver. Your sweet spot of success lies in the middle.
Step Two - Conception
Before you move on to Step Two, go back and perform a reality check on Step One. Ask yourself, will people really be interested in this idea? Test it with a few people. If they don't get it instantly, you may need to rework your idea or come up with better ways to communicate your idea.
Now, onto Step Two. Conception is about pulling together the branding, design, technology and business model for your idea. It's okay to have an idea, but it's got to work in the real world.
I'm a visual person (and who has time to read), so I can't help but think of a logo and brand as soon as anyone shares an idea. It's got to be unique. I've seen so many dietitian's websites and imagery that all looks the same and tastes the same - vanilla. Your customers want a new, unique flavour.
Design is crucial. You may be an absolute nutrition genius, but if no-one can understand what you are selling or they just get bored looking at your stuff, then you've wasted a whole bunch of time and effort. Did I say people don't read stuff anymore.
Then comes the tech, which includes; websites, landing pages, blogs, apps, webinars, eBooks, email marketing and more. You used to have to pay thousands to build this stuff from scratch. Now going online for software solutions is just like a trip to Ikea. Grab what you need and assemble it. You just need to know how it all fits together in your product space. And don't lose the allen key!
By the way, I'm in the early stages of renovating my kitchen, so the comparison of creating a nutrition product or service with designing and installing a new kitchen is on my mind. More on this below.
Ah, the business model. This is what can get left out. When it does you end up working for free or very little. So make sure you know how this idea is going to make money. Is it a simple diet eBook download for $10 or a complete membership website with a team behind it you need factor in? Do the maths.
Step Three - Creation
If your nutrition idea is still flying after Step Two, now is the time to build a prototype. This helps you avoid throwing a stash of cash at a final product that could bomb. I've cringed at what some people have spent on a full-on-bells-and-whistles website that no one visits.
Steve Jobs carried a block of wood in his pocket as the prototype for the iPod. Your prototype might be a brochure or a landing page. This is what has to sell anyway, so test it out early. Again, ask people to give you feedback. Ask, “What am I selling? Would you buy it? Who anyone else buy it?”
For the technology, many services offer trial periods, so you can plug in a few things together to see how it all works and tweak before you commit further.
If the feedback you are getting is “When can I get this?” or “How soon can I sign up?” it's a good sign you may be on a winner.
Step Four - Preparation
If all is still going well, you are now ready to prepare for launch. This means selecting your final branding and design, business model with pricing and your go-to-market technology line-up.
At this stage (if not sooner) you'll also have your communications in place. This means social media channels and not necessarily all of them. You've got to be realistic about what you can resource and know where most of your customers are - Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or LinkedIn?
Capturing leads is important. How will you get prospects emails and manage them?
Depending on the type of nutrition product or service, you'll need to have your administration in place too. For example; cancellation policy, receipts and customer service. This should be factored into your resourcing.
Step Five - Execution
Things are getting exciting now! Your focus is on the launch strategy. How will you announce your new nutrition business, blog, book, program, app or other amazing idea? Think visuals and video. Did I say people don't read anymore. But they do like to share. If you can think of a viral video, that is ideal.
You'll want to monitor your launch promotion carefully, which can be done with the analytics features that track social media shares and advertising click-throughs.
Be prepared to respond quickly when you launch. You'll have potentially thousands of people clicking all over the place on your website, which means they can break things or get lost in ways you never anticipated.
Your launch is a nervous time too. You'll be hoping for an overwhelming response but be prepared for a slow-burner. Fix any immediate issues but try not to change too much otherwise you won't know what is and isn't working.
Your amazing nutrition idea comes to life
Of course, there's a lot more to consider when bringing a nutrition product or service to market successfully. And then you'll need to switch your attention to search engine optimisation, customer retention, on-selling other services or the next idea.
But by following the steps above carefully in order - Vision, Conception, Creation, Preparation and Execution - you'll have a greater chance of a successful launch and never looking back.
Get help for clarity and confidence
From my experience mentoring and coaching both dietetic students and established dietitians, the biggest benefits of getting help with your nutrition idea are - clarity and confidence. These feelings are priceless.
Having a business and marketing advisor to bounce your ideas off in a safe place can bring clarity to your vision and build your confidence to take the leap, knowing you are on the right track.
Clients explain it better
At the start of every business coaching session (I call them superstar sessions) I ask my client, “How would you like to feel in 50-minutes time, at the end of our session? What place would you like to be at?”
The answer almost certainly focusses on clarity and confidence, as you'll see in the comments below.
Dietitian, Aidan Muir is refining the focus of his blog Ideal Nutrition, which already has some big-name dietitian interviews on it, including Maree Ferguson from Dietitian Connection and Alexandria Redman from The Dietitians Pantry. You'll read nutrition business insights from me there too. Aidan says…
"I am not normally the kind of person to do a one-on-one coaching session, but I do not regret my decision to make an exception. Matt was very professional with his pre-session work and came into the coaching session with a detailed knowledge of my situation and my desires/needs. He provided me with a lot of knowledge and insights which by themselves would have provided enough value for the session to be worth it, but the biggest thing he did was highlight priorities for me and prompt me to take action. By using his outside perspective, he was able to see a clear strategy that I was overlooking. He told me what I needed to hear, not what I wanted to hear. I can safely say I walked away from the session with the belief that if I follow the strategy that Matt set out for me, I will be successful."
Dietitian, Jo Beer is taking her Perth practice Revitalise by Jo Beer to the next level with premium programs and Facebook promotions…
“Taking time out to work with Matt has really helped me revitalise my business and move forward, especially during a challenging time for dietitians. What was particularly helpful was having a coach who was also a dietitian - he understood where I was coming from and he could also see my strengths (we often don't see that in ourselves) and how I could utilise them to help both myself and my clients. It has been and continues to be well worth the time and investment.”
Seeing dietitians shine and thrive at what they do is a real buzz!
If you'd like help to turn your amazing nutrition idea into a business reality or you'd like to take what you do now to the next level, here are some options.
Dietitian Connection SuperStar Business and Marketing Package
I've partnered with Dietitian Connection to offer this downloadable, do-it-yourself resource which includes recorded webinars, planning questionnaires, action plans and recommended online technology tools.
This is like that trip to Ikea for a new kitchen. You choose the elements and components on offer to create and build your own nutrition vision. Learn more.
One-on-One Online Consultation
An online consultation with me is more like a personalised kitchen design service. You bring your nutrition inspiration and vision and I assist with expert design tips and strategies it so your product looks amazing, is highly functional and is bang-on trend.
Using computer screen share, together we look at your website, social media and any materials to review them, refine your vision and create a mental prototype of your idea - all in fifty minutes. You receive a video recording of the session, which will give you examples of similar ideas, the online tools best matched for your needs and a record of what's possible to inform and inspire you. Learn more about one-on-one sessions here - scroll down to the bottom of the page.
You can book additional consultation sessions if you'd like. Think again of the kitchen renovation project. If you don't want to have to organise a plumber, electrician and installer yourself, having someone on hand to project-manage each step of the process helps reduce the effort, keeps things on schedule and on spec. As your nutrition project manager, I also like to be your cheerleader too.
Remember those five steps for success:
Vision, Conception, Creation, Preparation, and Execution.
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