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  • Writer's pictureBarbara Mayfield, MS, RDN, LD, FAND

How good are you at selling?

Updated: Apr 17, 2023

sign in front of business

When you hear the word selling, or think about a profession in sales, does it conjure up a positive or negative image?

Think about the ways we give selling a bad name… For example, one of the strategies we teach consumers to use to determine whether a website is credible or questionable is to check whether they are selling something. Selling implies an ulterior motive.

But, is selling inherently a bad thing?

Consider that health professionals like Registered Dietitian Nutritionists (RDNs) may not sell products but they do “sell” good nutrition and health. When a client or consumer adopts healthy habits they have “bought” the RDN’s good nutrition messages.

In the business world, the strategies that lead to making a sale are referred to as marketing. The marketing of ideas and programs involves similar strategies to marketing products – persuading people to be aware, comprehend, engage, and ultimately take action (the sale).

Communicating Nutrition: The Authoritative Guide covers marketing principles in two chapters: Chapter 10 examines social marketing principles and Chapter 37 explores more traditional marketing. Our latest tip sheet highlights five key principles every nutrition communicator needs to know and put into practice.

5 Marketing Principles for Nutrition Communicators:

#1 Address the audience’s problems

To successfully market an idea or program begins with an understanding of the target audience and the problem it is designed to solve. When an idea or a program clearly meets a target audience’s needs and addresses one or more of their problems, it can be marketed successfully.

Know what the target audience thinks, feels, and does. Begin with assessing the audience.

#2 Consider the 4 P’s of marketing

The “marketing mix” consists of 4 P’s: product, promotion, price, and place. When marketing an idea or a program (the product), promotion is the message. The price is the cost of adopting the idea or participating in the program. The place is where the behavior change occurs or the location of the program.

When creating persuasive messages, account for all 4 P’s in the mix.

#3 Build awareness

Before an audience can take action they first must be aware of the idea or program. The message must catch their attention and drive a desire to learn more. Awareness is the first step in behavior change.

Build an awareness of the problem to be solved and an awareness that the idea or program can help solve the problem. Awareness precedes action. Achieve awareness.

#4 Shift attitudes

For an idea or a program to be adopted by an audience and drive behavior change, it first must be accepted and believed. The marketing message may need to shift long-standing attitudes and beliefs. It may need to overcome misconceptions, familiar habits and behaviors, and more.

Create clear and compelling messages to shift inaccurate beliefs and negative attitudes.

#5 Promote behavior change through engagement

Nutrition communicators are in the business of promoting positive beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors related to food, nutrition, and health. Persuasive messages can promote ideas and programs that lead to positive outcomes.

On the way to behavior change, promote audience engagement with the message. Participation and active involvement lead to taking action.

Marketing increases communication effectiveness

Would you like to be more effective in communicating messages and promoting programs? Then put these marketing principles to work. Begin by becoming aware of how they can help and shifting your negative attitudes about marketing. We can learn something from successful marketing strategies!

“Approach each customer with the idea of helping him or her to solve a problem or achieve a goal, not of selling a product or service.” ~ Brian Tracy

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