Sales, Not Cells: Marketing Your Ingredients


Great, your company has invested millions in R&D, your clinical studies are published, and your ingredients are patented. But how do you market to your target demographic? You could have the best, most breakthrough ingredient in the world, but if you don’t know how to communicate a message to your customer, your sales will lag.


Consider the following in this order:

1. Website– Your website should have very clear navigation focusing on the unique selling propositions of the ingredient. What types of manufacturers are using it? Have downloadable versions of the published clinical studies. Also include the patent number(s). Highlight the various methods of delivery and Unique Selling Propositions (USP). Also have a Newsroom for press releases and media coverage to live. Your Electronic Press Kit (EPK) should also be easily accessible in your Newsroom.

2. Packaging– This is most important for finished products that wind up in the hands of consumers but just because you’re selling an ingredient doesn’t mean you’re off the hook in terms of presentation to your customers. At the very least, be sure the packaging is representative of your brand with the correct logo in full color, your company tagline and your company website. Remember to highlight the Unique Selling Propositions (USP) of your product or ingredient whenever possible and if you have a finished product, leave enough room on the back for your supplement facts panel, disclaimers and address with customer service phone number.

3. Identify a spokesperson. Is it a celebrity doctor, the CEO of your company or the head of R&D? Make an executive decision and be sure the spokesperson is media trained. Do they know the key message points for trade media versus consumer media? Is their vocabulary too scientific for consumer media? How do radio interviews differ from TV interviews on camera? Make sure your spokesperson presents the image you want your company represented by. Is their attire too formal or too casual on camera? Implement a media inquiry protocol and ensure all members of your team are well informed surrounding communications protocols.

4. Consider a Co-op. A retailers’ cooperative allows its members to receive discounts from manufacturers and to pool marketing. Make your marketing efforts a win, win and split the bill. For example, when you sell an ingredient, you should invest in your customer’s brand with a 20% money back or discount off to the brand for Co-op. It is essential to ensure someone puts money behind the finished goods at retail.

5. Press kit– Our most successful ingredient and supplement clients have press kits because they not only help with media coverage, they help with branding, investor presentations and selling to your customers. A press kit typically includes a company backgrounder, about the products or ingredients, your published clinical data, Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s), and information about your company founder or spokesperson and the most recent press release. These press kit inserts will reside inside of a nicely branded press kit folder so you can use the content interchangeably. Having a folder with loose inserts allows you to repurpose the folders for sales meetings where you can add your sell sheets, for example.

6. Improve Your Power Point – I hate to state the obvious, but I have seen many great scientists create many sub-par presentations. Remember your ABC’s: Always Be Closing. You don’t need 20 slides of charts; three slides for each of your main substantiated claims should do the trick. Remember, that’s why you have a page on your website dedicated to R&D, so they can follow up after your meeting. Be sure your Power Point highlights the various methods of delivery and shows what marketing support your company is focusing on. Marketing support means a PR team reaching out to both trade and consumer media, partnerships your company has created with relevant organizations and any advertising or spokespeople representing the brand. Even a new published clinical study should be considered marketing support, assuming you share the news with the media and your customers! There must be push and pull. Give the press kit as takeaway materials, as well as your sell sheets with your show special with a specific timeframe so you can get a commitment from the potential customer.

7. Press releases: If you have new news, share it! It will not only help to excite your customers by having another touch point, but it will also improve your online reputation and organic SEO. A Search Engine Optimized press release takes the five top keywords from your Google Analytics keywords and helps your company become more searchable online. You can also embed video content, which improves engagement with the release. The SEO press release can be shared on your website, in your press kit, your company blog, as well as social media platforms like LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook as part of your cohesive communications strategy.


What about marketing folks who don’t understand the supplement world? You’ll spend more time educating than selling so be sure you are working with a marketing team who understands FDA and FTC guidelines surrounding approved structure, function claims for your ingredients or finished products. It will save you time and money. Take the time to do an internal assessment of your company and see which of these marketing functions can be addressed to improve your overall sales efforts so you can have good science and good sales.


About the author: Lindsey Carnett is CEO and President of Marketing Maven Public Relations, a full-service marketing and PR firm with offices in LA and NY. The majority of her clients are in the supplement, ingredient and natural products space. She has marked supplements for over seven years, where she started as the Marketing Director of a nutraceutical company. Lindsey can be reached at or (310) 994-7380.