Archive | August, 2012

Paleo Marketing 101: How people make money using shameless megadoses of self-promotion

15 Aug

Hi! Kamal here, with some commentary about the business of paleo. There are only two kinds of people in this world: those that make a living off of paleo, and those that don’t. An increasing number of people in the latter camp want to get into the former camp. In the past year, several paleo books have cracked the top 10 nutrition best-sellers on Amazon. It’s a good time to get in the game.

Do you want to cash-in on the “paleo” concept? If so, I’ve got just one question for you: how good are you at schmoozing?

Don’t hate the player, hate the game

The paleo industry isn’t quite like big pharma, tobacco, or oil. It’s an industry where the “leaders” often got there because they discovered substantial health benefits from this way of eating and living. Enthusiasm for nutrition can lead to desire to help others, and the natural desire to make a living off of it. Heck, I briefly considered this path to help pay the rent during my nutrition PhD program, until I realized how bad I suck at networking. Although the market for “paleo” isn’t greasy and disconcerting like the aforementioned industries, you should follow these steps if you want to succeed.

Step 1: Make friends in high places

See this list here? Make at least two friends from people in the top ten of the list. The list is old and subject to change. For example, Paul Jaminet was busy writing a book, so he dropped much lower. And you don’t want to make friends with him anyway, because he is too nice and genuine and soft-spoken, which combined makes him a terrible self-promoter. Thatpaleoguy, aka Jamie Scott, is way down there. He’s very smart and is a funny dude, but he will not help you get customers or book sales. And he doesn’t live in the US, which makes it MUCH harder to use him for networking purposes.

Step 2: “Use” social media

Why is that in quotes? Well…there’s “using social media” and “USING social media”. The one in caps seems like this to me: post things on twitter and facebook every day. Repost things from your archives. If you don’t have something new or creative to tweet, retweet a bunch of shit. A little disclaimer: if I were trying to make a living by being a nutrition coach or author, I’d probably do the same thing 🙂

Step 3: Don’t get too sciencey or controversial

First off, don’t write posts like this one. Also, don’t get too into complex issues. You know that online battle between Stephan Guyenet and Peter from Hyperlipid? Or Guyenet v. Taubes? Or Lustig v. Everyone? Total waste of time. You gotta spend that time marketing yourself. This only half-joking though, because your target market is just trying to get healthy and maybe lose some weight. They don’t care so much about Neuropeptide Y or Glucagon-Like Peptides. On the flip side, this means you’re likely not bringing anything new to the table. Maybe a mishmash of recipes and paleo guides. So I guess you pick your target: helping the average Joe or informing the curious already-paleos.

Step 4: Don’t ever, ever say you don’t know

You can’t put stuff like this into your book “I haven’t done a systematic review of the effect of omega-6 on autoimmune disease, but I suspect that for some people this may be an issue.” Or “Perhaps, for some people, this may aid weight loss. But for most, weight loss is complex and prone to failure, and even paleo dieting may fail.” You have to sound like you know what you’re doing. Don’t show weakness–you’ll get killed in the Octagon. Personally, I’m a fan of books that cite every single thing, and not just with a reference list at the end. The mass media doesn’t like that kind of thing, so it won’t help book sales.

Step 5: This is not a step, but a gratuitous list of non-marketing smart nutrition bloggers

If you’ve been “paleo” for a while, your thirst for knowledge might take you out of the mass-market territory and into the subtle and technical territory. My first online exposure to paleo, in 2007, was to Big Daddy Sisson and Chris Masterjohn. While Sisson can market for sure, he is smart as hell and has churned out an amazing amount of helpful information. And is anyone really smarter than Masterjohn?

Well, these three guys are right up there: Paul Jaminet, Prof. Dr. Andro, and Lucas Tafur.  In case I somehow get called out for not listing any women, let me say that Melissa McEwen’s site is loaded with practical info, science, and social observation.  And obviously Denise Minger with her insightful study tear-downs.

Even though Jaminet has a book, and Denise will have a book, I’ll just say it flat out: the most interesting blogs are from people who market themselves very little or not at all. That’s just the nature of the beast, since they address different audiences and can blog about whatever the hell they want to blog about. For more information about this post, please check out my linkedin profile. (kidding! how dumb is linkedin?)