Professional Development

Strategies for Working With Brands

Dietitians offer incredible value to food companies. In the past, the primary way RDs worked with food companies was through social media and influencer partnerships. But as more companies begin to seek out our expertise, not only are there more opportunities for partnership, but these partnerships often surpass the classic social media posts. In short, more and more companies are recognizing what we can do for them.

As dietitians, our expertise and skill set transcend recipe development and a social media presence. While these are highly sought-after services, they aren’t necessarily strengths for all of us. As a result, many dietitians don’t consider working with brands because of their small social media following or lack of knowledge of the various platforms and what they offer. This blog breaks down the benefits of working with brands, what brands want from dietitians, why there’s room for all of us to exhibit our strengths, and the types of services RDs can offer apart from a widespread social media presence.

Why Work With Brands
Here are some of the many benefits of working with brands no matter your specialty area.

Gain Credibility
When you write a book or are quoted in an article, you gain credibility as a trusted expert. The same goes for working with brands; by listing past brand partners in your capabilities deck, being featured on the brand’s site, or sharing their samples with clients, you show your clients and audience you’re a trusted and sought-after expert.

Offer Value to Your Clients
As dietitians, we’re familiar with healthful food choices to recommend to our clients who have varying needs, preferences, and conditions. Working with brands can equip you with a wider range of products to suggest, in addition to offering coupons, samples, educational resources, recipe ideas, and more to improve patient care.

Reach a Wider Audience
Working with brands provides an opportunity to increase exposure for you and your business and reach more people with credible and accurate nutrition information they can trust.

Diversify Your Revenue
This is a big one! Working with brands is a great way to add another stream of income to your business.

Why Brands Want to Work With RDs
More brands are seeing the value in working with dietitians and want to work with you in a variety of ways. If you’re unsure about what to offer, think of how brands may benefit from your expertise and what value they’ll receive from working with you.

Credibility & Consumer Trust
When RDs support brands as nutrition experts, the brands gain greater credibility and trust among consumers. For example, company statements about products such as, “recommended by pediatricians,” “approved by RDs,” or “recommended by nutritionists,” will hold more weight and go far with consumers.

Brand Visibility and Awareness
Brands and dietitians often have similar target audiences. For example, if you specialize in plant-based nutrition, you likely attract clients and an audience who eat vegetarian, vegan, or dairy-free and are likely looking for plant-based products to support their lifestyle. When you partner with plant-based food companies, they’ll be interested in reaching your audience.

Expertise and Consumer Insight
Often, brands seek nutrition knowledge, providing dietitians the opportunity to show them which products are best suited for certain consumers and which are more appropriate for special dietary needs. RDs also can offer input into choice of ingredients and new product development.

Getting Started
Since social media is mostly where we see brand-RD partnerships, dietitians often assume it’s the only place they can work with brands. The truth is we each offer value and a unique perspective, so any RD can work with a brand. The following are tips for getting started.

Find and Craft Your Offer
To begin, think about the services and information you offer or are aspiring to and how a certain brand can benefit.

Ask yourself, “Aside from my credentials, what unique value and perspective do I offer? Is it my years of experience working with a certain population, my thriving private practice, an upcoming event, my podcast, or e-mail newsletter following?” Your pitch always should focus on the value to the brand. Below are 20-plus creative ways in which dietitians can work with brands:

  1. Webinar sponsorship
  2. Event sponsorship
  3. Workshops and demos
  4. Podcast ads
  5. Sponsored speaking engagements and presentations
  6. TV segments
  7. Blogging
  8. Be a source for media mentions and quotes
  9. Content creation
  10. Offer consultations on your nutrition specialty to help them learn more about communicating with your audience
  11. Food labeling reviews
  12. Sponsored newsletters
  13. Sponsored blog posts
  14. Meal planning with their products
  15. Cookbook featuring their products
  16. E-book featuring their products
  17. IGTV or Facebook Live takeovers on their accounts
  18. Recipe development
  19. Food Photography
  20. Sharing product samples with your clients
  21. Participating in ambassador programs

Pitching 101
Once you’ve determined your offer, you can begin reaching out. Follow the tips below for a better chance of getting a response.

• Be strategic and specific. You’ll be more successful if you pursue brands that are a good fit for you and your niche. Do you reach their target audience? Is the topic of your segment compatible with their brand? In addition, rather than list all of your potential services for the brand to choose from, offer one specific idea for partnership.

• Find the right contact. Since it can be challenging to pinpoint who the right person is within a company to contact, take a look at this article to learn more about how to find the right contact. If you have a profile on The RD Link, you get direct access to the correct contact person with each brand on the site.

• Keep it brief. People don’t read or respond to long e-mails, so include a quick intro, why you like their products, how you could promote their products, and a call to action, such as asking to schedule a call or giving them an idea of next steps.

• Have more information ready for follow-up. Think a step ahead and anticipate what information they will need and have the details ready to share.

• Be professional, cheerful, and quick to respond. Show your excitement about the brand and products, and make them excited about the possibility of working with you. Don’t get discouraged if you don’t hear back right away. Be polite and patient—but persistent—and don’t be afraid to follow up more than once, continuing to offer customized value along the way.

Resources
The RD Link: This is the only platform that gives dietitians direct access to the brands that want to work with RDs. Accounts are free, and dietitians can begin connecting with brands instantly.

The Unconventional RD Podcast – Episode 55: Connecting Brands and Dietitians: Hosted by Erica Julson, MS, RDN, CLT, this episode of The Unconventional RD covers how dietitians and brands can connect with each other, ideas for utilizing brand work in your business, how to stand out when reaching out to brands, and more.

Scale Your Nutrition Practice Course: This course offers educational sessions for dietitians, including a packed presentation on working with brands. The full course is $49, 100% of which goes to Diversify Dietetics, and RDs can earn 8 to 10 CEUs.

The Dietitian Success Podcast – Episode 42: Your Guide to Sponsored Content and Working with Brands: Hosted by Krista Kolodziejzyk, MPH, RD, of the Dietitian Success Center, this episode covers how to get started working with brands and where to find opportunities, tips for pitching yourself and setting your rates⁠, things to consider when it comes to disclosure and code of ethics, and more.

Gorham Consulting Group/The RD Link Blog: This blog often features RDs to showcase the creative ways they’re working with brands. Gorham Consulting Group caters content to both RDs and brands, which can help you better understand what brands are looking for from you, why they want to work with you, and how you can tailor your content to fit their needs.

— Jenna Gorham, RD, is founder of The RD Link. Having spent her career working on the brand side to manage partnerships with RDs, she launched The RD Link to make dietitians and food companies more accessible to each other. Her mission is to create relationships between health and wellness brands and RDs to foster credibility and the spread of accurate nutrition information while helping brands and dietitians alike grow their businesses in meaningful ways. The RD Link is the only one-stop-shop platform to connect RDs and brands to ideate and execute hundreds of partnerships. Outside of the office, you can find her exploring the mountains of Montana.

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