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Raj and Hannah break down demand generation for a meal prep subscription service that caters to high-performing individuals. How can they grow profitably and smart?


Raj: Hi there! I’m Raj Jha. I’m here with Hannah Mears. And if your business could benefit from generating demand from enthusiasts in the market, then this is the episode for you. We’ve got a really interesting one here. So Hannah, tell us a little bit about what this company is, what they do, and why enthusiasts can make a difference for them.

Hannah: Listen, we’re all enthusiastic about this concept. Let’s be honest. This is about food. And so our profile today states, “We created a food delivery service that will meet your goals. Whether you want to lose weight, gain muscle, do a recomp or stay the same, just give us your age, height, weight, and the body composition that you want. We’ll create and order meals for you, which are delivered from a regular delivery service, such as Uber eats or Postmates. Just rate your meals, your hunger level, after eating and do a weekly weigh-in and our algorithms get smarter about sending you great meals that get to your goals. The situation is we originally developed our service for athletes who need that convenient meal, that will speed up their performance goals. What we realize is many people who aren’t professional athletes are looking for meals, solutions that are convenient and will keep them performing their best in everyday life.”

Raj, my first instinct, when I hear this is I think we’re on the right path and sort of moving away from just solely athletes. A lot of athletes perform at a high level and have nutritionists. They have people every day encouraging them what to eat. Sometimes they even have personal chefs. I think it’s really smart for them to just reach out to a more basic average audience looking for a healthy lifestyle. Also, people like you and I, for example, who may have busier lifestyles or multiple jobs at once, maybe we would like something where we don’t have to prep our meals all week, but they’re coming to us. They’re fitting our health needs and we don’t have to spend all the time cooking and preparing, and then you’re still on that healthy track. I think it’s something I’d be interested in not being an athlete at a high level or at any level for that matter. And I know so many people right now who love to meal prep, love to be healthy. And if it was delivered to their doorstep, I think it’d be very attractive to them. What were your initial thoughts when you heard this?

Raj: Similarly. We do use a meal delivery service, but it delivers the prepped meal. The thing about me is I hate the chopping and the measuring and all of that stuff. Like I literally don’t mind putting the meal together and doing all that stuff, but I do like the fact that in the service that I use, it comes to me in the components. Because then I can look at it and say, “Okay, what’s really going into my food.” And that really makes a difference because then I can think, “Oh, these proteins are going in here, et cetera.” Now with this, they’re even making it easier, which is going to be healthy. It’s going to be balanced. I don’t have to be looking at each ingredient and doing those interim steps myself. I think it’s a great idea. Like you said, a lot of athletes do have nutritionists start. It sounds like they’re starting out there. They already have athletes in their customer base. But like you said, I think expanding this to health-conscious people, which is an ever-growing ever-expanding market is a fantastic idea.

Hannah: Yes, the quicker, the easier, the faster, the healthier, the better for everyone. And like you were saying, those meals coming to you already free preps are what is really attractive to everyone now. So if they can take this a step further and prep it for the whole week, I think people are really going to buy-in. The question is here. “We currently work with trainers and sports teams and want to expand our customer base to performance-oriented individuals outside of athletes. Everything from fitness enthusiasts, to business people who want to be at the top of their game. What’s the best way to advertise directly to consumers and acquire customers like this?” So we’ve got a company Raj that has proved successful in a really niche market and is expanding from there, which is smart. We always talk about, find that niche, find what you can center in on at once, find your target and then expand. It’s something we recommend all the time, but what should this company do to leverage as much as possible from the early success?

Raj: And you’re exactly right. They have success and we want them to leverage that success. You really have to look at what’s working. Instead of reinventing the wheel and saying, “Okay, right now where we were with athletes, and now we’re going to go with executives.” Instead of doing everything from scratch, really look at what resonated with the original audience. So survey your original audience whether it’s trainers, whether it is the athletes themselves. What was the reason behind it, what was the thing that really appealed to them? Was it the convenience? Was it the price? Was it the fact that they have this algorithm that they mentioned, which will make it better and better? Is it the fact that there was feedback and having those; did you feel full, what did you think of the meal? What were the aspects of that? And then you can try to map that onto the other audience because that way you’re at least starting with something proven instead of just making it up when you go to a new audience.

Hannah: Yeah. Take advantage of what you already have right in front of you, that saves you an entire step. We always preach that when we have different types of businesses like this, but they were really specific in wanting to advertise directly to consumers. We’re often talking about channel partners, but here they’re really focused on just direct marketing. Where should they begin on which platforms for this type of marketing?

Raj: That’s a good question. We also always have to remember that there are two kinds of marketing. There’s organic, where you’re just posting things, hoping people see it, and influencer, and then there’s paid marketing because they said directly to consumers. I’m really going to focus on paid marketing here because I think that that was the intent behind their question. But I think it’s anything where they can tell a good story. This is a health and fitness style thing, but it’s not something you can really easily explain right away. It might take a little paragraph. This description that they gave us took a little while. So you need to tell a little bit of a story. I’m thinking that the good kinds of things for them might be YouTube advertising, where they can tell a story and they can show some of the results and they can show some testimonials, that’s one way of doing it. Facebook, likewise, could work. A lot of health and fitness is sold on Facebook. You have to be a little bit careful there because Facebook does have a lot of rules around making claims. They don’t want you making exaggerated claims of anything. And a lot of folks in health and fitness get shut down because of that. But they still could work as well. So Facebook, Instagram is one, but really I think YouTube is something to really look into for them.

Hannah: I think that’s a good way too, because the most commonly searched thing on YouTube is “how-to,” and you never know how many people are searching, “how to meal prep, how to eat a healthier lifestyle, how to eat like athletes and train like them.” So you never know your ad to permanently fit in just right there. But what would these ads look like if we’re going to get super specific about this? Is it best to just tell the consumer what they’ve got or sort of taking a different approach?

Raj: Yeah. So a lot of heads are kind of like, “Here’s my thing, here’s what I got.” And then it kind of just leaves it at that and leaves it to the consumer to understand whether or not they want it. I think that’s missing a lot. I think what I really want to discuss is something that we haven’t actually paid a lot of attention to in detail, in these case studies, which is education-based marketing. And that is teaching someone, obviously in an interesting, and in fun, engaging way, but teaching someone about the benefits that they would get from using your product. So it’s one thing to teach about the product and say, “I have this thing.” It’s a whole another thing to teach about, “Here’s the healthy lifestyle that you want, here’s who you could be. Here’s how you can achieve what you want to achieve. Oh. And by the way, in order to do that, you need X, Y, and Z.  And we are a part of that formula. Here’s how we’re going to help you get there.” So that education-based marketing is actually for a more complicated product or service like this is really a good way to go.

Hannah: Yeah. I think just even educating people on things about their lifestyle, ask those questions that make them think, am I this person, do I need this? Would this help me? What step of my day would become easier by utilizing your product? I think that’s a really great thing. I like to look into those things with products.  And when it comes down to it, I always narrow it down that way. Where is this making my day-to-day schedule a little bit easier? But are there things that they should set up early on so that they’re maximizing their efforts in the long run?

Raj: Yes. And again, we’re hitting on two things, we didn’t talk about a lot in other case studies. I think we should talk more about retargeting. So retargeting, I think we mentioned in at least one other episode, but for anyone who did not watch that, even though you should. It is the process by which if someone visits your website or maybe they watch your video, you get to send them another ad. An easy example of retargeting is, you go to Amazon and you put something in your cart and then you wander away. And a day later, these ads start appearing all over the internet. It’s like, “You want the shoe? Wait, I just put the shoe in my cart. How does it know? Is it stalking me?” Well, yes, it’s stalking to you, that’s called Retargeting.

It’s creeping you around and studying your behaviors and then they’re serving it to you, but they can use it in many different ways. And especially here, when we’re talking about video marketing. You can tell a story, both on YouTube and Facebook. This is very easy to do where maybe you had the first video and it tells the story about it and gives them some education, but they’re not quite ready to make the jump yet. So they clicked to your site and they didn’t do anything. And they clicked away. Well, then you can serve them the second part of the story, which goes into more detail, maybe has some more testimonials. And you can string these things together so you can tell a sequential story and that’s called retargeting. So it’s taking someone who’s already engaged with your ad or your website and sending them more information via another ad. It’s a super-powerful way. In fact, a lot of advertisers don’t realize this, but for many products, you don’t make money with the first ad. You, in fact, lose money with the first ad, but retargeting makes so much money that it makes up for all of it. This is not something you’re familiar with. It absolutely makes sense to get very familiar with retargeting.

Hannah: So get comfortable. Don’t get afraid right away because it doesn’t work. But like you said about retargeting, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve searched something and then found 9,000 things all over my social media platforms that are related products somewhere else because of one search. It’s a very smart way, in my opinion, it’s working, it’s out there right now. Take advantage of it. But in terms of campaigns, what types of campaigns should they run to push this product?

Raj: Yeah. Once they’ve identified the advertising, again, education-based marketing has identified that someone is actually interested in this so you don’t want to do this to everybody. But once you know someone’s interested in a healthy lifestyle, they’re interested in eating better. A great kind of marketing that you can do is challenge marketing. You’ll see this in a lot of the folks in the weight loss industry who have done this a lot. And some in the fitness industry as well, which is a 90-day challenge to lose this much weight or gain this much muscle or what have you. Here we have an ancillary, which is a product that’s made for people who want better performance. So can they do something like that? Have a contest of some sort and pick some winners.

And that’s a really great way of getting a community-engaged with it. Getting people engaged with like, “Yeah, actually I do want people performing with best in 90 days. I’d love to do that.” “Okay, great. What do I have to do?” “Oh, I just have to take a trial to the service.” “Okay. Well, I’ll do it. I’ll give it a shot for 90 days and I’ll see, maybe I can convince some prices, et cetera.” So think about a challenge or contest marketing as a way to get engagement and adoption and introduce people to the product.

Hannah: And something I definitely want to talk about though, Raj. We always say, “Here are things that can help you do better. Here are things that can help you achieve your goals.” But something we always like to do is caution people. Let them know what you need to be careful about because you can get really caught up in the process of becoming this big thing and forget the little things that can come up along the way. So in your opinion, what do they need to be careful about when they’re trying to expand?

Raj: I think that definitely, it’s a delivery question. It sounds like they’ve got some technology here that’s going to be recommending meals to eat, but let’s also remember that they’re not creating those meals themselves. So unlike the, I guess the blue apron or the hello fresh, which actually has a warehouse and they’re shipping you the ingredients. These folks are partnering with restaurants that are being delivered through Uber eats or Postmates. So what’s happening is they’re coming up with meal plans and they’ve got the customer interaction, but things can go really wrong if the restaurant doesn’t prepare it right. And let’s just take a doomsday scenario that the meals just don’t show up or worse yet they show up, but the chefs are actually putting in way too much oil and people are going to get super fat in these meals.

So, for reach doesn’t show up, so they really have a delivery issue as well. They have to think about delivery and scale. Let’s say you do this challenge and it just totally blows up. And they’ve got twice as many customers and they’re scrambling around to find new restaurants. Quality control, because this is a subscription service. You want people to come back again and again. And if they have a bad experience, they’re going to talk about their bad experience with their friends. I think really having a lot of attention to the delivery that the last mile that goes into the true customer experience is going to be super full.

Hannah: And I think that a lot of that goes into just being really careful where you’re starting to expand as well because I know where I’m from. We barely even got delivery services because we live so far out in the middle of nowhere. The last thing you want to be doing is trying to connect with just about everyone and then getting yourself, like you said, in a pickle with not just how the food is being prepped and delivered, but where it can be going and who has access to this. So keep in mind, I think I agree with you completely, that the delivery process is just something that they should really be super cautious about. Raj, your final thoughts, just give them a starting point just to make them feel a little bit better about this expansion.

Raj: Exactly. Well, I think the starting point is telling your story. We go back all the way to what we recommended at the beginning, which is to understand what makes your service unique and special, your current audience. Then map that to your next audience and then run some tests. Now you don’t have to do it, even though we recommended this kind of contest marketing, it doesn’t have to be huge. You can pick a small target. Maybe it’s a geographical target. You’re in New York City. You already have the infrastructure in New York City. Don’t go beyond that. And just by the budget of your advertising, only advertise to half a million people thinking that, “Okay, Oh, that’s half a million people, maybe several hundred customers will come out of it.” Just figure out what the numbers are. And don’t worry about getting too big, too fast.

Just proving it out in one location where you have all your other ducks in a row and then prove out, “Okay, well, what does it cost to acquire a customer? How long do they stay? What do I need to do to keep them engaged? What kind of community do I need to build?” I think those are the questions to ask and really just think about it that way. When it comes to expanding all of a sudden in a big way, that’s a different question. And that’s a question for after they’ve proven it with this new customer base.

Hannah: Tell your story, make it personal. We love hearing all your stories. We also love when you submit us profiles like this, where we can help you become the best that you can be. Possibly check out our other videos. We may have answered some other questions that you have along the way, but feel free to continue to submit to us questions as well. Raj, thank you so much for all of your insights, and best of luck to our client. As you strive to make the world a healthier, better place.

Raj: Thank you so much. See you next time.