Want A Gig in the Supplement Industry? Here's What You Need to Know
There is a very well known saying: “Do what you love, and you'll never work a day in your life.” Fitness addicts gravitate toward this mantra, and naturally want to be involved in the supplement industry. All too often, people go about pursuing this dream the wrong way. Whether you want to be a sales rep, a sponsored athlete, become a writer such as myself, or simply get your foot in the door, here are some “dos and don’ts” to achieving your goals.
First off, let me be very clear when I say supplement companies are bombarded DAILY with requests to become a sponsored athlete. With dozens upon dozens of these lackluster requests, supplement companies need to see something that sets you apart from the rest. The usual “I want to be sponsored” message via Facebook or email will not cut it at all. You must get creative! These companies are looking for an efficient ROI. What is ROI? ROI = Return on Investment. Being sponsored usually comes with free product, income, and other perks such as travel expenses paid. Even though this business is lucrative, this is still costly to potential sponsors. They need to be able to justify their investment by seeing what sort if business you will bring to the company in return. From first glance, you must show you can generate revenue for the brand.
Yes, having a nice physique is certainly required. Obviously, you need to look like a fitness enthusiast and be able to showcase what the particular company's products have done for you. That being said, you could look like Arnold Schwarzenegger, and that still will not guarantee you a spot. Surprised? Well, allow me to clarify. Looking like a God/Goddess is excellent, but you must have a LARGE following on social media. If you cannot reach thousands of viewers with your posts, you will have a difficult time achieving the revenue your sponsor is looking for. I highly recommend Instagram! (To my supervisor, I only have 4k followers, but if you want to hook me up with an early Christmas present……)
Social media in today's age is the BEST form of advertising. You will want to focus on gaining followers on as many social media platforms as you can. I have found Instagram to currently be the hottest. To increase your following, post often, utilize the thirty hashtags you are allowed, and follow other people! With these simple tips, you will grow your account. Now, do NOT pay for followers. Companies will be able to spot this from a mile a way, and it will be an instant turn off. Having an organic following is the goal, and will give you the best chance toward success. Of course, these tips are for those of you who are looking for sponsorship. If you are looking for an actual job in the supplement world, you will need to take a different approach.
The following advice all comes from personal experience, so trust me on this. I got my foot in the door in this industry shortly after I graduated from High School. I applied at my local GNC and was hired as a sales associate. A few months later, I was provided the opportunity to manage my own store. At 19 years old, I was ecstatic! This was a great opportunity for me, and allowed me to get familiar with different brands and products. With this experience under my belt, I decided I wanted to pursue a career outside of GNC, and focus on one brand. At the time, I did not care who it was for, I just wanted to be a part of a specific company and get out of the retail world. For countless nights, I was submitting resume after resume. I was getting so desperate, I started applying to companies I could find on Google, one's I had never heard of! From a persistence aspect, I was doing the right thing, and I want you to have that same persistence if working in this field is a dream of yours! Then the day came, and I received a phone call from a sales director who wanted to go over my resume and have a phone interview. “BINGO” I thought to myself. “I'm going to nail this interview and have my dream job!” I continued to think. Oh, how naïve I was…. I did nail the interview, and I did get the job. So, what is the issue? Well, the issue is, I applied to be a sales rep, covering the states of Michigan and Ohio. My job was to get our product into gyms, but not just any gyms, I had to sell to CrossFit gyms. I quickly realized my dilemma: THE NEAREST CROSSFIT GYM WAS AN HOUR AWAY. If you are confused, understand that when it comes to sales, face-to-face interaction with potential business is the BEST and most successful form of sales. I had to drive two or three hours to get to the nearest city, and this was not financially feasible for me to do at that time in my life. I then tried allocating my time to focusing on online sales. Yes, I was able to pick up clients this way, but it was still not as effective or as efficient as I would have liked. After a lot of thought, I decided to resign.
My lesson from this brief story is simple: make sure the job you are applying for is practical for your current situation. I felt like a total failure. I would like to prepare as many of you as I can to be knowledgeable before you take on this business, and prevent you from winding up in the situation I did. Looking back, it was a great learning experience, and I am glad it happened. Sometimes the best lessons are learned the hard way! There is a lot of travel involved, a monthly target for sales you will need to hit, and events you will probably have to attend. All of this is doable! The key to success in this situation is making sure you live in an area that allows you to be productive. Basically, if you live in BFE, Alaska, count yourself out of the sales rep conversation. On the other hand, if you are located in a place like New York City, check in frequently with whatever company you are interested in; a location such as that is the perfect market! If you live in a big city, take a chance and apply!
Earlier, I mentioned the amount of requests companies get for sponsorship. The same applies for jobs! Again, you must do something that allows you to stand out from the crowd. When submitting your resume, make sure you list your industry experience (if any). This goes without saying, but make sure it looks professional. And if you are applying in person, make sure YOU look professional. Just because you may be working with a bunch of “meat heads”, this is still a business, and first impressions are huge! Nine times out of ten, you will be asked “Why do you want to work for us?” be prepared with something other than “because I need the money”. I highly recommend being familiar with the brand. Companies want employees who are truly passionate about the product! If and when you get the job, the journey is not over, in fact, it is just starting. To have and maintain a successful career, you must be motivated and show the company your drive. Like I said, there are many candidates out there that could replace you any say, so be sure to put in the work and go the extra mile every chance you get!
This is a very competitive industry. With thousands of potential athletes and employees looking to wedge their way in, you must separate yourself from the pack. For those of you trying to Get sponsored, remember to have something you can offer in return. Many athletes have this fallacy that earning a sponsorship is strictly a “take” relationship. Incorrect. This is definitely a “give-and-take” partnership. The company will support you, but be sure you can support them in return via marketing! Social media will be your golden ticket; grow those accounts! For those of you looking for a career, starting small like a supplement retail store will help get your foot in the door, and could potentially lead to other opportunities! This is a great starting point to learning about supplements, different companies, and how to deal with customers. Take it from me, I started as a sales associate at GNC, and now I have the phenomenal opportunity to write about it for the best brand in the business, Redcon1. Work hard, and lift on my friends!