In 2006, one of the fastest-growing businesses in the weight-loss industry began. It was the Tony Ferguson Weight Loss Program, started by Tony Ferguson himself in his Parramatta store. The night A Current Affair aired a story about how so many people were achieving massive weight-loss goals with his program, he sold out of his products and had people queued out of his store until midnight.
In 2007, the business grew astronomically. Every second person I spoke with was on the Tony Ferguson program. I knew I had to be part of the mega growth of his business, so I approached Tony with a proposal to work for him.
I went on to establish the corporate sales division for the Tony Ferguson Weight Loss Program. The staff’s hot-pink uniform ensured the program’s growth skyrocketed. We couldn’t catch a flight or go to the supermarket in our uniform without people asking about the program and whether they could eat certain foods.
There were two key parts to the business’s successful branding and marketing: access and authenticity.
Tony refused to have celebrities as part of his program’s advertising. Despite numerous celebrities being on the program, he was passionate about helping the real day-to-day Aussie battler.
To keep the brand real, I took Tony to stores in country towns and shopping centres for “meet and greets.” People loved him. They came in droves to see him. He was kind and compassionate to everyone. He loved helping people and hearing the stories of his customers who had overcome diabetes or who had been bedridden and were able to go to the bathroom on their own again.
One thing Tony always insisted on during his store visits was the jelly taste test. Although his weight-loss program was based on meal replacements, the Tony Ferguson Diet Jelly was the most popular and effective way of accessing new customers. The jelly came in three flavours: strawberry, raspberry and lime. They created a bright and colourful display that attracted people and encouraged them to try. The team ensured it was a fun experience and jelly became a key part of business growth. It was one of the best ways to encourage people to try the product, engage with Tony and the team, ask questions and learn more about the program.
Any day we didn’t put the jelly out, we knew it would have an impact on the business’s figures, so it became a Key Performance Indicator (KPI). It was a KPI we knew would create sales success and growth for the store because it created access to the essence of the product in a way that was fun, non-committal and engaged customers’ curiosity.
I find that when I’m working with experts on their business growth, one thing that often holds them back is their lack of access. People can’t access them easily. They aren’t given a taste test. In other words, these experts don’t put their jelly out! Google’s Zero moment of Truth research tells us that it takes 10 pieces of content for a customer to make the decision to work with you. Jelly is just the start, but it is a key access point.
You might think that because you have a website, LinkedIn page and blog, you’re easy to access. But these things are not enough. A customer must initiate a search to find them. It’s up to you to reach out and make it easy for them. In fact, it was Michael Port, author of Book Yourself Solid, who said you must “always have something to invite people to.”
Technology has created so many ways for you to get your essence in front of people – allowing them to taste test you, get a sense of who you are, how you can help them and if they like you. Yet experts, influencers and thought leaders often hold back on creating access. Why? One of the most common reasons is they are scared of sharing their authenticity. We can feel at our most vulnerable if we reveal too much about ourselves, especially if we’re trying to convince people that we know what we’re doing and we’re perfect. We hide out of fear that people will judge us.
But as author George Orwell said,
The essence of being human is that one does not seek perfection.
So, what can you do to put your jelly out? There are so many things you can do to give people a taste of who you are.
Some options that work well include:
- People want to hear your voice. The best thing about most webcasting technology is that it includes video, so people can see you while you work through the webcast.
- Turning your blogs into videos. People learn in different ways. Some people are visual and prefer to read. Others are more kinaesthetic and need to see how you speak and engage through movement. Others need to hear your voice. Many people need all three to build trust in working with you.
- Live social video. Encourage people to connect with you within their world rather than yours. For example, you could use video streaming platforms such as Facebook Live and LinkedIn Native Video.
- Face-to-face events. Despite all the digital and social media technology available, meeting face to face is still one of the most highly effective ways of creating access. Breakfasts, events and meet-ups allow potential clients and customers to meet you for minimal or no cost. They get to know you and learn more about you in an organic way.
I’d love to hear your thoughts and hear how you go with your jelly!
Jane Anderson works with Thought Leaders, Trusted Advisors, Experts and CEO’s to increase their lead generation and grow their businesses.
Her blog has been awarded in the top 25 branding blogs globally. She is one of 12 LinkedIn Influencer Small Business Advocates in Australia, is the host of the Jane Anderson Brand You Show.
She is the author of 4 books including “EXPERT to INFLUENCER: 12 Key Skills to Attract New Clients, Increase Sales and Leverage your Personal Brand to Become an Industry Leader.”