Six Marketing Lessons for Small Business Owners | with Jono SteedmanApr 20, 2023
Love it or hate it – marketing is a business necessity.
I invited Jonathan Steedman, principal dietitian and head honcho at Bite Me Nutrition, to join me on the Got Marketing? podcast to discuss how he approaches marketing as a small business owner without a marketing background. Jono is an accredited practising dietitian and nutritionist passionate about simple, sensible nutrition, and his videos are some of the best things on the internet.
In this blog post, we share six lessons Jono learnt in marketing his own business:
1. Marketing is a business necessity.
If you are somebody that says, “I just hate the marketing. I don’t want to do the marketing. Not interested in the marketing,” AND you don’t have hundreds of thousands of dollars to outsource it... then I question whether you should be in business because it is a necessary evil.
Jono is the poster child of small business owners who can learn to do marketing for themselves and build a very successful business. Jono doesn’t have a marketing background but has been willing to experiment and learn what works best, and he invests spends time learning about his audience.
When asked why he thinks his current marketing is so successful despite having no background experience with marketing, Jonathan’s response was:
“I guess it’s probably a dietitian thing. We want to know how people tick. We want to understand people and have the ability to get inside their minds. It sounds a bit scary. That view of marketing is something I’ve always been interested in.
Looking at other brands outside of my industry and the way that they do it has always been really helpful because in my industry – no offence to other dietitians – I think there is a bit of a gap in our market.
We’re not very fantastic at branding, which is because I think, a lot of the time, we feel like it waters down our strengths as a practitioner because we’re focused on getting the best clinical outcomes for our clients – as we should be – but I don’t think one blocks the other. I think there’s space for both, and there should be space for both.”
2. The value of memorable branding and a seamless brand experience.
“My industry definitely suffers from an overkill of green, beige, brown – earthy natural colours, which works really well for some brands but wasn’t really the path I wanted to go down. The brief was aggressively colourful.”
Jono’s bold branding features four bright colours, funny photos of Jono posing with food and a humorous tone of voice.
“Posing with food is pretty common in my industry, but it is often people laughing at salads. I wanted to take it a little step further.”
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Jono’s brand stands out in the crowded wellness space.
His striking and memorable branding doesn’t stop at his social media channels and video content. It is integrated seamlessly into the entire brand experience.
“Probably a week doesn’t go by where I don’t get a compliment from an existing client or someone on social media or someone who has stumbled on the website. Lots of really good feedback from that perspective. I think it helps set the brand apart because it looks so different.”
Jono has this creative theme consistently running through the website and the actual onboarding and offboarding client experience to create that beautiful consistency of messaging.
“When someone books, they get a professionally produced welcome video from me; they will get a video after their first consult. They will also get a video if there’s been a few months where we haven’t caught up – to check-in. I think those have also helped strengthen existing client relationships.
I do a lot of my work remotely. If you have a practice or you have a shop where you have a space, you can make that really welcoming and warm, but it’s hard to do that in an online business, so having those videos has added that extra level of design and personal touch that has helped strengthen those client relationships even though they are remote."
This is an example of prioritising and delivering a well thought out customer experience.
3. Remember: virality does not equal sales.
Plenty of Jono’s video content has gone viral, but he admits that while it may have contributed to growth in his social media following, this virality doesn’t equal sales.
Jono’s content strategy also involves creating content that he knows won’t go viral but serves to strengthen his relationship with his audience and build trust.
“You should never try and make a viral video, but obviously, there are certain types of content where, if I’m playing a dumb song on my toy piano, I know that’s far more likely to go viral than me holding up a frozen meal. But, at the same time, that frozen meal post is going to have a lot of good nutrition information and some actionable points.
Hopefully, the people reading that are going to go, “This guy actually is really helpful, and he knows his stuff.” Even though that might get a quarter or infinitely less of the likes and the reach of the silly song parody, the song parody isn’t what’s going to be converting followers into clients.”
I completely agree with Jono.
I share some posts on Instagram that I know aren’t going to be high-performing and are purely promotional – where I’m saying, “Hey! Purchase this product!” While they don’t perform well from a reach or impression perspective, they end up with dollars in the bank account. People can be afraid to do this because they measure all of their Instagram content by vanity metrics.
The lesson here is don’t evaluate your social media content by how much reach and how many followers it generates but by other more meaningful metrics like how many people save your posts, how many people tap on your profile, how many website clicks you get, or what are your sales and conversions.
“I try my very best not to look at reach and likes. There are times when going through those metrics can be valuable to get a sense of what style of content is landing, but – like you said – you can’t completely go all-in on post types that are getting you the most likes because the posts that sell are the ones that are going to pay your electricity and keep a roof over your head and allow you to invest in staff or infrastructure or software that’s going to allow your business to grow… the more money I can invest into my business, the better service I can provide my clients.”
Do you want to be popular? Or do you want to get paid?
Every piece of content needs to lead somewhere:
👉 Some of your content needs to be about reach and engagement and building your audience, but some of your content needs to lead to website traffic so that you can capture them onto an owned platform.
👉 Some of your website content needs to be high-value so that you can establish yourself as a credible thought leader or authority in your space.
👉 Some of your content should be funny and humorous so that you can showcase your brand personality.
But all of it needs to be purposeful.
4. Use an anti-marketing approach.
Jono uses an anti-marketing approach in marketing his brand. I’m a huge fan of this tactic, but explaining or defining anti-marketing can be challenging.
Jono’s take on explaining anti-marketing is:
“It’s kind of breaking the fourth wall of marketing. I guess it’s turning the camera back on marketing itself – honest marketing.”
Self-deprecating, transparent, the opposite of traditional marketing.
Why does Jono like this approach?
“I think you build trust right off the bat. Everyone already knows what’s going on. They know that it is marketing. You’re almost not even trying to sell something. It’s almost the opposite.
I think it’s like, “Hey! We’ve got this cool thing. We’re here if you want us,” and that is quite different to getting retargeted five times on Facebook by “buy, buy, buy!” I think it’s a little bit less aggressive.”
Jonathan uses a contrarian take in his video content, often throwing shade on other nutritionists but never naming and shaming.
“You shoot the message – not the messenger.”
In my own anti-marketing video, I say, “Say no to crap marketing.” I don’t say, “Say no to crap marketers.” It’s the marketing. I want your marketing to be better. The marketer can be taught to create better marketing.
What’s great about that is that you are really making it easier for your audience to compare options and ultimately choose which solution is best suited to them.
That ability to compare and contrast creates a path in the woods for the customer should they wish to take it. That’s really what marketing is. It’s getting all the stuff out of the way and clearing that path so that they can progress through the customer journey or the marketing funnel (whatever terminology you like to use) to solve the problem or meet their need.
I think it’s a clever marketing approach because it doesn’t beat around the bush.
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5. Play to your strengths.
Why did Jono choose Instagram as his primary social media channel?
“It’s not ground-breaking or earth-shattering or anything, but I think a lot of my decisions around marketing and what platform I’m engaged in and the copy that I write, and stuff is just like, “Do I enjoy it? Do I like it?” This sounds so self-serving, but if I read through a caption and I get a nose laugh out of myself, I’m like, “Yes, cool. That’s good to go.”
I don’t enjoy TikTok. I got on there and it hurt my brain. It makes me feel old. I know that that would suck all the creativity out of me. Probably the people that I would resonate with aren’t on there either or aren’t on there in any great capacity.”
You can’t get blood out of a stone.
If you genuinely enjoy something and you’re good at it, then that’s where the energy and the blood will flow.
I always say this: don’t let anyone else tell you what you should be doing because it depends on your skill set, where your strengths lie, budget, industry, and niche. All of it should be fit for purpose. None of it can be templated.
I’m a writer. I like writing. Video editing and sleek transitions on Reels scare the absolute bejesus out of me, whereas I know that I can move people with my words. I focus on channels and platforms like email marketing, blogging and podcasting where I can use words. Because that is my zone of genius.
You should always be playing to your strengths.
6. One thing doesn’t change the world.
While Instagram is Jono’s primary social media channel, it is not his only marketing channel. Over-relying on one channel is perilous, especially when that channel is a social media platform, a borrowed channel.
Jono has invested time and money into providing a seamless brand experience through his social media, video marketing, website and client experience, and the Bite Me Nutrition podcast.
Strategy is about making choices. It’s just as much about what you don’t do as what you do. As a small business owner, you cannot do it all - so you need to decide, as Jono has, which channels are the best for you to focus on right now.
As a marketer with over 20 years of experience, what marketing channel would I advise Jono to invest in next?
Email marketing has delivered the best return on investment for ten years in a row for marketing. It’s honestly where I make most of my money.
Jono already has fantastic content he could repurpose for his emails, and it’s an owned channel. It’s a no-brainer.
Uplevel your email marketing strategy with an online workshop with marketing strategist Mia Fileman. Work smarter, not harder, by enrolling in our Email Marketing Workshop.
To hear more about Jono’s video creation process and tips, tune into Part 2 of our podcast discussion.
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Global Marketing Strategist
Global Marketing Strategist