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Marketing nutrition by blaming other products

Those who have nothing good to say about their own products or services instead identify true or imaginary faults in the products of others.

Conceptual nutrition health diet round circle red word cloud iso
Conceptual nutrition health diet round circle red word cloud isolated background. Collage of carbohydrates, vitamins, fat, weight, energy, […]

Those who have nothing good to say about their own products or services instead identify true or imaginary faults in the products of others. This is unfortunately the case, at least sometimes, even for those who have something good to say about their own products. Perhaps, it is natural or easier for some to blame other products rather than praise their own. Or, perhaps, they find it easier to anchor their conversation using the latest complaint of a potential customer and then transfer the complaint to the competitor’s product nearest to such problem. They hope, of course, to convince the potential customer to switch suppliers in anticipation of earning business.

This is not the only way of conducting business in this industry, but with nutrition being constantly blamed (rightly or wrongly) for almost everything, it becomes an easy target to blame the nutrition efforts of the competition. After all, nutrition has been promising to resolve all problems, especially since the advent of additives. Thus, when expectations are high, and disappointments even worse, it is easy to switch suppliers in anticipation of finding the miracle solution to a perennial problem – especially one that often has nothing or little to do with nutrition. But people sell to people, and psychology of sales has a lot to say about how and why this method of selling/marketing is working.

Again, this is not the proper way of promoting one’s own products, but lamentably it is the most commonly used, and admittedly it becomes increasingly successful. Perhaps this is because clients are diverted from real solutions by the constant need to increase sales of nutrition products instead of helping our customers to remain profitable, or those who promote such products are unable to identify the true cause of problems and thus remain unable to offer a real solution. Everything is based on the principle, “if the competitor’s product is not helping you, why not try my product?” Perhaps this approach sounds naïve enough but, in practice, it has replaced the laborious and time-consuming approach of working through real problems. The pressure from above to increase sales or find a quick solution has become so heavy that solutions are often offered without much thought and decisions are taken with the same aplomb. Both sides bear the same degree of responsibility, especially when decision-making becomes more distant from ownership and accountability.

The end result is frequently a quick sale that makes a sales team happy and a euphoria permeates the whole business as they forward project sales potential on an annual basis for the whole farm. This is natural, too, and it does no other harm than distract a business from establishing a more secure client basis. In fact, such quick sales enhance the image of the sales team, encourage the adoption of such selling practices by others, and create a chain reaction in which competitors try to find problems with the products that ousted them from their client. But, was that client theirs to begin with?

Look at the buyer's side

This question brings us to examine the opposite side: that of the buyer. In-house expertise in most animal farms remains low, at least lower than it should be considering the large size of modern enterprises. Most farms expect nutrition knowledge to be free, something they enjoyed when public institutions were working for them, but such notion is no longer true because most public institutions now depend on private funding to operate and even survive – with all negative and positive repercussions that this might entail. Nevertheless, most farm decision-makers continue to believe in the concept of free nutritional knowledge, especially because nutrition suppliers offer themselves such information apparently free of charge.

We must now return to the customer who decided to switch nutrition suppliers, for whatever reason. The previous supplier is naturally disappointed, whereas the new supplier is thrilled. But, with both having failed to resolve the actual problem, and with the customer expecting help from those who sell products without having the expertise to look into real problems, nobody should be surprised when a third supplier blames again the new nutrition offering yet another solution. Thus, the vicious cycle of selling good but ineffective products remains and feeds the whole supplier chain, while animal producers remain with their initial problem. But who is to blame?

Real-life scenario

I recall a real case where I was invited to review the nutrition program for a large farm. The main complaint was poor feed efficiency and it was hoped that a series of additives (perhaps enzymes, asked the client) or a rebalancing of energy and protein (my initial thought) would resolve the issue. Luckily, I followed my own advice and I visited the farm, spending a whole day touring facilities and visiting with employees. In the end, I refused the business because the problem was feed wastage. My recommendation was to spend money in changing feeders because more than 25% of the feed was simply ending up in the slurry pits. As far as I know, the farm continues to use the same inexpensive feeders. They are still looking for the magic potion that will resolve their big problem, losing huge money down the pits. Since then, many have made fortunes selling to this farm all kinds of products, but the farm still suffers from the same problem, and this has been going on now for the past 12 years.

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