Nick Robinson, chief marketing officer of Quest Nutrition, joined us in last week’s Warrior TV: Warrior Ask Me Anything event and talked about how Quest Nutrition has become a billion dollar brand in just five years. Quest Nutrition has a very interesting backstory and its rise to a tremendous success is something Warrior Forum members couldn’t wait to hear.
Nick’s Early Career
Nick grew his passion for storytelling, technology, and community building when he started his own Web design firm. He went to film school and after graduation landed a job in a TV and new media company where he discovered that there’s a way to combine all of his passion and it’s happening online. Three years after, he met the founders of Quest Nutrition (Tom Bilyeu, Ron Penna, and Mike Osborn) who offered him a position within the company. Although hesitant at first, Nick took a gamble and became Quest’s employee #1.
Promoting Quest Bars
The first Quest Bars were created in 2010. Quest promoted the bars through blog and social media. Nick thought they needed influencers who were meticulous about what they eat but would love the Quest Bar nutritional value and taste. They needed bodybuilders and fitness enthusiasts with loyal followings. They offered some of the most popular members on Bodybuilding.com free samples and shipped them some Quest Bars.
They also went to events to have people try Quest Bars for free. But people still thought the protein bar was bad for their health. That’s when the Quest team realized it was time to shift the public’s perception.
Nick knew that Quest Nutrition was something the world had never seen, but the Quest team was struggling to communicate it in the most effective way. So Nick, their president Tom Bilyeu, and community manager Clark Pagaduan, locked themselves in the conference room and started writing words on the whiteboard to figure out the positioning of what Quest is supposed to be. They agreed not to leave the room until they had something clear. After less than an hour, they came up with #CheatClean, their guiding principle as to what Quest Nutrition is. It described who they were perfectly: fun, playful, delicious, but actually good for you. It’s that important statement that made them who they are today.
Online and Offline Marketing Strategies
Nick says the Quest Nutrition website was very basic when it launched in 2011, but they were still able to build a community and sell their products through the website. The following year, big distributors who wanted to carry Quest Nutrition products came knocking on Quest’s door.
Nick admitted that the grand vision of their marketing in totality is to mimic highly memorable advertising from the world’s biggest companies, such as Apple and Redbull. Now, Quest Nutrition’s content team is composed of 15 people who do the physical production (directors, editors, producers, and camera guys), and 2 writers.
Another way of creating content is working with influencers. YouTube celebrity Matt Santoro is a big Quest fan who is now the host of a Web series called Food for Thought, produced in collaboration with Quest Nutrition.
How Quest Nutrition Overcame the Negative Perception About Protein Bars
On their first year, they sampled a million bars and shipped them to anyone. It was an expensive move, but Nick says it was the smartest thing they’ve ever done to prove to the world they truly had a unique product. “‘Because if your product is good, they will return,” shared Nick.
The Public’s Feedback
“You can do a little bit more with Quest Bar than just eat it out of the wrapper,” a lot of fans claimed.
Early on, Quest realised their job was not to please everybody, but to amplify those people who do like their product. As they grew their community, they often gave away products for free. People started posting photos of themselves with Quest Nutrition products from places all around the world doing all sorts of activities, such as sitting by the pool or even skydiving. Many of them also started sharing their own CheatClean creations.
The release of Quest Nutrition Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Bar was the turning point and breakthrough moment for Quest Nutrition. Nick says to this day, it is still his favorite flavour.
Nick says that creating hype and anticipation around their new products is an important part of their marketing strategy. To create hype, they tell their social network fans that a new flavor (or product) is coming up in a week. Once it’s released, it will be available online for a month or two. Their enthusiasm for a protein bar they’ve never tried before is a testament to what happens when you have a community built with value.
On Tracking Exposure and Brand Awareness
Quest uses Google Analytics for tracking and Pandora for brand awareness campaigns. Nick also shared that they are setting up more sophisticated systems now. Nick says these are what they are using now, but his main priority is using tools and software that enable them to move fast and work efficiently. Nick also pointed out that mobile is important and that people need to understand how advertising supports both online and offline activities.
Nick’s Three Pieces of Advice for Early Stage Startups
1. Everything that you ever wanted to know in life is in books. If you’re not reading every single day, you’re falling so far behind everyone else. Read a lot.
2. If you’re going to start something, be passionate about it.
3. Add value. If you build something for them, they will reciprocate the love.
Did you miss this event? You can now watch the video recording of this Warrior TV episode with Nick Robinson in this link.