The ‘8 Great’ Tips For Marketing In A Category That Hasn’t Existed Before
Last week I spoke to an entrepreneur with a unique PR challenge — how do you market in a category that has never existed before? As it turns out, the challenge he faces is more ubiquitous than unique.
Think of the things we now take for granted that several years ago didn’t exist, such as “Amazon Dash” buttons to automatically re-order household supplies, ride sharing a la Uber, online meal services or wearable tech (what did we do before our watches, phones and FitBit devices were able to measure our steps?)
Each of these companies have shared the same hurdle — How do you market a solution people don’t know exists to a problem they don’t yet realize they have?
This is the challenge that faces Matt Riemann, creator of the PH360.me (personalized “Smart Health” app) and the upcoming Shae “Virtual Health Assistant” applications. Riemann is on a mission to evangelize Personalized Health, which falls in an arena called “biohacking” (exploring biology in untraditional ways to advance well being) that is fairly new and emerging itself.
I met Riemann as he spoke at the 2016 Bulletproof Conference in Pasadena, Calif. last week. His own journey at the helm of Personalized Health began 10 years ago, at age 28 and in the prime of his health, with two degrees in human sciences and a career that had him training medical doctors and athletes. He surfed, ate well, and went to the gym 3–4 times a week.
Then, unexpectedly, he awoke one morning wracked in pain. Breathing was difficult and he was unable to move without help. He met with specialists who told him he had a gene anomaly that was terminal and gave him an estimate of 10 more years to live. Now 38, Riemann has lived those 10 years and returned to full health.
In the process, however, he learned that issues of health are entirely personal. Tomatoes might contribute to cancer in some… kale might create skin issues for others. The factors that interact in each person’s biology — the epigenetics — are a blueprint that is different for each individual, with our environment and lifestyle dictating what will happen from there.
In his own case, for example, he moved from South Australia — cold and dry — to Brisbane, with a warm and humid climate, and within a week, his symptoms were reduced by one-half. He learned that his body lacked the enzymes to process the protein shakes he’d been faithfully ingesting. They were calcifying within his body — a difficult scenario to manage, but within six months he managed to turn it around.
In business, his own experience, coupled with 15 years of research, resulted in the PH360 application (Personal Health 360), which allows participants to give body measurements and responses to questions and then receive daily and weekly advice and resource materials customized to them, as a means of reversing symptoms of conditions ranging from sleep disorders, impaired memory, digestive issues, pain, and stress to the very serious issues of diabetes, heart disease and obesity.
In several months he will also launch Shae, a Virtual Health Assistant application that will take personalized health to another arena with the ability to “speak” (via interactive voice or text) in ways that support a subscriber’s personalized wellness needs every day.
For example, as you travel from a cold climate to a hot one, your physiology changes, and the app would instruct you what to do to adjust. It could note from your pulse and sleep records that you are under stress, and offer appropriate breathing exercises and music to calm you back down.
It could note that you expressed a desire to lose weight and remind you to take your walking shoes with you to work. At lunch, it could suggest the best foods, note where they are available nearby or even offer to place an order for delivery on your behalf.
It’s a wide new arena for health. So here’s what Riemann has done so far for PR:
1. Crowdfunding is Great for PR
While Riemann and private investors have put more than $5M into PH360 so far, Riemann ran a Kickstarter campaign for 30 days and followed it up with a 60-day campaign on Indiegogo as a means of raising awareness and interest. The campaigns succeeded on that front (as well as raising approximately $250,000 for additional marketing).
2. Learn to Give Speeches
Speeches are the primary source of PR for PH360 and the Personalized Health movement so far. Riemann began speaking in earnest in 2014, with video clips showing his thoughts on topics such as how the Apple Watch could change the future of health.
Next came advising the US Army, and addressing the United Nations and World Health Organization on matters of personalized health. His biggest opportunity to date occurred in April 2015 when he received the chance to make a TEDxVeniceBeach presentation on “Epigenetics & Personal Health: Can We Control Our Own Future?” The video recap of that presentation has received some 23,261 views so far, as well as substantially upping the credibility of his vision and of his role as an expert in the arena of Personalized Health.
3. Give More Speeches
Currently, Riemann receives ongoing requests to consult with top celebrities and leading influencers around the globe, and to present at conferences such as Bulletproof (where I heard him and met him). The message resonates and results in increasingly more invitations, which he is doing his best to accept.
4. Launch a Television Program, via a Private Network
By November, 2016, the PH360 organization will launch a television program with the potential to reach 60 million homes with education and awareness around the issues of personalized health.
5. Get Great Partners
Riemann’s organization is in talks with governments in many of the 17 countries where his app is currently present about the issues of biotech, wearable teach and health, and the way they’re converging to enlist the governments’ help in providing meaningful resources and education.
He is in talks with insurance companies as well — “A couple are quite interesting,” he says. “What if insurance companies knew you’d get diabetes if you didn’t reverse the trend you were on and were willing to offer you reduced premiums and services in support of you getting the steps in place to avoid the disease?”
6. Offer Good Discounts
For Riemann, the ability to make the concept of personalized health pervasive makes it worthwhile to offer PH360.me for $197 a year or $19 a month, to make it readily available to most or all who are interested in improving their health. Likewise, the Shae virtual assistant application, when released, will be available for $19 a month before the end of 2016, Riemann said.
7. Issue Strong Press Releases
Since 2014, PH360 has issued some 14 press releases. The topics are compelling and “evergreen” (meaning the release will be meaningful for many seasons to come and are not simply announcing a “webinar on Wednesday” or the location of Riemann’s next speech).
They appear to be SEO-savvy and have been posted on one of the primary wire services (PR Newswire, in this case) which allows them to take advantage of both the “push” and the “pull” of PR Newswire’s national and international syndicate of reporters and publications that are willing to repost fitting news. (This one step of wire posting to a strong syndicate as opposed to self distributing or posting on a cheap or free service can mean the difference of some 300 “reposts” of each release as well as immediate top-tier SEO traction.)
In all, Riemann has made sound PR decisions that have put his program on track to meet his goal of 10M users by the end of 2017 (from there, he hopes to achieve an uptake that is faster still). He has also achieved all current PR with minimal use of outside agency support. The primary additional element I proposed he consider is this:
8. Do Thought Leadership Publishing
Each of Riemann’s presentations has the potential to provide the grist for columns and articles. If he were to become an ongoing columnist in a health or wellness publication (or perhaps several), the material Riemann has already prepared could provide education and resource for a much broader audience than the people who are hearing him speak.
Perhaps he could spread that education through interesting columns in technology, in bioscience, fitness, health and lifestyle publications, to span the full spectrum of markets his information addresses. Additionally, many more of his presentations could be videotaped, which would make the written transcripts available as article grist (with video clips of the presentation embedded as well, for a multimedia twist).
If Riemann is more comfortable presenting than writing, in fact, he could simply download Google Docs mobile (it’s free) and speak portions of his presentations into the app to produce a near-perfect manuscript that could serve as an article start.
Articles published (or re-published, with link and attribution) on LinkedIn or on Medium could give him greater contact with people who are ready to converse and engage. If writing help is needed, I would propose he engage the help of “ghost editors” as opposed to ghost writers, to ensure the voice, the magic and the message he hopes to portray remain 100% authentic and “his.”
In all, Riemann is far from the first entrepreneur to face the challenge of breaking into or even creating a new category of products or goods. He appears to be on a solid track, and has done so without the budget of an Amazon or Uber. And while he faces PR and marketing challenges now, being the first and strongest in a new category is seldom (or never) a negative thing.
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This story was originally published at www.forbes.com. Information about Cheryl Snapp Conner’s Content University program to help businesses and executives tell their stories better is available here.