Michael A. Smith, Senior Health Scientist for Life Extension, shares with us the reason why story telling can be more effective than sharing the technical aspects of supplements to the public, and how he incorporated story telling in his communication campaign as a spokesperson.
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NARRATOR: It’s SPOKEies® University from D S Simon Media, featuring Michael A. Smith from Life Extension.
DOUG SIMON: Welcome to SPOKEies® University. I’m Doug Simon, CEO at D S Simon Media and the founder of the SPOKEies® Awards. And today, we’re with Michael Smith, who’s Senior Health Scientist for Life Extension and most importantly in this context, and probably in any context, a SPOKEies® winner in the Corporate Health and Pharma category. Thanks so much, and congratulations on your big win.
MICHAEL SMITH: Thank you, Doug. It’s a pleasure to be here. And thank you for the award. It’s an honor and privilege. Yeah, this is awesome.
DOUG SIMON: Clearly you earned it. Our purpose here is really to give your best thinking tips to anyone out there in the communications space, so they can be better at their own job. So why don’t you give us a quick overview of your work as a spokesperson for Life Extension?
MICHAEL SMITH: Sure, so working in the supplement industry, so many products out there. There’s a lot of confusion. So, one of my primary jobs as a spokesperson is to help people to understand what it is they need, those supplements they should be taking, to understand the science behind it. The science can be pretty technical, right? So, one of my jobs is to take that hardcore science and turn it into a nice story for people. And we will speak to consumers, to media, to trade, to get that message out that “here’s your problem”, “here’s the solution”, and Life Extension can help you with that.
DOUG SIMON: Yeah and speak a little bit about your choice that you made with your communications team to really focus on the educational aspects, as opposed to a product sale aspect. And how have you backed that up and execute it?
MICHAEL SMITH: Sure, so again, our company Life Extension is just grounded in rigorous science. So, everything we do– and that’s something that more people need to understand that the supplement industry does offer therapeutic nutrients for specific issues, right? So, we have all that clinical research, all that lab research that backs that up, but that stuff doesn’t necessarily talk to the everyday person, right? It doesn’t talk to the lay consumer who just goes into a store and sees all these products “What do I do with this?”. So, my primary job then, is to take that information and turn it into stories that make sense to people, right? And that’s one of the biggest tips, right? You have to have a story because that’s what people remember, right? The science is there. I can talk about that, but no one remembers that stuff really. What they remember is that story behind that product, behind that company. And that’s what I try to bring out in the education side of it. So, we do e-books. We do videos, quick little 20 seconds, three things to do for mood today, stuff like that that shows the media, it shows the industry that Life Extension is serious about education. We’re breaking it down, so everybody can learn and understand that. And actually, then use those supplements in a good way to improve their health.
DOUG SIMON: One of these interesting strategic decisions that you’ve made on that in those e-books is rather than organize them by here’s our product and what you need to know, it’s about, hey, you might be feeling this situation or this condition or know someone who does. Here are some things that you should know and talk about and be responsible, and even discuss with your physician to make sure you’re moving things in the right direction.
MICHAEL SMITH: Although, Doug, some people do go online looking for a specific product, for instance, or they go into a store looking for a specific fish oil, whatever they have. But most people aren’t doing that. Most people are going online. They’re going into the stores. And they’re asking questions about issues they have. So that’s another tip, right? Whatever materials you put together, whatever story you’re wrapping that in, you have to know who you’re speaking to, who’s your audience? What are they actually looking for? And so, the e-books and the videos are answering those things that people are looking for. It’s not about the brand at first. That comes in a little bit later. It’s about here’s the issue. Here’s how we can solve it for you. And now, let me tell you about our brand that is high quality.
DOUG SIMON: And as we wrap up, one of the ideas behind the SPOKEies® was the increased credibility that in-house spokespeople actually work for the organization having. The media has a much higher demand for the in-house spokespeople. They want to hear the people who are really doing it. How important is it that you are able to be inside the organization, actually working there as opposed to just a paid outside spokesperson for the credibility of what you’re trying to accomplish?
MICHAEL SMITH: I think that’s a great question. I think it’s– the phrase I like is the brand ambassador, right? So, I actually understand our brand from the research to the final product, from the e-books, the videos, the protocols to the marketing pieces. So, I’m engrossed in all that. So, when I go out to the media, and I know what the media is looking for, we follow their editorial calendars. We say, you’re doing an edition on stress or something. We know that ahead of time. And I can present all of that to them from the education down to the product into the quality. So being the brand ambassador, I know it all, from beginning to end. And that’s what we offer to media, the consumer, and even professionals.
DOUG SIMON: Yeah, and that reduces stress ’cause they actually know when you go out there representing the organization you have in-depth knowledge if you get a question that’s off just the simple list of what you’re hoping.
MICHAEL SMITH: Right, right. We get those a lot, too, sometimes.
DOUG SIMON: Of course, and congratulations on the win, and for joining us here.
MICHAEL SMITH: Thank you, Doug.
DOUG SIMON: Thanks so much. Great stuff.
MICHAEL SMITH: Awesome. Thank you.