How to Sell a Protein Cookie: A Guide for Bodybuilders

Mar 21, 2022

Recently, I appeared as a guest on the RX Muscle podcast with host Dave Palumbo. He asked about advice I would give to a bodybuilder selling a protein cookie to generate income. So in this article, I will walk through the various ways a bodybuilder can have success with a protein cookie business. If you are not a bodybuilder, please continue reading because many of the ideas presented can be applied to just about any business.

Before I outline the various ways a bodybuilder can make money with a protein cookie business, be sure to check out my 90-Day Online Launch Guide. It’s 100% free and it’s my gift to you. The guide addresses the following question: “If I were to start an online business in the next 90 days, what would I do?” It’s going to cover things like how to determine what to sell, how to market your product, specific software you can use to run your business, and I even included a checklist that keeps you on track. Again, this is absolutely free. Download it today!

First, I would like to thank Dave Palumbo and the RX Muscle family for having me on their platform. I had a great time.

What advice would I give to a bodybuilder who wants to sell protein cookies? First, when I am presented with this type of question, it can be tricky to answer in an interview format because there are a lot of unknowns. So in this case, I just focused on the basic strategy for selling a product like this.

Before giving specific advice to the owner, I would be realistic about how much they will make. I would also be realistic about food products in general and particularly those that are made to be shelf stable. What does it mean for something to be shelf stable? Well, if you make fresh bread at home, it may last a week at room temperature. The only way it lasts longer is to add things to it that might alter the flavor and/or texture. Bread made at home is formulated with all natural ingredients. But you, unfortunately, lose that advantage whenever you prepare something to be shelf stable because you have to add chemicals. This is the only way it can sit on the shelves for months, and in some cases, years.

Also, this is one of the most difficult markets to break into. It’s going to be a lot of work, but I’m sure you are up for the task since it sounds like the product is already available for sale. Congrats!

Obviously, this is a niche product. We are talking about a very specific segment of the fitness community. So be realistic about who this product is intended for, and also be realistic about how much money can be made as I mentioned earlier. Sure, there may even be other areas where a protein cookie can be successfully marketed, but not many. So, we’re not talking about a million dollar a year business here (at least initially). It’s just a starter business, which is okay.

I would have them determine the business model. How big do you want this to be? What is the goal? Is this part of a larger product family? Meaning is this the first product in what will ultimately become an expanded line of products? Do you want to sell online only? Do you want to be in health food stores? Or maybe a combination of both? The answers to these questions are important to develop a comprehensive marketing strategy.

The following is a list of ideas for marketing and distribution:


Sell Via Shopping Aggregators

It’s a good idea to have a presence where the majority shoppers can be found, and now it’s easier than ever to get listed on sites like Walmart, Amazon, and Ebay. Once you are listed on these sites, promote your product as also being available via these retailers. Tell your customer base where they can buy your products. Also, there are tools that exist which help to facilitate orders originating from multiple channels. If you generate orders from a variety of sources, there is software that makes it easy to manage all those orders from a single administration panel. The ability to view critical data points such as which sales channel is generating the most revenue or order volume is standard for any of these services.


Craft A Story Around Your Product

From a marketing standpoint, I would evaluate why a protein cookie? What’s in it? Why not a protein bar or whatever else is out there? Who are the founders and why did they choose a protein cookie? I would assume that the product is being promoted as an easy way to get your protein… because being able to blend a protein shake is not always easy when you are on the go. Craft a story around it and be clear about the advantages of a protein cookie. Figure out what makes it unique.


Set Up Distribution Channels

Early on, you will want to establish dealer pricing. You will also want to create marketing materials, if possible, outlining the best practices for selling the product. Use both local and online distribution partners. But prioritize larger distributors first, then expand to smaller ones. Online health food stores (supplement retailers) might be one of the best sales strategies, and it’s possible you will generate more revenue here than any other source, including your own website.


Product Requests

Tell your existing customer base to ask for the protein cookie by name. This includes anywhere that might be ideal distribution partners such as local and online health food stores. If enough people request the product, an establishment might carry it.


Affiliate Programs

An affiliate program is where an online distributor or affiliate places a unique link on their website. If a shopper clicks on the unique link, it will route them to the main protein cookie website. If a purchase is made, a commission is then paid out to the affiliate for the referral. And yes, there are companies you can pay to manage all aspects of your affiliate program. The advantage of the affiliate program is it’s autonomous and could be fruitful from a revenue standpoint. The disadvantage is you will typically have only a small percentage of modestly performing affiliates, relative to the total number of registered affiliates.


Reaction Videos

If you can get videos of customers trying and/or reviewing the product, it might help with sales. This is just how people consume info and become curious about products these days. Popeyes might have spent 1m on the chicken sandwich campaign. The rest was largely driven by consumer reactions and comparison videos. You might be able to incorporate comedy or some other memorable strategy. The goal here is to get videos that are worth sharing. You can create the videos yourself or you can request them from your customer base.


Private Labeling

Check this out: You already have a protein cookie ready. You presumably already have access to custom packaging. There is a large number of high-profile consumer and personal brands. There may be opportunity within these two groups to generate additional income via private labeling. You would just reach out to strategic targets (anyone with a large following) and tell them you like what they are doing and present the idea of a custom-labeled protein cookie. Next, you should determine the MOQ. The MOQ is the "minimum order quantity" or threshold needed to obtain protein cookies that feature their unique brand identity. Suppliers generally establish an MOQ because of the amount of work required to manufacturer a product. This is important because you wouldn’t want to do private labeling for only 20 protein cookies. It's too much work for such a small quantity. You want them to commit to a large order. Next, you must figure out how you want to receive payment for privately labeled orders. For example, will you collect the full amount before the custom order is started? Will you collect half to get started and the other half when the order is complete? It might make sense to explore private labeling.


Consider Using A Co-Packer

As the demand for your product increases, you might consider using a copacker. What is a copacker? It’s a contracted service that is capable of manufacturing, packaging, and labeling your product. This allows you to essentially go from making these things out of your house or shared kitchen, to outsourcing and allowing a trusted partner to do all the heavy lifting. Some will even distribute your product. But in the beginning stages, co-packing services are not recommended due to cost and minimums. This means some have a minimum order quantity of, say, 1,000 units, or maybe more, before they will work with you; and you may not be ready to take that much of a leap when you are just starting out.


Explore Additional Utility

How about boosting interest or curiosity through innovation? Does the protein cookie have greater utility that you may not be aware of? For example, can you put it in a blender with 2 cups of milk or water and a few ice cubes and turn it into a protein shake? And maybe the shake is more akin to cake mix when you try this method. Can that be marketed as an added benefit to your protein cookie? Would something like this have far-reaching effects on social media? Sometimes just changing or adding another layer to how you market the product makes a difference.


Incorporate Cross-Sells or Add-Ons

As I see it, this product would do well as an add-on item in an online shopping environment. It should probably be paired with related items. Let me explain: if an online shopper is buying protein powder, you would suggest a protein cookie sampler pack for an additional fee; maybe a fee that is lower than the normal cost because the hope is for them to try it and then buy more in the future. There are a few ways it could be sold. If selling within a brick-and-mortar environment, ideally this would be sitting at the checkout counter so that it’s an easy cross-sell or impulse sale.


Fitness Subscription Box Marketing

You might consider reaching out to websites offering fitness-related subscription and mystery boxes. The way these work is the buyer signs up for a recurring subscription and in exchange they get boxes of fitness goods each month or similar interval. The contents of a subscription box may be tailored based on a survey or questionnaire, or may be a complete mystery. But you would just find the services that accept nutritional foods and try to strike a wholesale deal to get inclusion of your product.


Set Up A Continuity Program

This is probably the most important strategy if you can pull it off. But admittedly, it might be the most difficult to implement because you are selling something in a competitive market, and one that you technically don’t really need. A continuity program allows you to have the financial safety net and benefit of a recurring revenue model. To set it up, simply create a list of tiers where the buyer gets so many protein cookies on a monthly basis for a specific, recurring fee. So for example, maybe a box of 12 protein cookies for $39 per month. This is the ideal strategy because it gives you predictable revenue each month. By the way, some of the best performing growth stocks tend to have some type of recurring revenue model. So, it's something to think about.


Seek Promotion In Other Markets

We know we can sell to the bodybuilding community, but what are some other ways to market a protein cookie? How about trade shows, expos, and conferences… and this type of product, I wouldn’t pay for booth space as they can run between $800 to $4000 or sometimes higher. However, you might partner with suitable vendors to save money and resources. Regarding trade shows, I don't mean just the food-related trade shows, but you may not have thought about things like personal training conferences. What about beauty pageants? Marathons? Gyms? And not just regular gyms but let’s also look at things like rock climbing gyms, mixed martial arts facilities, cross training... What about running shoe stores? So you may find some of these alternative markets to be valuable for business growth.


Meal Prep Services

This is a growing category of specialized nutrition where meals are prepared, as specified, and either shipped or delivered. A lot of them tend to operate locally or regionally. You might be able to partner with some of these services and boost revenue.

Let’s do a quick summary of everything discussed today. First, you are competing in a tough niche, but there might be plenty of opportunity here if you incorporate the right strategies. You can grow this thing as big as you want. In no particular order, I presented a number of ideas that can help to grow the business. But it’s going to take some work.

I would initially focus on positioning the product where you think the most money will come from. I would first target the nutritional supplement sites, and then the aggregator sites (eBay, Amazon, Walmart). I presented a number of tips on where you might find new customers. But I also want you to zero in on the idea of a continuity program and private labeling. The cost to implement these should be minimal. The only cost is the time in takes to implement these services, but all you really have to do is add these options to your website.

Sometimes, it's the simple things like crafting a story around your brand makes a difference these days. If you can get testimonials or reaction videos, it may help with sales in situations where competition is ridgid. You want to appear more popular than other brands. You want to stand out amongst the pack whenever possible.

Lastly, don’t forget to check out my 90-Day Online Launch Guide. It’s free and it’s my gift to you. I’m confident you will find it beneficial. If you found this information helpful, please share it with a friend.


Wondering how to start an online business? Get instant access to the 90-Day Online Launch Guide.