Modern doc

Let’s take a trip down memory lane, all the way back to 1990. Step into the office of Marcus Welby, MD, the quintessential American health care practitioner.

Note that Dr. Welby is an MD, expert in disease management. Confident in his knowledge of surgery and pharmaceuticals, he disparages the use of most vitamins and supplements. Ask about holistic therapies or botanicals or integrative medicine, and he quickly dismisses them as quackery or witchcraft.

Fast-forward to the present. Today, more than 13% of American health care practitioners dispense supplements. Nearly 90% take supplements themselves. Almost eight in ten recommend them to their patients.

Of course, all of this activity generates a lot of money. The health care practitioner channel is one of the fastest growing in the industry, racking up more than $2.5 billion in annual sales, according to National Business Journal estimates. For the last two decades, sales growth has been averaging a steady 8-10% annually. Across all market segments, practitioner sales comprise more than 10 percent of all supplement sales.

Why all the change? How did such a quirky, fringe industry quickly become so mainstream? There are several key factors:

  • Growth of consumer desire for natural options
  • Growing concerns around pharmaceuticals and surgery
  • Increased professionalism within the supplement industry, including greater reliance on science and clinical data
  • Practitioner need for increased revenue, due to declining insurance reimbursements

Perhaps most important of all, today practitioners realize that their patients are going to take supplements no matter what, so they might as well recommend professional-level products that offer the highest quality, efficacy and safety.

To be sure, the channel’s growth has generated loads of capital and excitement. But caveat emptor: This is not a dabbler’s market.  While it holds tremendous potential, it is fraught with complex economic and political dynamics.

So what should industry players know before delving into the murky world of health care practitioner marketing?

  • Speak to practitioners in their own language. As Erik Goldman, the editor of Holistic Primary Care, likes to say, “A massage therapist, a doctor of oriental medicine and a cardiologist are very different breeds, with very different needs.” In order to communicate effectively, take time to understand the unique cultures, preferences, educations and sensibilities of your audiences.
  • Ensure your products are proven by science and supported by data. This is important for all healthcare practitioners, not just allopaths. Unlike decades past, today all types of healthcare practitioners, including naturopaths and homeopaths, are routinely demanding randomized, placebo-controlled human clinical trials and other quality data. It’s not an option – invest in it.
  • Convey complex data simply.  Successful supplement brands are proven by science and supported by data – sometimes tons of it. It’s essential to have professionals on your team who are adept at understanding clinical trials, reviewing market trends, and boiling down consumer research.
  • Ensure your messages convey the safety and efficacy of your products, while staying within the boundaries of the law. That requires expertise in structure-function claims, regulations such as DSHEA, and understanding of the complex and ever-changing issues that comprise the alphabet soup of the FDA, FTC, cGMPs, etc. Not everyone has this expertise. Get someone on your team who does.
  • Provide tools for time-pressed physicians. Abstracts, executive summaries, links, webinars, slideshows, blogs, and in-person training can help health care practitioners quickly grasp your technical messages, and effectively pass them along them to their patients.
  • When promoting your products, target carefully. Large media list aggregators like to boast of their ability to “attract thousands of eyeballs.” But a careful look at their lists may uncover mismatched and outdated information. Rather than taking a gamble on purchased lists, rely on experts who have long-standing relationships and real, live contacts in the industry.

To generate healthy buzz (and protect your bottom line while you’re doing it), you need a marketing partner who understands the issues, values, challenges and concerns of health care practitioners, natural businesses and health-minded consumers. At BrandHive, we have 15-plus years doing just that. BrandHive clients benefit from our long-standing relationships and experience crafting engaging messages that hit targets. Contact us if we can help you:

Filed under BrandHive Buzz.
Matt Aller, Giles Wallace and photographer Jess Leondard.


Giles Wallace here. I teamed up with BrandHive Creative Director, Matt Aller, and a small cadre of friends to scale the Colorado Plateau on an 8-day backpacking trip.




Getting in was supposed to be easy–a short boat taxi from Antelope Marina on Lake Powell. But the water was low so we ended up going up and over the steep terrain that identifies this beautiful part of the Navajo Indian Reservation.




As with most trips to the desert, water was immediately in our thoughts. The desert air mixes with over-worked lungs and could dry out even a camel. Unable to spot the promised potholes, we found a stock trail used by the Navajo centuries ago. The stock trails led us to water (and yes, we did drink) and other wonderful discoveries.


Drinking water from sandstone pothole


For days, we wandered beautiful slick rock domes and high benches over-looking remote slot canyons and low desolate plains. We passed hogans, stock trails, old herding corrals, a few lithics and, lo and behold, an intact pot. What a fantastic find and amazingly well-preserved piece of history. We took pictures and left the relic where we found it.


Black on white ceramic pot


Eventually, we worked our way to a deceptively deep and verdant canyon to explore upper slot narrows. In its depths, this (WET!) canyon rarely gets sun. It’s not long before we peel on our wet suits and jump in for a few short swims. The swims are interspersed with narrow slot hiking and down-climbing. Eventually we reach the shadowed depths and the deep, dark, cold water that pools there. Two-person assists and a length of sling see us through this section to a thankful exit and the last rays of a gratefully warm sun.


Swimming in slot narrows


Having survived the wet and cold, we enjoyed warming temperatures, wide-open, dry buttes and Carmel shelfs that make for easy hiking. Finally reaching the end, we worked our way back down to the lake to make our date with our water taxi. Our last night will be hard to forget. We took baths in the lake, listened to Jess play guitar (yes, he carted his guitar out and back again) and enjoyed an excellent final meal.
What’s next for BrandHive adventurers? Stay tuned!


Open desert
Filed under Natural Branding.

The healthcare practitioner channel is evolving and brands need to change their marketing strategies to appeal to this expanding market. With an average 8% growth per year, and 94% of HCPs discussing supplement use with their patients, the healthcare practitioner channel presents unique opportunities to promote supplement brands. The following post recaps Jeff Hilton’s advice to marketers and practitioners on branding and promoting a practitioner-only product line during his recent presentation at the Healthcare Practitioner Marketing Forum, April 5th in Long Beach, CA. 

Channel Overview

By product class, the HCP market is represented by the following 5 divisions:

  1. Specialty (30%)
  2. Vitamins (25%) 
  3. Herbs/Botanicals (24%)
  4. Sports Nutrition (11%)
  5. Minerals (6%)

Shifting Consumer Landscape

With the self-care movement gaining momentum, consumers are demanding more integrated therapies and becoming more knowledgable, sophisticated, resourceful and skeptical. They are also seeking more control and selecting care physicians who can address their health problems through an integrated approach.

Marketing Paradigm Shift (the 5 C’s of marketing) 

Marketing needs to adopt the 5 C’s in order to appeal to these consumers.

Concept: Brand story should depict how brand delivers custom solutions to consumer problems and education on HCP products. 


Content: Brands need to be supported by clinical data, including human clinical trials, qualitative consumer studies, lab tests, and market trend research.


Connection: Brands must be relevant and connect with today’s consumer at both rational and emotional points.


Community: Successful brands create communities of followers and advocates and make it easy for those followers to spread the word through their social networks with eblasts, podcasts, and posts that can be Liked and Shared.


Continuity: Brands today must integrate their efforts at all points of customer contact and make sure all channels are promoting the same key messages.


One way practitioners are meeting the needs of today’s changing landscape is through the Assess & Address model of customer care.

Assess & Address

An Assess & Address approach combines the two primary functions of care (assessing the problem underlying a patient’ condition and addressing that problem or imbalance through targeted therapies and nutritional products). The term Assess & Address is trademarked by NeuroScience, Inc. and represents their approach to HCP marketing.


For more on marketing that incorporates the 5 C’s and the Assess & Address model of customer care, contact Jeff Hilton at BrandHive.

Filed under Press Releases.

SALT LAKE CITY, April 2013 — Albion Human Nutrition, the premier manufacturer of “Six Stage” chelated minerals, has hired BrandHive as its integrated marketing and public relations agency.

BrandHive, formerly Integrated Marketing Group, is promoting Albion’s long-standing position as the leader of patented organic minerals for use in dietary supplements, beverages, and food products. The agency will use a strategic mix of both industry and consumer communication programs to further solidify Albion’s market position.

“Albion has been in business since 1956, and we’ve worked hard to create products that are more bioavailable, effective, and easily tolerated for the greatest health benefits,” said Jim Hyde, Albion Human Nutrition CEO. “We’re the industry leader and partnering with BrandHive allows us to leverage that position for growth and awareness.”

Working with Albion creates a unique challenge for BrandHive in that consumer knowledge about the benefits of chelated minerals is low, but with more than 150 international patents and 125+ peer-reviewed, published studies on Albion products, the agency is well positioned to take Albion to the next level,” said Jeff Hilton, BrandHive co-founder and chief marketing officer.

“It’s rare to work with a company that has such a depth of scientific research and decades of expertise in one area,” Hilton said. “Albion Human Nutrition is a client we believe will not only strengthen its industry standing, but put even more distance between it and its closest rivals.”

Filed under Natural Branding.

For 57 years, Albion Minerals has taken on the serious journey of “building a better mineral”.  A manufacturer with its base in Clearfield, Utah, Albion has established a strong foothold in the nutritional supplement industry with their patented mineral bisglycinate chelates (pronounced as “key-lates”). These chelates mimic the mineral chelates that naturally form during the digestion process in our bodies, making them less subject to competition from other processes and more readily absorbed and utilized by the body. I’ve always assumed that the multi-vitamins or supplements I’ve been taking for years have been doing their job.  I’ve since learned that tannins, fibers, phytates, polyphenols, and even other minerals can block or decrease the absorption of these supplements if they’re not in the optimal chelated form.

Albion has actively sought the science behind minerals forms since its inception and that interest has yet to peak. Albion just opened its own cell lab, which will allow them to readily construct highly controlled models of biological systems. This helps them reduce, and in some cases, eliminate the need for animal or human trials.  They currently own 140 patents that line the hallways of their main office building as a reminder that they’re a company that has run the course of proven science.  These patents, in addition to the 190 plus scientific studies, substantiate Albion’s leading role in human mineral nutrition.

How a body uses and absorbs minerals is a focal point of why Albion exists. And, they have a big story to tell.

See for yourself:

Filed under Natural Branding.

I’ve been writing about natural products for over ten years, but was always too busy to go to ExpoWest. Now, ExpoWest is the largest food, supplement and personal care show in the natural products industry and, when I arrived Friday morning, my first-timer’s eyes were wide with wonder at the range and volume of the offerings. I spent the next two days walking the floor and talking with vendors. I sampled more protein bars than I can count and sipped more teas than a tree has leaves, and at the end of the two days, I realized I had been missing out on five very important things.

First of all, no one told me how I would fall in love with the products I discovered, like PowerBlend’s super-charged spoonfuls of seeds (I can’t stop sprinkling them on my salads) and Svelte’s organic protein shakes (who doesn’t like a product that tells you you’re looking good?). While I have always considered myself passionate about natural, health-promoting products, consider that passion stoked.


PowerBlend seed mixes at

Second, the ability to compare apples to apples brought an overwhelming amount of product information into useable focus. For example, I encountered over 40 different probiotic product lines. I gathered all their information into one pile and later compared how many billion live organisms they started with and how many different strains they included. The differences were startling.

Third, seeing so many products in close proximity, it was easy to see which stood out and which were ignored. This helped me understand how difficult it is to catch the eye of busy, overwhelmed customers and how hard PDP copy needs to work. Take the example of hardworking Tubulars, a vitamin-filled straw to mix with milk that sports the tagline, “Absosuckinglutely!”



Fourth, I was reminded that less is often more when it comes to copy (a point my creative director has tried to drum into my head more than once). I appreciated clean ads that directed my eye to a small amount of salient information and summed up the brand’s value proposition in no more than a sentence. This less is more principle often applies to websites and sales sheet as well, as in this example from Orgain.

Screen Shot 2013-03-12 at 5.19.11 PM
Orgain organic nutritional shakes

Fifth, I enjoyed the opportunity to meet some of the people behind the products. While it’s easy to get jaded reading the About Us section of websites, meeting the real people behind a product venture positively altered my perception. Nowhere else will you find more earnest, health-minded individuals who are working to bring about better health and wellbeing on the planet. To everyone I met at ExpoWest I say, it was a pleasure.


Sharon Benedict
Senior Copywriter

Filed under Natural Branding.

Gencor award

The big news at ExpoWest wasn’t just that Integrated Marketing Group (IMG) unveiled their new name BrandHive, but also that BrandHive clients took home two show awards. Gencor won “Most Innovative New Ingredient” for their product Libifem (a proprietary fenugreek extract clinically proven to promote a woman’s healthy libido, sexual vitality and desire). OmniActive won “Best of Show Marketing” for their inventive introduction to their new “Lutein for Every Eye” campaign, which included a flash mob and a book signing with Dr. Anschel.

Screen Shot 2013-03-11 at 2.18.50 PM

Jeff Hilton from BrandHive addressed healthcare practitioners, formulators and manufacturers Saturday, March 9th 2013 at ExpoWest. Using a series of case studies, Hilton explained how marketing within the health care practitioner channel is changing and what brands need to do to appeal to this growing market. With an average 8% per year growth, and 94% of HCPs discussing supplement use with patients, this evolving channel presents unique opportunities to supplement brands. For a complimentary copy of the slide deck, including observations and recommendations, email

Filed under Press Releases.

SALT LAKE CITY, March 8, 2013 – Sixteen years ago, Jeff Hilton and Matt Aller joined forces to create Integrated Marketing Group. The duo saw huge potential to provide branding and marketing services to healthy and natural consumer goods and ingredient companies. They were right.

In the years to follow, IMG grew into a leading, one-stop shop for strategic branding, media, public relations, and online services, providing assistance to the leading brands in the industry. Now, Hilton and Aller are ushering in a new era of even more comprehensive, collaborative marketing partnership.

Welcome to BrandHive
“The healthy lifestyles industry has evolved significantly, and we’ve long believed that having a strong team of senior professionals who work together in the same space and who leverage each other’s talents is the key to bottom-line results for our clients,” Hilton said. “Reinventing ourselves as BrandHive is a direct reflection of this agency’s renewed dedication to collaborating at the highest level for the best results.”

BrandHive officially launches today at the ExpoWest/Engredea show in Anaheim, CA, with a reception for invited guests at Morton’s.

The new name plays on the passion for excellence and focused precision exemplified by bees, the ultimate collaborators, said Aller. The agency’s new vision statement is “Creating Healthy Buzz,” and showcases BrandHive’s focus on generating awareness, attention, and results for natural product and ingredient companies in all categories.

“This industry has an energy to it that Jeff and I have watched evolve over the past 16 years,” Aller said. “Because we’ve been part of that growth, BrandHive clients will continue to benefit from our long-standing industry relationships and the decades of experience our team has in the dietary supplement, personal care, functional foods and healthy beverages sectors.”

Hilton and Aller always envisioned growing the agency as the industry matured, and recent additions to the BrandHive staff reflect that goal. Last year, Peggy Jackson was hired as business development director, bringing more than 15 years experience in healthy lifestyles experience with her. The agency has grown its PR, creative, and marketing departments, as well.

“Unlike other agencies that hire virtual staffers, BrandHive has built a team of 17 professionals who work face-to-face on a daily basis in its Salt Lake City office. This encourages spontaneity in generating ideas and better integration of media, public relations, creative design, web development, and advertising,” Hilton said.

“At any given time, BrandHive team members are brainstorming ideas, evaluating research data, discussing industry trends, and debating novel creative concepts,” he said. “All that buzz inside our office translates into a symbiosis that will get people talking and help drive business success for our clients.”

The BrandHive team
• Jeff Hilton, Co-Founder and Chief Marketing Officer
• Matt Aller, Co-Founder and Creative Director
• Melanee Brown, Business Manager
• Teresa Aller, Office Coordinator
• Peggy Jackson, Business Development Director
• Erika Lowstedt-Granath, Senior Art Director
• James Fagedes, Interactive Art Director
• Sharon Benedict, Senior Copywriter
• Nate Peterson, Art Director
• Giles Wallace, Art Director
• Gail Frankoski, Marketing Director
• Meet Nagar, Marketing Coordinator
• Lisa Openshaw, Media Buyer
• Dave Clifton, Public Relations Director
• Kathleen Murphy, Senior Public Relations Counsel
• Ida Baghoomian, Senior Public Relations Counsel
• Courtney Morton, Senior Public Relations Counsel
• Gary Gonzalez, Public Relations Coordinator

About BrandHive
BrandHive is branding the natural, organic world. Like any good hive, we’re collaborative and work closely with our client partners to achieve remarkable results for natural brands. BrandHive can help you strategically position your brand within the healthy lifestyles industry. BrandHive clients benefit from our long-standing relationships and decades of experience crafting messages that engage natural businesses and consumers. We specialize in finished goods and raw materials for dietary supplements, personal care, healthy foods and healthy beverages. For more information, visit us at

BrandHive is devoted to creating healthy buzz as we help brand the natural organic world. Like any good hive, you’ll find BrandHive is collaborative, progressive and energetic. For those familiar with how IMG operated, you’ll find some things have stayed the same at BrandHive. We still focus on the same four core areas of branding, including strategy, branding, interactive (web and mobile) and public relations. So what’s changed? BrandHive has reinvented how we meet the evolving needs of the natural products’ marketplace, companies, and consumers.