The Importance of Key Opinion Leaders
Life is all about connections. As much as we automate, standardize, and process our way into insularity and isolation in the name of efficiency, business still runs on people, relationships, and networking. Business is a matter of leveraging relationships, and to that end, professional organizations have formed around common interests with engaged key opinion leaders (KOLs).Business is a matter of leveraging relationships, and to that end, professional organizations have formed around common interests with engaged key opinion leaders (KOLs). Click To Tweet
Chances are that you’ve met these leaders at a conference or trade show. KOLs are important because they have earned credibility amongst their peers and in their industry that you can leverage for your marketing efforts.
In the food safety industry, nearly every food commodity or ingredient has a marketing organization behind it. Additionally, there is a plethora of professionals and professional organizations promoting the various aspects of food safety, from government agencies to food science professionals to certification and validation accreditation bodies. Within these organizations dwell the KOLs.
The tables below list major professional organizations which promote food safety, organized according to commodity-based organizations, non-commodity-based organizations, government agencies, and marketing resources, including digital marketing agencies with experience in serving scientific or technical audiences.
While this list is extensive, it’s important to remember that food comes in a variety of forms, and literally every food commodity has an organization with KOLs behind it. You can also find an extra-granular list of trade organizations here.
KOL Professional Organizations
|Commodity Based Organizations|
|ABA||American Beverage Association||https://www.ameribev.org/||Beverage|
|AFFI||American Frozen Foods Institute||https://affi.org/||Frozen food|
|AIB||American Institute of Baking||https://www.aibinternational.com/en/||Baking and certifications|
|ASBC||American Society of Brewing Chemists||https://www.asbcnet.org/||Beer|
|FMI||Food Marketing Institute||https://www.fmi.org/||Packaged food|
|IBWA||International Bottled Water Association||https://www.bottledwater.org/||Bottled water|
|IDFA||International Dairy Foods Association||Dairy|
|ISBT||International Society of Beverage Technologists||https://www.bevtech.org/||Soft drinks and beverages|
|NAMI||North American Meat Institute||https://www.meatinstitute.org/||Meat and poultry|
|NCA||National Confectioners Organization||https://candyusa.com/||Candy|
|NCC||National Chicken Council||https://www.nationalchickencouncil.org||Poultry|
|NMPF||National Milk Producers Federation||https://www.nmpf.org/||Dairy|
|NPA||Natural Products Association||https://www.npanational.org/||Natural Products|
|NTF||National Turkey Federation||https://www.eatturkey.org/||Turkey|
|OTA||Organic Trade Association||https://ota.com/||Organic food|
|PMA||Produce Marketing Association||https://www.pma.com/||Produce|
|PFI||Pet Food Institute||https://www.petfoodinstitute.org/||Pet food|
|SNAC International||Snacking, Nutrition, and Convenience||https://snacintl.org/||Snack foods|
|ASTA||American Spice Trade Association||https://www.astaspice.org/||Spices|
|UFPA||United Fresh Produce Association||https://www.unitedfresh.org/||Fresh produce|
|USPEA||US Poultry & Egg Association||https://www.uspoultry.org/||Feathered food|
|Food Safety and Security Organizations|
|AOAC International||Association of Official Analytical Collaboration||https://www.aoac.org/||Approvals and research|
|BRC||British Retail Consortium||http://brc.org.uk/||Standards and accreditation|
|FAO||Food & Ag Organization of the United Nations||http://www.fao.org/home/en/||Food Security|
|FARRP||Food Allergy Research and Resource Program||https://farrp.unl.edu/||Food allergen research and safety
|GFSI||Global Food Safety Initiative||https://mygfsi.com/||Standards and accreditation|
|IAFP||International Association for Food Protection||https://www.foodprotection.org/||Food safety|
|IFSH||Institute for Food Safety and Health||https://www.ifsh.iit.edu/||Research|
|IFT||Institute of Food Technologists||https://www.ift.org/||Food science|
|International Life Sciences Institute||https://www.meatinstitute.org/||Nutrition and food safety science
|Non-GMO Project||Non-GMO Project||https://www.nongmoproject.org/||Certification and verification|
|SQF||Safe Quality Food Institute||https://www.sqfi.com/||Standards and accreditation|
|Food Safety Regulatory Agencies|
|CFIA||Canadian Food Inspection Agency||https://www.inspection.gc.ca/||Canada Food Safety Authority|
|EFSA||European Union Food Safety Authority||https://www.efsa.europa.eu/||EU Food Safety Authority|
|FDA / CFSAN||Center for Food Science and Applied Nutrition||https://www.fda.gov/food||US Food Safety|
|USDA / FSIS||Food Safety Inspection Service||https://www.fsis.usda.gov/||US Food Safety|
|USDA / AMS||Agricultural Marketing Service||https://www.ams.usda.gov/|
|Food Safety Magazine||https://www.foodsafetymagazine.com/||Online and print|
|Food Safety News||https://www.foodsafetynews.com/||Online|
|Food Safety & Quality||https://www.foodqualityandsafety.com/||Online and print
|Food Safety Tech||https://foodsafetytech.com/||Online|
|Food Protection Trends||https://www.foodprotection.org/|
|Journal of Food Protection (IFT)||https://www.foodprotection.org/|
|Pet Food Industry||https://www.petfoodindustry.com/||Online|
|Quality Assurance & Food Safety||https://www.qualityassurancemag.com/||Online and print|
|FoodLife International||http://www.foodlifeint.com/||International research & consulting|
|Digital Marketing Agencies|
|The Linus Group||https://www.thelinusgroup.com/|
Nice List—Now What?
Having this list of resources will save you some research time, but how can you leverage these resources and connect with the KOLs? By creating a key opinion leader strategy. Begin by defining a clear goal that encompasses what you are trying to do in your marketing efforts, irrespective of whether you are promoting yourself, your organization, or your product. Then, set your objectives and allocate a budget for your KOL campaign.
KOL Campaign Tactics
One of the best ways to build relationships is to give something first. As you allocate budget (money and time), evaluate the resources you have to contribute sponsorship and/or time to a project within the professional organization that is most influential in your food safety testing market area. Typical projects and people in organizations that allow you to rub elbows with KOLs include studies, committees or advisory boards.
Find Your Audience
While belonging to scientific professional organizations helps build relationships with KOLs, in food safety testing, the KOLs most persuasive to your audience are often found squarely in a food-related organization. For example, if the company you represent markets products with applications specific to (particularly) food commodities, reach out to the relevant commodity support organizations. Search out the KOLs and establish relationships.
While these organizations are concerned with food safety and promoting their food products, they are also looking for the products and expertise which will help them solve their problems. To market to these organizations, network with the members based on your expertise as a vendor to build value-based relationships with KOLs who you can tap into later to recruit to share their expertise with your audience.
Co-Produce Valuable Content
Ultimately, the value of your KOL relationships is in the content they produce. Leverage your KOLs and the organizations they belong to for content-rich experiences such as a webinar, podcast, or white paper. Sponsoring this content creation through a professional organization important to your KOLs continues to build the relationship and allows you to rent both the credibility and the mailing list of the organization for more effective promotion.
Focus on Thought Leadership
Don’t approach these organizations with a sales pitch and expect to be welcomed with open arms. Instead, provide value beyond your products, even if you pay for and create the content. Sponsored content should be non-promotional, unbiased content that positions your brand as a thought leader.
Access members of the organization through paid promotional efforts. Many organizations allow paid advertising in their publications and websites. Before you place the ad, discuss the campaign with the key opinion leaders within the organization to find the best approach to engage.
Colleagues and Customers
Working with Food Safety professional organizations and their KOLs is rewarding and energizing. These organizations have the best and brightest professionals, and you are engaging them for the greater good—the safety and security of our food supply. Treat KOLs and the organizations that are important to them first as colleagues, then as customers, and you will build lasting relationships for yourself and your brand.
If you need help with a KOL strategy, contact us for a 30-minute consultation.