If you peeked into my summer on a given week, you might have seen me in a phone interview with someone anywhere from Massachusetts to Colorado to Alberta, Canada. You could have observed me looking for health- and business-related articles on websites like Inc., SELF, or Forbes. Or, on the right day, you might watch a product taste-test or a conversation about business models. For 11 weeks, I combined all of those tasks as the Media & Marketing Intern for Reliv International.
Although based in Chesterfield, Mo., the company lives up to its title of “international.” Branches of the nutritional supplement company are alive and growing in the Philippines, Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, Mexico, Canada, and the new-and-expanding France. The company’s philanthropic arm, the Reliv Kalogris Foundation, provides nutrition for children in the Philippines and Haiti. The company is also showing growth within its home country, and all branches of the company joined together at the Reliv International Conference in Orlando in July.
Much of the work I did this summer was designed to keep Orlando in focus. From finding ways to promote it on the Facebook page to tagging photos on Flickr after its finish, much of the Marketing department’s efforts (and, thus, much of mine) were devoted to the company’s biggest event of the year. However, as time-consuming as preparations for a conference for employees and distributors from 3 continents can be, I’m learning even such a large-scale event is only a cog in the company’s marketing machine. Though sales are perhaps the most important thing, they aren’t the only thing: marketing is about creating brand identity, staying relevant to your customers, and giving opportunities for interaction greater than an exchange of a credit card number. Especially in this age of social media, companies must show what they can do for you beyond providing a product. What does the company stand for? How can they improve my life? Do they care about me or just about making money? If you’re not answering those questions—and answering them correctly—your marketing probably needs a new strategy.
At Reliv, we’ve chosen to answer those questions largely through storytelling (and I believe the company is answering them quite well, from the meeting room to Facebook). Conference is the pinnacle: distributors sharing stories personally cannot be matched. However, the marketing department continues this work throughout the year with the Lifestyle magazines, blog posts, and social media updates about health and business that show what a customer’s life story could look like: healthier, happier, and having more freedom with time and money.
My own Reliv story was a positive one. Regularly saying hi to the president, attending department meetings, and even taking part in fun traditions like drawing an employee of the month or celebrating the arrival of the Royal Baby with afternoon tea have made me feel like part of the office culture and given me a respect for a company. My time as an intern with Reliv has given me more than another job entry on my résumé and LinkedIn page. It’s given me an opportunity to hone media skills in a professional setting and helped me understand the big picture of how those skills can be used to help a company. As I consider my post-graduation plans, I have more confidence in my abilities and what they can be used for.