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How JJ Smith Re-Wrote the Book on Keto by Putting Her Audience First Discover how an audience driven approach is the key to creating a meaningful and sustainable business.

By Terry Rice Edited by Dan Bova

Lio Johnson

While many people start with a career in corporate and then switch to consulting, JJ Smith did the opposite. After consulting in the tech industry for 22 years, she decided to leave in order to pursue her passion: health and wellness. What seemed like a risky move has benefited not only her but the millions of people she's helped through her health and weight loss programs.

Today, JJ Smith is a New York Times bestselling author, nutritionist, inspirational speaker and certified weight loss expert. She did this by avoiding a common mistake made by many brands and entrepreneurs, she built solutions for her audience as opposed to building solutions for a customer.

I'll explain the difference.

Building solutions for a customer is the old way of doing things. It's when a company starts by developing a product they think you'll buy and then crafting a marketing message to convince you to buy it.

Building solutions for an audience is the inverse of this model. It's when a company starts with the consumer's needs and challenges to drive product development and messaging. These brands see their audience as a source of inspiration as opposed to a series of data points, and realize how important it is to develop and maintain a community.

In our interview, JJ discusses how building a community led to better outcomes for her business and, more importantly, the audience she helps.

The Power of Community

Like many entrepreneurs, JJ is sharing solutions that worked for her with a larger audience. As a result, she's able to better understand and empathize with the people she helps. She explained how this understanding sparked the idea to form a Facebook group that now has over 800k members.

"Most people know what they should be eating to manage their health and their weight. One of the biggest reasons folks can't manage their weight is a lack of support and motivation. So my business partner TJ Johnson and I came up with the idea of providing a support community of like-minded people looking to lose weight and get healthy. Folks are able to maintain their weight loss longer because of the support they receive in our Facebook community."

JJ's approach is backed by numerous research studies, including the American Society of Training and Development. They did a study on accountability and found that you have a 65% of completing a goal if you commit to someone. And if you have a specific accountability appointment with a person you've committed, you will increase your chance of success by up to 95%.

What does this mean to you? Community leads to commitment, which leads to delivering on the promises you made to your audience.

Related: How Web 3.0 is Changing Social Media and the Online World As We Know It

Maintaining your community

Have you ever joined an online group and been disappointed by the lack of content or - even worse - the endless spammy posts? This is why maintaining a community is just as important as building one. The main benefit of any community is the engagement, education and support received.

JJ explains how she supports her group members, "We keep the Facebook community engaged with a team of ambassadors, led by me, which provides around the clock support. At any time of the day, folks can get their questions answered or receive a word of encouragement from me or one of my ambassadors. In fact, we run a free weight loss challenge every month to ensure folks stay motivated and continue to maintain their results."

And while you may not be able to provide 24/7 support for your community, consistently interacting and providing unexpected benefits is the key to keeping people engaged. If you're short on time, consider hiring ambassadors to help out.

The benefit of listening to your community

JJ's mission is to uplift others by sharing natural remedies to help them stay slim and restore health so they can look and feel younger. How does she know what to share? She listens to her audience. Specifically, her Green Smoothie Cleanse (GSC) Facebook group members.

"I'm so close to my Facebook community, I call them my GSC Family. To hear directly from my audience of 840,000 folks every day lets me know exactly what they want and need. Their struggles help me create weight loss programs that are tailored to where they are on their journey."

This is a prime example of the crucial role social listening plays in developing solutions for your audience. For background, social listening involves analyzing the conversations and trends happening around your brand and industry, then using those insights to make better decisions. By doing so you'll be able to come up with new products and services, or even improve on an existing offer.

Related: The Step-By-Step Guide to Finding Your Niche and Target Market

JJ's new book The 14-Day New Keto Cleanse

A recent US News Report ranked Keto as one of the best diets for fast weight loss, it also ranked it as one of the hardest to follow. JJ set out to solve this discrepancy with her new book The 14-Day New Keto Cleanse.

"My 14-Day New Keto Cleanse is a fresh approach to Keto where we combine the nutritional benefits of green smoothies with the fat-burning powers of ketosis to provide maximum weight loss. It focuses on high-quality nutrient-dense foods to ensure you get adequate nutrition to not only burn fat, but to heal the body as well."

Listening to her audience helped JJ address another challenge with the traditional Keto diet, which is often highlighted by the foods you can't eat. Her book provides guidance on how to prepare over 30 new recipes of keto smoothies and hot meals that will "make eating and drinking on the cleanse delicious and enjoyable".

This should come as good news if you're currently struggling with developing a new offer for your audience. You may be able to improve on an existing product or service - whether it's yours or a competitor - by simply listening and reacting to audience feedback.

Continue finding new ways to serve your community

JJ's largest online group, the 10-Day Green Smoothie Cleanse, started in 2013. As you can imagine, most people stay in the group for more than 10 days. I asked JJ how she continues to grow and engage her community over such a long period of time.

"We continue to grow our groups by doing monthly challenges, where we engage our audience in a weight loss challenge that keeps them on track. This not only helps with engagement but grows our group as well. Our next challenge is the 14-Day New Keto Cleanse which begins on May 9th."

Along with solving problems for her audience, JJ seeks to prevent some of them from ever happening. She shared more information on this.

"One of the important things we are working on is a lifestyle program for diabetics and pre-diabetics. We want to help people manage their diabetes so it doesn't cause the health and weight issues they deal with today. There are so many ways through diet, exercise, herbs to get diabetes under control and we plan to teach all of them."

Again, this is the benefit of being audience-driven. In addition to growing your community, you're able to find new ways to continue serving the same audience.

Related: The Business of Harnessing the Power of Social Media

The unexpected benefits of community

As you may have noticed, entrepreneurship can be lonely. And, although your friends and family may support you, they also might not want to hear about your business all the time.

Fortunately, that's exactly what your audience wants to hear about and it can be the key to maintaining your momentum. Simply grabbing your phone and leading an impromptu live chat can help build a stronger bond with your audience and lead to new ideas. As JJ mentions, just like community members "An entrepreneur also needs the social connection that comes along with community to stay inspired and motivated too."

JJ's latest book, The 14-Day New Keto Cleanse, is now available at Amazon and all other major retailers.
Terry Rice

Entrepreneur Staff

Business Development Expert-in-Residence

Terry Rice is the Business Development Expert-in-Residence at Entrepreneur and Managing Director of Growth & Partnerships at Good People Digital; an agency that provides marketing and monetization solutions for entrepreneurs. He writes a newsletter about how to build your business and personal resilience and personal brand in just 5 minutes per week and created a revenue optimization checklist to help you multiply your income potential. 

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