Imagine being 29 years old. Your career, up until this point, has been as a commercial diver for oil fields. You wake up one day and decide that today's the day you will begin your entrepreneurial journey and so you quit your job. Not only do you leave the comfort of the job you know, you embark upon a journey to sell a product that almost nobody has heard of. As an entrepreneur you will need to create your own vertical in the crowded space of healthcare and natural remedies. You will need to prove that you have packaged a formula that has the ability to improve the quality of life for people around the globe. This is exactly the journey of Nathan Jones, founder of Xlear.
It all started with a natural substance known as xylitol. Pure xylitol looks and tastes like sugar. It is an all-natural sugar alcohol found in many fruits and vegetables and is produced in small amounts by the human body. It was Nathan's dad, Dr. Alonzo Jones, who began testing the effectiveness of xylitol in his medical practice in the late 90's. Nathan noticed that people were travelling from other states to bring their kids to his dad for treatment of ear infections. Dr. Jones had created a xylitol based nasal spray that when used regularly seemed to prevent ear infections in children. Desperate parents who had tried every other remedy would eventually find themselves on Dr. Jones' doorstep looking for an answer, and lucky for them, he had bottled up the solution.
Nathan continued to watch his father's medical practice grow and thrive. It was apparent that much of the success of his practice was due to this xylitol nasal spray and Nathan approached his dad about professionally packaging, marketing, and distributing the product for mass consumption. His dad, who was approaching retirement, wasn't interested in starting a new career path. Nathan, on the other hand, saw an opportunity to take the preventative power of xylitol to the masses. With his dad's blessing, Nathan founded Xlear, and immediately began producing, packaging, and marketing his first product, a xylitol based nasal spray which can be used for sinus maintenance and the prevention of sinus and ear infections.
Xlear was founded in 2000. Today it's a multi-million dollar company selling products around the world. Their three main product segments are Xlear nasal and sinus care, Spry oral and dental care line, and their line of natural sweeteners. The one common ingredient in everything Xlear is xylitol.
I recently chatted with Nathan Jones to find out what he could share about how to create a massive empire out of nothing but a dream, ambition, and a magical mix of nasal spray. Here are his 3 simple strategies for creating the sweet smell of success in business.
The Sweet Spot - Nathan says that in any business, the entrepreneur must find the place where preparation and opportunity collide for the product or service they are offering. For Nathan, his sweet spot has always been in going to medical conventions. Nathan says that he was very fortunate early on to have a well-known doctor who wrote about Xlear in his newsletter to the medical community. The article outlined how the nasal spray could prevent ear and sinus infections and touted all the side benefits of the product including its non-addictive nature and the lack of other side effects that are typical with regular nasal sprays. Jones noted how that one endorsement was a milestone in his business causing Xlear to go from revenues of $3000/month to $3000/a day almost overnight. Nathan said that that newsletter was luck. It just so happened that his product got into the hands of a doctor with a massive platform for speaking to other doctors. Xlear then reproduced the newsletter and presented it at medical conventions. Preparation and opportunity collided over and over again, building Xlear to where it is today.
Straddle - Another key to succeeding Nathan Jones style is to straddle your success. After massive early success of the nasal spray, Jones and Xlear started researching other ways in which xylitol could be used to help people. This is how their oral and dental line was launched. Jones explained that with most oral care products what consumers don't necessarily realize is that the product is killing much more than just the bad bacteria in your mouth, it's killing the good bacteria too. And so, Xlear created a dental defense system based on xylitol, which includes gum, toothpaste, and mouthwash. Its function is to kill the bad bacteria without attacking the good. Jones says that just like it was necessary to better educate the medical community about xylitol when selling the nasal spray, by straddling into a dental defense line, the sales team now needed to do the same with the dental community. Jones says that they are now seeing a shift where dentists and hygienists are differentiating themselves by better educating the consumers about how to best care for their oral health and how xylitol and Xlear products can help. In addition to moving into dental products, Xlear is now also in the forefront of xylitol based sweeteners which many consumers are now using as a substitute for sugar.
Don't Just Tell Them, Show Them - If you visit the Xlear website, you'll get a glimpse into why the brand is so successful. Their marketing strategy to consumers is simple; don't just tell them, show them. You will find marketing slicks of infographics with easy to follow pictures that explain fairly complicated concepts. The infographics make it simple to understand why and how the xylitol products make a difference in the lives of consumers. As well, you'll find several short videos including footage on how to make holiday deserts using their sweeteners as well as short clips of medical professionals talking about the products. Nathan says that most consumers do care immensely about the products they are putting into their own bodies as well as what they are feeding to their loved ones. That being said, he says, most do not want the detailed, scientific explanation as to why the products work. He says, for those that want the nitty gritty details of the science, it can be found on the website. However, the marketing pieces they lead with are simple, uncomplicated, and easy to follow. Jones explained to me that their marketing strategy from day one has been built on simplicity. "We have a product that works. People try it. And they keep on coming back."
Nathan Jones has built a massively successful business in the natural health vertical that is rife with competition. He has taken an unheard of product and has brought it into the homes of consumers around the world, while simultaneously putting xylitol on the radar screen as a preventative sinus treatment for huge swaths of the medical community. Nathan is proof positive that if you start with a product that simply makes life better for the user, the sweet smell of success is guaranteed.