Cover Story: Direct Marketer of the Year: Dawn Zier
Dawn Zier is thriving in the frenzied pace of an Internet-ruled world for at least two reasons: Seemingly impossible challenges intrigue her, and she's chosen to live by her parents' words to "be the best that you can be."
So far, that mentality is serving her and the company she heads well. Zier, the president and CEO of Fort Washington, Penn.-based weight loss meal plan provider Nutrisystem, is largely credited with turning the fortunes of her company around. Taking the position in November 2012, she inherited a company that had seen sales plummet 42 percent since 2008. Under her leadership, Nutrisystem added data-driven programs and is expecting soon to see "revenue growth for the first time in seven years," Zier says.
These are among the reasons Zier is Target Marketing's 2014 Direct Marketer of the Year. Editors chose Zier based on her accomplishments and her service to the direct marketing community. And Target Marketing isn't alone in honoring Zier this year—she's also accepting a 2014 Silver Apple Award from the Direct Marketing Club of New York, and a 2014 Brava! Award from Philadelphia Smart CEO.
Zier says leading Nutrisystem has been her biggest professional challenge during her 25-year marketing career, which includes her years at Reader's Digest.
"I'm loving it," she says. "It really is humbling to be a CEO … You're responsible not only for the company, but also for the people working at the company, and we're really working hard as a team to turn the company around, and we're having positive results. While it certainly hasn't been easy, it's been extremely rewarding, and just a great overall experience."
For the Love of Puzzles
"My engineering background is probably something I use regularly," Zier says, "which might surprise people, given that I am at a health care company, was in publishing for so long, and working in the marketing field. But I find that the problem-solving process—and not being too quick to accept a premise, to be able to challenge and debate different things and break down problems into modules or discrete components—has been very helpful. That definitely came from my training as an engineer."