Cover Story: Direct Marketer of the Year: Dawn Zier
Like a true direct marketer, Zier even mentions the channels she uses to maintain her relationships: "I have several mentees outside of Nutrisystem, and touch base with them regularly in person, by phone and email."
A Data-Focused Future
Part of Zier's focus on data has to do with her vision for direct marketing's future.
"I think it will become more customized, and with more of an emphasis on lifetime value of a customer relationship," she says. "And I think the customers will increasingly have more control, and there will be a lot more happening through social media and social engagement. I think it's changing. One of the exciting things about marketing is that it changes at fairly rapid pace, which means it never gets boring."
She expects direct marketing to be more valued during bad economies.
"When the going gets tough, everybody looks for proof points," Zier says. "The digital evolution that now is everyday life for all of us dramatically changed the landscape, as has the proliferation of data. There [are] so many more data points available to marketers, and the trick is understanding which ones are relevant, which is where I think data scientists come into play.
"Also, respecting the consumer's information and privacy, and using that information in a forthright way is absolutely critical," she adds. "How I think direct marketers can adapt to these changing times [is] I think we need to leverage the relationship with our existing customers. Value or nurture them, so they can become brand ambassadors and develop expertise in social marketing."
Zier's most difficult prediction is where she will be in 10 years, despite Mikulak's belief that the sky is the limit for her.
"I'm hesitant to even wager a guess," Zier says. "But on the Nutrisystem front, I sincerely hope that I will have helped make a meaningful contribution to making Americans healthier, so they can lead more fulfilling lives. If someone comes up to me in 10 years and says, unsolicited, 'Hey, I thought you'd want to know I lost 40 pounds on Nutrisystem, and I can now run around with my kids.' That's very rewarding."