Cover Story: Direct Marketer of the Year: Dawn Zier
Testing It Out
Moving from idea to idea without testing is a bit like moving from third to second base, with no clear path to home.
"I really worked hard to return the company to a testing and research culture, so [we were] no longer pivoting from one idea to another," Zier says. Now Nutrisystem is "making sure that ideas are well-tested before we roll them out."
Customers also provide valuable research opportunities.
"At Nutrisystem, we have our contact center right in the same building with the management team," Zier says. "So we have the opportunity to spend a lot of time listening to our customers when they call in, and we get tremendous insights from them. It really helps. Listening to them really is key to formulating our strategies as we go forward."
Zier says listening to her parents' advice provides the foundation for her success.
"'Be the best that you can be' is something that was instilled in me growing up, and something that I've instilled into my children," she says.
However, her family's support isn't all that's helped her rise to the top.
"My favorite words of wisdom are 'Don't let the tail wag the dog,' " Zier says. "That's a favorite quote from my long-time mentor, John Klingel. What it means is 'Don't let process get in the way of a good idea.' It staves off all those people who tell you, 'We tried this before. It can't be done.' The naysayers. And I find that quote to be very empowering."
When they worked together at Reader's Digest, Zier says Klingel was a direct marketing expert who was ahead of his time, because Klingel already had a customer-centric mindset.
"He trained me," Zier says. "He believed in me, and pushed me to exceed and excel."