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Healthcare

Creating Nutrisystem’s Healthy DR Diet

1 Feb, 2011 By: Thomas Haire Response

Chris Terrill says the weight-loss leader’s brand is built on a mix of DRTV, online and social marketing.


If you can measure everything, why wouldn’t you?” says Chris Terrill, chief marketing officer and executive vice president of E-commerce of Fort Washington, Pa.-based Nutrisystem. “Coca-Cola would love to be able to run a TV spot and know who bought its product and where at all times — and then be able to contact its consumers and sell subscriptions for delivery of its products, but it simply can’t do it. Still, for every marketer, that is your dream. DR is going to continue to get stronger. Big upstream brands continue to utilize DR more and more. If Nutrisystem can do it, anyone can. And the great thing is that there are even more interesting measurement tools coming thanks to more convergence of Web-style metrics extending into TV.”

Terrill joined Nutrisystem in 2007 as senior vice president of E-Commerce, following executive stints at Blockbuster.com and Match.com. He added the CMO title in 2009, having learned DR from Tom Connerty, a former CMO of Nutrisystem, of whom he speaks highly.

“You’ve got to give credit to Tom Connerty, who kicked off Nutrisystem’s most recent foray into the DR space,” Terrill says. “He recognized years of equity in the brand and rebuilt the marketing model to go directly to consumers.”

Nutrisystem has been around the weight-loss and fitness space since 1972, and the company went public in 1999 (NASDAQ: NTRI). While the company has gone through what Terrill calls “dormant” stages, it has maintained a leadership role in the space for nearly 40 years by building a trusted brand and creating loyal customers with its quality products and services.

Most recently, however, Terrill says the combination of DRTV and online direct response is what has driven the brand to new levels of success. “The expansion of online marketing took what was happening in DRTV marketing and brought it into more focus,” he says. “Look at banner ad tracking: DRTV guys would say they’ve been trying to do that forever. As a CMO, my life is about managing and building plans that are quantitatively driven. As a direct-to-consumer marketer, we want to measure TV like we measure online.”

Nutrisystem A Perfect Match

Terrill’s background speaks to his desire to bring the same kind of measurement capabilities found in the online DR space to all areas of Nutrisystem’s marketing efforts. In the mid and late 1990s, he cut his teeth at QZAR Inc., owners of the then-popular Laser Tag entertainment center chain, and phone giant GTE.

In 1999, he joined Match.com, the online dating business, where he served as director of marketing and vice president of new brands and verticals, among other senior positions. His biggest accomplishment there was spearheading the creation of Chemistry.com, a competitor of eHarmony.com, aimed at the growing market of those seeking long-term relationships. During his tenure, the overall Match.com business grew from $15 million to $250 million, with more than 1 million subscribers.

“At Match, we were doing online DR-style campaigns designed to drive immediate response,” he says. “That came in very handy at Nutrisystem when we wanted to expand the business from traditional DR-to-call-center and into online response.”

He left Match for Blockbuster.com in 2005 to become vice president of product and marketing. While there, he oversaw development of the video retailer’s online brand — and his early segmentation and positioning work helped lay the foundation for the Blockbuster Total Access program, which put the retailer in direct competition with online video retailer Netflix and brought Blockbuster more than 1 million new customers.

Today at Nutrisystem, Terrill is in charge of all marketing for Nutrisystem’s brands — “men’s, women’s, silver and diabetic,” he says — encompassing TV, online, print and more. “We do affiliate marketing, search, display online, as well as operate our own social community on Nutrisystem.com,” Terrill adds. “We have a team of about 80 that handles every aspect of our business that touches the consumer, plus a team of contractors who fill in whatever spaces we need at a given time.”

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