The woman on the screen raves for two solid minutes about her new body which is 33 pounds lighter. “Look at me, I’m a size 2,” she says as images of her skipping along a beach in a bikini, smooching her husband on a footbridge and cuddling her baby at a picnic fill the screen. In the corner, you see the before and after shots, which are powerful. Then comes the kicker: “My husband said, ‘I got my wife back,'” she exclaims. Each time the spot airs, dozens of women pick up the phone and call NutriSystem to place an order.
What is the secret to Nutrisystem’s raging success?
In case you didn’t know, Nutrisystem is not exactly a “new” company. Founded in 1971 by Harold Katz, the latest Nutrisystem rebirth at the hand of Forbe’s Entrepreneur of the year, Michael Hagan is just the latest to pick the company up for a song and take his hand at the helm of a company whose history has more ups and downs that a feeding rod.
To make a long story short, Hagan took over the beleaguered Nutrisystem in 2002. His first step was to take the 30 year old menu and revamp it. Once the product was brought up to snuff, then the real job began. According to Forbes, “Smart advertising and relentless data-crunching fuel this lean company.”
Hagan hired Thomas Connerty, the marketing brains behind that info-mercial wonder the Bowflex exercise machine and fired the ad agency. Connerty focuses on creating marketing copy that SPEAKS to his target market. He knows they way to sell the Nutrisystem program is through testimonials and plenty of them.
Nutrisystem runs a semi-annual $10,000 contest to collect these testimonials. Connerty then carefully crafts each message to not only speak to his customer’s needs, but also shows how the excess weight is working to hold potential clients back in other areas as well. He then closes with how easily the Nutrisystem program can solve those problems in a pain free, delicious way. Add in a generous helping of “call now and get one week free” plus dozens of toll free lines and you’ve got the makings of a raving success.
Connerty admits that the ads won’t win any awards, but they do make the phone ring… and ring… and ring. Since 2002, revenue has jumped from $28 million to $413 million and profits have risen from $2.5 million to $55 million. NutriSystem’s stock is up from 65 cents to $63 a share.
Nutrisystem is truly a lean mean marketing machine and illustrates not only the effect powerful testimonials can have on sales but also the effect of knowing your customer and focusing on solving his/her most pressing problems. You can argue that a woman’s self worth shouldn’t be wrapped up in what size jeans she wears, but Nutrisystem is definitely riding that wave of insecurity to wealth and prosperity.