The ROI of Fitness Resolutions

18:09 08 March in Digital Advertising, ROAS

Originally published on Feb 4, 2015

Any day trader on Wall St will tell you, the worst time to buy something is when everyone else is buying it. Brands and agencies seem to forget this fact every year on January 1 – when all marketing channels are flooded with ads for fitness and weight-loss. They must know that the advertising world is no exception to the laws of supply and demand, but they’re either ignorant or negligent because they’re acting as if they don’t. More importantly, brands and agencies fail to realize that despite being subject to the laws of Econ 101, as ad competition and ad prices go up the value of each ad decreases. Imagine a standard roadside billboard divided to present multiple ads. What once was a clear message has now become visual noise. The more ads, the less attention per ad, and the less ROI the advertiser enjoys. It is with this in mind that I ask all the gyms, diets, supplements, weight-loss aids, and home workout manufacturers: why bet so big on January?

All of the dynamic ad properties our eyes can find are rapidly firing out offers to get thin for the New Year. Commercials, banners, emails, tweets, vines – it’s everywhere. The context for these ads hasn’t changed since December and will be unchanged in February. TV screens, popular blogs, and social news feeds are not showing more or less sports content, thin actors, or healthy living. But for some reason, during the month of January, this content is ideal context for fitness and weight-loss ads. WHY? The myth that everyone resolves to get fit for the New Year persists, despite evidence to the contrary. In fact, while the #1 resolution on Twitter is “Work Out” the #2 resolution is “Be Happy.” Statistically speaking, the swath of American consumer intent represented by Twitter users is 4x more resolved to do things other than to fitness/ weight-loss. If those were gambling odds, we’d be wise to bet against January.

Unsurprisingly, marketers and advertising professionals procrastinate just like their civilian counterparts, tending to think about fitness as the need to be fit arises (weddings, beach weather, dating season, etc). More importantly, just like plain-clothes consumers, admen and marketwomen think about fitness multiple times during the calendar year. They even – occasionally – tweet/post/share their intent to get fit. YET – when it comes time to make the January ad buys, these same adfolk are calling their fitness/ weight-loss clients and pitching new ideas like primetime Billy Mays. How will they explain to those clients that their exorbitantly beautiful ad failed to bring in new business because ten thousand other diet products ran ads in January, too? Dialtone.

Here’s a quick tip: don’t be a cliché. Ad content is important, but the receivers of said content are more important. You want your audience to be happy, comfortable, and in-need when you make an offer. If your consumer’s goals are to get fit, offer them fitness. If their goals are to “Unplug” #5, maybe you can offer a vacation package. If they want to “Quit Smoking” #4, let’s hope you sell Nicorette or Chantix or hypno-therapy.

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