A Look At Opportunity

by , Jan 22, 2013, 10:53 AM
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The start of a new year brings with it the promise of new opportunities. So, let’s take a moment to explore this idea of opportunity and our relation to it. Is an opportunity really something that presents itself to us, as in “when opportunity knocks…”? It could happen. But as marketers, we understand that most opportunities arise from proactively 

knocking on doors, not the other way around. Most “opportunities” are actually the result of someone’s insight, ingenuity, and perseverance. In other words, opportunities are made, not born. 

It’s our job to recognize potential opportunities and to make something of them. And, likewise, we can help consumers discover and take advantage of opportunities. Help them reframe what they may see as challenges—or even obstacles—to become opportunities instead.  

How do we make opportunities happenwith health and wellness?

When you think about things from a patient’s point of view, there are two ways they might engage opportunities: either proactively or reactively. Proactively might be a person deciding on their own that they are going to take better care of their health. They might focus on nutrition and eating healthier or activities and a fitness goal, for example. Reactively, imagine a patient who, upon learning they have early-stage diabetes, decides to take the news as a wake-up call and engage in a vigorous change of lifestyle to improve their overall health. Or, at the other end of the spectrum, a patient who, having suffered a mild heart attack, begrudgingly agrees to follow “doctor’s orders” to quit smoking. All these patient types, either proactively or reactively, are engaged in an opportunity to improve their health. And technology is playing a key role for both patients and their caregivers.

Technology: a powerful enabler for better health outcomes.

Most opportunities are really about commitment. Making a choice to pursue something and then sticking to it. Seeing it through. We speak of “missed opportunities” as if they inhabited one instant. But actually, an opportunity is fulfilled (or not) over time. The opportunity for someone engaging in a new fitness program isn’t realized the day they begin working out. It takes all the accumulated workouts that happen on the days thereafter. And, thanks to technology, “opportunists” everywhere are finding the support and encouragement they need to fuel their commitment.

Digital communities and apps abound for all kinds of personal tracking, as well as portals for encouragement and reinforcement by peers.

MyFitnessPal is one example of a digital app that includes calorie counters, food and exercise diaries, and sharing communities. 

Another example is Nike+, which provides a communal experience for very determined people to get motivated, be challenged, and stay connected in their pursuit of fitness. Users can track their activities, map their runs, set goals, share their progress, see how others are doing, and even send and receive real-time encouragement to and from peers through their audio feedback.
An integrated system of apps and devices—like the Nike+ FuelBand, a wrist band that measures daily movements—provides limitless metrics and data on an individual's activity levels and energy expenditure, which provides a steady stream of motivation throughout the day.

The role social media plays in changing behavior.

Thanks to platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and YouTube, people are finding increasingly more ways to share, connect, and inspire each other when it comes to health- related goals. A quick search on Meetup.com revealed groups for meditation, weight loss, smoking cessation, nutrition, and of course a wide variety of fitness interests, from running to mixed martial arts to Zumba. The potential for these platforms to impact behavior is huge. It’s all in how users interact with the information they are posting and viewing. 

We may ask ourselves whether the social media explosion is always such a positive thing—“no texting at the dinner table!”—but there’s no denying it can be a powerful enabler for opportunities. We are a lot more likely to take our commitment seriously if we feel accountable to a group of peers who are in it with us or watching our progress. And who are also accessible and responsive on a daily basis. 

The truth is that opportunities rarely knock on someone’s door. An opportunity occurs when someone consciously takes advantage of circumstances to make something happen. Typically it’s the proactive person who will recognize opportunity and do something with it. The beauty is that today's technology can be a strong motivator and enabler for anyone who is ready to take on the commitment. 

Andrew Marvel, associate creative director, copy at Cement Bloc, also contributed to this article.

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