The New Marketing of ASEP
Jesse Pittsley PhD, EPC
I must state immediately something that will become obvious while reading this essay. I
know nothing about marketing. But, nevertheless, being grossly ignorant on a topic has
never stopped me from ranting before, so I see no reason to start now. My marketing
knowledge is completely from a consumer perspective. Like most others, I‟m exposed to
ads in magazines, newspapers, on billboards, on internet sites, on radio, and on television.
(I must admit I don‟t own a TV but I do encounter one occasionally). Advertising is everywhere and it seems everybody has a product to push. Using everything from humor
to nostalgia, all companies attempt to alter your perception. Marketing is a cornerstone
of a consumer driven economy, and it is fun to watch companies demonstrate their
creativity when trying to beat the competition.
The concept of professionalization
of Exercise Physiology proposed
by the American Society of “ASEP (has created) a public means Exercise Physiologists (ASEP) is to discuss the professionalization of like any other sellable idea or exercise physiology. Clearly, this is a product. It is a novel and, it is
beneficial. However, it is product very significant accomplishment since
with, unfortunately for ASEP, a it permits nearly any discussion substantial amount of ignorance related to exercise physiology to be and competition for it to overcome.
reflected through the prism of Not all great ideas and products
always catch on immediately. professionalization. Potentially, this
Furthermore, any idea or product could result in a subtle and nearly that encounters competition must subconscious “paradigm shift” within be substantially marketed to
the field. establish a solid consumer base. In my opinion, ASEP is embarking upon a new
marketing phase where strategies must evolve from the traditional and informative to the
more strategic and assertive. Thus, the purpose of this paper is to explain my opinion on
the next phase of ASEP marketing.
Up Until Now
During the initial years of ASEP, the organization established an informative and
consistent knowledge base. The creation and maintenance of the online journals (the
Professionalization of Exercise Physiologyonline and the Journal of Exercise
Physiologyonline), the ASEPNewsletter, and a battery of legal and administrative prose all lead to the current, and rather overlooked, conceptual base of the organization. This
foundation has created something nonexistent prior to ASEP, a public means to discuss
the professionalization of exercise physiology. Clearly, this is a very significant
accomplishment since it permits nearly any discussion related to exercise physiology to
be reflected through the prism of professionalization. This could potentially result in a subtle and nearly subconscious “paradigm shift” within the field.
Accompanying the establishment of this base, ASEP advanced in its public persona. The ASEP homepage moved from deep inside the web domain of the College of St. Scholastica to the more user-friendly www.asep.org. The ASEPNewsletter shifted to
both a web and e-mail based publication. The presidency of the organization moved beyond occupation of its founding and charter members to new exercise physiologists that are outside the ivory towers of academia.
From the theoretical to the concrete, ASEP now exists beyond the daydreams of a couple academics. As a boxing coach would say, “good fighting starts with good footwork.” Although not a glamorous as the current status of several major professional organizations, the past seven years were needed for ASEP to last more than a couple rounds in this bout.
From Here Forward
Getting in the ring was a great start. But throwing the right punches during the right moments is the new struggle for ASEP. For example, consistently presented at ASEP national meetings is the astounding number (roughly 300) of certifying agencies related to exercise. Therefore, ASEP is not alone in its desire to promote exercise certifications. ASEP would argue that its board certification is the moral choice for exercise physiologists and it is “above” the whims of consumerism. But, frankly, I don‟t think
the other ~299 organizations care. Everybody is out trying to sell a product that few in the public and many in the field
can actually see a difference or
differentiate between. I would
argue that ASEP has an ethical and
novel product, but how do we sell
I am not in front of a television
very often. But, when I am, it is
usually during a major sporting
event. After distancing myself
from this medium for several years
I am amazed at the number of car
and beer commercials. Every few
minutes somebody is either
cruising the open road or downing
the suds (occasionally, an ad will
air reminding you not to do both
simultaneously). What is more
interesting is the theme to the
commercials. For example, beer
has been around for a while and,
Is now the time to talk about “wage loss?”
Broach the topic at www.ASEP.org
since I can remember, Miller Lite and Bud Lite have been taking shots at each other.
What is interesting is that neither company bothers with ads stating simply that they exist
and that their product is good. Both companies spend most of their resources exploiting a
perceived difference between the products. Similarly, rental car companies (with slogans
like “not exactly,” “we pick you up,” “there‟s us and then there‟s the „other guy‟), fast
food companies (the classic, “Where‟s the beef?”), credit cards, (they take ______, but they won‟t take American Express), and many other companies have evolved far beyond
announcing their existence. Rather, they concentrate on exploiting a difference between
their products and their competitors.
In some cases there is little difference between the products and, therefore, the companies
must work to create a perception of one. While in other cases, which is ASEP‟s category, there is a significant difference between the products. As a result, the companies must
work to make sure everybody knows that there is a difference. In the end, though, it is
about stating that that the other guy is wrong and that your product is the best choice.
More than just eccentric! The ASEP accreditation and
www.ASEP.org certification programs have
novel characteristics that
many exercise physiologists
would consider advantageous.
The task is to catch the
attention and interests of the
exercise physiologists in the
U.S. Informational brochures
and newsletters are a great
foundation, but it is likely that
something a bit more edgy is
Although uncommon thinking
in the realm of professional
organizations, why not use
humor, wit, and a pinch of
sarcasm? The world occupied by the academic exercise physiologist is, at times, viewed as a stuffy room just waiting for a window to open up so
that the bright sunlight can shine in. Personally, I‟m poor at blindly respecting authority. I‟ve always found happiness in making those who are comfortable shift around in their seat with a little sweat running down their brow. What‟s wrong with a little banter?
The New Generation
It is my proposal that the ASEP leadership begins a series of advertisements that take
advantage of the differences between products in the market. The board certification
(EPC) offered by ASEP is an exclusive certification that other health care professional
can not obtain. This could theoretically prevent other, licensed professionals from
providing similar services and establishing a strong employment sector for exercise
physiologists. It is exactly this type of difference that must be illuminated. Furthermore,
in terms of academic accreditation, ASEP‟s accreditation requires departments to standardize the academic degree (and, thus professional title) to fight the excessive
variance currently present throughout the college and university system. This, and other,
significant differences must be communicated to the public. Now, one must ask, “how?”
My personal opinion is that few people read. Yes, there are the diligent and thorough
exceptions. But, overall, few people sit and read beyond a couple paragraphs of most
emails (that are not from close friends) and articles. If you don‟t believe me, simply
examine the format of many online news items and articles in popular magazines. Go to
a popular news site like CNN.com and
read a few items. The articles are
composed of short paragraphs, roughly “. . .once at the webpage, ASEP
one to three sentences, with the purpose must hold their attention with of making a point. The reader is quickly techniques beyond the traditional rewarded with quick bits of information
article. For example, the use of with minimal effort. It is the same with
television commercials, magazine ads, slide presentations, audio files
and movie trailers; they all follow a and video files should all be similar theme. Each uses few words and available to explain the ASEP employs memorable phrases and images
perspective.” to capture attention. People are accustomed to others working for their attention. I
understand that this is not ideal. I understand that many academics, including myself,
cringe at evolution of reading in our culture. But, with the exception of a few individuals,
most professionals do not dig deeply into text.
The new advertisements created by ASEP need to contain the traits of modern marketing.
Clever slogans, edgy sarcasm, and subtle humor all should be used to illuminate the
unique traits of ASEP and its services. The ads should be short and colorful. They
should make a simple point. ASEP must concentrate on catching the attention of exercise
physiologists in ways that inspire them to visit the ASEP webpage. Then, once at the
webpage, ASEP must hold their attention with techniques beyond the traditional article.
The use of slide presentations, audio files, and video files should all be available to
explain the ASEP perspective. There are many members that are excellent speakers and
maybe even more than a few who would look good in front of a camera! Or, why not ask
a few to read a quick 30-second “spot” as a background audio track for a slide presentation. People are often willing to sit back and listen (or watch) a media file more
frequently than they are willing to read the same material in text form. In other words,
why not be more creative in getting the message out?
With a professional foundation well designed within the infrastructure of the ASEP web
pages, ASEP must now alter its marketing approach from the informative to the strategic.
ASEP, as a professional, non-profit corporation, must now accept the fact that there are
many products available to the exercise physiology consumer. Therefore, ASEP must
distance itself from the competition by broadcasting its unique features. I should state
that I believe the foundation of any professional organization is its academic literature.
Unfortunately, if few read the literature, then its effectiveness is minimal. ASEP needs to
employ new marketing strategies to capture the attention of exercise physiologists. It is
with only their attention can the organization begin to convince that professionalization
should be the path of the future.