NEOMA dinner Thursday evening at the New England Aquarium.

~ by Marty Shaw, Major Account Executive – Global Solutions

I’ve been to a lot of conferences over the years. With what appears to be a never ending, and niche-centric list of conferences to choose from, I believe the National Etailing & Mailing Organization of America (NEMOA) has a very good formula. The March 9-11 conference in Boston was well worth the investment in time and resources.

With a mission of “Networking and Education for Direct Marketers”, which they achieve through two educational conferences each year (Spring in Boston and now Fall in Greater Chicago), I never fail to come away with actionable marketing ideas I can put to use immediately as well as meeting a lot of clients, friends and prospective new clients. I’m a sales professional, so one might think that NEMOA’s code of conduct all members agree to, including “dedication to sharing ideas, experiences and fellowship by creating a helpful, friendly, non-sales oriented atmosphere at NEMOA events” might not be ideal. Well, at least the “non-sales” part (I like to think of myself as helpful and friendly).  In reality, the non-sales environment is refreshing for everyone. I’ve had a client company representative refer to some other conferences as feeling like they are the proverbial “lamb at a wolves’ convention.” This is not so at NEMOA. NEMOA permits everyone to let their guard down and learn new marketing strategies while mixing with a great group of people.

NEMOA Boston 2016 had the tag line of “Learn, share and connect at Direct Xchange”. Some of the learning, sharing and connecting highlights for me included:

  • Pre-conference session; Marketing Analytics:  I opted to attend this session and learned a great deal. Lead by Gina Valentino and Merritt Engel, attendees had hands-on worksheets on everything from how to calculate gross demand, to how a marketing P&L can be calculated efficiently and effectively.
  • Crack the customer mind code in an omni-channel world: Gary Hennerburg lead this session. Gary emphasized the importance of story telling in all of our marketing and its impact on our customers and prospects. He drove home the point with a popular Maya Angelou quote: “I’ve learned that people will forget what you’ve said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel”. Our challenge as marketers is to inject emotion-inducing content into our unique sales and marketing propositions.
  • Boden insight and strategy: Susan Britton, Head of Customer Insight and Strategy at UK-based Boden (US website: came up on the stage with “London Calling” by The Clash blasting from the speakers, and as it died down she noted jokingly that the song not a Boden-like message. Susan is expecting a baby in July, so it was kind of her to hop on a transatlantic flight to share her insight and experience with the NEMOA attendees. One of the things that struck me as unique in a marketing context has to do with buyer personas. While this is not new in any way, the fact that Boden has actually named their client persona “Kate” is taking personas to a new level. It’s brings the idea of a persona to a person, albeit a fictional person. I like that concept, especially for a B2C brand.
  • Wilde about marketing: Nancy Harhut, Chief Creative Officer at Wilde Agency, educated and entertained us all with her high-energy expertise. Nancy pointed out that our ability to grab our prospective customer’s attention is getting shorter and shorter. The average attention span of humans is down to 8 seconds; goldfish are 9 seconds. The 7 Brain Science Secrets Nancy shared were all interesting, while a few stood out enough for me to take notes.
    • Write it down and it will be remembered: getting written reviews help sales as a result;
    • Loss aversion: People are twice as likely to act due to fear of loss than due to the possibility of gain;
    • Magnetic middle: three choices presented to a person result in the middle being opted for the most;
    • Cognitive fluency: aka, make it easy;
    • Pricing perception: $120 appears to be less than $120.00. Use decimals when referring to savings; remove them when referring to cost/price.
  • The next US president is…: Alex Vogel from VogelHood Research offered attendees a data-centric, historical view into the current US presidential election cycle. It had a lot of people laughing and nodding their heads (well, some were shaking their heads… it’s politics, after all).  The bottom line, history is being made in this election cycle, so his predictions for a Clinton-Trump general election may well be turned upside down, he conceded.
  • Amy Africa on neuromarketing: Amy, of Eight by Eight, is always entertaining and informative; this keynote was no exception! She detailed how biases affect customers, and why the fear of loss overtakes the possibility of gain. As with any presentation by Amy, you have to see it. No recap in print gives her any justice.

Dinner Thursday evening was at the New England Aquarium. It was a fun venue for a social gathering. The sound level was good for conversations and the penguins and huge assortment of sea creatures made for a great backdrop! Oh, tasty food too.

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