Cross-channel Marketing, Industry Trends

Takeaways from the 2019 NEMOA Fall Summit

As anticipated, the 2019 NEMOA Fall Summit provided a great opportunity for marketers to gather and network while sharing insights and lessons learned with their peers as well as new technologies and practices from vendor partners. We had an excellent time attending the sessions, and networking with fellow attendees to get their thoughts on today's marketing and catalog landscapes. Here are our top takeaways.

Focus on long-term planning, creativity

This spirit of sharing was readily apparent with Wednesday’s kickoff events, including the “Murder in Encinitas” session led by Nancy Dynan, VP of Marketing for Nixon. This session featured a “real-life catalog autopsy” of the Nixon catalog with analysis provided by a “forensic team” studying the merchandise strategy, creative, and circulation decisions leading to the failed effort.  

In a parallel session, Mark Friedman, Chief Marketing & Digital Officer for Amerimark, shared insights and lessons learned across his experience with multiple retail and direct brands. Friedman emphasized the need to keep the focus on key metrics such as lifetime value and the discipline necessary to think about the long game, including some insights around Target’s strategic decision to leave Amazon’s marketplace and invest in their own technology.  

The concept of “humanity marketing”

Thursday’s NEMOA Fall Summit sessions opened with a dynamic keynote from Brent Niemuth, branding guru and President & Chief Creative Officer for J.SchmidNiemuth revealed his philosophy of “humanity marketing” to 2019 NEMOA Fall Summit attendees, which takes influence from the progression of branding ideals from the early 1900s to today. These branding ideals include: Features (what it has), Benefits (what it does), Experience (how you feel), and Identification (who you are). Niemuth illustrated that modern brands get these points right but, more importantly, now embrace Values (what you believe).  He also provided his seven steps to humanity marketing, which are:

  1. Get to know your customer.
  2. Define your brand’s personality.
  3. Let customers see the real you.  
  4. Start with company culture. 
  5. Know your behavior will be judged. 
  6. Put someone in charge of the brand.
  7. Be more human by showing humans.

Niemuth also discussed how successful modern brands promote a value proposition that resonates with their customers and conveys a personality they can identify with. One example he pointed to is the Yeti catalog, with a great focus on building the identity of the brand and values across the book and saving the product features for the interior pages. Other examples he discussed include Duluth Trading and Huckberry, which Niemuth noted as brands that understand that print and digital act in synergy with the physical catalog providing a tactile experience that reinforces the customers’ relationship with the brand.

The continued importance of personalized marketing

Of course, direct marketers thrive on data and there was no lack of discussion there, either. A team of experts from Epsilon, Infogroup, and Quad/Graphics shared research on generational marketing. They noted how many marketers get trapped trying to chase a “younger” demographic as our populations age, and how critical it is to make sure marketers are cognizant of the generational differences in channel optimization and voice.

Going younger requires understanding the various marketing channels and how your target customers prefer to interact. Remember, you can’t abandon your core! Keep doing what you do best and hold onto your existing customers while growing in new directions to keep the customer funnel full. 

Data is also about personalization. The panel's research indicated that 44% of consumers are willing to switch brands for a more personalized experience. Bad data or assumptions in personalization can destroy a customer experience and do permanent damage, therefore effective personalization requires the right content and should exist across channels and campaigns.

There's also a fine line between relevant content and creepy content. So, what do customers want? According to the panel, consumers value:

  • Location-based information 
  • Availability and price updates  
  • Products theyve shown interest in   
  • Reminders about offers 

A venture capital perspective

Finally, we always enjoy learning from outside our bubble. We heard stories from Bart Lorang sharing insights from the world of venture capital. He referred to how the Four Seasons hotel chain pays attention to its customers and remembers detailed preferences over time, helping to increase the customers' overall brand experience and brand loyalty

How can we translate this to the marketing world? For VC investment, it means understanding how a new brand can fit distinct customer needs while simultaneously demonstrating a real understanding of the customer and providing a personal experience. For modern brands, it means understanding what they know about their customers and integrating those nuances into daily conversations. When a repeat customer calls in, can you recognize them and ask about their prior order? Does your website know and adapt to the customer, or is it a generic experience that feels like a faceless shop? 

It’s always a good to break away from the daily grind to learn from peers and industry experts, and the 2019 NEMOA Fall Summit was no exception. Whether you’re gearing up for a big Q4 or deep in thought on your strategic plans for 2020 and beyond, if you can walk away with at least one valuable insight to help drive your business then you’re that much ahead of the game!  

This post was written by Jake Hall, VP of Solutions Consulting at QuickPivot, who attended the 2019 NEMOA Fall Summit with several other members of the QuickPivot team. 

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