Direct Marketing Insights from NEMOA Spring Summit


Author: Bryan Formhals, Senior Marketing Specialist

As the economy continues to recover from the pandemic, marketers and brands are facing new challenges from rising input costs, labor shortages, and continued supply chain disruptions. With all this uncertainty, gaining an edge in the market and optimizing marketing programs becomes even more important. One place to gain insights is from industry peers and experts developing innovative solutions.

Every spring NEMOA (National Etailing & Mailing Organization of America) holds their first of two summits, bringing together leading experts to share their insights on the current market, providing the opportunity to network with peers, and have lively discussions about the biggest topics in the industry.

This year’s spring summit was held virtually and we at Nahan were thrilled to attend and present our roundtable conversation on ‘Extending your Catalogs Reach by Geo Targeting Mobile Users.’

We also attended several of the presentations and roundtables to learn what some of the best minds in the industry are thinking. Here are a few of the key takeaways:

DTC Brands Turn to Print Inserts

In ‘The Power of Marketing Via Print Inserts’ hosted by by Craig Kapilow, Senior Director, Strategic Partnerships RUE GILT GROUP, we learned how digitally-native brands are utilizing print inserts for brand awareness and customer acquisition.

They also offer a great way to delight when they open their packages by offering a little surprise, which everyone loves!  Another key advantage of print inserts is the ability to include offers from thirty party partners. Craig warned that brands shouldn’t try to do too much with their inserts and should make sure their brand and logo are always prominent, as well as including a crystal clear call to action and value proposition.

Getting Creative with Catalogs

 Catalogs are a big investment, making it critical marketers assure their effectiveness in engaging with their customers. In “Catalogs: Creative and Creation,” Brent Niemuth, J. Schmid spoke with Jackie Ardrey of Grandin Road and Bryan Seeley of BSW to learn their insights about tactics for creating beautiful, impactful catalogs.

For Seeley, catalogs are a great way to cut through the digital noise for their B2B focused customers in the broadcast industry. He recommends working with suppliers to help pay for catalogs, as well as featuring the people behind the brand, and most importantly, make it fun!

With Grandin Road, Ardey says catalogs are a source of inspiration and the best format for telling a broader and deeper brand story. Their customers are looking for inspiration and ideas and want to see something they have never seen. Their top tips are to elevate the creative by focusing on great photography and conveying personality through copy.

The Future of Print is Personalized

Digital inkjet technology is a significant trend for everyone in the print world. Ricoh’s Director of Global Marketing, Mike Herold hosted an insightful roundtable discussion on the “Opportunities and Obstacles in Customizable Print” with a few key takeaways that are going to be relevant for all marketers in the space.  

The COVID pandemic accelerated the decline of offset which is also facing labor shortages. There aren’t enough skilled employees to run offset equipment, so future growth will come on the backbone of digital solutions. Right now less than 1% of the 44 billion direct mail pieces produced annually are produced with inkjet technology, so there’s a lot of growth ahead.

One of the huge benefits of inkjet printing is the ability to personalize the campaigns, however customization does come at a higher cost. This tension requires marketers to work closely with their partners on optimization. In many cases, those higher costs will be offset by the higher response rate you get from personalized campaigns.

Smaller and more targeted runs, sometimes called ‘microruns’, are quicker and more customized, with programmatic print continuing to grow. Bottom line, traditional print is not going away, but how can you compliment it with digital to drive value? 

Taking Multi-Channel Marketing from Digital to Catalogs and Print

Many direct-to-consumer brands had great success building their brands through digital marketing, but with the cost increasing, some are diversifying to catalogs to increase engagement.

In a presentation called, ‘The Whys and Hows Of Beyond Digital Multi-Channel Marketing,’ Liz Dolinski, Chief Growth Officer of Lunya, shared how the three pillars of media diversification, customer journeys, and brand building have helped them grow in the face of steeper digital marketing costs.

With media diversification, she emphasized the importance of meeting customers where they are by not allowing one channel/partner to dominate your marketing spend.

Moving into the physical world with catalogs is a great way to tell the full brand story and create a deeper, richer experience. Since the lead times for print are much longer, they can be more difficult for agile marketing strategies.

A couple of tactics they have found successful are to follow up with a postcard when a customer unsubscribes from their newsletter and to add a copy of catalogs to gift boxes.


NEMOA brings together some of the best minds in the print industry. The presenters at the spring summit shared actionable insights that marketers can implement into their 2022 direct marketing strategies. We look forward to the fall summit to see how  these trends and insights evolve throughout the year.



Bio: Bryan Formhals is a Senior Marketing Specialist at Nahan. His efforts focus on public relations, trade shows, sales support, and other external marketing initiatives. He has over 20 years experience in digital marketing working across content, social media, strategy, and communications. In his free time, Bryan enjoys photography and art, walking and hiking, and exploring parks and nature.


NEMOA Spring Summit Takeaways: 4 Trends to Watch in 2021

Author: Krista Black, Group Account Director

I had the pleasure of participating in the NEMOA (National Etailing and Mailing Organization of America) Spring Summit last week. As you can imagine, attending a trade show looks a little different these days, with visiting booths, attending seminars and networking all done virtually. I was pleasantly surprised at how smoothly the event was run and how impactful the content was even though it was presented under different conditions. I found myself wondering if trade shows might maintain some of this new approach in the future even when a higher level of normalcy returns – a hybrid model where attendees could choose to participate in-person or online – or a combination of the two.

This thread of the “new normal” went beyond how the conference was run. It was woven into much of the content – the trends and predictions for our industry for the year ahead – predictions of a permanent shift in consumers’ behaviors as well as strategies to reach them.

Here are a few of my favorite COVID-inspired trends to watch from the 2021 NEMOA Spring Summit:

1. Resurgence of Mail

While mail volumes declined during the beginning of the pandemic, over 2/3 of Americans continue to collect their mail EVERY. DAY. Additionally, 77% of Americans indicate that they have a high interest in receiving mail and 50% of Millennials surveyed see mail as being more important than it was three years ago1. Meanwhile, packages from online shopping orders were delivered to doorsteps in record numbers, training us to check the doorstep and the mailbox more than ever before to retrieve them. As more and more brands re-enter the mail channel, they can benefit from these newly formed routines.

2. Test and Learn Mindset

In these times of rapidly changing consumer behavior, marketers must be nimble in terms of channel strategy, target, offers, and creative. A test and learn mindset is more critical than ever and will continue to remain imperative to helping marketers determine what’s working, what’s not, and what changes need to be made.

3. Rise of Social Commerce2

Consumers are buying directly from digital ads on social platforms at incredible rates, helping fuel a 33% year-over-year increase in ecommerce sales2. Thanks to Elizabeth Drori, Chief Marketing Officer at Sperry, for introducing me to the phrase, “thumb-stopping content” when describing how to capture attention and engage your audience when designing social content. Thumb-stopping content has lured me in many times; I’ve purchased everything from snacks to socks while scrolling through Instagram. But of course, social ads are only one piece of the puzzle – by aligning social ad strategy together with mail, we can fuel increased interaction and purchase behavior beyond what either channel can do alone. In the future, these channels will continue to become more interwoven.

4. Getting Real with Your Audience

The pandemic forced many brands to share their story differently during Covid shutdowns when travel, photo shoots, and large-scale productions were brought to a grinding halt. The silver lining? Many brands found new ways to connect with their audience, often leveraging user generated content to deliver an authentic brand message. With the shiny veneer of high production brand assets removed from the equation, smart brands were able to connect with audiences in new and more “real” way and “humanize” their brands.

Our team invites the opportunity to connect with you to strategize on these trends and to talk through your direct marketing strategies now and into the future. Reach out to us to schedule a time to chat.


1Engaging with Customers in the Time of COVID, United States Postal Service

2How you succeed in an environment of rapid consumer behavior change, Oracle

Bio: Krista is our Group Account Director and brings over 15 years of marketing and agency experience. She and her husband have two children. Krista enjoys volunteering as a manager for her daughters’ dance teams, spending time with family, and watching reality TV.