NEMOA at 60: ‘Small’ Event Yields Big Ideas
This month’s NEMOA conference in Portland, Maine, Sept. 19-21, marks the 60th anniversary for what started — and remains — a small specialized trade group. For many long-time members, NEMOA is all about conferences. The group holds semiannual conferences each March and September designed for catalog/multichannel marketers.
“The main value of NEMOA is being able to get together and network,” says 20-year member Dan Walter, president and founder of Eagle America, a woodworking tools and accessories catalog. “You learn tricks of the trade from the people you meet, whether it be from a high-powered speaker such as Don Libey or simply turning to the guy next to you and getting something you didn’t know.”
Like other members, Walter works diligently during NEMOA conferences. “Every time I leave a NEMOA, I have a stack of notes, bullet points and things to do. I’ve come away with 10 to 50 ideas from the conference. You have a plan of action that you leave with, such as last spring’s [emphasis on] how to deal with the postal increase. I’ve put ideas from last year’s conference into effect in this year’s book.”
NEMOA began with a small group of representatives from New England area catalogs, including Appleseed’s, Brecks of Boston, Brookstone and Deerskin Trading Post, who met to exchange ideas. The group has grown to include more than 270 corporate members. Although more catalogers and vendors from outside the New England area have joined in recent years, making NEMOA a national organization, the focus remains on idea exchange among catalogers and multichannel merchants. But the group hopes to continue expanding its boundaries, having formally dropped its original moniker, New England Mail Order Association, in favor of the acronym.
Although NEMOA traditionally has attr-acted a host of smaller catalogers, it continues to draw larger ones, such as L.L. Bean. “There’s always an opportunity when like-minded individuals get together in the same room to share ideas,” says L.L. Bean’s Creative Director and Managing Editor Jim Hauptman. “You learn from the individual sessions, and they’re a stimuli for conversations. You take something from the individual session and then after, you go out in the hallway and ask someone, ‘What did you think of this point?’”