Live Best Practices Workshops

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When: March 9th 8:30 AM to 12:00 PM
Where: Westin Boston Waterfront Hotel (New location!)
Cost: $159 for the Best Practices Workshops, lunch and the opening session of the NEMOA directXchange Conference. $129 if you are a registered directXchange attendee.

Cat-U is once again teaming up with NEMOA and the directXchange conference to bring you live, hands-on catalog best practices workshops. You can attend just the workshops, or add one to your directXchange conference package and SAVE $50. Taught by the Catalog University Deans and leading industry experts, these interactive workshops will teach you the tried and true catalog best practices that really work AND you will take that knowledge and apply it to YOUR catalog. No messing around with “ACME Catalog” or “Widget X”. This amazing combination of sound theory and solid application lets you ask questions, and get peer input and insight into your own catalog. This is a unique opportunity to roll up your sleeves, dig deep, get actionable advice, find missed opportunities, and develop real strategies that will work for your catalog. Registration is limited to 30 students per workshop so register today—this is something you won’t want to miss!

Register for Live Workshops Only Register for Live Workshops AND the NEMOA Conference


4 interactive workshops to choose from:


Find out how to develop your brand to improve recognition and engage customers. Brent Niemuth, of J. Schmid, will inspire, motivate and entertain as you develop a deep understanding of what brand is and how you can harness it for your marketing efforts. Then Sarah Fletcher of Catalog Design Studios will help you dial in your creative with strong messaging, brand driven design and ease of shopping. Imagine what a lift that would be for your creative efforts!


Brent Niemuth

Creative Workshop Outline

Part One of the Creative Workshop will address the following:

1) Brand Personality

How is your brand perceived? How do you look, act, and sound? Do you have a clear definition of your brand’s persona? Why is personality such a critical component to a brand’s success today? We’ll look at brands who do this well and discover key take-aways that you can start using tomorrow.

2) Brand Story

Consumers want to know your history, the people behind the brand and what you believe in. How well do you tell your story in your catalog? Who are the key characters in the story? What’s the compelling narrative?

3) Brand Experience

People judge brands on their overall experience. Everything matters. Every interaction is important. Can they find information easily? Are there too many choices? Is it difficult to order? Is the online experience a seamless transition? We’ll take a hard look at your catalogs and examine the path-to-purchase.

After the break the workshop will cover:

1) Designing for Your Brand

Now that you know what your brand’s persona is, and you have a clear definition of your brand, we’ll put that into practice. Exercises will help you identify what’s working, and what isn’t, as well as ideas and practical take-aways for aligning your customer’s perception with your actual brand strategy.

2) Creating a Voice

Does your company sound like your brand? What voice will you tell your story with: Authoritative, scholarly, hip, curious, excited or something altogether different? Learn how voice effects engagement and brand awareness. Exercises will help you establish your own unique voice.

3) Ease of Shopping

Learn how to master the single most important tool for increasing sales. Ease of shopping is the holy grail of catalog design, and one of the most underused, and often misunderstood, elements of design. The workshop will cover how to find ease of shopping issues and how to fix them. It will also show you how to see your catalog with the Beginner Mind of your customers.

Sarah Fletcher

Brent Niemuth, J. Schmid & Assoc.

Brent is considered a thought leader in the world of multichannel marketing. He has spent over 20 years in the industry, working with top-tier brands such as Microsoft, Disney, Hallmark, Hershey’s, eBay, House of Blues and American Express. Brent has gained a national reputation for challenging industry norms and is known for his pragmatic methods and strategic acumen. He’s devoted his entire career to helping companies differentiate their brands, develop their messaging, and create breakthrough campaigns that get noticed and get results. Brent is an award-winning designer and nationally-recognized speaker on the topic of branding. He often gives dynamic presentations at conferences across the globe, and has been a guest lecturer at the Johns Hopkins University MBA Marketing program. He writes frequently for industry publications. He is a graduate of the University of Kansas. And he still claims to be the fifth Beatle.


Sarah Fletcher, Catalog Design Studios

Sarah, whose mother was an art director, literally grew up in the art department of an advertising agency. After a brief rebellion she began her career at age six, stripping boards and organizing type. To date she has worked in almost every capacity of the business, from production assistant, to copywriter, to photographer, to creative director. Her main focus for the past twenty years has been catalog design and development. Her clients have included International Paper, Scholastic, Mrs. Beasley’s, Harrington’s of Vermont, The Vermont Country Store, Smith+Noble, Junonia, Wyeth Pharmaceuticals, SmartPak Equine and Penn State Industries. Her articles have appeared in Catalog Success Magazine, Multichannel Merchant, and DM News. She has spoken at The Annual Catalog Conference, The National E-tailing & Mailing Organization of America (NEMOA) conference and the GCIC/GPC. Sarah is a judge for both the MCM Awards and the International Echo Awards. Sarah’s a Stones fan, don’t tell Brent.



This workshop will provide fundamental tools for strengthening your catalog and digital merchandising.  We will cover actionable solutions in the areas of Assortment Planning, Product Margin, Finding New Items, Digital Merchandising, and Overstock and Liquidation Management that will help both beginners and experienced direct marketers improve product productivity. Led by industry experts George Mollo and Larry Shaw, you are guaranteed to leave with a significant number of practical ideas that you can implement right away.

Larry Shaw

Merchandising Workshop Outline

This session will review (in some detail):

1) Assortment Planning – merchandise success starts with a well thought out assortment plan.  Areas covered include an easy high level view of your business and campaign to identify brand focus, over/under assorted categories, proper space allocation, margin targets, price point “sweet spots” and potential profit (or losses). You will quickly understand why this approach can provide a foundation for improved product selections and inventory control.

2) Maintaining and Growing Product Margin – practical tips on how to maintain and grow product margins in a hyper competitive environment.  Areas covered include when to grow and when to maintain, margin $ vs %, what should be included in a margin calculation, top 5 ways to grow margins, perceived value versus internal needs, and setting a Margin Improvement Roadmap.

3) Finding New Items – success in 2016 and beyond is directly tied to your ability to find new items that excite and delight customers, which is becoming harder each year.  Areas covered include how to identify core demographic/lifestyle audiences and personas to target, key traits of successful new items, new sources for exciting new products, testing strategy, analyzing trends, and when to product develop versus buying off-the-shelf.

4) Catalog versus Digital – merchandising for the emerging digital channels is not the same as merchandising for a catalog audience.  Areas covered include digital versus catalog cycle time, a quick view on using Google Analytics to highlight key web items, e-mail and website merchandising, how to successfully merchandise for Amazon and Marketplaces, and merchandising in a mobile environment.

5) Overbuys and Liquidation – initial product profitability can easily disappear without a strong ability to manage overstocks and liquidation.  Areas covered include what to consider when meeting minimums on import buys and its potential impact to cash flow and profitability, new versus old liquidation methods and why pricing approach to liquidation is different, and an alternative and little used approach to final liquidation.


George Mollo

Larry Shaw, Merch Success

Larry has been responsible for overseeing the merchandising for some of the most product focused retail and direct marketing companies during his 25 year retail tenure. His is currently developing world class merchandising solutions for the retail industry with Merch Success, a company he helped found. Past President of Southern Season in Chapel Hill, NC, the gourmet specialty food and gift store, restaurant, and cooking school boutique chain that is consistently ranked as one of the top destination retail concepts in the United States. Larry was responsible for expanding the 70,000 item product assortment across specialty food, gift, housewares, kitchen, home, gift basket, wine and beer, health and beauty, and floral categories. Prior to Southern Season Larry was Executive Vice President of The Vermont Country Store, where he oversaw the strategic development and execution of their product concepts across numerous product categories, including clothing, domestics, food, gift, personal care, household, kitchen, and holiday. He developed a lot of innovative merchandising programs during his 12 years there, including bringing back to the marketplace many nostalgic dormant brands such as Gee Your Hair Smells Terrific and the Caroler Candles. Larry has also held senior executive positions at Nordstrom and Hanover Direct and provided counsel for companies such as Green Mountain Coffee, Eddie Bauer, J Jill, Stoneycreek Brands, and 1-800 Homeopathy.


George Mollo, Cohere One

A 30+ year veteran of the direct marketing, wholesale and retail industries, George has served in senior executive positions for several direct mail companies, including start-ups and turn-arounds. These companies included Lillian Vernon Corporation, Genesis Direct, Disney Direct, and J. Crew Group, Inc.. George has hands-on experience at all levels of management, including financial, operational, systems and merchandising.


Marketing Analytics

In this interactive workshop, you’ll learn techniques for analyzing your campaign data, print and digital. For offline efforts, we’ll share step-by-step instructions to help you develop matchback data, calculate additional data points and use a modified P&L to quickly calculate the mailing financials.

In the digital realm, learn how to better analyze your email efforts beyond your basic dashboard, including evaluating content, deployment cadence and triggered emails such as abandon cart programs. Join industry experts Gina Valentino and Merritt Engel for two 90-minute sessions of hands-on learning.


Gina Valentino

Marketing Analytics Workshop Outline

Offline Circulation Marketing

  1. A Marketer’s P&L. Learn the shortcut to develop a marketer’s P&L, the ROI, and building a circ plan to breakeven (as well as investment circulation.)
  2. Matchback. How to write your own matchcode for a matchback. Whether you develop the matchback yourself or use a service bureau, it’s important to understand the techniques an methodologies.
  3. After reviewing the matchback, we’ll utilize a spreadsheet to learn how to painlessly calculate a correlation coefficient and look at how the non-matches of matchback can influence different decisions about the mailing.
  4. Let’s review and discuss Control Panels for Mail vs No Mail. Why panels been used, what you could be doing wrong when developing the panels, and what role the Control Panels have with decision making.

Online-Web-Email portion

  1. Calculate and interpret core email performance data.
  2. Identify high impact spots in your email design.
  3. Write subject lines that get your emails opened.
  4. Implement personalization approaches that lift response.
  5. Apply new testing strategies and evaluate those results.
  6. Develop highly customized and effective triggered communications, such as abandoned cart emails.
  7. Better understand spam filters and improve your sender reputation and overall deliverability.

Merritt Engel

Gina Valentino, Hemisphere Marketing

Gina’s 20 years in the catalog industry leverages experience and multi-channel disciplines. She has worked with catalogers such as Road Runner Sports, Disney Direct, Barrie Pace, Spiegel, See’s Candies, Home Depot Direct, Hickory Farms, and Spanx. Gina is a featured writer for MultiChannel Merchant Magazine. She serves as a judge for the Annual Catalog Awards and is also a member of the Printery House Advisory Board.


Merritt Engel

Merritt Engel is President of Merrigan & Co., a Kansas City-based marketing communications agency. In that role, she helps organizations develop communications that sell products, generate donations and build involvement. Clients include Lenexa Manufacturing Company, the Veterans of Foreign Wars, the National Agri-Marketing Association and other local and national organizations. Merritt is past President of the Kansas City Direct Marketing Association (KCDMA). She developed and now instructs a Marketing and Technology class at Rockhurst University in the Helzberg School of Management. In 2012, Merritt was named KCDMA’s “Direct Marketer of the Year.”


Crack the Customer Mind Code

In this workshop, you will be introduced to a process that is destined to upend how you approach marketing, advertising, and selling. Even as customer attitudes have shifted during this new century due to technology, the economy, and emotionally draining negative news, the way in which the human mind processes information remains constant.

Marketing and sales messages often fall short because they are not aligned with how the mind naturally processes information and makes decisions. In this workshop of Crack the Customer Mind Code, veteran marketer Gary Hennerberg reveals seven pathways through the mind and lays out how to align marketing messaging with the various ways people think.

Overlaying these proven concepts onto each of twelve defined personas, Hennerberg shows you how to powerfully transform marketing campaigns that move prospects to action.

Once your message and personas are aligned, you now are equipped to solve the puzzle of getting your prospective customers to YES!


Picture of Gary Hennerberg

Crack the Customer Mind Code Workshop Outline

The first part of the workshop will cover:

  1. A process to identify and create the personas of your core customer segments. The twelve most observed personas are revealed.
  2. Stimulate emotion through fear, uncertainty, and doubt.
  3. Calm the mind with your solution to enable clearer thinking.
  4. Properly position, or reposition, your product or organization to initiate new short-term memory.

After break, this session will continue with the final three pathways.

  1. Use storytelling to deepen the new memory and convert it to long-term memory.
  2. Logically interpret your sales presentation offer and create a compelling conclusion.
  3. Persuade and lead your prospects to a sense of self-permission to buy.


Gary Hennerberg

Gary Hennerberg is a veteran marketing professional, equally accomplished in the dual roles of copywriter/creative director and analytic consultant. He has created and overseen hundreds of marketing campaigns that have reached tens of millions of households and businesses around the world. He is in demand as a consultant, speaker, trainer and author. Hennerberg has reinvented his skills multiple times in his career. As a former marketing and product manager, agency executive, and now an in-demand consultant, creative director, and trainer, he has successfully transferred traditional offline marketing principles to online media. He has been a marketing professional since 1978 and an independent marketing consultant and copywriter since 1992. As a marketing turnaround consultant, he searches for new and incremental sales dollars for marketing organizations. With experience in cross-channel marketing, Hennerberg recommends the most effective and cost-efficient blend to generate sales. He is sought-after for his analysis skills and creative integration of websites, email, direct mail, content marketing, search marketing, retargeting and more. When he has followed the seven pathways in the mind, as detailed in Crack the Customer Mind Code, his work has resulted in sales increases of 15%, 35%, and even as high as 60%. Hennerberg is the author of “Reinventing Direct” for Today @ Target Marketing Magazine. He is also the author of Direct Marketing Quantified: The Knowledge is in the Numbers, and Urges, a memoir about his childhood growing up with hair pulling disorder. He is the author of dozens of articles on marketing best practices, and has spoken at numerous conferences and events.