Well, Internet Retailer 2008 is coming up in Chicago and Ryan Douglas, our Marketing Team Leader, will be speaking. Interestingly enough, I recently spoke at SMXWest 2008. Why would someone who isn’t even in Search Marketing go to SMXWest 2008? McAfee asked PlumberSurplus.com to speak at SMXWest 2008 regarding our successful implementation of their security badge in our comparison shopping feeds. Our marketing team leader was unavailable to speak. I am the Customer Service manager and had been involved in the selection and implementation of HackerSafe on PlumberSurplus.com and was, consequently, somewhat familiar with our CSE program. Plus, we didn’t want to miss the opportunity for somebody to be able to go and get all the latest goodies in the world of search.
So, what’s my take on speaking? Well, I’ll start with my recent speech. First of all, my speech was scheduled during a lunch time session in the vendor hall. I fully expected to speak in one of the general session rooms of the conference. However, I was perched on a small stage with an area sectioned off for about 30 people to join in if they happened to be wandering by during their conference lunch break. In my experience, lunch time presentations tend to flounder. In fact, I was at Internet Retailer 2007 in San Jose and I remember that there was a lunch time presentation on one of the conference days. The conference was great, but I have no idea who the lunch time presenters were. I was far more interested in networking and eating lunch. Surprisingly, the audience that stopped to listen to my speech at SMX was attentive. Even more surprisingly, people stopped to listen even though there were no more chairs. So with a captive audience, I began my speech and was unpleasantly surprised by early audio difficulties. Thankfully, I was wired up with a supplemental microphone so that McAfee could record the speech. This turned out to be a great idea, since I’m not convinced that the context of my speech was necessarily best for a search marketing conference. Even though I was able to tout the elevated sales we garnered from the use of the HackerSafe logo in our CSE feeds, the speech really centered on the ease of implementation and intrinsic marketing value for an internet retailer. My speech would have, perhaps, been better suited for a conference of other online merchants. The greater value for McAfee will come from distributing my speech through other forums as a testimony of a successful customer implementation of their HackerSafe product.
Going to an industry conference is always an interesting experience. Speaking is even more fun. This particular conference was interesting because of the people. First off, the world of search marketers seems to be a relatively relaxed place. The folks attending the conference weren’t unprofessional (mostly), just relaxed. I met lots of people that seemed to know search marketing and lots who seemed to know very little, but not many in between. It may not surprise you that wearing a little badge that displays “Speaker”, works as a great ice breaker and usually gets people to approach you. This made it easier for this non-search marketer to blend in, make friends, and, frankly, lends immediate credibility. Ryan should have a great time and will likely be able to leverage his “Speaker” status to more easily network with individuals that he may not have otherwise approached.
Some other thoughts on my trip to SMXWest: I find it particularly interesting that search marketing doesn’t have a standardized training platform. Though there are organizations that train in search marketing, there isn’t a formalized university curriculum. Even more, there isn’t a standard text to which one can reference search marketing wisdom. The book would have to change every three months. It seems to me that most get their education in the field through mentorship and constant industry involvement. It may not astonish you to find out that Yahoo! and Microsoft seemed grossly underrepresented at the conference. Every speech that I attended gave the impression that Google was the only game in town. Nearly every speaker used language that all but excluded everyone but Google from the search marketing realm. I realize that Google has a strong hold on search, but that seems like a great opportunity for a solution to create incentives for search marketers. I don’t know what that means, but then, I’m not a search marketer, so it’s easy for me to be critical.