The Varying Degrees of SES Chicago

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The Windy City lived up to its name in early December of 2005. The Search Engine Strategies Conference swooped into town and took over the lower floors of the Chicago Hilton. Three types of attendees visited us at our booth. I liken them to the three types of people I saw dealing with the frigid temperatures Jack Frost cooked up for us.

Being from Northern Lower Michigan, the Oneupweb crew is no stranger to cold weather. We share Lake Michigan with Chicago, although we are further north. The biggest difference in our weather and Chicago’s is that we get several feet of snow to enjoy along with the cold weather. In any case, we brought a team of experts with many years of combined experience dealing with all things search marketing as well as cold weather related. We were prepared to stay warm and talk with all comers about their search marketing goals.

We met many marketers who were in the process of evaluating their current SEO/ SEM vendors. They brought a couple of different jackets, hats, gloves, and sweaters. They knew they needed to wear just the right combination of these items. If they got it right they could go outside and not only be warm, but actually thrive. Yes, some people spend extended hours outside in the winter and have fun and are never cold. It comes down to your gear. SEO and SEM programs are the same. It is not just about getting by, but about succeeding and surpassing expectations. This group knows that SEO goes way beyond rankings and paid search marketing is more than just having an ample budget. They have had a taste of the good life. They want to get to a point where, like a winter Olympian, you can wear a streamlined, well fitted, body suit and be warm even on the coldest and windiest of mountains. These folks know the right vendor can help them put the right variables in place to win gold in their search marketing efforts.

Another group came in a little less prepared for the cold. Yes they had a good jacket, and those wool socks were great for waiting in line at Buddy Guy’s Legends, but they lacked a hat, gloves, and proper layering. Luckily, one of the companies on the expo floor handed out scarves. These marketers want to keep their SEO and SEM efforts in house. They want to assemble the right team members and give them the right tools to do it without a vendor’s help. They were anxious for any tips we had at the booth about how to get it right, but mostly they spent their time in the many informational sessions listening to the speakers and absorbing the knowledge. My guess is that some did OK. Others may have wandered out into the cold and started to shiver just as they thanked the doorman for holding the door.

The last group, which appears less and less at these SES events, was the poor folks who were just thrown into the whole SEO/ SEM game with no clue. These were the people outside with nothing but the free scarf. They had no idea how to stay warm. In fact they didn’t even know Chicago could be so cold. How could this all be so complicated? I feel for this group because they hear a million things at these events but have little practical knowledge to filter it all into something meaningful. They aren’t sure if they need help from a vendor, or whether to do it themselves, or worse yet, whether search marketing is even a real marketing channel that holds value. We are always patient with this group. It is not about selling them on our services, but rather about showing them that there is a reason that a North Face GoreTex jacket pant combo, a double fleece lined hat, and a pair of snow clogs are well worth the extra few dollars. After all search marketing’s potential to grow your bottom line is as real as the winds of Chicago in December. Cold can also be Gold.

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