SEMpdx President Kent Lewis recently sat down with SEMpdx Board Member Todd Mintz and answered questions about the organization, its upcoming events & the world of search.
Kent, please give our readers a bit of your professional background. How did you get into Search Engine Marketing?
I graduated with a degree in marketing and started my professional career in public relations. I had an opportunity to provide pro bono PR services for a sister Web development company back in 1995, and was immediately intrigued by the Web. I soon left my PR job to take on a manager role at the Web developer. After a few months of research and testing, I was able to roll out Internet marketing services to clients. After building and managing SEM teams at 3 different agencies, I settled on doing my own thing with Anvil in 2002.
Tell us the story about how SEMpdx was formed.
SEMpdx was originally an idea brought to my attention by a local competing SEM firm. We talked through the need and opportunity over lunch, and within a few weeks, we had our first official board meeting. As an adjunct professor at PSU, I've always been a proponent of education, and we all agreed that the Portland area would benefit greatly from a professional trade organization dedicated solely to SEM.
Talk to us about some of the other SEMpdx founding members. Why did you choose those particular people to help form the organization?
The SEMpdx board members are a collection of some of the most talented and experienced SEM professionals in the country. We hand-picked the board from the local talent based on experience, knowledge, network and overall fit. I'd worked with some at previous agencies, and the rest we knew from being in the industry so long. There were a few that I didn't know well and I was pleasantly surprised at the level of knowledge and insight of those individuals.
What are your objectives for SEMpdx, short-term and long-term?
We have four primary objectives for SEMpdx:
Success is Danny Sullivan, the godfather of SEM, attending or presenting at one of our future events.
SEMpdx will be launching a new website shortly at http://www.semportland.com. Can you tell us a bit about it?
We're very excited about the new Web site, which is being design from scratch by Site9. The site will be everything to all people (at least those interested in SEM in the Portland area). We'll have information on membership, sponsorship and events, as well as a robust resource section, complete with SEM articles, blog, podcasts, tools and news. Whether you're breaking into the SEM industry, or already an expert, there will be something of value for you at SEMportland.com.
SEMpdx will debut its "signature" event in December: SEM Hot Seat. Describe the event and let people know what they will gain from attending.
SEM Hot Seat is going to be beneficial to all involved. For the audience, it's a unique opportunity to learn from a panel of distinguished SEM professionals. Businesses or individuals just getting started can submit specific questions, Web sites or campaign creative to the panel for feedback. The goal is to maximize the value of being able to get specific questions addressed from multiple perspectives, as well as hear what other people are asking. It's like knowing what you don't know you don't know (or something like that). If you're too shy to ask a question, you can submit it in advance, or just attend and listen to the Q&A. Either way, we feel the $100 admission cost is a tremendous value, considering the insights gained from panelists that average $150/hr consulting fees.
SearchFest…I know the event is early in the planning stages, but can you give people a hint of what to expect and why they should attend?
SearchFest will be a one-stop shop for anyone in or around the SEM industry. Freelancers, seasoned client-side SEM professionals and vendors will all benefit from the timely topics covered by seasoned speakers. The full day conference will offer beginner and advanced topics as well as a small exposition/tradeshow for vendors to share their solutions with attendees. For those of you in the SEM industry, SearchFest will be the Search Engine Strategies for the Pacific Northwest. The 2005 inaugural event was very well received, and we look to build on that momentum with SEMpdx now owning the event.
Part of SEMpdx's mission involves giving back to the local community, particularly to supporting local non-profits. Can you tell us more about this program?
While we are just getting started, we've already begun outlining our community outreach program. Currently, the plan is to take on one local non-profit for one year. This charity organization will receive pro bono SEM services from the board, as well as a cash donation at the end of the year, based on our overall profitability. As a non-profit trade organization, we're not only obligated to spend our money, we're happy to do so to support our local community. We are also developing a scholarship program, which will allow underprivileged individuals benefit from membership and event attendance.
For Search Engine Marketers in other communities that lack a local SEM organization…what can be gained from creating a local SEM group?
I couldn't have imagined how powerful a force SEMpdx was going to be for me personally. As the owner of Portland's largest SEM agency, I initially didn't feel I had as much to gain from participation. I still got involved because I believed in Portland and its people. I soon found out my competitors in the local area are actually potential partners and lead sources. I also was able to benefit from recruitment for new talent and have already learned a ton from my peers. I'm sure the rest of the board, as well as our members, feel even more strongly about the value. I would have loved to have started SEMpdx earlier, but I don't think the industry was ready for us a few years ago as it is today.
Give us some Search Engine Predictions for 2007.
I'm not into the day-to-day as I used to be, but I do make predictions each year, and my 2006 predictions were fairly accurate. To expand on my predictions, SEO will evolve into a one-off project for companies, whereas PPC will become the primary lead generation source for many companies, and will require extensive ongoing management. Mobile search and advertising will gain acceptance and users, especially compared to the past few years. The search engines will collaborate more in 2007 than they have in the past, in order to improve the overall user experience and general search engine adoption. Google will NOT rule the world (their attempts to control traditional publishing and advertising media will ultimately backfire). Blogging and podcasting will be marginalized by spammers and vidcasting and lose their luster a bit. Social media will continue to be the media darling through early 2007, although spamming and the need to generating real revenue will create burnout by year's end.
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Todd Mintz is the Director of Internet Marketing & Information Systems for S.R. Clarke Inc., a Real Estate Development and Residential / Commercial Construction Executive Search / Recruiting Firm headquartered in Fairfax, VA with offices nationwide. He is also a Director & Founding Member of SEMpdx: Portland, Oregon's Search Engine Marketing Association.
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