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20,000 Reasons to Attend SES Chicago

jarboe-greg
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How would you like 20,000 reasons why the folks over in finance should approve your request to go to Search Engine Strategies Chicago, December 3-7? In other words, how do you show them that your company will get a five-fold return on investment for the $4,000 that it will cost to send you to the conference, expo and training classes, as well as for airfare and a hotel?

First, let's do the numbers. If you purchase a full conference pass to SES Chicago before November 16, then it costs only $1,745. (It's $1,895 after November 16.) If you sign up for a full day of training classes on Dec. 7, then it costs $1,345. (A half day costs $745.) You can still take advantage of a discounted nightly hotel rate of $169.00 for a single or double at the Hilton Chicago – until November 12. And you can still book a round trip flight from Detroit, MI, to Chicago (Midway), IL, on Southwest Airlines for just $59. That's $3,994 – if you act soon.

So, how do you cost justify this expense?

According to MarketingSherpa, B2C marketers with an annual marketing budget of $1.3 million spend 28 percent of that – or $364,000 – on online marketing. Of this $364,000, 40 percent – or $145,600 – is spent on pay-per-click (PPC) advertising and another 6.3 percent – or $22,932 – is spent on search engine optimization (SEO). That's an annual budget of over $168,532 for search engine marketing (SEM).

And according to MarketingSherpa, B2B marketers with an annual marketing budget of $1.2 million spend 28 percent of that – or $336,000 – on online marketing. Of this $336,000, 30 percent – or $100,800 – is spent on PPC advertising and another 4.5 percent – or $15,120 – is spent on SEO. That's an annual budget of $115,920 for SEM.

So, $3,994 is 2.4 percent of a B2C marketer's annual SEM budget or 3.4 percent of a B2B marketer's annual SEM budget.

Now, if you are a B2C marketer, the folks over in finance will want to know if you can find smarter ways to spend $20,000 – or 12 percent of your company's SEM budget – by going to Search Engine Strategies Chicago. If you are a B2B marketer, they will want to know if you can find smarter ways to spend $20,000 – or 17 percent of your company's SEM budget – by going to SES Chicago.

So, what are the odds that you'll learn something new at Search Engine Strategies Chicago that will give your company at least $20,000 worth of value in the coming year? Will your company see a five-fold return on its $4,000 investment in sending you to the conference, expo and training classes in the Windy City for a week?

Well, here's what I'd tell the folks over in finance: Of the 69 sessions, workshops, panels, keynotes and classes at this year's conference, only nine were on the agenda at last year's conference (three sessions in the fundamentals track, three clinics, two training classes, and one forum).

Since the content of the clinics and forum always changes from show to show, this means more than 92 percent of the content for the 2007 event will be new. Or, to put it another way, this industry keeps reinventing itself at such an amazing pace that your company can't afford to compete in 2008 using the tactics that you learned back in 2006.

(While I should disclose that SES Chicago is now a client, I've written similar articles about other Search Engine Strategies conferences in the past – including “Schedule Optimization for SES San Jose,” “Search Engine Strategies Toronto Was ... Different,” and “The Gentrification of the Search Industry.”)

Now, you won't be able to attend every session – because there are three concurrent tracks on Monday, Thursday and Friday as well as five concurrent tracks on Tuesday and Wednesday. So, you will need to make choices.

You can go to the conference at a glance and select the sessions that promise to give your company the biggest bang for its bucks. Or, to help you make the case for going to SES Chicago, here's a condensed version of the agenda with my recommendations of the top sessions that look like they'll give you the best ROI:


Day 1 - Monday, December 3, 2007
TimeStrategic Development Workshops
9:00am-
10:00am
Search Around the World - Part One: Asia/Pacific & AustraliaMobile Search Battle Royal
10:15am-
11:15am
Meet the Web Analytics PlayersRedefining the Customer
11:30am-
12:30pm
Orion Panel: Search, Privacy and Community in the Digital Age
12:30pm-
1:30pm
Networking Lunch
Strategic Development Workshops
1:30pm-
2:30pm
Search Around the World - Part Two: Europe and Latin AmericaThere's Still Money on the Table!
2:45pm-
3:45pm
Orion Panel: Universal, Blended and Vertical Search
4:00pm-
5:00pm
Opening Keynote: Don E. Schultz, Professor (Emeritus-in-Service), Integrated Marketing Communications, Northwestern University & President of Agora, Inc.

Day 2 - Tuesday, December 4, 2007
9:00am-
9:45am
Keynote Presentation: Seth Godin, Entrepreneur, Agent of Change and Author of The Dip
TimeRetailer TrackOrganic Track
10:15am-
11:15am
Shopping Search TacticsUsability & SEO: Two Wins For The Price of One
11:30am-
12:30pm
Meet the Bloggers Who Can Make Your Cash Register Ring!Big Site, Big Search
12:30pm-
2:00pm
Networking Lunch
2:00pm-
3:00pm
Maximum Conversion in Retail: Raising the BarSitemaps: Oversold, Misused or On The Money?
3:30pm-
4:30pm
Search Marketing and Offline SalesSEO & Development - Get It Together!
Day 3 - Wednesday, December 5, 2007
9:00am-
9:45am
Keynote Presentation: Speaker to be Announced Shortly
TimeHybrid TrackAdvanced PPC Track
10:15am-
11:15am
Personalization, User Data & SearchManaging Automated PPC Bid Management
11:30am-
12:30pm
Your Marketing Program in ContextAd Exchanges Are Changing Everything
12:30pm-
2:00pm
Networking Lunch
2:00pm-
3:00pm
Actionable Social MediaCalling All Clicks: PayPerCall and You
3:30pm-
4:30pm
Last Minute Holiday Search TacticsPPC Advertising on Influential Blogs and Social Media

Day 4 - Thursday, December 6, 2007
TimeClinics TrackIssues Track
9:00am-
10:00am
Contextual Ads & Ad Sense ClinicSearch Engines on Click Fraud
10:15am-
11:15am
Landing Page Optimization ClinicSearch Marketers on Click Fraud
11:30am-
12:30pm
Site ClinicDealing With Difficult Clients

I would also strongly recommend that you sign up for the search training classes on Friday, December 7. These workshops will provide you with the practices and applications you need to become (and remain) a top performer in your field.

Again, choices have to be made – because there are three concurrent tracks. Check out the search marketing training classes for yourself. Or, here are my recommendations of the workshops that are well worth attending:

Track 1Track 2
8:00am-12:00pmSearch & Analytics Workshop: Using Analytics to Increase Search EffectivenessGetting Found in All the Right Places
12:00pm-1:00pmLunch Break
1:00pm-5:00pmHow to Effectively Use Social Media for Search Marketing CampaignsLanding Page Testing Hands On: Developing Your Action Plan

By the end of the week, you will have spent close to 26 hours attending 20 different sessions, workshops, panels, keynotes and classes. Will this guarantee that your company will see a $20,000 return on its $4,000 investment in sending you to Search Engine Strategies Chicago?

Well, the only guarantee that anyone can give you is that this industry will keep reinventing itself at an amazing pace. But, it's pretty obvious that if you miss SES Chicago, then your company will be risking more than $20,000 in the coming year.

Or, as Derek Bok, the president of Harvard University from 1971 to 1990, once said: “If you think education is expensive, try ignorance.”

Greg Jarboe is the president and co-founder of SEO-PR, a search engine optimization and public relations firm. He is also the news search, blog search and PR correspondent for the Search Engine Watch Blog.

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