During the past six weeks, I've rolled out six great reasons for going to either Search Engine Strategies Berlin or SES Chicago 2009. For those of you who want to join in the chorus, they are "six booths astounding, five brand new things, four keynote themes, three key trends, two early birds, and a ranking in the top three."
This week, I'll share a seventh compelling reason -- and it isn't "seven swans a-swimming."
Let's start with the two tracks at Search Engine Strategies Berlin. On November 24, Day 1 of the conference, one is the Fundamentals Track (Grundlagenkurs) and the other is the Advanced Track (Fortgeschrittenenkurs). On Day 2, one is the Issues & Strategies Track (Problembereiche und Strategien) and the other is the Tactics Track (Taktik).
What makes two different tracks on two different days amazing? Even the simple structure of the SES Berlin conference captures the complexity of the search engine marketing industry.
If this is your first search engine marketing conference, you may suffer from the naïve hope that you can learn everything you need to know in two days. However, attending sessions in the Fundamentals Track teaches you that you will have to come back again next year to attend sessions in the Advanced Track. Or, deciding which track to attend on Day 2 teaches you the difference between strategy and tactics.
According to Seth Godin, "Here's the difference: The right strategy makes any tactic work better. The right strategy puts less pressure on executing your tactics perfectly." He adds, "It takes real guts to abandon a strategy, especially if you've gotten super good at the tactics."
So, what makes simple structure so amazing it that the sessions you attend teach you what you don't know and the sessions you don't attend help you understand that there is still more to learn.
Now, let's turn to the five tracks at SES Chicago 2009. On December 7, Day 1 of the conference, they are: Search Fundamentals; Blended Search Results; Analytics, Conversion & Attribution; The State of Search; and Search on the Edge. On December 8, Day 2 of the conference, they are: Search Fundamentals; News & Advertising; Small Business Track; Geek Speak; and ClickZ/OMS Track. And on December 9, Day 3 of the conference, they are: In-House; Hybrid; Advanced Issues; Vertical, Retail, B2B; and Clinics.
What's so amazing about this? Well, back on September 28, I mentioned that one of the three key trends was "change." To back this up, I pointed out that only 12 out of the 65 sessions at Search Engine Strategies Chicago 2009 were repeats from last year's conference.
Well, if you look at this year's tracks, only two out of 15 are repeats from last year's conference: hybrid and Clinics. This indicates that the philosophical and theoretical framework of the search engine marketing industry is changing even faster than our knowledge of the latest search industry trends.
Or, to paraphrase former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, there are known knowns (things we know we know), known unknowns (things we know we do not know), and unknown unknowns (the things we don't know we don't know).
I think I know what he meant, but I don't know if I really know.
But, even though I can't explain it, I have a funny feeling that the unknown unknowns about our industry now outnumber known unknowns -- and its time to question your assumptions about the known knowns, because many need to be re-examined.
So, let's just say that the search engine marketing industry is undergoing a "paradigm shift."
If you want the backstory on this shift, read the column, "When Community Is Search," by Mike Grehan, the VP and Global Content Director at SES, Search Engine Watch, and ClickZ.
Or, if you agree with Grehan that content is more than "Text, text, and more text," then watch my video interview with him at SES San Jose 2009 about the link between search and social.
This is really why you should bring your whole team to either SES Berlin or Search Engine Strategies Chicago 2009. All of you not only need to learn more about the known unknowns, all of you must also discover some of the unknown unknowns and re-examine many of the known knowns to make it through the paradigm shift successfully.
Or, as Yoda observed a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, "You must unlearn what you have learned." Or, as Yogurt observed in the 1987 movie by Mel Brooks, "God willing, we'll all meet again in Spaceballs 2: The Search for More Money."
And speaking of money, the are special group discounts at the Windy City event. Although the first two conference registrants pay full price, the third person from the same organization, registering at the same time qualifies for 50% off his or her registration fee.
Next week, we'll look at more reasons for going to either Search Engine Strategies Berlin or SES Chicago 2009. In the meantime, keep singing "seven tracks amazing, six booths astounding, five brand new things, four keynote themes, three key trends, two early birds, and a ranking in the top three."