SMX West Digest

SMX West Digest

Absolutely worth every dime. What I found most surprising is the size of this industry is still very small. I’d say about 30 percent represented an organization that wanted to learn more about digital marketing and 70 percent were representing an agency. I can honestly say I didn’t attend a bad session. I kept my attention in the advanced sessions where the presenters often spoke about real world case studies and findings. I had 3 great takeaways from SMX West and I have broken them down below:

1. SEO is alive and well. I was beginning to change my perception of the term SEO. We are proponents of using the word ‘search,’ essentially combining SEO and SEM. While there is very much a strong relationship between SEO and SEM, these are still separate practices. While many people are doing very well in non-branded and branded SEO, there are two very large opportunities that many businesses are missing out on.

a. The power of SEM as it relates to real life events, like weather, celebrities, sporting events or games. An example would be purchasing keywords like ‘score of Lions and Packers game’ for a company interested in getting in front of male viewers aged 18-24.

b. Leveraging big advertisers huge TV campaign budgets to purchase keywords about the product or industry they are building. This is also important for the actual companies spending on TV already and where the 1+1=3 comes into play. What a huge opportunity and it requires your organization to be on the constant lookout for new opportunities. The power of listening is extremely valuable today.

2. Visual communication is the future of the web. We are continuing to skim more content and faster, giving ourselves less time to decide if we are going to engage or not. By 2018, 84 percent of the communication done on the web will be visual. This means content must be more creative than just a blog or landing page. Infographics, charts, maps and digital stories with video and audio are becoming more crucial in converting a visitor into a customer. The story your brand tells is continuing to grow in importance. I know, you say that has always mattered, and it has, but not as much as it does today. Now, we have more options. Bottom line, web content is getting better and will allow us to learn and absorb information much faster.

3. Your brand can lead your industry by relying entirely on Google, Facebook, YouTube and Instagram. I’m repeating, you can and should build a multimillion dollar business and only market yourself online. I knew this before I went to SMX, but it was confirmed multiple times. For example: There was a mattress company that has established themselves as the top searched branded keyword in their industry and it only took them about one year. How did they do it? They told a great story and leveraged it through the power of social media.


SMX is an absolute grind. The sessions go from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. for three days with only two, 15 minute breaks and half an hour for lunch each day. When you throw in networking and a couple cocktails, you don’t have much time to get your actual business work done. However, this is the cost of a really good expo. I would suggest bringing a couple people from your office and split up the events to cover more ground. The perfect combination would be someone from management and a beginner. Both will learn a great deal and at the same time learn a lot that can be shared amongst each other. Thanks to everyone who attended, all the speakers, the sponsors and #SMX.

SMX West Day 1 From Someone Who’s Looking to Grow Their Own Business

SMX West Day 1 From Someone Who’s Looking to Grow Their Own Business

It was a great first day at SMX West. There are probably only around 1,500 people here, which really surprises me. It also excites me because it puts SSDM in a small group of agencies that are not only attending these, but are able to come back and implement. I attended “Thinking Outside the SEM Box” which had a lot of great case studies about unorthodox campaigns.  Like KitKat purchasing football team names in Adwords to attempt to give scoring updates to their every challenging 18-24 male market.

A repeating theme of the day was how social and search need to be connected in strategy and execution. Looking at SEO and Social and PPC separately is not the way to go, we know this, but it’s nice to get the affirmation. Maggie Malek (@MagsMac) was really good.  Speaking about the relationship between search and social, Maggie said, “We know everything is changing but everyone is acting like nothing is happening. Brand development happens through social and search.” There is so much education that has to continue to happen in the marketplace.

Bruce Clay is basically the Father of SEO, I’d say Perry Marshall is the Father of PPC.  Bruce had a lot of swagger actually. He was kind and humble but didn’t want to take anyones shit. A true sign of a man that’s been around awhile, maybe a little cynical but certainly a master of his craft. The biggest takeaway was Bruce was saying how his agency has to reinvent themselves every 6 months to remain relevant.  The ‘not set’ organic change was a big hit, but uses an API from Search Council that allows him to see the actual keywords being used to generate SEO traffic.

Bruce Clay Key Takeaways:

  • Pop ups should show up with the follow: average time on site divided by 3.
  • – Keep adding websites. Accumulated report over all-time. 
  • Outbound links are valuable. – Think like bibliography.
  • “We’ve increased page ranking by removing bad/old content.”
  • If you’d been using the same website for 8 years, give it up.”
  • API from Search Council to see your organic search terms.

Dynamic ads and visual content are the future. 85% of communication will be visual by 2018. I’ll have more on this for my Day 2 recap, stay tuned!

Watch the recap here:

To Charlie LeDuff from Nick Skislak

First off, I have to admit; I’m not a true ‘Detroiter’. I grew up just north of Grand Rapids in the country. I moved to Royal Oak after college in 2006. But, as so many people do, I told all of my family and friends I was moving to Detroit. Their replies were all the same, “What the hell are you moving to Detroit for?” The reason was the only logical reason anyone would move from safe small town, Grand Rapids, to heat packing wild west Detroit, a woman. I should mention, it wasn’t just a woman, it was my wife. I didn’t tell many people truth about that, I told them I was going for the opportunities. I’d received my degree from WMU in advertising and told everyone that there was more opportunity over here, which is true. Thinking back I was naive, but very hungry, ready to work. Moving here was very intimidating for a kid from the country. The traffic, the culture, and all the people overwhelmed me. It took me two months of diligent phone calls to Campbell-Ewald before they finally hired me, I think so they didn’t have to listen to my phone calls and voicemails any longer. I lasted a year, got another gig for a smaller agency in Royal Oak, then started my own agency in 2008. I was 25 years old and didn’t have a clue about anything, about life, business, Detroit, nothing. I was just hungry and motivated and most of the time that is plenty. I remember making cold calls from my one bedroom apartment trying to drum up business, while the whole world was falling apart around me. I remember watching the news and feeling embarrassed, my friends from back home would call me after seeing Mr. Kilpatrick on the news and ask me what the hell was going on. I didn’t know, I just knew it wasn’t something I was proud of. Sex scandals, text messages, people dying, fires burning, housing market plummeting and the big 3 taking private jets to Washington to get money, I know, Ford went for support.

Somehow, I slowly became a part of it, and it felt good. I, as most business pros, have a certain level of self-torment we put ourselves through, never happy with the job we are doing, always feeling like we aren’t doing enough or doing it right. The misery going on in Detroit gave me something more to worry about, something to attach myself to, something I started to become apart of. Twisted, I suppose so, but I got a lot of satisfaction talking to my peers about the situations that were going on, and as you know, there was a lot to talk about.

As I read your book, I had to give myself breaks, so I read a few chapters and then picked up the Bible to reverse some of the effects. As I was reading, I remembered living through these events, there I was, 25, putting everything on the line to build a business and a life for my wife, and myself and the city of Detroit was making a mockery of it, a mockery of my work, my persistence and my new life here. When it was happening I told myself Detroiters did this to each other. My perception was that everyone was ripping each other off and now it was coming back around. I couldn’t have been more wrong.

The pain, the damage and the corruption didn’t come from the people of the city of Detroit. The people Detroiters trusted to steer them in the right direction stabbed them in the back. That is one thing everyone in the country should grasp from this autopsy, it wasn’t on the people of the city. Detroiters have been stripped of everything, not just jobs and neighborhoods; I’m talking about pride, hope, love and community. These things are necessary to live. When people lose hope, people lose themselves. And when people lose themselves horrible things happen. These are the things we are working to restore today. This is why I’m still here. This is the Detroit of today, battered and broken hearted but hopeful thanks to the people of this city.