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So What Does SEMPO Mean To You?


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#41 gravelsack

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Posted 15 March 2004 - 06:57 AM

"A cynic is what an optimist calls a realist'

Although quite what it means when a cynic calls you a cynic, Lord only knows :wink:

#42 bwelford

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Posted 15 March 2004 - 07:08 AM

If I may speak up for the old cynics, I should say that this from time immemorial has been an honourable role. Just check out the definitions in Princeton's WordNet.

1. cynic, faultfinder -- (someone who is critical of the motives of others)
2. Cynic -- (a member of a group of ancient Greek philosophers who advocated the doctrine that virtue is the only good and that the essence of virtue is self-control)

I'm sure we all are subscribing to that second definition rather than the first.

BTW, Ammon, I read in another forum that Barbara Coll, the head of SEMPO, only checks fora on Sunday evenings. So you may need to wait a week to get an official reaction. :D

#43 Brad

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Posted 15 March 2004 - 07:12 AM

The other 'guilds' didn't always change things for the better - very often the world in general was worse off. Of course, the guild members were better off, but that isn't exactly a surprise I suppose.


I think gravelsack summed it up eloquently.


From reading through this whole thread there still seems to be confusion as to what SEMPO is, a professional standards org, or a mouthpiece (PR) type org for SEM's.

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Posted 15 March 2004 - 08:54 AM

I would expect a SEMPO representative to stop by shortly and help clear things up.

So hang on a bit. :D

#45 Guest_scottiecl_*

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Posted 15 March 2004 - 09:44 AM

From reading through this whole thread there still seems to be confusion as to what SEMPO is, a professional standards org, or a mouthpiece (PR) type org for SEM's.


They are very clearly not a professional standards org- they have made that clear from the beginning. They do not want to have anything to do with standards at this point, although their stance is if that's what the membership wants eventually, they will do it.

A mouthpiece for SEM's is probably a little closer- their stated goal is to raise awareness of SEM as an industry.

I still haven't seen details how they plan to do that. Raising awareness to the average person wouldn't be very profitable or effective although they often joke that they "want their mother to understand what they do". Awareness needs to be raised among the people who make marketing decisions- from small to large business.

When asked what SEMPO was created for, Barbara Coll (SEMPO President) has been very candid- SEMPO was created to help SEM's get more money. A larger share of the advertising budget.

IMO, that's a perfectly valid goal. However, if your small company targets other small to medium companies, the benefit probably doesn't exist. IMO- SEMPO can be a great benefit to large SEM companies who work with other large companies and tend to get the short end of the advertising budget.

I don't see them making much of an impact on my clients- only possibly confusing them when they see an "official" SEMPO seal on a submission company site that promises to submit your site daily to 1000's of search engines. Or a site that sets up "traffic pages" that exist to funnel traffic to your site without every optimizing your own site, so that when you stop paying, the traffic goes away. I guess that's a valid business model too- but it worries me that some clients don't understand the long term benefits to real optimization which should include traffic and conversions.

#46 Adrian

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Posted 15 March 2004 - 10:08 AM

A mouthpiece for SEM's is probably a little closer- their stated goal is to raise awareness of SEM as an industry.


Despite the lack of direct interaction with this thread so far, surely the very fact we are here discussing it and having got to 3 pages thus far means we are at least partly fulfilling their aim? Clearly some direct interaction here could help make the most of the aim to increase awareness, though we are clearly helping by having this discussion, it could be a lot more effective towards their goals.

only possibly confusing them when they see an "official" SEMPO seal on a submission company site that promises to submit your site daily to 1000's of search engines.


I'm reminded of other 'professional organisations' around. Take an industry such as building. There are various organisations a builder can be a member of which allows them to display a nice logo to help prove their credability.

Thats just one aspect of being a member, but probably quite a large part of the reason a builder would actually join.

If someone has a 'Member of SEMPO' logo however, what does that mean? Does that mean they have to meet certain levels of service to be part of it? or just pay and they are in?

If they just pay, there is really no effect on a client, it can't mean anything to them as its not a sign that the company is any more trustworthy than a non-SEMPO company.

Therefore surely the only effect it can have is in the industry internally? Which doesn't seem to make much sense, as the industry already knows about SEM in at least general terms.

I dont know, I think I'm even confusing myself now :? To me, if I was someone looking for a company to help promote my website, a SEMPO sign shouldn't really mean anything as anyone could join provided they stump up the cash, is that right?

Is it then just an idea to sound like something important with which to get some press coverage?

Certainly the town I play cricket for have recently set up a 'Federation of Sports Clubs'. Many of the various sports clubs in the town have combined into one voice on certain issues, under the idea of one loud voice being better than many small voices. Already the local town council have sat up and noticed where before, individual clubs were brushed aside in many cases. Perhaps SEMPO is something along those lines, a group of people trying to combine to send out one loud voice rather than each individual whispering.

How often would you see one of the members (even one of the more prominent members) get heard in the wider web world? Compare that with how often SEMPO as a group already get mentioned, with what appears to be very little effort. Certainly this is not the only place SEMPO has been discussed.

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Posted 15 March 2004 - 11:27 AM

That is correct- anyone who coughs up the cash can be a member.

But the average client doesn't know this. Most professional organziations do have some mimimal standards; the building industry, as you pointed out, has lots of professional groups. Usually they are required to adhere to some standards, usually at least the locally mandated codes, in order to remain a member.

SEMPO doesn't care what their members do- a hypothetical scenario was presented- what if one SEMPO member is plagurizing copy from another? Would their membership be declined? The answer was - "That's a legal issue, SEMPO would not get involved."

I do think some of the dodgier types join SEMPO for percieved credibility when in fact all it means is they paid to be a member. In the end, it could end up hurting your reputation to be a member if company A is a member of SEMPO and gets a client site banned for risky practices... the client sees that company B is a member of SEMPO and avoids them like the plague.

Just a thought..

#48 Adrian

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Posted 15 March 2004 - 12:47 PM

My thoughts exactly. If SEMPO membership is used as a credability stamp, while SEMPO does not have guidelines for its members, I think it would backfire completely in the long term for the exact reason you mention Scottie.

It may have a nice short term effect, but sooner or later theres going to be rumours of bad service from SEMPO members and so other members, who may be perfectly legitimate can be adversely affected.

If the SEMPO stamp isn't used for credability among its members, the advantage of being a member seems even more vague.

#49 gravelsack

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Posted 15 March 2004 - 01:54 PM

Yeah - that sums it up pretty well.

Where is the credibility?

With many of the other 'professional bodies,' there was a clearly defined need for them - all parties agreeing on the need, if not the implementation.

With SEMPO, one party doesn't know enough about SEM to know whether they need a professional body or not, and the party that knows about SEM is split over whether there is a need or not, and can't even demonstrate their skill levels on their own site.

#50 webmama

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Posted 15 March 2004 - 05:39 PM

Sorry about the delay in responding to your postings. I am certainly interested in all you have to say. Here are a few comments on some of the postings (which are great and very helpful).

1. We are not a standards body or a policing organization. I expect we may address best practices in the future but our mission and goals do not include this right now. Maybe the IAB will focus on this and we can focus on our mission of education.

2. The name for SEMPO was chosen because the domain name was available.

3. The SEMPO logos used by members are just to signify an involvement in an organization that wants to educate marketing managers on the value of SEM to 'grow the piece of the marketing budget that is spent on search marketing'. It is a way of showing support for the educational mission. See #1 for why we don't police how people use the logo.

4. Yes, anyone can join - see #1.

5. Work done to date to raise awareness of SEM in the marketing industry, by SEMPO:
- Gained momentum by establishing SEMPO with education mission (non-profit etc)
- encouraged a significant portion of SEM companies to join the organization
- established relationships with key media providers to lend further credibility, provide money for research, speaking engagements and press activities.
- held informational meetings with key industry analyst presenters to inform SES conference attendees (many of who are now in-house marketing managers and advertising agencies trying to learn the business - our targets)
- developed an extensive library of case studies and articles promoting the value of search engine marketing, all of which are available to our members to use for selling to clients and for the general public to learn from
- press visibility - interviews, editorials, articles with SEMPO and SEM mentions - especially by Danny Sullivan, Kevin Lee, Fredrick Marckini, Dana Todd, Chris Sherman and yours truly
- trade show and conference presentations introducing agencies and inhouse marketers to SEM (these are truly our target audience since they hold the budgets - did I mention that already?)

And still to come:
- conference activity by SEMPO members for SEMPO to talk about the value of SEM (Kelsey Group, Kiosk.com, International Marketing Conference, Ad-Tech)
- press activity on growth of SEM industry (proves that agencies and large companies should pay attention because obviously this is working for their competitors or other companies)
- original research on SEM value and SEM budgeting
- informational meetings in Canada and Europe
- more resources
- more members
- more sponsors (which leads to much more visibility)

Thanks to all of you for discussing SEMPO on this forum - which leads to one of the reasons that SEMPO is becoming so well known - through the discussions on the net.

Barbara Coll
CEO, WebMama.com Inc.
President and Chairperson of the Board, SEMPO, Inc.

#51 projectphp

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Posted 15 March 2004 - 06:06 PM

OK, to put some specific questions down:

1. What procedures are there for declining or revoking membership? Is this considered at all? I understand the position, but as an example, World Vision wont accept money for child sponsorship from convicted peadophiles. I fail to see how there are 100% no circumstances under which a members money is not wanted, and this is certainly an area that could be addressed.

2. What specific steps will you take to address the concern that SEMPO could be seen as a de facto standards body?

3. How would you rate the first 12 months?

4. Your mission is education, but what does that mean? Is it education in a very general sense about the value of SEM as a tool, or about specific issues such as potential punishments etc?

5. Do you plan on having an FAQ on your site, to perhaps address some of these (and they are very, very) frequently asked questions?

6. What specific additional help would you like from the community?

#52 webmama

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Posted 15 March 2004 - 06:35 PM

Some answers - honest and straight forward.

1. What procedures are there for declining or revoking membership?
- we have not been faced with that issue yet. The by-laws of the organization do address this in some circumstances. We are not reviewing criminal records, Google rankings, or client lists.

2. What specific steps will you take to address the concern that SEMPO could be seen as a de facto standards body?
- nothing at this point. We are working hard on so many other things it doesn't make sense for us to slow things down by worrying about perceptions. We will address this in the future.

3. How would you rate the first 12 months?
- beyond all expectations.

4. Your mission is education, but what does that mean? Is it education in a very general sense about the value of SEM as a tool, or about specific issues such as potential punishments etc?
- specifically, education about the value of SEM - the ROI value. And SEM is as a method (comprised of a large number of tools and services) for demand generation and branding for online businesses.

5. Do you plan on having an FAQ on your site, to perhaps address some of these (and they are very, very) frequently asked questions?
- we hope to get to this.

6. What specific additional help would you like from the community?
- primarly to continue the ground swell of support for the mission by joining the organization. By growing the ranks we confirm the mandate and gain more audiences with the press, advertising agencies, and marketers worldwide. Oh, and keep talking about SEMPO on forums, it is great visibility. If you are a member there are a ton of things you could volunteer to do - like develop the FAQs.

Hope that helps answer some of your questions.

Barbara Coll
CEO, WebMama.com Inc.
President and Chairperson, SEMPO, Inc.

#53 Black_Knight

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Posted 15 March 2004 - 06:49 PM

We are working hard on so many other things it doesn't make sense for us to slow things down by worrying about perceptions. We will address this in the future.

I certainly understand how that can be, especially when trying to strike while the iron is hot.

However, the other side of that coin is that it is far harder to undo a first impression than to make one. Perceptions happen. If you don't think what they'll be, there is always a grave danger that you may not want the ones that form 'unguided/unheeded'.

Have you planned a rough timeline for just how far in the future you'll start to worry about this aspect of 'brand'?

One question that has kept recurring throughout this discussion is the simple and obvious one: what does SEMPO offer the individual SEM company right now? Is this purely an investment in the future, or is there a tangible benefit of any kind right now?

#54 bragadocchio

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Posted 15 March 2004 - 07:05 PM

I have a few questions, too.

1. Which State is SEMPO organized under the laws of as a nonprofit organization?

2. Does the organization have a street address? I couldn't find one.

3. Are there open directors' meetings, and if there are, when and where are they held?

4. Are there regular reporting mechanisms in place to inform members and potential members of how money is spent and efforts are made to further the aims of the organization?

5. Has the organization worked with, or considered working with impartial third parties from business or academia to set up guidelines and procedures that would instill confidence in members or prospective members, that the efforts of the organization are managed responsibly and according to a set of ethical guidelines? I do not mean for the industry as a whole, but rather for the administrators of the organization.

Thanks.

#55 webmama

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Posted 16 March 2004 - 12:12 AM

First to respond to the question of tangible benefits to the executive level members of SEMPO whom primarily represent consultants and small businesses.

The survey we did of members showed that most member companies/individuals (and a large percentage of our members are at the executive member level) showed that most (75% +) were not concerned with individual benefits and had joined primarily for the education materials/research that showed the value of SEM and because of their desire to influence the industry.

Even so, we are providing some benefits directly to members when they are offered by companies that would benefit members in the Board's and membership committee's humble opinion, and when we can implement something that is not an intensive project and yet solves a specific need of the industry, the SEMPO administration or our members.

Examples:

1. Discounts to conferences, research papers, and subscriber sites. All of the discounts are listed on the members-only part of the website.
2. We were getting a ton of emails to info@sempo.org from companies looking for SEO/SEM services. We set up a 'request services' function on the home page that lets non-members request the services of SEMPO members. Any one can post; only SEMPO members can respond.
3. The SEM/SEO Jobs Board is for SEMPO members to post jobs that are available in their companies (or post their availability to offer services) and any one reading the job list can contact that company regarding the employment opportunity. You can see the list on the sempo.org site.
4. Member meetings that give members an opportunity to mingle with sponsors and industry analysts if they would like.

I don't expect individual benefits to members to be a primary focus of the organization in the near future except to provide them with the right educational material to help grow the spend of SEM with their clients and potential clients. That said - member communication is vital to the organization and its goals and is one of our top priorities right now.

#56 webmama

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Posted 16 March 2004 - 12:32 AM

Ok - now to respond to the specific legal questions about the organization. Please keep in mind that the organization is only 7 1/2 months old and we are still working out the kinks.

State we are incorporated in: California

Address for organization: 665 Lytton Ave, Palo Alto, CA 94301

Director's Meetings - are not open but minutes of the board meetings will be available at fiscal year end (or sooner)

Member Communication - member's are kept informed as to what SEMPO committee's are doing and what the Board is doing (this area has some room for growth and improvement and we know that). The balance sheet of the organization will be available to member's at the fiscal year end

Ethics, etc - the board consists of people who are on the board or working committees of a number of for profit and not for profit organizations, this is one of the reasons they are on the board. We use this experience as well as resources from the community in the Palo Alto area to ensure all the legal and financial aspects of the organization are in order. The articles of incorporation and by-laws are available for members to review at the offices in palo alto.

Board Members - and to anticipate your next question - members will be asked to nominate a board member and vote one in sometime in 2004.

I want to make sure that EVERYONE understands that this is a volunteer organization. It has taken 1000s of hours to get to the point we are at and will take 1000s of more hours to keep the organization moving forward with its goals and mission. We are not set up to be the IAB with 15 full-time employees and millions of membership fees each year. I am extremely proud, and slightly surprised honestly, with the success we have had to date and looking forward to more of the same. Thanks for the opportunity to discuss these important issues with you.

#57 Ruud

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Posted 16 March 2004 - 12:46 AM

You know how things are almost never allowed to be simple? I hoped and thought that might be the case here but after wading through yet another thread here is the impression I'm left with....

- SEMPO offers a sales-pitch for search engine marketing, a sufficiently vague and empty term, like SEO, to be filled up in any way it sees fit.

- Like the free 'Web Award' GIF's of the 90's it offers a logo you can put on your site that will impress those who are clueless and be meaningless and futile for those who have some knowledge. You might as well create and brand your own "pro" logo and attach it to a cheaply hosted domain. We could do it together...

- the "professional" stands for "those who do it for a living or to make money in general". Not for "the experts as determined by even the broadest of guidlelines".

- the SEMP's can be either people who would use a service to enable search engine marketing (in whatever definition SEMPO sees fit) or people who provide a SEM service (which could be but is not limited to SEO).

- the benefit of the SEMP who buys services is education -> this person cannot be considered a "pro" in the expert way as obviously he's unable to use Google or, for example, Copernic Agent.

- the benefit of the SEMP who sells services is an air of authority -> once the SEMPO succeeds in educating the SEMP who buys services this SEMP will realize the SEMPO sells hot air (mainly self-marketing and logo bandwidth) and that this authority means diddley.

- the benefit of the SEMPO is membership fees.


The only way in which this can go places is if it goes over the top and actually achieves some level of authority. With nothing set up to authorize (see the posts about standards and protocol) it will defeat itself in the same way an organisation of Internet Health Professionals based on member fees will defeat its own authority.


Apart from the one for the SEMPO itself I fail to see the benefit. This seems to be one of those rare cases where it really is that simple: SEMPO does SEM for its own income.

Ruud

#58 gravelsack

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Posted 16 March 2004 - 04:47 AM

1. Discounts to conferences, research papers, and subscriber sites. All of the discounts are listed on the members-only part of the website. 


Why aren't these only listed in the members-only section?

If they are incentives to join, surely it makes sense to display them to your potential members.

#59 Adrian

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Posted 16 March 2004 - 05:52 AM

Sorry about the delay in responding to your postings. I am certainly interested in all you have to say.


I'm not sure its been said already, but it is nice to see you here reading what has been said and responding to the comments and questions. Certainly makes it a very valuable discussion!

Thanks

#60 bwelford

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Posted 16 March 2004 - 07:20 AM

I'd like to go along with Adrian's comments, webmama. It's great to see you here.

Whether we agree with all aspects of SEMPO or not, I'm sure we all support its stated aims. In any market place, it's always better to have some strong competitors. That way you get more news, there's more competitive activity and the customers get better choices. So push your ideas hard. We'll all benefit. :)

#61 cre8pc

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Posted 16 March 2004 - 09:49 AM

I would to thank Barbara for answering member questions and holding up well under pressure :)

Kim

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Posted 16 March 2004 - 10:01 AM

:) I second that.

#63 webmama

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Posted 16 March 2004 - 11:33 AM

Quote: Why aren't these [SEMPO member perks] only listed in the members-only section? If they are incentives to join, surely it makes sense to display them to your potential members.

Webmama Answer: This is an important question. It is clear that most members (over 75%) are not joining SEMPO for the perks. They are joining to support the mission of the organization and to 'donate' money, time and energy to make it happen. Most members want to see the SEM industry grow and flourish - giving them more clients who are willing to spend more money on SEM campaigns. Members are in for the long-run, because what we are talking about doing will take time.

That said, when people/companies bring us valuable discounts for our members, we want to offer them. They are specifically offered for the membership only, as part of the deal with the companies offering the perks. But it is a good idea to post on the 'join us' page on SEMPO at least the list of what is available to members with the links disabled. Thanks for the idea.

#64 Adrian

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Posted 16 March 2004 - 03:06 PM

joined primarily for the education materials/research that showed the value of SEM and because of their desire to influence the industry.


Could this include things like say sponsoring some research into various aspects of SEM and how it affects consumers?

Helping to produce tangiable data on how SEM can increase business and why a company should look to hiring a person or firm to handle it?

Seems to me, something along those kinds of lines would be quite useful in educating potential clients as to the benefits of SEM, while giving SEMP's creditable figures to back up what they may be saying to potential/current clients.

#65 Black_Knight

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Posted 16 March 2004 - 03:25 PM

It is clear that most members (over 75%) are not joining SEMPO for the perks. They are joining to support the mission of the organization and to 'donate' money, time and energy to make it happen.

That's not surprising I guess, Barbara. However, I think the suggestion was more that maybe the people who would join for the benefits are not joining at all because they don't realize there are any. This thread kinda showed that aspect of things.

I can tell you that there are a couple of companies who have joined so that they can show off their shiny SEMPO logo. A couple of really spammy proposals have been received by some clients already where the companies are very proudly claiming that their doorway generation service is endorsed by SEMPO. :roll:

Its that two sides of the same coin thing. You look at who has joined and why, while outsiders who do not join are more likely to look at who has not joined, and why.

#66 projectphp

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Posted 16 March 2004 - 06:37 PM

Likewise, nice work Barbara!!! This is a hard sell, and everywhere you have posted, the answers have been helpful, insightful and not at all swayed by the often open hostility. :glasses:

A couple of really spammy proposals have been received by some clients already where the companies are very proudly claiming that their doorway generation service is endorsed by SEMPO

OK, the absolute truth of the above quote aside, (did they really say endorsed?? no offence Ammon, that is just a very strong word, with specific conotations) it does raise an interesting question:

If a company claims to be endorsed, authorised or some other word that implies SEMPO approval, and / or veting, of a specific technique, program or company, what will SEMPO's response be?

To my mind, if the SEMPO brand is to mean anything, surely protecting it against such claims, which can only be false given the SEMPO mission statement and stated goals, is extremely important.

Not to hark back to revoking membership, but at its most base level, if nothing else is cause for dismissal, surely "taking the SEMPO name in vain" is.

#67 webmama

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Posted 16 March 2004 - 07:03 PM

If a company claims to be endorsed, authorised or some other word that implies SEMPO approval, and / or veting, of a specific technique, program or company, what will SEMPO's response be?


You are implying that we would 'police' the net to find people misusing the SEMPO logo or we would take the word (or whispers) of one or two of the abuser's competitors and take action on that? Won't happen.

Maybe we can add a statement to the thank you page that members get when they sign up for membership that states 'using this logo implies no certification by SEMPO, Inc. or compliance with a set of standards and is not to be used in this manner'. I will run this idea past the membership committee.

Honestly, we just don't have the time, money or infrastructure to worry about such things. And ProjectPHP - are you even a member yet? Why not join, offer to establish a legal committee within SEMPO and come up with a way to address these issues from within the organization. I expect late in this year this will come up on the agenda.

#68 Black_Knight

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Posted 16 March 2004 - 08:48 PM

I think the solution may be even simpler, Barbara. Just make it clearer that membership of SEMPO is not an endorsement of ability, but rather is available to anyone who wishes to simply see more attention (and budget) devoted to these forms of marketing.

I mean so plainly that even a hurried client checking out the people behind the company can see it. It is after all a major part of your mission statement (and this should lessen the bashing you ever have to take in any forums too as a side benefit :) ).

As it was, I had to direct my client to view the appropriate paragraphs at the SEMPO site (He'd already visited to see what SEMPO was, but had missed the relevant info) to see for himself how honestly these companies had presented their membership.

(And just for the record, because I can now see (thanks pphp) that it may influence how people perceive my possible intentions/bias in reporting, these were not competitors, since I am managing only one specific campaign element for these clients, one just PPC and the other just on training. I already advised them to seek elsewhere for other services because I didn't have the time for more available.)

#69 dannysullivan

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Posted 17 March 2004 - 08:07 AM

I think the solution may be even simpler, Barbara. Just make it clearer that membership of SEMPO is not an endorsement of ability... 


This is the paragraph Ammon's referring to. Thought it would be helpful for everyone to see:

"SEMPO is an industry organization designed to promote search engine marketing in general, not an accreditation body for SEM firms. Membership in SEMPO is not a guarantee of a particular firm's capabilities, nor does it signify industry approval or disapproval of their practices. Potential SEM customers should carefully research any SEM firm they are considering, SEMPO member or not, before establishing a business relationship."

This got added last year after the SEMPO launch, when similar concerns were raised on a different forum.

Currently, it's posted at the bottom of the SEMPO home page. After going through this thread yesterday, I passed along a suggestion to SEMPO that perhaps this should be made more prominent on the home page and in perhaps some other areas, such as above the members directory page and on the request for quote page.

That's something the board will have to decide -- I'm just on the advisory board. However, the fact you see that paragraph at all is a sign that SEMPO recognized early on they didn't want members to suggest SEMPO was providing some type of endorsement.

I think the paragraph was higher on the home page right after the SEMPO launch for the simple reason that when SEMPO was new, there wasn't much other material on the page.

So, hopefully you'll see that more prominent. But I thought it important to stress that this has long been part of the site and came directly out of discussions just like the one happening here.

#70 Black_Knight

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Posted 17 March 2004 - 09:06 AM

Thanks for clarifying that Danny, and for supporting the validity of this small but important constructively intended criticism.

Yes, the paragraph had been visible enough for me to note on prior visits, but right there at the bottom of the page, after all the tempting links to lead the first-time visitor away to other areas before they get that far, well, my client missed it.

Its certainly nowhere near as prominent as the earlier part where it says:

New "Request for Services" Feature
Looking for an easy way to get professional search engine marketers to review your needs? Try our new Request for Services feature. Just submit your requirements and they'll immediately be available for review by all SEMPO members!

Which does seem to indicate that SEMPO does indeed endorse its members ... it is certainly an easy inferrence for a visitor to take away at the very least.

At the moment, the paragraph that I and Danny mention, is at the very bottom of the page, and is the only area on the entire page that doesn't have some bold heading text or colour anywhere. Too low key? It was for my client.

#71 Guest_rustybrick_*

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Posted 17 March 2004 - 09:38 AM

Well, most my clients don't know what SEMPO is. So for your client to know what SEMPO means, you must of done a heck of a job educating.

I agree with you, the disclaimer needs to be more prominent. But, having the disclaimer too high might not be as attractive to the average SEMPO Web visitor - the ones who are thinking of joining for a fee. Whereas, the Request for Services service is a bit more appealing to the average SEMPO Web visitor.

#72 webmama

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Posted 17 March 2004 - 11:43 AM

I find this discussion very interesting and wanted to post a new thought.

It is obvious to the founding group of SEMPO and most of the members that we are doing this for the industry in the near-term and for our companies in the long run.

The target of all the material that has been written and will be written, the research that is in progress, the press/publications, the meetings, and the speaking engagements are clients and advertising agencies - not SEO/SEM companies. We promote the ROI and branding value of SEM, not the tactics. We want to see marketing dollars shifted from traditional marketing and other online marketing activities into SEM spends.

I have to admit I am always surprised by the comments of the SEO world. If you want to help get a bigger piece of the pie, say next year, then join today. If you don't want or need more clients spending more money through you, then don't join.

SEMPO needs a lot of members and a lot of money to target the sophisticated audience of marcom managers. If SEM is to really become a main stream marketing activity in the big business or small business community then someone needs to education those marcom people, and to calm their fears. Many, many of them are afraid of SEM - you can't budget it, you can't plan it for 1 year, it is still incredibily complicated and requires day to day supervision, some of it is slightly technical, and you are at the mercy of the media providers, many of whom are brand new at this game of supporting big brand companies.

Imagine this: You are marketing manager who is used to buying media in, say, glossy magazines to sell your company's product. You use a big shot advertising company who gives you a 1 year media plan. The plan shows the ads you are going to use (all highly graphical), the exact page you will be featured on and what article will be next to your ad, and they tell you exactly how much it will cost - for a YEAR! Can you imagine this happening in the search or contextual marketing world - no way - not today. Yes, our world is changing the way marketing is done but we also need to change our way to adapt to some of the 100 years of marketing traditions.

Stepping off soapbox now.

#73 Black_Knight

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Posted 17 March 2004 - 12:25 PM

At the risk of veering wildly off topic, I just had to reply (like that's unusual, right? :) ) on the matter of the 'imagine' bit.

Imagine this: You are marketing manager who is used to buying media in, say, glossy magazines to sell your company's product. You use a big shot advertising company who gives you a 1 year media plan. The plan shows the ads you are going to use (all highly graphical), the exact page you will be featured on and what article will be next to your ad, and they tell you exactly how much it will cost - for a YEAR! Can you imagine this happening in the search or contextual marketing world - no way - not today. Yes, our world is changing the way marketing is done but we also need to change our way to adapt to some of the 100 years of marketing traditions.

There is no need to imagine too hard, because some of SEMs already do present a one year plan in a similar manner. Better yet, they don't stop at just telling you the costs and showing where the ads will appear, but actually guarantee some level of ROI. I've yet to see any traditional advertising provide a cost-per-lead agreement. Yet many SEOs provide exactly that.

Barry Lloyd of MakeMeTop for instance, one of your members, makes proposals that are firmly anchored in a pay-for-performance basis. As side note that serves as a wonderful testament to SEMPO, he seems to be celebrating today having gained a rather large contract that he attributes directly to his membership in SEMPO.

Weirdly, his fellows at the forum seem to regard this as a further negative ( :?: ) but some people can read any meaning into anything I guess.

#74 BoxeySEO

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Posted 18 March 2004 - 10:56 AM

Curious to know how the current board came to be. It was my understanding they pretty much elected themselves. When will elections commence to add or replace current Board members?

When will a full accounting of the funds SEMPO has collected be available to the membership? They should be able to see where each dollar collected has been spent, on what and by whom.

#75 webmama

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Posted 18 March 2004 - 11:50 AM

Curious to know how the current board came to be. It was my understanding they pretty much elected themselves. When will elections commence to add or replace current Board members?


The 8 of us that are the current Board of Directors started SEMPO. It was formed from a group of people who attended Danny's Roundtable discussions at SES. We had been talking about forming an organization like SEMPO for over two years and finally I stepped up to lead the crowd. From the group of people who signed up to get involved in forming the organization, a few emerged as people who were willing to put some effort, time and money into it to get things started. That group became the Board of Directors.

We have by-laws that spell out the term of a Director and how they are to be replaced and/or elected. We will be opening a new Board member position up for members to nominate and then vote in. This will happen in 2004. Another Board member will be added from UK/Europe by London SES in June. This person will be appointed by the current Board based on their ability to mobilize volunteers to carry out the SEMPO mission in Europe.

The by-laws will be available to all members by the end of April (the SEMPO, Inc. year end) but will not be posted electronically. Not sure yet how we will handle requests for seeing the by-laws but we will figure it out by April 30, 2004.

When will a full accounting of the funds SEMPO has collected be available to the membership? They should be able to see where each dollar collected has been spent, on what and by whom.


It is the law that the balance sheet and income/expense sheet be made available to members of the organization at times dictated by the by-laws. This information will be delivered to members (or available in some other format TBD) by end of April 2004. The year end statement will be reviewed by our accountants before being posted to members. We will not be publishing the specific names of sponsors and members but the aggregate total of their contributions. We will disclose expenses by category (accounting, administration, marketing, research, tax, etc). All this is in accordance with the laws of the State of California for non-profit 501©3 organizations.

Disclaimer: Please note that any of the statements I made above may be held untrue if changes are made to the by-laws, the state laws, or the Board between now and the fiscal year end. Something I do not anticipate happening but I wanted you to make sure that I am responding with the best information I have to date about how SEMPO works.

#76 bwelford

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Posted 18 March 2004 - 12:25 PM

Thanks for your informative answers, webmama. ;)

I see that on the SEMPO website there is a complete Member Directory. It might be of interest for readers here to know the size of the organization as it stands at the moment. Are you able to provide the numbers of members in each category, i.e. SEMPO Circle, Supporters, Contributors and Executive Members?

#77 webmama

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Posted 18 March 2004 - 12:29 PM

I don't know how many members off the top of my head. You can count them from the member directory - which is exactly what I would do to provide the information to the forum. The interesting thing is to count the 'outside-US' members - and we don't official launch SEMPO in UK/Europe until June!

#78 webmama

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Posted 18 March 2004 - 12:45 PM

Thanks to the forum for all your input. This is the disclaimer that now appears on the request services page on the sempo website:

NOTE: SEMPO provides this as a free service to its members, and does not participate in the transaction beyond this point. We do not endorse any particular company or SEM technique. Please note that you should always exercise best judgment when hiring any advertising services firm, and that some SEM firms use more aggressive techniques than others. You may want to read this article on Choosing an SEM Company, and ask questions of vendors before making your final decision.

#79 bwelford

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Posted 18 March 2004 - 12:50 PM

I was hoping you would save me having to count. ;)

I get the following numbers:
SEMPO Circle - 29
Supporters - 11
Contributors - 19
Executive Members - 126

That's impressive growth in such a relatively short time. With that number of members and the $220,000 US in annual fees that that represents, you should be able to have quite an impact.

#80 BoxeySEO

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Posted 18 March 2004 - 12:54 PM

Thank you.

While I understand that like life, SEMPO will learn as it grows and expands, I will say that any organization that wants to be taken seriously or given the respect they feel they deserve should have come out of the blocks in a more professional manner and gotten feedback such as you're getting now at the git-go.

I attended the SEMPO meeting in San Jose where it was obvious that SEMPO Board members and you in particular were NOT interested in taking questions from audience members. Do I blame you? Given the tension in the air and the rumblings that surrounded it's debut, probably not. But to have been more open about what the group needed might have been a better approach. It was an avoidance tactic (one that worked I might add) and projected a negative feeling....so can you really blame people for cocking an eye toward SEMPO?

Credo's to you and the others from SEMPO that post and give explantations. However, while it's easy to do this from behind a computer screen, it's more effective to do in person. Perhaps at the next SES or other industry related conference the Board members could make a point to stop and meet the people in the bar, at the sessions or in the meetings that make up the vast majority of the SEO community. Wear a button or a nametag that identifies you as a Board member so people can approach YOU all.

I'm going to end by saying respect is a two-way street. If you want respect, you have to give it first. I think I speak for a number of people when I say I want to belong to an organization that has a good reputation, one that I can be proud of, contribute to and get something out of. I think you've done a good job of getting a website up, tweaking the verbiage and being mindful of the legal issues. You're on the right track.

Now focus on the people and watch what happens!



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