Thoughts on Don Schultz’s Keynote at SES

On Monday afternoon at SES Chicago, Don Schultz of Northwestern University was the featured keynote speaker. His presentation focused on providing some perspective on the maturity of the search industry. For a bunch of great quotes from the presentation, check out the write up by Kevin Heisler.

The overriding theme of the presentation can be captured in a few of his key observations:

  1. The amount of money spent on traditional marketing in the past year was $2.5 trillion. This is way more than we have in our tiny little industry at this point.
  2. Marketing courses today are still based on the 4 Ps – Product, Price, Place, and Promotion. This is what is in all the marketing text books.
  3. CEOs are not going to get moved by the quality of the results or ROI of a marketing campaign that involves 1% or less of their buget. It’s just not on their radar.
  4. Finding ways to integrate with traditional marketing is critical to the growth of the search industry.

One major theme that underscored the presentation was that today’s search marketing operates in an environment where the customer is in control. In addition, search marketing is accountable. You can actually measure the ROI. Traditional marketers don’t like this.

In addition, traditional marketing uses a “srpay and pray” methodology. Everything is “push” oriented, and the customer has much less control.

This has evolved so that it’s all about the brand. Products and services can be copied, so brand ends up being the differentiator. Brand advertising was effectively invented by Proctor & Gamble back in the early days of TV. One way you can think about integrating with tradiotnal marketing: reputation management. Reputation management is interesting because that is all about brand as well.

The biggest thing I liked about his presentation was that he reminds us all to look at the bigger picture. It’s easy to get wrapped up in the details of our day to day jobs and lose the forest for the trees. Our customers have large scale marketing problems to solve. Today, they can’t spend enough on search to satisfy the demands of their business.

As Don put it: “It’s not how good you are, it’s more about how you fit into traditional marketing.” What can you do to fit search into the broader marketing picture of your clients?

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