Introduction to SEMPO Local Chapters

Sempo2SEMPO’s local working groups are thriving and expanding!  If you weren’t aware of the SEMPO local working groups that will continue to expand in 2013, go to and check out the list under “Local Groups.”

These chapters are led by a group of passionate industry leaders, called Chairs, and put on at least 4 events every calendar year in their area.

As a SEMPO member, you can learn about local events in your city by clicking “Join Group”. By becoming a part of the distribution list, you’ll stay current with event planning.

Member Perks!

As a SEMPO member you get to attend local events Free of charge! (a $25 per event savings).

Get Involved!

Want to be a leader in your Local Chapter? Contact the Chair via the SEMPO Group or contact me, and I can make an introduction.

Want to start a local group in your city?  Contact us and we can communicate the process, support you through launch and provide best practices and insight into other local chapter successes.


Lindsay Blankenship
SEMPO Board Member


Digital Evolution: Search Marketing Re-defined

Back in the day we used to confuse each other about what acronym for Search meant what. Some agencies and companies called Paid Search “SEM” while others argued “SEM” referred to the search marketing umbrella of Paid, Local, Feeds and Organic search. (I agree with the latter, still).

Today our conversations are different as the landscape has changed even further and it isn’t as much about the acronym but more about “What does Search Marketing encapsulate?” Search is a focal point of digital marketing and typically a last click before a conversion. But many actions and consumer behaviors lead up to that last click and influence SEM and therefore naturally find their way into a Search Marketers planning and execution strategy. As digital marketers get more sophisticated through analytics and big data, we can also better understand the multi-click behaviors and channels used to be more holistic in planning.

As a connective tissue of digital media and your brand destination, it has the inherent touch-points that leads to planning and executional extensions of search marketers. We live in a social and mobile world so those are logical expansions points from our traditional SEM buys.

In a given consumer decision journey, s/he will go through a variety of searches over a period of time. Searches will take place on a search engine, then a brand’s website, maybe a consumer review site, if retail – a shopping engine to compare prices, a social network to get advice and opinions of people they know and trust and then another final search to purchase online or a mobile search while running errands to find the nearest store location. So what just happened?

1. Search Engine (Paid and/or SEO)
2. experience
3. Review Site / Shopping Engines
4. Social media
5. Local Search / Mobile Search
6. Didn’t convert? Retargeting





This is just one example that is a fairly routine showing the multiple stages and destinations a consumer could take prior to purchase.  Our jobs as search marketers are to ensure our clients’ products or services appear throughout any relevant search within that cycle (note: relevant and cost effective).   Our jobs have expanded from simply focusing on the top search engines and publishers on our desktops to a much more diverse landscape or targeted and sophisticated opportunities.

Each search within the example is a slightly different intent and mindset as the consumer drives closer to the decision.  As marketers, it is our duty to provide relevant ads and experiences (web pages, offers, messaging) that align with the psychological intent at that very moment.


And if the consumer didn’t purchase then?  Well that’s when retargeting would seal the deal.  Yes, another tactic that (could) fall under the helm of today’s search marketer.

Today’s search marketing has evolved because our world has evolved from being analog, to digital, to social, and now mobile.   SEMPO’s organization and mission has evolved as well to envelop these areas and deliver education, research, training and networking opportunities across these broad areas of Search and Social Marketing.


Lindsay Blankenship
SEMPO Board Member

Calling the Athlete, the Problem Solver & the Creative Thinker

In order to attract and retain good talent, look for those who aspire to be independent, yet strive to be part of a team; those who are ambitious and take risks, yet are responsible. We look for talent who, in the raw form, are smart, driven, intellectually curious and competitive. It’s plain to see that a company’s success relies on attracting and maintaining the right talent.

In an industry where innovation, creativity and culture are common buzz words; to truly embody these qualities a company must put people first. This is the approach iProspect takes in identifying and developing talent.

Where to Begin:

Start with a great hiring process.  Structure it so that the teams who will work directly with and around the candidate actually do the interviews. By selecting their own co-workers, team spirit and a spirit of “we’re in this together” is instilled early on. Empower them to pick their teammates from the best colleges around the country.

Activate an internship program. We have an extensive internship program and many of them join us full time, and stay for years after they graduate.

Give them the tools they need to succeed. Budget for additional training opportunities and encourage your team to pursue them. Focus on growing your team not in size, but in knowledge. Think about staffing a team focused on training. Provide your team with the tools and resources so they can actively participate in growing their career.

Growing talent is at the heart of what we do at iProspect. From the moment a new employee walks in the door, they join an extensive eight-week training program covering over 130 industry-specific training topics. This program is followed up by a customized iProspect knowledge management platform, comprising over 350 pages of content that is curated and updated daily by Subject Matter experts.

Widen their scope with collaboration. Each office hosts a weekly Sharing Information Class or “SIC.” These one-hour sessions are fully owned by the teams in each office and focus on new and innovative ideas, account successes, open brainstorming forums, idea sharing and introduction of new employees to the office. Democratize learning & development, so everyone is a key owner of the process as opposed to just one team.

Recognize their success. In short, everyone likes a “shout-out” for excellence in work, team success, personal victories and client testimonials.

To attract and retain good talent, help them grow their careers with more flexibility, more training, more recognition and more collaboration. Think of ways to give your teams more opportunity by creating areas of specialty for employees to excel and lead. Work with your teams on career path planning.

Give them the support to make their dreams happen.


Brian Kaminski
SEMPO Board Member
President | iProspect


Taking SEMPO to a Whole New Level

As coincidences go, this is a good one. I’m sitting in the bar close to my office where I’m often found with colleagues, clients or friends (frequently all three) after work. I’m rattling a few notes into my iPad while waiting for a friend to arrive and chatting to the barman at the same time. I mention to him that I happen to be president of a trade association and that I’m working on a post for the launch of our new blog.

“Well if you’re looking for inspiration you certainly came to the right place” he says. “You do know the first trade association in America was founded in this very bar don’t you?”

Pauses for the “knock me down with a feather” moment…

And sure enough it’s true. Back in 1768 twenty New York merchants got together in what is now known as Fraunces Tavern, in lower Manhattan. Together they formed the New York Chamber of Commerce to protect and promote the business interests of merchants in New York City. Erie Canal, the Atlantic cable and New York City Transit Authority are just a few of the key initiatives which sprang from the minds of New York luminaries in the group, such as  J Pierpont Morgan and John Jacob Astor.

That may be the American forerunner but a huge number of these types of groups have formed since then. Trade associations, or industry trade groups as they can also be called, come to together for various reasons. Usually founded by businesses that operate in a specific industry, activities tend to include PR, advertising, education and lobbying, to name a few.  But generally, the main focus is based around collaboration between companies, standardization within industries and professional business recognition of a specific trade.

Back in 2002 when the nascent search marketing sector was still wobbling around trying to find its legs, there really wasn’t an organization that it could easily slot into. And so, the Search Engine Marketing Professional Organization (SEMPO) was founded to fill the gap. The intention, of course, was to do “all the above” increasing recognition of the skills involved and managing the reputation of an online marketing sector seemingly prone to giving itself a black eye!

Now, as we head towards the upcoming tenth anniversary of the association being founded, along with my colleagues on the board of directors, we can reflect on past achievements and ambitions, but my greater focus has to be on the future. Not just the future of SEMPO, or the future of search. Indeed, regardless of the disciplines we have learned individually as practitioners, it is the future of marketing itself we all need to be aware of.

For almost a decade, digital marketing seemed to be centered on search (or maybe that should be Google!). Search is such a powerful way for marketers to connect with both their existing and potential customers. But potent as it is, digital marketers are patently aware that it’s not a panacea.

The way we as people consume media is changing. We have literally become transient media consumers as we move from place-to-place and skip from device to device. And the web is no longer just a huge collection of HTML pages linked together being crawled by search engines. It has become so much more. It is a network of networks of people who are constantly connected to each other, communicating, creating and sharing.

They’re no longer stuck in front of keyboards and monitors in homes and offices – they’re on the move. This truly is the age of connected marketing. In fact, connected marketing may be a much more realistic and descriptive term than social media.

Modern consumers are forming communities and peer-groups to pool their power, resulting in a dramatic revolution of how businesses interact with their customers.  Decision makers no longer act independently of each other but are all the more connected to other consumers, to other channel members and often to brands. In turn, brands and companies are now vying for central positions inside consumer networks.

Perhaps the biggest change where search is concerned is this shift toward information-seeking on social networking sites. The knowledge possessed by your friends and people you know acts as a supplement to the web’s huge amount of other, often less verifiable information. This knowledge can provide extremely qualified answers to specific queries through a process that could be defined as information-seeking via a chain of trust. Consumers are increasingly engaged with each other through collaborative research, product review and price comparison.

Much of the received wisdom in marketing circles is undergoing reconsideration. The nature of consumer and business markets is going through major change. And SEMPO will need to adjust and align with the natural progression, growth and rapidly advancing technology in the field of digital marketing.

For sure, the core concept of search is what glues the SEMPO community together. But as our membership develops a broader range of marketing skills, SEMPO needs to appeal to a wider audience.

Fortunately, I have a genuine dream-team of industry professionals sitting on the board of directors with me. Each one an expert in their given field. And each one bringing sound business acumen to the table.

I’m very confident that, with the help of this group of brilliant minds, SEMPO as an organization can capitalize on the great work done by our predecessors and move organically and successfully to a whole new level of support and service for its current and future members.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on the future of marketing, SEMPO and… heck, whatever’s on your mind about the industry!

Mike Grehan: President SEMPO
Publisher:  Search Engine Watch | ClickZ
Producer:  SES Conference & Expo