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Old 08-11-2004   #1
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SEMPO Next Steps & Mike Grehan's Second SEMPO Article

part deux covers the events around the San Jose SEMPO meeting http://www.netimperative.com/in_dept...EMPO_Part_deux
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Old 08-11-2004   #2
rcjordan
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Looks like Mike wants to "simplify membership" down to zero.
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Old 08-11-2004   #3
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Changed the title of this thread slightly, because I was just about to start a new "general SEMPO" thread and mention this article. I've also started several new thread -- back in a second to bring things altogether.

OK -- I'm back! First, those coming into this thread should know there's lots of background that can be found in the Mike Grehan Stirs Up SEMPO Controversy and SEMPO Meeting at SES San Jose 2004 threads.

Both those threads are now closed. Click here and you'll see there are a number of topic specific threads. Please -- please I beg of you -- check out and see if there's a topic already started about SEMPO and some issue that you can contribute to.

This should make it easier to see if there's consensus on particular topics -- plus perhaps for those involved in SEMPO to act on or push for particular changes.

Please use this thread for any general SEMPO comments not covered by existing threads. You should also please feel free to spin off new threads about particular topics.

In addition to Mike's recap of the meeting, thought this would also be of interest: SEMPO Looks Back, Pushes Ahead.

Last edited by dannysullivan : 08-11-2004 at 02:39 PM.
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Old 08-11-2004   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dannysullivan
Changed the title of this thread slightly, because I was just about to start a new "general SEMPO" thread and mention this article. I've also started several new thread -- back in a second to bring things altogether.
it truely is amazing how you are keeping track of all of this. I would be pulling my hair out trying to
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Old 08-11-2004   #5
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I would just like to quote the bottom lines in the article linked to by seobook.

Quote:
They all have one thing in common: the sound of furious back-peddling and the odd waft of BS.
Quote:
We do need a representative organisation. But we need one which is there to represent the interest of the individual members and not the board of directors and a few select "cash rich" SEM firms.
Quote:
SEMPO admitted they had screwed-up in terms of their poor connect with the members and asked for more time and support. But as Barry Lloyd of “Make Me Top”:http://www.makemetop.co.uk (a Gold Circle member) commented: "I gave them five grand. What other kind of support do they need!"
Those are a few quotes I find most
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Old 08-11-2004   #6
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>waft of BS

Understatement of the year.


>quote

I liked the imagery in this one: But I realise now, that had I attempted to say anything, it's most likely that six cheer leaders would have appeared stage left, high kicking and singing "hey SEMPO you're so fine..."
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Old 08-11-2004   #7
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http://www.clickz.com/news/article.php/3390761

That is bad stuff there. I hope it was awhile ago.

Oh yes, over one week ago.

I hope they have more of a clue since August 4th. To say they have not received any constructive criticism over the last year is very wrong. All the same concerns now were voiced "over" one year ago at various forums.
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Old 08-11-2004   #8
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>All the same concerns now were voiced "over" one year ago at various forums.

I was admin at one of those forums at the time and can sign an affidavit to that effect. Coll, at least one director, and Danny got the very same concerns presented to them. Then, as now, Sempo responded by circling the wagons. This is not a new set of problems for this org.
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Old 08-11-2004   #9
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Quoting the article from Clickz: "It actually served as a drum roll for all of the things we were going to be announcing," Todd said. "In reading the forums, people making suggestions or asking questions helped us to make sure what we were going to present met the demands people voiced in the forums"

"we were going to be announcing"

More like served as a drumroll for covering up mishaps and inaction.

From checking around, I didn't see anything before these exposing articles and posts, that SEMPO had a bunch of updates they were going to announce.

"Getting feedback is really hard. Getting positive feedback is even harder," she said. "This created a place for people to support us as well as give us constructive criticism, which is very important for us."

From what I gather, members were complaining about communication from the SEMPO board. How can getting feedback be hard when you don't seek it in the first place?

Pretty sad that we continue to live in a world where they only way to get some people to act on something is to expose flaws, criticize procedures, and constantly ride someone's behind. If someone or some entity has to be pushed like that from the beginning then that is the way it will always be.
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Old 08-11-2004   #10
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Quote:
From what I gather, members were complaining about communication from the SEMPO board. How can getting feedback be hard when you don't seek it in the first place?.
There's no way in the world I could let that quote go without acknowledging just how relevant it is to the whole issue.

Thank you mtnviewmayhem whoever you are.

Cheers!

Mike.
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Old 08-11-2004   #11
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quotes are from Mike Grehan's article
Quote:
it was with great anticipation that I looked forward to the SEMPO members' meeting scheduled for the first day of the search engine strategies conference in San Jose. Here, I felt that, not only my own concerns, but those voiced by many, many posts in the various industry forums would be addressed and resolved... Wrong
From the start SEMpo has been dodging. The inferred impression is they could care less, and seem to hold themselves above the all as if we were serfs.

Quote:
If they couldn't hire a professional in that space of time to throw out a few newsletters and keep lines of communication open with the membership
Now, how difficult would this have been for able SEMers?


I tip my hat to this line. It sums it quite well.
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had I attempted to say anything, it's most likely that six cheer leaders would have appeared stage left, high kicking and singing "hey SEMPO you're so fine..."
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Old 08-11-2004   #12
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It is sad, but to date, seemingly true, that to get any response from Sempo requires fairly aggressive pursuits. That said I await their form 1024, Articles of Incorporation and application for tax exemption from the IRS. And ... their annual report dated 3/1/04 and certificate of incorporation from the State of Delaware.
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Old 08-12-2004   #13
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During the start up of any organization there are the fors, the againsts, and the balancers. Thus far the majority of posts have been from the small operators who have gripes with the way SEMpo has been managed. These are not new grievences, but rather concerns voiced from the inception.

One of the major concerns voiced has been about the lack of communication and the lack of responses to inquiries. This lack of comminication is exemplified by the statement in the ClickZ article of August 4
Quote:
She [Ms Coll] said that although the membership was never notified of the stipend, the board had planned to announce it at the meeting.
I am certainly not against a stipend for work performed, but I do question management's fiduciary responsibility in delaying the announcement more than two and a half months.

As reported, during the meeting there was much applause for the first year accomplishments. I am curious as to why all these supporters of SEMpo have been mum during all the recent discussions. If they are content with the current mission and actions, I for one wish they would speak up and enlighten all the naysayers. If they prefer it to be a joint marketing endeavor of a select group, rather than a voice of the whole, let it be known, become a for profit corp, and we all move on.

I applaud Mike Grehan for taking his stance while so many others high profilers sat idley bye.
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Old 08-12-2004   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by steve sardell
This lack of comminication is exemplified by the statement in the ClickZ article of August 4 I am certainly not against a stipend for work performed, but I do question management's fiduciary responsibility in delaying the announcement more than two and a half months.
I pondered about that too. How long would it have taken to write a simple message to members about the stipend? They said they don't have a "real" assigned lawyer so there goes the explanation of having to pass it through the right legal channels. Therefore, it would have taken what a few bits of time to write up a brief statement and post it to members? It had to be put off for a meeting at SES? I'm still confused about all of this "in order to find out about SEMPO updates" you have to attend their meetings at SES conferences.
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Old 08-12-2004   #15
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As Mike quoted me, I just wanted to point out that my statement about the 5K was not made in a tone of anger but of some bewilderment! Lots of stuff was said about supporting SEMPO and my comment was in the context of if me coughing up the full wack on pretty much day one wasn't a statement of support, I don't know what is.

I'm a firm believer in trying to support all efforts to bring some credibility to the industry I'm proud to be part of and felt that SEMPO deserved to be given every chance to succeed - so I willingly contributed even though I realised it would not give me any instant returns in the UK. I like to think that my example may have been part of the reason that so many other UK organisations joined. It would have been nice to have had my (and other member) opinions on ways forward sought - as people who have pledged their support with our pocket-books, I'm sure we would have responded to any request, if asked!

I for one am not in the habit of sticking my hand up to volunteer for stuff to show committment, I thought I had done that - but I would have willingly given an answer if asked about specifics where I may be able to help.

It all boils down to communication, accountablity and trust by the Board in the membership - and vice-versa (IMO).
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Old 08-12-2004   #16
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I suspect the answer is to be found somewhere in here, in the literature about goals in complex organizations:

http://www.google.com/search?q=%22op...n&lr=&ie=UTF-8

(Or more likely, buried deep in the "invisible web," aka research libraries -- Google doesn't link to much good stuff on this topic.)

The official goals of SEMPO are the things that are written down or stated by the leadership.

The operative goals may be studied by reviewing how things have unfolded in the past year, and how individual agendas have been promoted. Whether you look at links to member websites, budgetary expenditures, or other forensic evidence, it all adds up to a large gap between officially-stated goals and the goals as a visitor from outer space would be forced to describe them.

Charles Perrow wrote his seemingly dry article "The Analysis of Goals in Complex Organizations" way back in 1961 as a means of critique of hospital administrations that may not have patients' best interests at heart, or something along those lines.

Of course all individuals have interests and at some point we must take stated goals and objectives on faith. But as a double check, an examination of evidence -- resource allocation, internal power brokering, etc. -- is valuable IMHO in taking stock of what happened here.

Let's put it this way. Imagine if a hospital administrator (to use Perrow's example) put out press releases under the aegis of the hospital that concluded with a contact info linking to his private consulting business. Would this have been an "accident" or "oversight"? (Doesn't seem like that would be an "accident" or "oversight" when the PR person helping the cause is someone who promotes himself as an expert in integrating SEO and PR, and knows well the value of inbound links to improving search engine reputation scores.)

By contrast one may look at very different patterns that emerge, say, in some forums, open source communities, other nonprofits, etc. There is no particular reason one cannot pursue similar goals with a radically different power structure, funding arrangement, etc.

We all make mistakes. We can and should forgive mistakes, since we all make them. But to suggest incremental change as the solution is to take SEMPO's stated goals at face value. This is not something I'm prepared to do, not least in a roomful of SEO's - not until the organizational algo is completely revamped to render it relatively spam-proof. Yes, the idea of a more modest fee structure and wider membership is a start. (As a "proposal," that sounds remarkably like the common sense that should have reigned from Day One. It sounds remarkably like what I and others were saying form Day One.)

Rebuilding a broken concept is one path. But many of us are unafraid of the benign anarchy of the marketplace because we've chosen to make our living there. In short, whether you can cut it or not depends on innovation, strong PR, ethical conduct, etc. (at least IMHO) because what goes around comes around. De facto standards, ethics, and advocacy of our industry will evolve, SEMPO or no SEMPO. Nothing can be something. I'm comfortable for now with anarchy, with nothing. Those who feel the need for "something" will perhaps go right back to building this SEMPO thing. I suspect they will not be able to count on much member support at this time.
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Old 08-12-2004   #17
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Nice post Andrew!

This adds on to the above posts in this thread and why many will never back the org unless there are 'many' structural and conceptual changes to it:

This is an email to a sempo member. Names are deleted in it. This goes to show the "real" mission of the current sempo, and a mission many have voiced concerns over the past year. It's the true motives of many members. Of course, NO ONE is willing to state this as of course you cannot be a non-profit with this type of mission in mind.

It's a "circle" thing in that sempo wants to be known as the "IT" of the sem world with no regard to "who" some members are. They want the fact that a potential client "might" think that this group is the 800lb. gorilla of the sem industry, when we all know that cannot be the case. The perception sempo wants to give the outside world has been very clear to us for along time. SEMPO would never acknowledge it, but it's simply the facts as the facts have been layed out very clearly.

Here is the email:

Quote:
Dear Name Deleted,

I am writing as the search engine marketing organization you are a member of was recommended to me as a body made up of highly qualified individuals and companies. I am anxious to align myself with a high quality entity to help my sites be found on the Internet. I have an introductory understanding of what your industry attempts to accomplish. I also have a rudimentary understanding of how search engines work, as it relates to moving a site up in the rankings.

My business is "Deleted". My site is deleted.com. It has not been marketed yet. I did a little marketing and attracted a bunch of visitors.

I realize my site is not designed to lend itself to search engine spidering, however I am most willing to modify anything about the sites to make them more search engine friendly.

Please let me know if you are interested in helping.

Thank you,

Name Deleted
This is the crux of the problem as I have seen it from day one. This is also the "secret" goal of the elite of SEMPO without actually stating it. It's very clear to most of us. It's also the reason sempo will never succeed if they cherry-pick the suggestions being made. They must completely redo the website, the concept, the goals, the everything.

The email statement above:

"body made up of highly qualified individuals and companies."

There ya go.
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Old 08-12-2004   #18
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Great post Andrew!

Quote:
Originally Posted by andrewgoodman
De facto standards, ethics, and advocacy of our industry will evolve, SEMPO or no SEMPO. Nothing can be something. I'm comfortable for now with anarchy, with nothing. Those who feel the need for "something" will perhaps go right back to building this SEMPO thing. I suspect they will not be able to count on much member support at this time.
However, I will disagree with your last lines and I will use my testimony to prove what SEMPO means to me.

I was one of the first members to join back more than a year ago as soon as I heard. The core values as quoted in their About SEMPO section say:

Quote:
SEMPO exists to fill the gaps in awareness and understanding of SEM, including educating marketing managers worldwide about what SEM is and how properly implemented SEM programs can provide some of the highest returns on investment possible in the marketing world today.
This was very clear to me, because I am in a niche where there is a lot of education needed for my goals to succeed, the U.S. Hispanic Market and Latin America that is.

I joined at the lowest membership level (for $299) and I knew that it was not just about the economic support to get a link and a few discounts in return. I was seeking a road where a formal organization could help me educate about these markets. Could SEMPO help me? I gave it a shot.

I approached both Barbara Coll, our president, and Dana Todd, Education Committee Chair, about my interests and goals. They responded immediately to my request and suggested writing a white paper on "Search Engine Marketing to the U.S. Hispanic Market" to start and they would do everything they could to promote it to all members and other marketers looking for resources at SEMPO. So I did and submitted it to them. In less than 24 hours I received notice that it was already posted on the site. Not only was it under the research section, but they also featured it at the very top of the homepage. Then, they sent a newsletter to all members on 5/20/2004 with the following:

Quote:
SEMPO Resources: Articles, Case Studies, Research papers

These resources are for your use to show others the value of SEM. . .
Ignacio “Nacho” Hernandez provides insights and data on demographic growth, segmentation strategies and online user habits of the largely untapped Hispanic market.
The communication with SEMPO has been great for me and I see outstanding support from the organization to continue helping me reach my own goals.

That doesn’t mean everything is a perfect world. I also believe that Mike Grehan’s first letter brought immediate attention to many opportunities for SEMPO to improve and correct, including communication about other decisions taken by the board. And I’m also positive that there will be many more ways to make this organization reach maturity.

In my mind, I understand what they have done on the first year to get it launched. There are many numerous tasks that result visible to the members, but there are many that are not. Then, also keep in mind that those who are running SEMPO are all over the globe with many tasks of their own from their firms and profession. All together, they have managed to recruit about 250 members and send out a first strike to the real marketing world that is not 100% Internet related.

In my opinion, there are many out there that are asking this new born baby on its first birthday to run a marathon, jump hurdles and break world records. I say, let it grow and let it correct its few mistakes. Forgive and forget. Right now, since I don’t have $5,000 to give, I find my time invested to help others learn about new ways of SEM is just as valuable. Looking at other firms and professionals following my recommendations is what I will love to see in return. Soon you will all have an organization to be proud of, I’m already proud of it and I will continue to support it.
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Old 08-12-2004   #19
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Sounded like Marketing Hype

Unfortunately I wasn't able to make this years San Jose SES , but I was at last years and did attend the first SEMPO meeting. I walked away thinking it was a major marketing hype campaign, and after reading these articles and posts, I'm GLAD I didn't.
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Old 08-12-2004   #20
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I like hearing things like that said in Nachos' post. I would like to hear more of that. Maybe start a thread? Anyway, the thing is that, while the board may have good intentions, they are on the wrong track as a non-profit organization. They must comply with very serious Federal Tax Law in order to gain the exempt status. Unfortunately, it is my opinion, that they simply have not had the time to organize properly, and have resultingly, have put their efforts at great risk.
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