Speaker Proposal Guidelines
Thank you for your interest in speaking at Search Engine Strategies Chicago 2004 from December 13-16, 2004. This provides background on how to make a speaking pitch to me, Danny Sullivan, the chair of the Chicago event. I'm responsible for creating the program and selecting speakers.
Timeline & Deadlines
Speaker selection will run through October and early November 2004. If you wish to speak, read the information below and get in touch as soon as possible.
Around the fourth week of November, I'll try to message everyone who asked to speak but wasn't selected, updating them with any additional openings.
If you don't hear back by November 22, you weren't selected to speak. I do try to contact everyone, but given the volume of requests, this isn't always possible.
Feel free to follow up with me prior to November 22, if you like. It's perfectly fine if you want to ensure if I've received your submission or made a decision yet.
Making A Speaking Pitch
If you are interested in a session, send me a separate email for each session you are interested in. IN OTHER WORDS, IF YOU WANT TO PITCH FOR TWO DIFFERENT SESSIONS, SEND A SEPARATE EMAIL FOR EACH SESSION.
The email should contain 2 to 7 paragraphs or so about what you would cover. I don't need a long essay -- just a succinct flavor of some specific things you might cover. I'm especially interested in real-life, case study stories that you can tell or tips you can backup from actual experiences.
Also give me a little background about yourself, your company and the type of clients you have or serve. I don't need a ton of information or anything super formal. Please don't send me attachments. Put everything in the email message itself. Send them to me at email@example.com.
Speaking spots are typically 7-15 minutes each on panels of 2-3 people. It is VERY UNLIKELY that you'll get a 1/2 hour or hour spot, so don't build a speaking pitch around this.
Many sessions on the agenda already have confirmed speakers or short-list candidates who have been invited to speak, even if names are not yet posted. Below are sessions that still have openings. Please only pitch for these sessions.
Ad Management Tactics
This will likely be a panel of three marketers, each talking for 15 minutes to the session description below or ideas related to it. I already have at least two short list candidates in mind. Session description: Paid placement ad programs make it easy to rank well in search engines, but managing hundreds of listings by hand can be a time-consuming and expensive process. This session explores tactics to success, such as considering your purchases as a portfolio, making use of dayparting and targeting the "tail" of search queries.
Auditing Paid Listings & Clickfraud Issues
This will be a panel of three marketers talking for 15 minutes each. I'm looking for someone to share a case study experience of how they dealt with a clickfraud issue. Session description: Did you really get that much traffic from paid listings last month or is something funny going on? Reviewing your paid traffic is an essential task any serious search engine marketer should undertake. Discover how to spot abnormalities and follow-up with search engines if you suspect a competitor or someone else is creating clicks just to drive up your costs. Also discover the proactive things paid listing providers already do to protect advertisers.
Big Site/Big Brand
This will be a panel of three or four marketers talking for 15 minutes each. I may have a fourth spot for an additional 15 minutes. If interested, please read the session description and pitch ideas relevant to it. Session description: How do you cope with search marketing for a company with tens of divisions, hundreds of products and seemingly no way to bring order to the chaos? What issues must you considering when working for a brand name recognized by many? This panel looks at problems and solutions unique to those running big sites or who have big brands.
This will likely be a panel of four marketers. I have several short list candidates already. Case study stories about feed management will be preferred. Any pitches need to be more about paid inclusion for web search for one single search engine. Instead, the session is about managing multiple feeds and preferably of multiple types. Session description: You've got a paid inclusion trusted feed (or two or three), a shopping feed (or four or five), an RSS/XML web feed and perhaps some more lurking. How do you best handle pushing out all this data and prepare for when even more feed options are offered? This panel explores the issue.
Forecasting Paid Search Traffic
This will be three panelists speaking 15 minutes each on the session topic. I have two short list panelists already. Session description: How much traffic will paid listings bring you? It can vary based on the terms you target, how exactly you target, the budget you spend, the position you hold and other factors. This panel looks at ways to predict what can seem unpredictable.
Integrating Search Into Other Marketing
This will be three panelists speaking 15 minutes each on the session topic. I have several short list candidates already. I especially want stories of how search was considered at the very highest level of a marketing campaign, as part of an overall marketing strategy. Session description: Search engine marketing should be considered as an essential part of any overall marketing campaign. In this session, we look at successes from considering search from the very beginning as well as failures that result if this is not done.
Lobbying For Your Search Marketing Budget
This will be a panel of three speakers, 15 minutes each. I already have returning speakers and shortlist candidates, but I may have a further opening. Session description: Sure, search is hot. But that doesn't mean your overall advertising budget has suddenly gotten larger to allow for increased spending on search. Learn how to lobby for a bigger slice of the existing pie and how manage a budget in a marketplace that constantly changes in terms of price and traffic.
This will likely be a panel of three speakers, including some returning ones. What's needed are real-life experiences of those who recently sought and found an SEM firm. DO NOT PITCH IF YOU ARE AN SEM FIRM WANTING TO DISCUSS WHAT YOU THINK PEOPLE SHOULD LOOK FOR. Session description: Looking to outsource your search engine marketing needs? This session examines the types of services that search engine marketing firms offer, pricing models, ways to locate firms and tips on making an informed decision on selecting an agency.
Pricing & Contracts For SEM Services
This is a panel of two or three people speaking for 15-20 minutes each. DO NOT PITCH if you are unwilling to be fairly forthcoming about how you price and sell services. Session description: How much should you be charging for your SEM work? By the page? A percentage added to paid search buys? A share of sales? And how do you establish contracts and guarantees for such work? This session explores the issues.
Redirects & Rewriting
This will be a panel of three speakers, 15 minutes each. I have several shortlist candidates already. To be considered, it's best to be prepared with a case study experience to share and plenty of firsthand experience beyond that. Session description: Moving your site? Have multiple domains? Have non-search engine friendly URLs? Got broken pages? This panel looks at methods of redirecting traffic to help your preserve search engine traffic, as well as ways to rewrite URLs to please search engines.
Shopping Search Tactics
This will be a panel of three speakers for 15 minutes each. I already have an overview speaker. I'm looking for good case study presentations about dealing with shopping search to accompany that. Session description: Learn how content from your ecommerce or merchant site can -- and should! -- be included in shopping search engines.
This is a panel of two or three people speaking for 15-20 minutes each. I already have an opening, overview speaker. Session description: Run a small SEM shop? Learn how to expand without having to invest in office space, hire full-time employees and more. This session will cover outsourcing work to specialists, other SEM firms and support companies to help you.
Below is information given to Search Engine Strategies speakers, which should help you understand more about speaking at our show:
Sales Pitches: Audience members react badly if they think they are being sold something. If you are too "salesy," they definitely let us know in the feedback, and that can impact whether you'll be invited to speak at a future event. Said one attendee:
"The conference has been outstanding except where a panelist is interested only in selling their products instead of teaching us. I paid to come. I shouldn't have to pay for a sales presentation."
Obviously, we do want your company to get some promotional value out of your participation, but to avoid sounding too sales-oriented, keep any PR-style points to one slide and run through those briefly.
The funniest way I've seen this handled was when a speaker told the audience that his PR department gave him a list of things to say about his service. He put these on one slide, then said "but here's what you really want to know" and went on with the core of his presentation. The audience laughed and didn't mind the mini-commercial. I've also seen the audience break into applause when some says they'll simply skip the sales pitch.
In particular, if you must do PR points, then use a SINGLE slide to set-up why you are qualified to speak, such as outlining the types of clients you work with, the sort of audience you received and so on.
In some circumstances, you may be asked to speak on a topic that involves your own products. To avoid problems, if you must mention your own products, focus on a "real life" example of how it may have been used by someone, rather than a more sales-oriented explanation of features. Also keep pricing information to a minimum. You might include such information on a slide but only mention it briefly, telling the audience that the additional information is there for their future reference.
Dress Code: Wearing casual business attire is recommended. Formal business attire is perfectly fine. If in doubt, overdress. You won't feel out of place, as many speakers will also be in formal attire. How you look has an impact on how well the audience receives your presentation.
Planted Questions: Don't get someone in the audience to ask you a particular question. If you want to ensure a particular topic is raised, talk with the moderator. They can then note that you and/or the other panelists wanted to comment on that topic. If it is discovered that a speaker has planted a question, it will greatly decrease the chance of returning to speak at the conference.
Being Positive & Negative: Many of our sessions involve helping attendees understand which products and services might be helpful to them. If you liked a particular product or service, great! Feel free to let the attendees know. However, if you have a financial connection with that product, it should be disclosed to the audience, if this isn't immediately obvious (such as when speaking about your own product).
If you dislike a particular product, service or company, you're welcome to say that, as well. However, use good judgment on when to be critical. If you are asked about a particular product, and you've used the product or know the opinions of many people, then it is fair to be critical of it. However, if you've never used that product, then be honest with the attendees and say you are uncertain. Instead, share with them your opinion of that particular class of product.
Be Forthcoming: You've agreed to speak and share your experiences with the audience. Don't hold back on the sharing. They'll respect the wisdom you impart, and your reputation will rise for having done this. Hold back, and they'll reactive negatively, as one attendee said:
"Some presenters seem really reluctant to give information. I understand people trying to protect their work, but then they shouldn't agree to present if they don't want to give details."
Show, Don't Tell: The more "real life" examples you have in your presentation, the more the audience will love you. That's always a big thing they want more of. Rather than telling them what to do, try to show them more. For example, you might tell an audience that cost-per-click advertising is effective. However, what they will remember more is if you show them this by explaining how two or three different companies ran a particular campaign and received a particular return on investment.
Fight, fight, fight against the bullet point summary of tips! Focus on screenshots and stories. SHOW things, illustrate them, don't just tell. It will make a world of difference.
Provide Solutions: The audience is looking for actionable tips, as much as you can provide them. Please try to guide them with specific actions as much as possible, to avoid them feeling like this attendee:
"Many of the sessions did not offer viable solutions. Serious issues were simply addressed as 'good' or 'bad' and subjectively many people were told that they were 'screwed' as far as search engine success."
Facts Vs Opinion: Search engine marketing is not an exact science. It's common for there to be a variety of opinions about what works and how things work. Because of this, please remember to say things such as "in my opinion" or "based on my experience" when stating as fact things that might be disputed by others or where you are not 100 percent certain is absolutely the case, in all occasions.
Your opinions and experiences are valuable. That's why you are being asked to speak and share them with the attendees. However, helping the attendees understand that others may have their own opinions and experiences will ease the confusion they sometimes experience, when hearing conflicting views. They better realize that they ultimately need to weight up the various opinions they've heard and make their own decisions.
Other Speaking Events
We prefer that speakers at Search Engine Strategies not speak at another event with a search engine marketing emphasis within two weeks before or after the SES show.
We understand that good speakers will be in demand by other events, and we don't wish to limit your own opportunities for exposure. However, we also want to ensure that speakers at SES are not tired from committing to multiple events in a short time frame. We also want to protect the show itself, and all the work that goes into it, from other events that may wish to ride upon its coattails.
Should you find yourself in a situation where you are, or would like, to speak at another event within the timeframe outlined above, please contact Jupitermedia for further guidance.