It was an exhausting couple of days this week, as I manned my company’s Natural Search Optimization Site Solution Clinic. I was critiquing sites for attendees starting at 8am and going through to 5pm both days. This was a new initiative for the folks at WBR (who own the Etail conference). It wasn’t at all what I expected, but it worked out okay in the end. It felt like a spillover of the trade show floor, complete with mini-booths. Too salesy in my opinion. The way Search Engine Strategies does it, the Site Clinic is treated as a separate track with a room dedicated to the clinic. There are chairs for an audience to watch sites being critiqued and to ask questions. And a panel of invited experts who aren’t paying for the privilege to speak. And there are time slots dedicated to different topics and the panel changes as the topics change. For example, a couple hours for site design issues then a couple hours for link building. As an attendee, I like the latter model better. Because I was so tied up with site critiques, I was unable to attend any of the sessions this time. Which was a shame, because our client Home Shopping Network spoke and I heard he had great things to say (some of which were about us! yay!). I heard grumblings from attendees of the pre-conference “Search Optimization Day” about it being full of sales pitches from the table moderators. Which is a shame. As DM News reports, moderators were paying $25k to speak there, so f0r that kind of money I guess they must have felt it necessary to sell sell sell. Someone needs to tell them to cool their heels and make the selling so soft that it’s hardly noticeable. Frost & Sullivan coaches their sponsor-speakers about how best to interact with prospects at their conferences through phone briefings, an on-site sponsor-only pre-conference session, and a handout full of useful tips. WBR would be wise to do the same. Shop.org’s Annual Summit is next month. It will be my first one. I’m speaking there (on blogs, RSS, and podcasting) as well as having a booth. I’ve heard very complementary things about the Summit, so I can’t wait to compare and contrast the show with Etail, which I’ve attended a few times now. I’ll report back with my thoughts here on the blog, so look for it!
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