In its second year of existence, this year’s Online Marketing Summit (“OMS”) in
San Diego had over 420 marketing professionals in attendance last week. OMS is a “vendorless” educational forum for marketers, requiring attendees to apply and be “invited” in order to attend. Aaron Kahlow, OMS’s founder gave 3 priorities for last week’s Summit:
The most unique feature of OMS is that Aaron encourages attendees to “Boo” self-promoters and speakers giving a sales pitch. The whole structure of the conference is similar to an online social media community like one of Aaron’s favorite social media communities IT toolbox.
Peer-to-Peer round table sessions are used to elicit the exact problems that attendees are having in their positions, and the data acquired from these sessions is used to determine content in the existing conference and will also be addressed in future online forums and communities available to summit attendees.
The core audience of the Summit is in-house marketing officers, and is not an SEM agency audience. My attendance was in the role of moderator of one of the peer-to-peer round table sessions. I deal with much of the same issues that many of the sessions were about on a daily basis, so most of the content was not geared towards me or as helpful. But for most of the audience the content was relevant, new and original, and they ate it up.
Like Social Media, content and structure is dependent on the users and the moderators who present it. Aaron Kahlow keeps things loose, doesn’t let the clock rule the sessions when progress is being made and allows for a lot of questions from the audience. When a panelist called in sick for one of the biggest sessions “What the Big Boys are Doing in ’08: Learn What the Big Boys are Doing for Online Marketing” Aaron actually asked for a volunteer to replace them from the audience. I gladly volunteered and joined the ranks of panelists from Home Depot and IBM in answering Aaron’s questions and questions from the audience.
OMS is managed and operated by Aaron’s company Business Online. As I said before, Aaron does not allow sales pitches or self-promotion and the same applies to Business Online speakers. A great deal of the OMS presenters are from Business Online, and I can attest that they are authoritative speakers. One of the few new tricks I did pick up at OMS was from Business Online’s “Catfish” Comstock’s tips on Internal Linking best practices for SEO.
The Social Media model also appeared to be working wonder’s for Business Online’s business at OMS. As in Social Media, participants that contribute lots of helpful and authoritative content without obligations to buy and a sales pitch are usually rewarded by some in their audience who want to pursue a possible business relationship. Having an ideal audience full of in-house marketers that need services like Business Online provides helps, but again all Business Online does at OMS is be authoritative and provide useful information. Potential customers choose to come to them for help. The same thing happened to me in just the short time I spent moderating a small peer-to-peer panel discussion.
All in all, OMS is a good learning resource for its audience of in-house marketers. The content is useful and timely for this audience. I wouldn’t say that a lot of highly advanced methods are being exchanged there, but let’s face it there aren’t a lot of secret’s that SEO and SEM professionals are willing to give up these days.