Do as I say. Not as I sell!

” Ask questions from your heart and you will be answered from the heart.”
- Omaha Proverb

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This just never ceases to amaze me whenever it comes up in conversation – as it did again at this year’s SES San Jose.

Memoirs from SES San Jose 2007: Swag review – The Good, The Bad and What The?!!

SES San Jose 2007
So SES San Jose 2007 is over and done with and it was in one word…Awesome! It was my second SES but my first in San Jose. The experience at San Jose’s Search Engine Strategies is an incredible one. The intangible yet palpable cloud of knowledge and industry insight was extraordinary. Whether it came from industry leaders or my SEM peers, information and answers were always on tap. Just knowing that I was getting the best, most efficient strategies in the industry direct from the horse’s mouth as well as the most intelligible guesses as to the future of search engine marketing made the pricey conference fee well worth it. Or, maybe I was just star-struck, at least as star-stuck as one can get in the search industry. I mean, I met Marissa Mayer from Google, I made Matt Cutts chuckle and I got to a chance to one-on-one about link baiting with Rand Fishkin from SEOMoz…all totally awesome!

But enough about the people, great sessions and info at SES San Jose, my more detailed summaries will come in later blogs. Right now I am talking about those unsung heroes of conferences like SES, the foot soldiers of brand equity: Chochkies…a.k.a. leave behinds a.k.a. promotional products, premiums etc. etc. Though we oft take these small stars of the business world for granted, sometimes these knickknacks drive entire industries…for example the pharmaceutical industry spends several millions per year to produce effective leave behinds that keep their drugs top of mind for doctors, especially prior to the availability to them of the mainstream media. So in honor of the creative minds who used their brain juice to work extra hard for brands… here is my review of the chochkies from the exhibitors at SES San Jose 2007.

T-Shirt review.
There was an abundance of T-shirts. T-shirts are always a great. Everyone uses them and of course they’re awesome for branding – think Nike, Versace, Fubu etc. My favorite was, of course, the Google Dance shirt. The creative (artwork) was good…it was in association with an event (great branding and relevance)…and frankly it was cool looking, and will be doubly so once I get back to MCO. Other T-shirts worth mentioning came from LinkWorth – one of the only booths that you HAD to give them your contact info (via badge scan) to get one – hey, if your paying good money for your promotional items…turn them into lead generators. GenieKnowsGames.com also gave away T-shirts at their mondo display complete with freeplay video games. My T-shirt lust also led me to discover Moniker.com, a forward thinking Domain Asset Management company…I like forward thinking companies – heck! I like the words “forward thinking”.

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What the ??!!
The What the Heck award goes to Findology‘s little Findology watch-a-ma-call-it (molecule). I have no idea what it does…but it’s cool looking when arranged in a line on their exhibit table. The downside of this marketing piece is that you don’t do anything with it so after a few days of looking at it, mine will probably eventually find the trash. I guess Findology is a science best understood by those who practice it (ha I kill me!)

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Water bottles.

Ah water bottles, colorful, plentiful and mostly boring. But we can always use more. Water bottles offer lots of real estate for brand and tend to be something that people keep around and reuse, so though not the sexiest of chochkies…they can provide good bang for buck. I did get one cool one though on a private tour of Google (but that’s another blog entry :).

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That’s cool.
I haven’t had so much fun with two magnets since elementary school. ABC search‘s noisy, disruptive spinning magnet things were fantastic…I even almost got put out of a session before it started just because they could possibly be potentially disruptive..lol! Oh yeah! Also, I loved Hakia‘s totally novel “Search Music”. It was music composed and performed by members of staff at the search engine. They all seemed very proud of this piece at the booth…and rightfully so…I could easily see this charting well on Billboard’s ethno-techie-world-ambience genre!

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Best of Show.
A lesson in relevance, and relevance really is what search is all about. Superpages.com a business directory and local search engine owned by Idearc Media Corp. out of Dallas, Texas. So for Search Engine Strategies San Jose 2007, they gave away a very comprehensive Survival Kit and guide to the city of San Jose. Kudos to the Superpages.com marketing team and forward-thinking executives who approved what I’m sure was a fairly costly and well branded leave behind piece. It included an offline paper version of their mapping technology (it’s great…you have to see it), hand sanitizers, key rings, a flashlight and other small useful items plus a (complete) 2007 Zagat survey. For their great effort and execution, they get from me a keyword rich backlink: yellow pages maps directions.

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Others worth mentioning…

The light up bouncyball from ClickPath. My 2-year-old daughter has already gleaned hours of fun from this gadget.

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MP3 Player speakers from Island Data. I just wish there was more about their brand included on this piece – like a tag line &/or website.
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A USB jump drive I got from Google (on my tour of the campus).
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The moral of today’s story?
1. The best leave behinds are those that are most relevant to the event and to your audience!
2. Not all link baiting needs be online…as a matter of fact, if you want a link back to your website, send me your best chochky, T-shirt or whatever and I will review it and give you a backlink to your site.
mailto: Ryan Weidman, 7450 Sandlake Commons Blvd., Orlando, FL 32819.

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