Why Did the Search Marketing Associations Fail?

One of the big differences between things that are successful and things that fail is simply staying around and staying active in the community. By those measurements, the regional Search Marketing Associations were all failures.

  • SMA-UK.org - blog last updated a little over 2 years ago
  • SMA-NA.org - dissolved in September of this year
  • SMA-EU.org - now a PPC lander page

Cooperatives are exceptionally hard to run because you have to balance business interests, egos, recruiting new members, creating member benefits, and pull time out of your schedule for the organization. And if you don't see what the other members are doing, it seems unbalanced, so you go back to working on your own projects. Even a partnership with only a couple people can be a bit of work to balance when you add in individual business interests outside the partnership and balancing work with family life.

It is exceptionally hard to create organizations that are for everyone. Many of the top marketers in the SEO space get paid more precisely because the field has a dirty reputation. I put that theory to test a few years back when I created a non-self-promotional guide to buying SEO services, registered the domain via proxy, and, in spite of having core community members mention it, watched it fall flat on its face. It seems virtually everyone who wanted to make the industry better only wanted to see improvement if their name was attached to the improvements.

In most cases if you want to create a successful trade organization or group exclusivity is much more effective strategy than appealing to everyone.

Published: December 27, 2007 by Aaron Wall in marketing


December 27, 2007 - 4:51pm

...they fail, in the main, because who wants to mix with the competition?

Also your comment about egos is right on.

Before I "did SEO" I was a professional DJ (since 74) and still do the odd gig here or there for cool parties - DJ Associations are riddled with lame a$$ed ego trippers and argumentative part timers - not to mention price slashing.

I have been a Member of SEMPO more or less since the get go but am no longer as I get sick and tired of the BS and ego trippers involved.

PLUS with SEMPO one has to be a big SEO company to get into differing levels of stardom and cough up a LOT of money to be educated in what can be picked up here and a handful of other places.

Associations suck and are run by ""I am" types......"

December 27, 2007 - 5:01pm

Hi David
Other than the DJ part (I have no music skills) and *actually* joining SEMPO, that comment sounds like something I would have wrote.

I think going forward business associations in general will become less relevant as word of mouth marketing for leading editorial channels from passionate voices help form communities that wrap around them.

January 3, 2008 - 2:19am

No music skills? Same as me.....

That's why I became a DJ ;)

Wine, women and song an unbeatable way to make a living...

I note you comment about business associations and I do see them "fragmenting" into smaller more learned groups - one need only be a Chamber of Commerce Member to see the shift toward more "Bollocks to the social part and let's make some money..." attitudes.

I know that it is the way things will go and have started local meet ups for small groups that are moving away from the local Chamber and getting more serious about business.

I have been in about six Chambers from my native England (go Chelsea) to San Francisco Bay Area and now Charlotte and personally see the "fragmentation" of big groups of back slappers to more intense, knowledgeable groups....

Cool :)


I do http://www.needarank.com now

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