An Insider’s Look At SMX Advanced: Chris Elwell

Many people don’t realize that Search Marketing Expo is just one part of Third Door Media, the company that’s also parent of Search Engine Land, Search Marketing Now and Sphinn. Chris Elwell, today’s featured SMX insider, is president of Third Door Media, and provides the business expertise and acumen to keep our different businesses thriving.

Who better, then, to coordinate the Business Track for SMX Advanced? Chris’ experience with search predates the web and the advent of search engines, and in this Q&A talks about how he’s approached pulling the Business Track together why it’s unique among search conferences.

How long have you been working in the media business? What do you think has changed most since you first started?

elwell Chris Elwell: I’ve been working for media and publishing companies for 25 years now. It all started with a business newsletter called “Information & Database Publishing Report,” which covered what in the mid-1980s were called online services. Back then, librarians did all the searching and they were getting charged hundreds of dollars an hour. Funny how things work out. Now access is free and we’re all librarians, at least from a how-we-find-information perspective.

You are coordinating the Business Track at SMX Advanced. What are you hoping to accomplish with these sessions? Can you give us some highlights?

The Business Track is an opportunity for those who come to spend a day thinking about their business and its future. Virtually all of the people who attend Advanced run or work for small businesses. Many don’t get to spend enough time thinking about big picture issues, because they’re wrapped up in the day-to-day of building products, selling and making customers happy.

And, for many, this is the first time they’re facing a brutal economy. The climate is challenging SEM businesses in ways they would not have imagined just 12 months ago. The Business Track will address some of those challenges.

Kicking off the track this year is “Where to from Here? What’s Next for the Search Engine Marketing Business?” The speakers will be people who follow the trends in search and internet advertising. They’ll make predictions about the future of search marketing and talking about the trends that support those predictions. These insights are critical information for anyone making decisions about growing their businesses.

How SEM agencies charge for their services is always a fascinating topic, made even more so by the difficult economy. In “How Much Do I Charge for SEM? Especially Now!“, in-the-trenches agency owners are going to talk about their pricing models and the changes that they’ve made to adapt to today’s financial situation.

Finally, no session aimed at entrepreneurs and business owners would be complete without discussing raising money and selling the business, and that’s just what we’ll do in the “How’d They Do That? Insider Accounts of Recent SEM Business Investments & Sales.” This is a two part session. First, we’ll hear from the “money people”—Michelle Goldberg of Ignition Partners and John White from Moorgate Capital Partners—about how the economy has affected the venture capital, private equity and M&A climate. Part two will feature a presentations by Richard Zwicky of Enquisite discussing how his company raised $8 million earlier this year, and Jon Kelly talking about how the lessons learned from selling his company, SureHits, to QuinStreet.

This is your second time coordinating the Business Track at SMX. You’re also the President of Third Door Media. Surely you have plenty of other things to do—and could find someone else to coordinate this session. What do you enjoy about it that keeps you coming back?

A couple things. First, we do great content at SMX conferences, and organizing the business track is my humble contribution to the program. Second, I dig talking to people about their businesses. What motivates them. How they solve problems. What their dreams are. It’s stimulating.

Like another President, you’re an avid basketball player. When do you find the time to play?

I love playing basketball, even though I’m an old, short, fat, slow, white guy. How’s that for having the deck stacked against you? Basketball is very good for mental health. I’ll play as many as three times a week if the schedule permits, and since we start at 6:30 a.m. it doesn’t intrude too badly on the day.

You mentioned the difficult economy—please tell me that Third Door Media hasn’t cut back on the great food at SMX Advanced. What other signature SMX Advanced treats can we look forward to?

Why do I always get asked “food” questions? Is that a weight reference? :-) No, we haven’t cut back on the conveniences that make attending SMX events special. The food, WiFi access and other things that our guests are accustomed to will be there.

And there’ll be time for some fun too. We’ll be hosting SMX Advanced Meet & Greet reception on the evening of June 1. Bruce Clay, Inc. will host our Expo Hall reception on the evening of the 2nd, followed by a gathering at the nearby Olympic Sculpture Park, sponsored by Microsoft. All of these events are great opportunities to meet others attending the conference.

For the past two years, SMX Advanced has sold out. Are you expecting that to happen again this year?

We hope so—as of this morning we have fewer than 50 tickets available, and we’ve always seen heavy demand in the days right before the conference. I’d suggest that anyone who’s serious about attending register today because once those tickets are gone they’re gone, and we really, truly cannot accommodate any more people.

Anything else?

Tunes! Michelle Robbins and I team up to program the music for the show, but we’re always looking for great suggestions. Once you register, go on SMX Connect and tell us what you’d like to hear. We manage to play just about all of them.

More Insider Looks At SMX Advanced From The Programming Team

Related Topics: Channel: Industry | SEM Industry: Conferences | Top News


About The Author: (@CJSherman) is a Founding Editor of and President of Searchwise LLC, a Boulder Colorado based Web consulting firm. He also programs and co-chairs the Search Marketing Expo - SMX conference series.

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