6 Things We Learned at SearchLove San Diego

By Frank Quattrocchi

We were pumped here at Thunder when we heard that Distilled would be hosting SearchLove in San Diego. The setting – surrounded by overgrown foliage, with beautiful views of the bay and the sun setting over the Pacific – was ideal for relaxing, listening to intelligent people, and reflecting on all the knowledge gained.

Image: Distilled

Nineteen different speakers rocked the stage over two days; here are our favorite pieces of information we took away from the conference.

1. Have a Consistent NAP Across the Web

We have known this one for a while, but Darren Shaw’s presentation on Local Search was chock-full of strategies and how-to’s to help people clean up their business’ and/or clients’ web footprint – we had to share it. While we know how important a consistent NAP is across the board, Darren gave us some fool-proof tactics on how to find inconsistent citations across the web, and how to clean them up so that there is no conflicting information floating around online.

He demonstrated how to use advanced search operators to find inconsistent citations, which information to record and fix as opposed to which variations are not that important, and the order of operations one should follow to fix inconsistent citations.

2. Use Random Affinities to Engage Your Audience Like Never Before

Ian Lurie was definitely one of the smarter dudes in attendance. He did not come off as professorial, but his knowledge and expertise were evident in his speaking points and slides.
Ian spoke about random affinities and looking for overlap in target segments to create truly affective content. He shared a blog post he wrote geared towards marketers, especially nerdy marketers, titled “Everything I Ever Learned About Marketing I Learned From Dungeons and Dragons.”

His point wasn’t to start incorporating Dungeons and Dragons into MBA curriculum, or that Dungeons and Dragons fanatics can find a higher calling in marketing, but that by targeting both marketers and Dungeons and Dragons people, he created a piece of content that naturally got views, links, and all the other tasty stuff.

Inquiring marketers surely read the post to see if there is anything Dungeons and Dragons could do to help their business efforts, Dungeon and Dragons gamers read the post to see if that they could add their gaming credentials to their resume, and marketers who also played (or still play) Dungeons and Dragons were ecstatic to see a post tailored so specifically to their interests.

Ian gave the example of “Will It Blend?”, where a blender manufacturer targeted ‘people who need a blender’ and ‘people who like to see stuff get destroyed’. Showing videos of iPhones and other random objects being blended down to dust resulted in a lot of blender sales.

3. Build From Goals, Not Tools

Mackenzie Fogelson set off a live tweet firestorm just by getting on stage and showing her first slide. Her slides were easily the most aesthetically-pleasing of the conference, and some in the audience were holding back tears, in awe of the slides’ beauty. Mackenzie talked about Community Building and how it is different from marketing or advertising in the sense that it is moving from interruption to being a part of the customers’ lives.

She said that the reasons to start building a community are:

  • To get ahead of your competitors (especially the ones who have yet to begin building a community)
  • Getting the right customers is easier when people are engaged with your community and spreading the good word about your brand
  • Customer acquisition costs are lower when brand advocates act as your business development team

She shared a case study, demonstrated how even the most detailed plans face unforeseen obstacles, and shared ways that she has improved upon her initial strategies. She said to build from goals and not tools, and that good things come to those who work their asses off and never give up, as opposed to those who wait.

4. Find a Way to Make Videos Happen

Chris Savage, the founder of Wistia, gave one of my favorite presentations of the conference. It was great to see a dude my age on the stage, especially when I found out that he was baller enough to sponsor the open bar. He shared some examples of the power of video and how to leverage it into marketing efforts, and he explained how video is bringing people back into the buying process.

With the advent of retailers such as Amazon, people were taken out of the buying process. A customer could visit the site, spend hours browsing through different products, purchase the products and check out – all without ever interacting with another human. Ever since ancient cultures began trading with one another, people have been essential to the exchange of goods. Ancient bazaars, medieval faires, and modern shopping malls have all been dependent on people being present for commerce and transactions. Video, Savage argues, is bringing humans back into the buying process by allowing people to hear, see, and ultimately – trust the content.

Chris recommended that people start making video with the camera they have (usually a phone), to make sure that the lighting is right (bad lighting can kill a great video), and to maintain distance between the subject and the background so that the camera lens can focus on what is most important.

5. Get Personal With Outreach Emails

Paul May gave a great talk on advanced content promotion and outreach. He shared all sorts of techniques and practices to make the most of your promotion and outreach efforts. Our favorite takeaway was how to craft great outreach emails.

He shared an example of your typical outreach email with decent grammar, relevant links, good formatting, and a call to action. But nothing about the email compelled the recipient to read it. What makes an email from a stranger worth reading?

Paul explained how a great outreach email should be personalized – demonstrating your sincere interest in the recipient and his/her work, positioned – will create a distinct impression in the readers’ mind, persuasive – should convince reader to do what is asked of them, and should include a call to action – don’t let them think about it, & make it easy for them to take action immediately.

6. Make Your Customer the Hero

Brian Clark has been blogging longer than most. It has been his full time gig since the 90’s – before most people knew that blogging existed. He spoke of the sales funnel, and of the psychology behind Joseph Campbell’s monomyth, and how marketers can incorporate the two to engage customers.

The monomyth is a story that has been told countless times, across disparate societies and epochs, yet the plot remains the same. It is the tale of the hero – all of our heroes from Luke Skywalker and Harry Potter, to religious icons and King Arthur. The hero’s journey involves the ordinary world and the extraordinary world of transformation. There is always a mentor; and obstacles, helpers, and challengers are inevitable.

Brian’s point was that we are all familiar with this story whether we know it or not. He likened the hero’s journey to the sales funnel and said to make your customer the hero, be their mentor, and guide them on their journey.

There were all sorts of other great presentations as well. Rand talked about not letting your role define your influence, but letting your influence define your role. Mark Suster talked about trends in technology and the VC world. And Will Critchlow spoke about Trends in Technical Optimization, and gave a solid delivery that his brother would have been proud of.


We had a blast at the conference and hope SearchLove makes it back to San Diego next year!

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Frank Quattrocchi

By Frank Quattrocchi

Frank Quattrocchi is a Search Marketing Specialist at ThunderActive. He likes making music, listening to music, hiking, cooking, reading, and exploring the city.

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