Small Business Marketing Unleashed – An Essential Conference for Small Business Owners

by Scott Allen - April 24, 2008 
Filed Under Conferences, SBMU, SEM, SEO, Social Media Marketing

Small Business Marketing Unleashed - The AlamoYesterday I returned to southern California from Small Business Marketing Unleashed, an awesome 2-day internet marketing conference in Houston, TX planned by the expert team at Search Engine Guide and Small Business Brief. Small Business Marketing Unleashed - The LakeThe conference was held at the Northwest Forest Conference Center just outside the city, with all the technology and amenities of city-based conferences, but with the relaxed atmosphere of a retreat-like forest setting, with a genuine Texan old-west feel. The facilities included a replica of the Alamo, a Texas saloon, Spanish hacienda, a lake, acres of forest, tennis courts, a pool, and rec room to name a few.

Small Business Marketing Unleashed - Heather Lloyd-Martin SpeakingSmall Business Marketing Unleashed is a new and unique type of internet marketing conference targeted at small business owners, who have a unique set of challenges and are often faced with having to multi-task and function in many roles. One of the goals of this conference is to be smaller and more intimate than the larger conferences, in order to help attendees digest information learned and have an easier time connecting with each other.

Small Business Marketing Unleashed - Matt Bailey SpeakingThe all-star cast of speakers included: Jennifer Laycock (Search Engine Guide), Matt Bailey (SiteLogic), Wendy Piersall (SparkPlugging), Matt McGee (Marchex), Debra Mastaler (Alliance-Link), Stoney deGeyter (Pole Position Marketing), Heather Lloyd-Martin (SuccessWorks), Mack Collier (The Viral Garden), Christine Churchill (KeyRelevance), and Sage Lewis (SageRock).

Several elements made it different from your typical conference.

Small Business Marketing Unleashed - Settlement House Being located in a forest setting, with meetings in a replica of the Alamo and pre-event activities involving a Texas-style saloon, the relaxed atmosphere made it very easy to connect with other attendees and with speakers. Also, instead of having to download presentations at the end of the conference, the swag bags came with a flash drive preloaded with conference presentations and worksheets to help attendees apply what was learned at the conference.

A few elements in particular make it a must-attend conference for small business owners:

It was the first ever Unleashed conference, but you would never know because the planning and execution were excellent. Hats off to the Search Engine Guide team for a hugely successful first conference!


Pre-Conference Events

Small Business Marketing Unleashed - Charity Networking EventThose who arrived the day before the conference started had the opportunity to attend a charity silent auction and speed-networking event.

Small Business Marketing Unleashed - Chuck, the SEO RapperThe charity auction featured about a dozen items from artwork to in-demand tech toys that people were eager to bid on. One of the great things about the speed-networking event was that you got to know a good percentage of attendees and speakers before the conference was even underway. This made it easier to network and make friends throughout the next couple days. Towards the end, the event’s sponsor, PopLabs, featured Chuck, the SEO Rapper, and he did a great job of mixing SEO and rap. (Didn’t think that could be done!)


Day 1

Small Business Marketing Unleashed - Matt McGee SpeakingThe first day started off with an introductory session “Common Sense Approach to Online Marketing” with Jennifer Laycock, Matt McGee, Wendy Piersall, and Matt Bailey. Each speaker presented insight that worked together to provide an excellent overview of some key elements people would need to know when starting to explore internet marketing. This laid a solid foundation for the rest of the conference.

The conference was blogged live so you can check out notes on what was shared in this session:

Next came the sessions on specific topics, including: Site Architecture, Social Media Marketing, Keywords and Content, Building a Community, Paid Search Advertising, Blogging for Business, Link Building, and Web Analytics.

Check Out the Live-Blogging Coverage of Day 1 Sessions and See What You Missed:

Small Business Marketing Unleashed - Fiesta at the HaciendaAfter conference sessions were finished for the day, everyone headed over to the Hacienda for a Fiesta, Unleashed-style! Everyone enjoyed some Mexican food and margaritas, followed by some good ole’ fashioned socializing. This was a great time of getting to know each other.


Day 2

Small Business Marketing Unleashed - Day 2 WorkshopsThe second day featured workshops that allowed participants to put into practice what they had learned, and explore topics and questions with speakers and other attendees. Workshops included: Link Building Workshop, Local Search Workshop, Keyword and Content Workshop, Viral Marketing Workshop, Paid Search Workshop, Usability and Conversion Workshop, and General Site Clinic.

Live-Blogging Coverage of Day 2 Sessions:


Overall, it was an incredible conference, and absolutely should be on your list of conferences to attend next year if you are a small business owner.

Be sure to check out the Small Business Marketing Unleashed conference photos on Flickr – That should motivate you to go next time!


UPDATE – Other Coverage of the Conference:



8 Responses to “Small Business Marketing Unleashed – An Essential Conference for Small Business Owners”

  1. The Future of Search Conferences: Smaller Is Better on April 25th, 2008 5:17 am

    […] Scott Allen: Small Business Marketing Unleashed – An Essential Conference for Small Business Owners […]

  2. Jennifer Laycock on April 25th, 2008 6:53 am

    Wow! What a fantastic recap Scott! This might be the best one I’ve read so far.

    It was great to get to see you again. Who would have thought just a month ago at SES that we’d be seeing you again in the Alamo? ;) Thanks for all your help and support with this show. It was really incredible to see how both speakers and attendees really came together. Exactly the type of show I was hoping for!

  3. Will Scott on April 25th, 2008 9:19 am

    Hey Scott, thanks for the mention. Great recap!

    I’ve been telling everyone I know what they missed out on.

    I’m going to have some kind of contest or giveaway for excess t-shirts as soon as I figure out how many are coming back.

    Great to have met you there. Hope to see you at the next one. And you can count on us to buy more margaritas!

  4. Doug McIsaac on April 25th, 2008 8:20 am

    Great wrap up of what sounded like an amazing conference.

    Small businesses are just beginning to wake up to the fact that marketing has changed and the old ways just don’t work as well anymore. Businesses that understand how web marketing fits into their marketing mix will dominate their markets for years before their competition realizes what is happening.

    Doug McIsaac

  5. Scott Allen on April 25th, 2008 9:32 am

    @Jennifer: Thanks! Well, you guys put on an amazing conference and people need to know about it. I really believe in what you guys are doing to help small businesses – it’s an area that needs much support. I’m always happy to help, although I don’t think I did anything worth mentioning compared to you guys. :) It was awesome hanging out with you and the crew…I definitely look forward to next time. I know…who knew? Keep it up! I’m sure the next one will be even better!

    @Doug: It really was an amazing conference. Hopefully you can attend next time.

    @Will: You’re welcome, and thanks! I know, I’ve been telling everyone I know too. Great to have met you as well! Yes, we’ll definitely hang out at the next one as well. Who can turn down margaritas? :)

  6. Rachel Phillips on April 25th, 2008 10:55 am

    Scott, this is an awesome post! I love that you included links to the live blogging posts; makes it easy for those who weren’t there (heck, even for those who were there) to go and get a feel for what they missed. Honestly, it was a joy and an honor to have you there. It wouldn’t have been the same without you. The people are definitely what made our first Unleashed such a success. Like Jen said, we were all extremely happy and proud of the results. Thanks for all your help. I can’t wait for the next opportunity to get together. :)

    @Will and Scott: mmmmm. Margaritas!

  7. Mack Collier on April 28th, 2008 4:43 pm

    Wow great recap, Scott! SBMU set the bar awfully high, especially for a first conference! Loved how the groups were small so the speakers could interact with the attendees.

    Looking forward to seeing you at the next SBMU, and hoping we don’t have to wait a year for it!

  8. Joining the Blogging Team at Search Engine Guide | WebGeek on April 29th, 2008 3:30 pm

    […] and are the ones who put on the recent Small Business Marketing Unleashed conference I recently blogged about. I’m honored to have met and become friends with this great group of […]

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