Ian McAnerin, current president of the two plus year old Search Marketing Association of North America (SMA-NA) has announced that he will be dissolving the organization as of today mostly due to lack of resources. The association was originally founded out of concern that SEMPO, one of the major associations related to the search marketing industry, was not properly serving the needs of everyone. Since then, according to Ian, SEMPO has solved those issues.
We joined soon after the association was launched at the Professional Level because I too was concerned that SEMPO was simply catering to the larger SEM firms. I haven’t followed them that closely to know whether that has changed or not. However I do see more opportunities popping up where SEMs in specific geographical areas are forming their own local associations. We have seen this occur in Dallas as well as other states and cities. I see this trend continuing.
As to the current situation, Ian writes on his blog the following:
The problem, I think, is that we started off with the idea that search marketing association should be readily available to everyone who wanted to join. This means low membership fees. The problem is, that means restricted access to resources due to a lack of money and a subsequently higher reliance on volunteers from an extremely busy industry. Worse, we didn’t want to appear beholden to large money-rich sponsors (such as search engines, etc) that may attempt to control or direct the organization, so we were not very aggressive in looking for sponsors. This all combined into a significant cash crunch, even though we used as much volunteer time as possible, traded services (ie hosting) for memberships and hired a part-time employee to do updates rather than a full-time management staff.
The other members of the board held on for as long as they could, but there was just so long that they could try to run their own businesses as well as the SMA-NA. Myself, I’ve been getting very busy as well, and combining this with my recent health problems, it simply is not reasonable to continue attempting to run the organization. It’s also unreasonable to expect members paying fees in return for few benefits outside of a nice link and some discounts, and very little communication.
In the meantime, SEMPO has hired professional managers and the initial concerns I had 2 years ago are no longer as valid as they once were. The remaining concerns can probably be addressed internally. In short, I’m fighting problem that really doesn’t exist with an organization that in most practical aspects also doesn’t exist. No matter how strongly I feel about the goals of the SMA, it’s come to the point where I feel I can make more of a contribution to the industry using other methods and processes, and this is where I feel I should focus my efforts to promote and engage this industry I love and am so deeply a part of.
I’m sorry to see it go. Thanks to Ian and all the others who worked so hard to get the organization started. Who knows whether or not SMA-NA and other organizations did not light a fire underneath SEMPO to get them to change the way they were originally conducting business. I feel it did and therefore was a worthwhile endeavor while it lasted.