1 City, 2 Days, Endless Takeaways: My Experience at the C3 Conference


When Francis, our EVP of Digital Marketing, told me I would be attending C3 this year, my heart actually skipped a beat. Ever since I started, I had heard about the hundreds of marketers from all around the world, in all industries that convened to share tactics and insights. Now, it was my turn.

As soon as I got back to my desk, I did what any digital-dork would do: I jumped online and mapped out my two-day agenda by the hour. Seth Godin at 1:30 p.m. Bolded and circled – definitely attending that one!

Arriving Tuesday morning in the heart of Midtown Manhattan, I was greeted by a large “Welcome to C3” sign. Walking into the space filled with green ambiance lighting, I felt like Dorothy about to meet the Wizard of Oz.


Down the long pier, I passed the session rooms until I reached the “Partner Ecosystem,” where we had one of the most amazing booths I’d ever seen.  It was decorated with bright red chili-pepper lights, our signature 451 Hot Sauce and a whole bunch of 451 SWAG.


Before I knew it, it was time for my first session: Breakout Lab C. Together with my fellow agency search engine optimizers and marketers, we played a “Who Wants To Be a Millionaire” themed game, in which we were quizzed on certain features of the software. I won a $25 Amazon Gift Card!

During Seth Besmertnik’s speech, he introduced the idea of “Galileo Syndrome”:


Galileo syndrome is all about challenging the status quo. We have entered a new era of marketing and it’s important that we do not give up hope when faced with untraditional ways of thinking.  Unfortunately, Galileo was punished for playing a major role in the scientific revolution and discovering that things revolved around the sun.  I’m pretty sure marketers won’t be convicted for having a desire to challenge accepted conventions, or at least I hope so; especially in the SEO industry, things are always changing.

Throughout the rest of Besmertnik’s keynote, we were seasoned with the idea of “Web Presence Management.” For years, our jobs were to focus on choosing the right keyword, placing it in a meta tag, making sure to link the keyword in anchor text and build links.

Today, we are more than that.


As an SEO in a digital marketing agency, I am able to provide information across various departments.  My insights are able to guide business strategies and in most cases I am a central part in crafting that strategy to ensure the best chance of success for our clients.

Next up was the presentation I’d been waiting for: Seth Godin’s keynote. For an hour, I soaked up his fun facts and practicalities about digital marketing in this day and age; no slide deck, no fancy animations, just Seth and a microphone.  I don’t think I’ve ever been so enthralled in someone’s dialogue before.

For day two, my favorite session was an Agency Success Panel. One of the questions from the audience was along the lines of what we, as SEO’s, call ourselves now that the marketplace has changed so much.  Since the industry has changed significantly over the past few years, everyone had a different answer.


One of the panelists described SEO as “ecosystem optimization” because we optimize every area of an agency.  Another said that we were considered a “digital conductor.”   The point is, as Search Engine Optimizers, we think more like marketers in 2014.  Our job is no longer about fitting a keyword into a page and manually mapping a 301 redirect.

One of the most important lessons I got out of C3 was that I shouldn’t limit myself as an “SEO.” My goal at 451 is to influence business; with this knowledge, I am uniquely positioned to influence multiple types of mediums.  Because of that, I have the ignition to continue to fight for an epidemic of “Galileo syndrome.”  We have entered a completely new realm of marketing and it’s important that we do not give up hope when faced with untraditional ways of thinking.  It’s what makes us successful, and in an industry like this, we need to be ready for change.

Melissa Sciorra

Melissa Sciorra, SEO Director. Follow her @mel_arroics!

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