New Web Marketing Group Takes Velvet Rope Approach

If you’re on the list for the next Internet Marketers of New York event, consider yourself privileged. It’s not just any schlub off the Web street who can attend the new local trade group’s shindigs. IM-NY events are invite-only. It’s no wonder the organization has a mere 20 members so far.

“The biggest concern the organization has is we don’t want to exclude any good people, but on the other hand, we need a way of building trust and making sure everyone has basic knowledge of Internet marketing,” said the group’s founder Greg Niland, president of consulting outfit GoodROI. Niland also runs several affiliate network sites in addition to hosting a weekly online radio show covering online marketing topics, called GoodKarma.

Niland and his handful of comrades aim for IM-NY to serve as a casual means of connecting with other “smart people” without contending with the sales pitches or lecture hall settings of other trade organization events. “About 80 percent is being social and just having fun, and about 20 percent is saying, ‘Hey, by the way, I have a great idea. What do you think about it?’ ” said Niland, adding, “Also, it helps with the trust factor for any collaboration.” He explained the group’s invitational approach will allow members to work together on projects or discuss topics they’d like to remain shrouded.

Indeed, the group’s first meeting, held at an undisclosed dining establishment near a central New York City transportation hub, involved talk of a consulting project collaboration. The next event, to be held in January, will be at a similar spot. According to Niland, the nascent club is in talks with a larger corporation to use its meeting places. IM-NY events are set to take place once each month.

Though IM-NY just began offering event sponsorship opportunities, Niland said the non-profit group has no revenue-stream goals, and no plans to charge membership dues. No sponsors have signed on yet for a minimum $1,000 sponsorship package, according to Niland, who said sponsors will be given the chance to address the group for three to five minutes, but will not be offered signage or branding of any kind. Instead, the intent is for sponsor representatives to carry on informal conversations with members.

The organization isn’t looking to compete with the likes of Search Engine Marketing Professional Organization (SEMPO), nor New York’s online ad trade group, 212. Niland suggested he’s hoping to appeal to a different group of people than those organizations.

IM-NY member Barry Schwartz, SEO expert and CEO of Web development firm Rusty Brick, was asked by Niland about a month or two ago to join the new organization, which Niland has had brewing for the past year. Although Schwartz and Niland agree the current crop of folks leans towards the search marketing end of the spectrum, this will change. “I expect a lot more e-mail people to be showing up at the next event,” said Niland.

So far, membership skews male (about 85 percent, according to Niland). As for age range, some are nearing 60 while “some literally just learned how to drink beer legally,” he said.

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