"But, in much the same way that companies that embrace things like branding and usability testing will find themselves moving ahead of the competition, the companies that embrace organic optimization early on will find themselves able to cut back on some of their other expenses (re: PPC) while still enjoying greater profits and sales."
We are in total agreement on that statement, even if "cost per conversion" does cut down on PPC Click Fraud!
Also, thanks for the kind correction on the definition of "search marketers". I think, though, that I've actually seen SEO's write about SEO clients, and call them "search marketers" because the clients are using search to market their company's products? Anyway, I believe your definition is the correct one
"1.) They make more from paid search advertising." = Is that because of the way PPC campaigns are usually priced by the SEM, or because advertisers are just putting more money into PPC?
"2.) Clients are more accepting of paid search advertising." = Agreed, so how can the Search Marketing Industry speed up the process of "It's just going to take time for people to 'get it.'" besides "education"?
"The reality is that people want "guaranteed results" and paid search listings are the only way to guarentee them."
Outside of the obvious, logical reasons why everybody wants a guarantee on whatever it is that they buy, why do you think wanting a guarantee of rankings (or whatever metric of results) is so prevalent with prospective SEO clients when many of them know that SEO's don't control the search engines? As for PPC, correct me if I'm wrong as I'm not that familiar with PPC, but isn't it harder these days to "guarantee" at least "ranking" of PPC ads due to Google looking at click through usage and landing page relevancy to help determine the top ranking PPC positions?
"Organic Search = Branding, Usability Testing, Viral Marketing" = It's just my opinion, but I believe that while organic SEO may not be as "clearly defined" to the SEO prospect, it is more "tangible" and accountable (for online sales and actions vs. offline sales) as compared to "branding". It sure does help with "branding", IMO, too.
Organic SEO is the best long term strategy for online marketing efforts, as opposed the the alternative of "offline" (which I feel should be done in addition). What you say here: "We need to talk about achieving a positive return on investment." is the "bottom line" for both online and offline marketing efforts!
Great article, Jenn! More articles relating to the overall health and growth of the Search Marketing Industry need to be written. I just don't know where you get the time to do all the things you do (same, for many other search marketers)! My "hat is off" to all of you