SEO is something I've passionately proposed to clients and written about for the past 6 years. One of most important steps in a successful SEO initiative is getting the client/company to buy into optimization. Once it's accepted, welcomed and recognized as a necessity within their culture, it's a great experience for the client and their vendor. When the client fights and resists site integration (due to poor inter-departmental communication/execution), the finger is inevitably pointed back at the SEO, their reputation tarnished, and the client left with no ROI or progress.
Personally, I anticipate a SEO revival in 2006 with major corporations finally wrapping their arms around this vehicle due to its proven reach, low acquisition costs, and overall impact (reducing their reliability on ppc). To all my fellow SEO-longs, your dedication and expertise is invaluable and hopefully will be in even higher-demand in the very near future.
Educators like Gord and the rest of us need to keep evangelising about the true value in SEO (thank the Lord for precise analytics b/c the proof's in the pudding)!!
The important key factor here for C-level decision makers is that they thoroughly evaluate a SEO's credentials, expertise and technologies so that they receive the best results possible.