What we can learn from the Solvay Conference

I was fortunate enough to attend a great lecture and Q/A recently.  The speaker, (I’ll spoil at the end) likened what he was trying to do with the gathering of individuals, pirates, and ruckus makers to the Solvay Conference in 1927.  The Solvay Conference was an invitation only event in 1911 that arguably changed the course of history. Following great success there was another conference held, and another, and so on.  Then the fifth conference in 1927 and something remarkable happened.


Solvay Conference

Solvay Conference 1927 From Wikipedia

The fifth conference had 29 attendees, some of whom you should recognize; Einstien, Bohr, Curie, Heisenberg. These great minds came together one day in 1927 and over the years to come, 17 of the 29 in attendance became Nobel Prize Winners. Think about that. They were all amazing minds of the day.  Most of them were leaders in their space.  We study them in school.  They all became linchpins and were recognized for work that occurred after this meeting.  I for one, refuse to believe this is coincidence.  I believe that the body of work that came after this meeting was a result of this meeting.  These people didn’t have ready access to one another. In 1927 you couldn’t text test results to Albert Einstein, or email theory principals to Niels Bohr. They got together and shared their work and argued for hours about what made them vulnerable and afraid.

Now, I’m not suggesting that we all travel the country and attend a meeting of physicists and chemists. You can, however; go to lunch with people that believe what you believe.  What if three heart surgeons from your local hospital got together for breakfast once a month?  I venture to guess the body of work improves. Something is easily shared there that improves the skill set or process of the others. What if all of the passionate individuals inside business in your community got together and discussed their challenges and fears every so often?  Some of those challenges will get solved.  Maybe not every single challenge is overcome, but some.  Some people would leave the room empowered, eager to tackle what scared them and made them uncomfortable the day before.

We’re all weird.  Get over it and share what you’re good at, or hell, share what you aren’t good at.  Put yourself in a room with other people that can make you make a difference. Risk finding value in a stranger. They did.

Thanks, Seth for sharing!


If this sounds like something you’d like more information on, check out the Icarus Meetups in Grand Rapids.


How To Plan Your Year

The steps and links below are how I created my plan for the new year ahead. I recently sat down at a blank search engine page and started to research this very topic. I wanted to create a plan for my next year.


Solution Chalkboard

Solution Chalkboard

Reflect. Look back at your actions, thoughts, accomplishments, etc. What was there?  What was worth repeating? An old friend of mine used to call this “Stop, Start, Continue”. Are there key things you want or expect from your personal or profesional life that you didn’t realize this past year? Jot them down.

Mega-Goals. These are the 5-10 year goals. What are they? What do you want to accomplish or have in 5-10 years. Write down 3-5 things. New House? Career Advancement? Masters degree? Put it on paper, of if you’re like me – Evernote!

Prioritize. Those Goals you wrote down, prioritize them. However it makes sense to you. Most important to least, chronological, whatever it may be, put them in some sort of logical order.

Milestones.  What do you need to accomplish in order to meat mega goal #1?  If your goal was buy a house this year, your milestones might look like these:

Goal: Buy a House.
Save 20% Downpayment.
Research market, locations, and possible scenarios.
Speak to a bank and secure loan.
Buy dream house.

I promise buying a house is a bit more complicated than that, but you get the idea.  Map out a few milestones for each goal.

Keep smaller goals in mind.  Saving a 20% downpayment will likely require some action on your part.  For example, set up your direct deposit to put a small amount of each paycheck into a new account that you don’t look at each month.  Keep these small goals in mind and the achievements will come quickly. Some small and quick success can really snowball quickly and get you moving!

Share. Take your ideas and your plan for next year and run it past a friend, co-worker or family member. Sharing your work will help keep you on point.  You’ll take the exercise more seriously and it will help to hold you accountable over the months to come.

Outside of the steps above, I’ve decided to apply some things to my plan for the year to help me through the process.

Read.  Blogs, books, magazines. Anything I can get that has a different perspective, or a new idea.
Freelance. Apply what I do to a project that is truly my work.
Write. I’m keeping a journal. I started with Day One. I also plan to continue with this blog while I learn and expand.

Whatever your goals in 2013, whatever your strategy. Keep going. You make the decision. Go for it.


Can Social Media Drive ROI? Part 1 of 2

The answer may finally be “Maybe”. New studies are becoming available that might change the way you look at display within the platform as well as investing in the resources needed to engage well.

BF3 shot

Marketer News from the IAB put out a story a few weeks ago about Electronic Arts (EA) shifting TV and Print dollars to Facebook. EA and Capcom, both huge video game publishers spent millions of dollars on several months of promotion within Facebook. EA focused on Battlefield 3. Director of Marketing for EA, Chris Thorne said:

[jbox color="platinum"]“We believe everything is heading in the digital direction. It’s been a massive realignment internally. I can’t understate how much Facebook is at the core of our marketing strategy now.”[/jbox]

EA used Facebook’s sponsored stories platform, as well as a mix of display ads and in-feed sponsored likes. They also developed an app that gave players discounts if they interacted with the page. Premium story sponsorships turned page posts into ads that the audience could comment on and share. Here is some of the reaction:

  • 800,000 people talked about the game during the week of its release.  This made it the most talked about page at the time.
  • The Battlefield 3 page gained more than 1.5 Million new fans in the months leading up to the sale date.
  • more than 30 Million people have joined EA franchise pages in recent months.

All of those stats are great. The engagement is undeniable. But what does it mean? Does it relate to sales, where is the ROI?

  • EA sold more than 10 million copies of the game at launch, the largest launch of any EA game to date.
  • Battlefield 3 experienced $12.1M in incremental sales by the end of the facebook campaign.
  • EA realized 4.4x increased sales for every $1 it spent on paid ads.

[jbox color="platinum"]“Those types [of media] have shifted by the wayside because it is more difficult to justify their spend.”[/jbox]

Thorne also said that they look forward to their next big launch and campaign on Facebook.  They plan to provide the social space with the best possible content and user experience.

The Latent Effect of Online Advertising

“comScore Study Confirms the Importance of Search in Influencing Offline Buying”. This study has been eye opening. A few years ago, Google and comScore teamed up over they busy Christmas season to study the influence of search and search marketing on retail buying decisions.


We all do it. Search the web for products, services, answers. Until I really started digging into these behaviors, I had no idea the important role search engines play in everything we do. Typing a query into the Google box is really just the tip of the iceberg. Sure, you might click the top result, or even the top paid result. But, you have almost no choice but to act on the websites and businesses that are presented to you at that critical moment.

The study followed 83 million Americans as they searched online for their favorite holiday gifts. Here is what they found:

37% acted online. Awesome right!?  Especially if you are an internet marketer. Easy conversion to sell.

The really great news about this study was that these items weren’t advertised anywhere else.  

That means that the latent offline effect was 63% of online searchers went to the point of purchase offline to make their purchase.

16% took direct action online. These people clicked from the search.
21% took action later, but still online.  These folks went back and conducted another search, or they visited the retailers website directly, sometime after being exposed to the ad.
63% later visited the retailer offline.

To me, this makes Search Engine Marketing (SEM) even more important than before. We know 97% of internet users begin their browsing with a search. These users are there. Why not market to them? Especially now. Google is making it easier and easier to make a decision right in the engine. Take a simple search for “flowers” for example; The three top paid are present, the first three organic results clearly listed, with some site links, the 7 pack attached to google maps. Below the results I have another ad, all of these very relevant. Another 8 AdWords Ads in the right rail make it impossible for me to not find someone that can help me with flowers.

This works. The example above is exactly why search is where 47% of all digital revenue is in 2012.

The full study is below if you want to check it out.

Latent Effects of Online Advertising