Some months ago the Society for Marketing Professional Services (SMPS) Marketer magazine asked me to take the lead in writing a theme piece on leadership.
“Hah,” I thought. “I really don’t know much about the topic but I’ll learn.”
Then, as I ordered some books on the topic from Amazon and started researching online, I came up with an idea that solved the writing challenge. Why not ask several past-presidents of the association for their thoughts about what goes into making an effective leader?
Association staff quickly helped implement the idea. Clearly, if the association had defined these individuals to be leaders, then their opinions would matter. And because they were true leaders, they would co-operate in the initiative.
Writing material problem solved. Soon I had the essays and point form answers from the current SMPS president and 9 past-presidents, and my job was simple; sifting through the observations for common points and unique reflections, melding them into the story. (And several of the leaders’ essays were strong enough that they worked well as story sidebars, completing the feature assignment.)
It turned out to be one of the easiest writing assignments I’ve ever achieved — and I think the results really worked well.
The story hasn’t been published yet, so it is wrong to divulge specific details — and in any case, much of it has association-related messages and stories which would in many cases not be too relevant outside of SMPS. However, I’ll share excerpts and examples with readers here once the article is released.
Yet in some respects, the way the article came together reveals an interesting aspect of opportunity discovery that may apply in some situations when you are planning your own marketing and business development initiatives.
For example, can you frame a relevant issue/question and poll/ask people who would find it easy to answer, and whose responses could provide useful insights, marketing intelligence, or sales leads?
I see this concept may be useful if you have been hitting a wall — you aren’t getting the results you wish to achieve, and you would like to find another option.
You could draft a “could you give your thoughts?” message to a variety of qualified individuals, both internally and externally, and invite their responses. You might frame this request through your relevant association for peer feedback and review.
Sometimes it doesn’t hurt to ask.