Host an idea swap! Here’s how!

Photo courtesy of and

Photo courtesy of and

Thursday, September 10th is nationally known as Swap Ideas Day, which has been attributed to Robert Birch, creator of such weird celebrations as Lumpy Rug Day, Trivia Day and Nothing Day.

There are no rules or even hints about how to do this, so I’ve noodled out a few suggestions because the idea really resonates with me. The most valuable part of a national magazine publisher’s conference I regularly attended was a session once offered in Vancouver titled “90 Ideas in 90 Minutes” during which we all got up and told one thing that really worked well for our publications. That exercise actually led to new product development in our shop, so here are some ideas for your own mini-conference, and I hope you have similar outcomes!

  1. Develop a list of similar product or demographic businesses outside your scope of active competition. It’s getting harder to do in a national marketplace, but the majority of us still belong to a trade organization or can come up with a list of similar businesses. If your business is too defined, meaning you are a Fortune 500 company with a defined niche, then reach out to other Fortune 500 companies that share your demographic, but not your product line.
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  3. Develop a list of vendors with reach beyond your service area. One of my most valuable resources was a printer who printed magazines for me and 200 other publishers. When I invited him to brainstorm new revenue generating ideas with us, he brought along samples of 20 non-competing publisher’s best campaigns!
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  5. Ask your resource lists to help you compile an electronic bulletin board of ideas they have tried with success in specific key areas such as H.R. (recruitment, retention, etc.); Product Development; Sales Promotions; Client Recognition; Innovative Technology; Customer Service; Cash Flow management, etc. The tip might be as brief as a paragraph or as detailed as a full PDF attachment. Those who contribute are sent an electronic file of the collaborative results. Assign a deadline date and be prepared to send at least one prompt.
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  7. After you have your collaborative results, hold a roundtable or summit opportunity for key clients. Ask for insights about what’s working best for them and also for what they’d like to see developed by your industry. In turn, offer them some of the general business ideas your group developed during your idea swap. This will help solidify your position as a business resource as well as a specific product vendor, and could open your eyes to more new opportunities.

Have any other ideas that would work on Swap Ideas Day? We’d like to read them in the comments section! Sharing best practices is a great way to help float your own boat as well as to show extra support for clients and vendors. Certainly formalizing an idea swap offers more opportunity than Lumpy Rug Day….

About Jody Glynn Patrick

Jody is President of Glynn Patrick & Associates, which provides management consulting, executive coaching and strategic planning services. She is Publisher Emeritus of In Business magazine, which she published for 17 years. Selected as the “U.S. Business Journalist of the Year” in 2007 in Washington, DC, by the U.S. Small Business Administration, Jody has been a business reporter, editor, radio talk show host , and has won other state and national journalism awards. At the same time, she has helped corporate clients grow their businesses -- the basis for her practical coaching advice here. She also was the 2005 Athena Award recipient for her leadership role in mentoring other professional women. Jody will be talking with you weekly on TDS’ blog to share her insights and tips from the C-Suite perspective. Follow on G+.

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