Last year, one of the founding members of SMPS made a substantial donation to the SMPS Foundation. This was both an investment in the future of our profession and a reminder of the remarkable legacy of this organization. That donor, Andy Zinsmeyer, officially member number one, our first president and first executive director, was there the day our organization formed on September 14, 1973. Forty-five years later he continues to be committed, and for good reason.
As Andy acknowledged with his gift, there’s a lot to commemorate. When SMPS was coming together, it was a time in which it was still unethical or unprofessional for professional services firms to advertise, and there were many limitations on promoting firms. This was the catalyst that brought together a small group of non-licensed professionals to discuss their common challenges.
The September 1973 meeting was evidently so worthwhile they decided to keep the effort going. They nicknamed themselves the Society of Birddoggers (aka SOBs) and agreed to meet again in November in Chicago. Weld Coxe, another founder, offered to host that meeting, and it was there the name changed to the National Society for Marketing Professional Services (NSMPS). And the rest, as they say, is history.
For forty-five years, we’ve kept up this worthwhile endeavor and helped professional service firms grow up as well. Today, SMPS continues to be the leader in helping A/E/C firms compete successfully in the modern marketplace.
Our programs, research, and network of more than 7,000 members are transforming professional services firms. We believe when firms use marketing principles to drive business decisions and pursues work that aligns with its brand, they will experience profitable operations and a respected market position. This is transforming your business through marketing leadership, which is the Society’s vision.
What sustains the organization is not the books we publish, the conferences we organize, or our weekly e-newsletters (through technology that didn’t exist in 1973!). SMPS continues to thrive for the same reason that brought together our founders at their very first meeting: a mutual appreciation for each other and the sharing and collaboration to help others succeed.
What started as an ad-hoc sharing session evolved to be the center of the marketing profession. It’s an accomplishment that Andy, Weld, and the rest of the birddoggers could not have imagined. Happy 45th Anniversary, SMPS.
Article written by Michael V. Geary, CAE, chief executive officer for SMPS and the SMPS Foundation.