If You're Creating a Start-up: Find Your Three Words

On a recent plane ride I read an article (title of this blog post) by Elaine Wherry, co-founder, Meebo, acquired by Google in 2012, and published in the June 12th, 2014 Edition of the Wall Street Journal.

The article is about how a start-up should act and stay focused.

She goes on to say that if you can get your founders to agree on three words that describe your company, your marketing staff will love you forever.

Everyone in our industry is talking about reinventing your chamber for the future.  What better way to start that process by taking the advice of Elaine Wherry and put it to work for your organization, community or industry sector.

What are your three words for your chamber?  Can you get your Board to agree on those three words?

She gave the two following examples and stated that these three words should allow you to answer "1) who you are; 2) what you do; and 3) how you do it."

  • Facebook - "fast, bold, open"
  • Google - "data, big, visionary"

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation's Institute for Organization Management program uses, "Learn, Grow, Connect."  We've been using those three words in our marketing materials for 10 plus years.

It's also the theme I use in my graduation remarks.

Learn - you just completed 96 ours of non-profit management, if you've not already done so, I challenge each of you to obtain your professional certification, CCE for the Chamber exec and the CAE for the association exec.  Institute has prepared you well.

Grow - go back to your communities and your industry sectors and raise the bar from what you've learned at Institute from your peers and the faculty.

Connect - stay connected to your classmates, and stay connected to Institute.  Consider coming back as a class advisor, faculty member of a Board of Regent.

As chamber leaders it's important to remember that you are professionals - you work in the profession of nonprofit management.

I'm sure you've heard the bricklayer story (it's not mine, but tells a story worth repeating):

A community leader happens upon a construction site and she asks each bricklayer the same question - may I ask what you are doing?

  • The first says I'm laying a brick;
  • The second says I'm building a wall; and
  • The third states I'm creating a cathedral.

Again, as professionals, build those cathedrals in your communities and industry sectors and start by identifying your three words with your board!

5 Must-Have Collateral Pieces in Your New Member Kits

We all know first impressions mean a lot!

Based on that premise, what are you doing with your new member kit, which will be the first impression your new member gets of your organization?

Is it professional?  Is it delivered in a timely fashion?

You should be able to answer yes to those two questions above and here are my list of 5 must-have collaterals in your new kit 1) Welcome Letter; 2) Membership Card 3) Decal or plaque; 4) Features of Membership; and 5) List of Upcoming Events.

Welcome Letter - this should come from your CEO.  Keep it short and sweet, thank them for joining, tell them what the chambers been working on, and tee-up what else is in the new member kit.

Membership Card - ideally this is attached to the letter (hint it will allow you to do a mail merge) and the end product is professional.  Make sure their member number is on the card and you instruct them to put it in their wallet.

Decal or Plaque - I think you know this one!  Ask them to prominently place their membership decal or plaque where others in the community can see it - the businesses front window or by the cash register.

Features of Membership - explain the features of membership and the benefit they will get from those features (i.e., educational program is the feature and the knowledge gained from that educational program is the benefit).

List of Upcoming Events - create a list of programs that are scheduled for the next quarter.  Put it in a form that they can post to a bulletin board or maybe put on their refrigerator that will be a constant reminder of your organizations upcoming events.

Get started on upgrading your new member kit today!