(Part 2) It's hard to believe that we have passed the halfway point of 2022. We've had an exciting year thus far, and have some incredible new programs, services, and events coming up that we're excited to share with all of you!
Join Adam, Saul, and Christian as they discuss the WI Veterans Chamber of Commerce's big plans for the remainder of 2022.
Questions? Comments? Continue the discussion by requesting access to our exclusive WVF Facebook Group.
Wisconsin Veterans Forward is brought to you by the Wisconsin Veterans Chamber of Commerce, a nonprofit organization that serves veterans and military families by supporting veteran owned and veteran-friendly businesses throughout the state.
On behalf of our members, we serve as an advocate for Wisconsin’s veteran business community and promote economic opportunity for military veterans, military families, and veteran-friendly businesses.
Follow us on all platforms: https://linktr.ee/Wivetschamber
Intro & Outro Themes:
Barry Dallas - I’m Gone (https://uppbeat.io/t/barry-dallas/im-gone)
Noise Cake - Light It Up (https://uppbeat.io/t/noise-cake/light-it-up)
Today on Wisconsin veterans forward, we are giving our mid-year state of the chamber address. This is part two. Uh , if you haven't heard part one, I would listen to that first. You probably have, so I don't need to lecture you. Let's just dive right in. You are listening to Wisconsin veterans forward . Wisconsin's premier audio resource for veterans, military families, veteran owned and veteran friendly businesses. Wisconsin veterans forward is brought to you by the Wisconsin veterans chamber of email@example.com . Can you talk about , um, kind of the, the, what we've done to expand our services and support services throughout the state and what we are going to do to amplify that times a hundred?Speaker 2:
Yeah, I , um, one of the even , uh, you know , prior to COVID , one of the things that we were being very intentional about was , uh, you know, even though we are based in Milwaukee, we have members , uh, and we serve businesses , uh, you know, veteran own businesses, employers, veteran friendly businesses , uh, across the entire state. Uh, our footprint ranges from , uh, you know, central sheet metal in Hudson, Wisconsin , uh, to , uh, you know , uh, Mr. Handyman in Kenosha, Wisconsin, and all points in between. Um, you know, we, we do have members across the entire state because there are veteran own businesses across the entire state. Uh, and , and they're in need of, of support they're in need of networks and , uh, guidance and , uh , you know, the , the things that we really are passionate about, about providing , uh , so, you know, we've been , uh , doing more in person programming , uh , in areas around the state in the first half of the, in the first half of the year we were in , uh , O Claire . We were in Steven's point, we're seeing , uh , Madison , um, you know, the second half of the year we plan to , uh, be in those communities once again , uh, to be in even more communities like green bay and the Fox valley lacrosse , uh, you know, central Wisconsin Wasaw area. Um, you know, we, we know that there are, as I said, there are , uh , veteran business owners in every single community in the entire state of Wisconsin. Um, they're , you know, they're important parts of their local economy. They're important parts of their communities. Uh, and so we wanna make sure that, that they know that we are here to be a resource that they know what we can do to support them from , uh, you know, offering those, those educational and networking opportunities, promoting their businesses to a wider audience. Uh, some of our, our more , uh , intensive, direct support programs like our command post business accelerator, all of those are available to , uh , to veteran owned businesses and military affiliated businesses across the state. Uh, and, and so , uh , that's part of it is, is doing more in person , uh, events and, and engagement opportunities. Um, and , and part of that is also, you know, on our part, leveraging virtual platforms like this , uh , to reach those business owners no matter where they live. Uh, so, you know, offering program , having program offerings that are virtual or that are hybrids, so that when we're offering, you know, when we're putting on a , a presentation or an educational workshop , uh, you know, folks can, can participate in that no matter where they're located in the entire state. Um , so , uh, it's, it's kind of a combination , uh, it's a combination of us getting out there , uh, but also leveraging the tools that we have our at our disposal to reach the widest possible audience.Speaker 1:
Good stuff. I mean, is, is , are you , are we dropping some alpha, some inside information? Is there a chance that potentially in the future, the Wisconsin veterans chamber , or if commerce might be looking for more talent to add to our ranks?Speaker 2:
I mean, I , I don't think it's necessarily a , a secret to say, yes, we're expecting to , uh , expand our team. Um, as you mentioned , uh , you know, this is , uh , government funding and, and sometimes , uh , you know , especially for a program like this, that's a combination of federal and state. Uh , there are some, some , you know , hoops that you have to jump through. And so we don't necessarily have a timeline <laugh> , but , um , certainly in the near future , uh , you know , we will be joining the ranks of, of many, many other employers across the state of Wisconsin, which is trying to find , uh , great talent that can help us grow our organization.Speaker 1:
Outstanding. Well, good stuff. That , and that was the , the biggest chunk in the most exciting bit of news, but there's also an important part of what we do on a tactical level, and that is support our members and our members as individuals, as business owners and, and , and so on. So to talk about that, our VP of membership, he's the guy that knows what he's talking about when it comes to that stuff. Uh, the , to talk about the state of membership and the ways that we do currently and plan on , uh, continue to support our members and the plans , uh , the plans we have to expand the way in which we support our members , uh, Christian, what do you got?Speaker 3:
Yeah. You know, it's, it's a really exciting time , uh, you know, the membership , uh , I have continual membership meetings with folks , um , both current members and , uh , potential members. So the interest level is there, it's growing, it's expanding. Um , but as we always say, you know, the , the way that you're gonna get the most out of , um , any sort of affiliation, any sort of membership , um , our, or anybody else's is how , what level are you gonna be engaged in? Um, and, and so it's really about how much are you willing to invest , uh , to , in order to get that return? Uh, the more folks , uh , invest with us , uh , and , and , and I'm talking time and, and energy into coming to events, into participating, updating your information and things with us, the more return you're gonna see , um, to make some of that easier. Uh , we've done a , a lot of changes to things like our website , um , updated things to make things much easier. I, I kind of want one of those little signs that says, please excuse our dust, cuz we got so much stuff going on. Uh, but we've redone things like , um , the business directory, the business directory is now , uh , searchable. You can look by veteran owned businesses , uh , veteran affiliations. You can search , uh, through all sorts of , uh, categories, everything from arts to legal, to , um, to animal products , uh , what , whatever you're looking for , uh , I is on our list and that continually grows , um, for the members that are out there or any potential members coming in. Um, it is very important obviously to have that information be the most current so that people can reach out to you can get ahold of you and can , uh , bring business to you. Um, in conjunction with that, we have also launched a customer portal. The customer portal is your way to be fully ensconced into the chamber. Um , you will have , uh , personalized access. You can upload logos, you can , uh , change contact details. You can add members of your organization to our mailing list, distribution list. Uh , so that even more people from your organization are aware of, of things that we're putting on different events. So even if you, as the business owner are not able to attend , uh , one of your team can attend instead. Um, and, and that way you keep that , uh , that continual engagement with us and you're gonna get the most out of that membership. In addition to that, I often get asked the question of, well, you know, how do I demonstrate that I'm either a veteran owned or veteran supportive business without, you know, splashing something big on there? You know, veteran owned because most of us are fairly subtle. You know, we, it was a big part of our lives. We enjoyed serving. Um, but that's also in some cases , uh , you know, just a part of our lives, not currently our lives. So it's something that we do want to reflect and , and demonstrate in, in our businesses many times, that's what led to opening the business. So how to do that without , uh , being really in your face? Well, for our members, we actually provide a , um , Wisconsin veterans chamber of commerce logo, which includes either veteran owned or veteran friendly. Um, as , as a tagline on it, it's a very subtle logo. It can be added to websites, business cards , uh , social media, you name it. Um, and that's something that , uh , everybody should receive as, as they come on. Um, my, my request, obviously to any current members out there who came on at varying times, if you don't have the logo or you don't think you have the logo or you misplaced the logo, whatever it may be, reach out to us. And, and we will make sure that you have a copy of that , um , to display in , in whatever , uh , format you wish to do. SoSpeaker 1:
Right on what , uh , so in , in your daily dealings with , uh , a handful of our members, business owners , uh , and professionals that, that you do every day , what are you seeing as , uh, the biggest concern or biggest hurdle, or maybe biggest, biggest speed bump that they have in front of them, you know, facing the rest of this year that they're looking to get support with, that we are able to help with? Is it networking? Is it marketing? Is it they're worried about inflation? Is it supply chain? What are you hearing from people?Speaker 3:
You know, it , it really runs the gamut and it kind of depends on the, the organization itself. Um, number one, I would say , uh , would have to be people , uh , you know, everybody's hurting for, for staff team members , um, people with, with a set of skills , uh , everybody's hurting for that. Um, you know, and that's where we can incorporate some of these programs like the ETS sponsorship , um, like some of the other programs that we're involved in, which are really an attract to the state of Wisconsin for exiting service members. Um , it's a way to get that talent into the state , um, and , and , and show them that the state of Wisconsin is very veteran friendly. We have some perks here that supersede a lot of other states and, and , you know, I'm definitely not , uh, uh , trying to send the other states, the three of us , you know , correct . Correct . And , uh, you know, things like , uh , the Wisconsin GI bill, you know, that that's one that , uh , is pretty unique to this state. And , um , you know, something that folks don't often realize is you can transfer that to your dependenceSpeaker 1:
And it's separate from the federal one. People don't know that either. ItSpeaker 3:
Is , it is. So , I mean, you know that in and of itself , uh , if you're looking for educational opportunities, this is the place to be , you know , um , mm-hmm <affirmative> , so that , that would be number one would be , uh , would be that personnel piece. Um, the rest, you know, it , it sort of ranges, it can range everything from , um, how do I do more business with veteran owned businesses? How do I identify veteran own businesses? Um, you know, we can say, and , and we can point to the fact that recognized by the state, there's a handful of veteran own businesses that is not to say in, in any way, shape or form that , uh , those are the only veteran owned businesses within the state. You know, that's a handful and, and things like displaying the logo, having that available, using our business directory. Um, that's a really good way to, to identify those veteran owned businesses that you can actually engage with and, and do business with , um, and that can put you into , uh , you know, opportunities to , uh , expand out even further. Um , you never know what you can , uh , you can achieve with thatSpeaker 1:
Good stuff. Um, before I move on to marketing and communications, which really is kind of a subset of the way that we support our members , uh, at any closing thoughts in the membership world and, and how we support our members ,Speaker 3:
Um , you know, the , the membership is, is always growing. Um , it , and I mean that in , in several ways, it's, it's growing in its volume and it's growing and , and evolving in what it looks like. So , um, the, the pitch that I would put out there is if you're not a member, you should become a member. If you are a member, let us know, let us know what it is that you are looking for. If we're, if we're doing exactly what you want and, and your business is thriving. Talk to us, let us know that if we're not doing something that would be highly valuable to you, let us know, you know, that's the way that we can evolve the programs. We can involve our offerings and provide you what you need. Um, I can't say all of them will happen overnight, but, you know, we, we listen, we like to change our stuff. Um , the membership in just the year that I've been here , um , has evolved and, and we've added some things we've taken some things away , um, and all in response to, to what people are telling us. So , um , keep that communication open, reach out to us and let us know , uh , what you wantSpeaker 1:
Right on Christian Good stuff. And , and , you know, and we'll be, you know, we'll be reaching out to you as well, cuz that's, that's what we do , um, to see what your needs are and how we can better serve you. Um, and, and one of the ways that we service through our , by leveraging our network , uh , not only for, in person events, but also , uh, through our, our social and our web presence, we have a very, very large web presence, huge mailing list, developed socials with good reach. Um, and one of the ways, especially during COVID that we found that we could provide value for our, our members, especially our business members. Uh , our business owners , uh , were, was to rather , uh, to promote them, to share their successes, to share their deals and programs and updates and all that fun stuff is, is to, to be a marketing arm for them and to leverage our network, to get their messaging to their target audiences. And, and really that was the thing that we doubled down on during COVID cuz it was the thing that we could do most effectively , uh, from a distance while everybody was shut down. And we had a lot of success doing that. And so we've continued to do it. Uh, we , we have a lot of ways that we reach out , uh, to our audience and a lot of ways that we can feature our members and what they do and how they do it and what they have going on, celebrate their employees, their charitable endeavors, you name it. Uh, we have a myriad of ways we can do that. We have our newsletter, which over the summer is biweekly. And then during the year, it alternates two times a week and three times a week during the school year rather , um, we have our podcast, we have our weekly live streams like this. Uh , we have , uh , our blog articles, we feature guest bloggers. We transcribe these dialogues. Uh , there's a , a million ways that we can feature our member subject matter expertise and, and their successes, like I said earlier and get their messaging out there. Uh , so if you are a member and you say, Hey, why are they featuring X business? I want that we put out a call almost every other week. If you have subject matter expertise in blank, we want to hear from you. We wanna feature you. We feature our members. We give them the visibility that they're looking for. One of our members , uh , Taback law, Jim Brazinski over there, good friend of ours , uh , longtime member , uh , and Pali ours. He was a guest on our live stream and our live stream , uh , ended up living on, in perpetuity, on YouTube. We pulled the audio, turned it into a podcast. We transcribed it and turned it into a blog article, all of those things and then created micro content out of it. And that caught fire. And we ended up our YouTube channel, went from like 98 subscribers to 300, some odd subscribers. And, and that one piece of content ended up getting like 1800 hours of view time . And he's a member of ours and that's a , that is a service that we provide our members that visibility and that opportunity to share their subject matter expertise. Can you imagine being a member of an organization and being featured and getting 18, a hundred hours of visibility for you as a professional and your business, how much would that cost you to pay a marketing firm to get done? It's ridiculous. And that, that is, and obviously that's, that is an outlier, not all of our live streams and all of our videos and all of our podcasts get that sort of reach. Uh, but it happens and it's happened recently and that's the sort of value that we provide to our marketing communications. And that's, that's my angle. That's my avenue. So I , I mean, putting it out there, if you have subject matter expertise that you wanna share, shoot your shot. I always wanna feature your content. I'm a , I'm a , I'm a , I'm a content machine. Give me stuff, let me feature you. It makes me happy to feature your business. Yeah, guys, I think we, I think we can hit all of it. Anything else y'all want to add?Speaker 2:
Yeah. I just want to , uh , add one more thing to what you said about , um, you know, our role in , in promoting and in marketing and advertising our members. And certainly that's, you know, as you mentioned something that we've put more focus on in the last 18 months to, to two years. Um, but I , I also think it , it's kind of emblematic of, of what makes membership groups and membership associations really valuable , um , which is, you know, we, we work very hard to, to provide , uh , a lot of value both to our members, as well as to kind of the general community. Um , you know, everything that we do is open to the public , uh, nothing is, or, or very few things that we do are exclusive only to members. Uh, but one of the things that we founded in addition to, you know, our ability to help promote and market , uh , members is our strength comes from our members. You know, we're, we're able to meet our mission and provide a value to the 300 and some odd businesses and nonprofit organizations that are members of the value because of the expertise, because of the , uh, uh, you know, knowledge and resources that each one of those 300 members brings to the table. Um, you know, there's certainly things that each of us are, are respectively kind of more knowledgeable in than , than others, but to, to have access to a network of, of 300 , uh, you know, some , uh , business owners, employers , uh , subject matter experts, you know, that that's something that, that really , uh , sets us apart and really, you know, helps make us strong. So as much as we strive to , uh , serve and benefit our members, we're also very fortunate that , uh, they're willing to work with us to provide that subject matter expertise to a wider audience, to that they're willing to, you know, participate and present at workshops or, you know, be a guest on these live streams or submit , uh , guest articles. Um, all of that is, is because our members believe very strongly in, in the mission of the organization as well. Uh , and , and I just wanted to make sure that we, that we recognize that cuz we definitely wouldn't be , uh, a as strong or as able to meet the wider needs , uh , without the support of our members,Speaker 1:
Well said, good stuff spoken like the true president and CEO of the Wisconsin veterans chamber commerce guys, I'll ask you to hang on the line for just a minute here, folks. Uh , there you have it. That's what's been going on up until this point and what we have coming up, moving forward for the rest of the year and beyond I do wanna add, it just popped into my head. It's not just featuring our members and giving them an opportunity to share , uh , their subject matter expertise to their customers and target audiences, but also the B2B connections that we make, the people reach out to us all the time , uh , or they meet at , uh , networking opportunities to say, I need an accountant. I need a transportation company. I need a environmental clean. I mean, you name it like I need blank. Well guess what? We know somebody chances are. We know somebody and if we don't, we know somebody who knows somebody. So if you're looking for X, Y , Z for your business, if you're looking for a B2B connection to help you improve what you're doing, there's someone in our network that we can connect you with. And we do it over and over and over and over and over again, people do people do big time handshake deals at our networking events all the time. And that's, that's another thing that we , uh, that's a , that's another value that we provide excited to be a part of this. Uh , thanks for listening to us. Talk about ourselves here for a good 40 minutes. Uh, folks will be here next week. Uh , getting back on track with agriculture month. Uh , we got some exciting stuff coming , uh , down the pipe here , so don't miss it next week. Same time, same place. Thank you for listening to Wisconsin veterans forward brought to you by the Wisconsin veterans chamber of commerce. Please visit firstname.lastname@example.org . Don't forget to subscribe to this podcast and leave a rating and review in whatever platform you're listening through.