Creating Instant Credibility

Give me enough ribbon and I will conquer the world.

Having quit school at 15 and never graduated college, I have never put much stock in certificates, diplomas, accreditation, or resumes of any kind. But just because I don’t doesn’t mean the rest of the world doesn’t. In fact it astonishes me how much people crave such paperwork.

One of the easiest ways in the world to gain instant credibility is simply to form your own association. This practice was rampant in the martial arts world in which I once lived. As soon as an instructor felt he had gained enough knowledge from his master, he simply broke away and formed his own style and own
association. King of his own nation and master of his own subjects in one fell swoop. This association would then offer membership and rank accreditation, generating membership and testing fees at every turn. The fact that the new master might only be 23 years old seemed to bother no one (other than his previous master). As long as his students had something more to learn from him, they gladly paid.

I started the Martial Arts Business Association as a trade group for martial arts schools. A former client started the Professional Martial Arts Association. Both offered certification in various business categories, held trade shows and seminars, and promoted business books and courses. Both started small and made a great deal of money quickly. There were several other companies, most notably the billing companies or martial arts supply companies who were in a unique position to pull this off, but they didn’t simply because they didn’t use an association as their marketing vehicles.

This idea works in just about any industry, and just because there are already ten people servicing your industry don’t let it discourage you. Just like the 5th, 9th, and 27th Baptist church in your town, in a vertical market there will always be people who will join to obtain some sense of belonging.

The word “association” creates a magical, seemingly nonpartisan effect that draws people to your cause. Associations can have members, hold banquets, and offer awards. In fact, I knew a guy in the martial arts business, whose association name eludes me, who made tens of thousands of dollars a year by simply handing out a massive plethora of awards at a $200 a plate VIP banquet each year. That was his only product.

You could start a horse-lovers association, a west-midlands funeral-home association. A “your town” entrepreneurs association. The possibilities are endless, the power huge, the credibility instant, and the start-up costs almost zero.

Starting your own association brings instant credibility and power.

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