Since we’ve started putting out content related to making the most of your chamber of commerce investment several years ago, our most viewed blogs have always been our “Chamber Prep for the Upcoming Year” entries.
Well, guess what? As much as no one wants to hear it, it’s already time to talk about 2024.
That means a lot of things to a lot of people, but our job is to help you optimize and get the most out of the money you’re spending with your chambers of commerce.
So, here are our best practice tips to help you optimize your chamber memberships in the new year:
Budget More for Your Chamber(s) of Commerce in 2024
We recently had the opportunity to present at The Pizza Tomorrow Summit and Florida Restaurant & Lodging Show in Orlando… Our topic? Growing Your Restaurant Through Your Chamber of Commerce.
We started our presentation by saying, “Around the show here, you’re hearing about lots of ways to market your restaurant…. I’m asking you to think about one you haven’t considered before.”
Then, I showed them this slide.
The truth is that most people don’t think about chamber spending as marketing.
They think about it as joining an organization.
They think about it as supporting the community. “Getting involved.”
Even to the IRS, your chamber membership is logged as Club Dues and Membership Fees.
Not for us. For us, our chamber spending comes out of our marketing budget.
In fact, for Momentum, 100% of our marketing budget is spent on chambers.
We don’t spend on social media or print ads.
We don’t spend on billboards or direct mail.
No, we meticulously place our marketing dollars into chamber memberships and sponsorships that put us squarely in front of our best prospects.
And you know what? It works.
Your Chamber of Commerce is Filled with Real, Live People to Sell To
We consult with chambers around the country, and when I’m pitching a chamber to work with them, I always say, “Chambers like our stuff, because we tell their members to spend more with them.”
Why? Because with a chamber you can target your spending to get you in the rooms you need to be in, in front of the people you need to talk to. Face-to-face. Real conversation.
I asked the restaurants at the show… What’s going to do a better job of getting new people to know and love your products – a social media ad with a nice photo, or catering a chamber lunch, where people can taste, smell, touch, experience and enjoy your food?
It’s an easy answer, and it’s not just for restaurants.
There is so much noise out there in public communications, that we all need to find a hook, an edge, an advantage.
Nothing beats talking to someone face-to-face. Nothing ever will.
At your chamber you get to do that.
Make a Chamber of Commerce Strategy that Supports Your Growth Goals
In our Member Value Workshops that we do in-person and virtually for chambers of commerce, we put 12-15 chamber members in a room and help them to develop a strategy to get the most out of their memberships.
The first question we ask is, “Why did you write the check in the first place?”
Everyone joins their chamber for a reason.
It’s not always new business – though, I’d say 90% of the time it is – but sometimes people just want to be seen as a leader in the community, or they have an advocacy issue they want the chamber to take up for them, or they just want to see the organization succeed in its mission.
It’s important to identify that as you kick off a membership (or calendar) year, because it will drive your activity, and keep being involved with your chamber atop your to-do list.
We belong to seven (7) chambers of commerce, and we have a strategy for each one.
Our clients belong to about a dozen more, and they have a strategy for each one, as well.
We see it very clearly, because a bunch of our chambers are out of town – which means extra expense just to… Attend a networking event.
But, when we do make that expense, we can guarantee that (1) it’s the right event for us; (2) the right people are in the room; and (3) the chamber team knows we’re coming and what we want to accomplish.
Be Specific with Your Goals
Same for our clients.
Our advice to you is: do the same for all of the organizations you belong to – chambers, business associations, not-for-profits. All of them.
In our Member Value Workshops, in the answer to that question above, we get a lot of “meet people,” “be seen,” and “tell our story.”
In the workshop format, we push back…
Be seen as what?
What’s your story and who do you want to hear it?
With the answers to those questions, you can not only create a fine-tuned, targeted strategy, but you can communicate it to your chamber team, who want to help you achieve your goals.
Identify Your “Best Foot Forward” Content to Present to Your Chamber of Commerce
A few realities:
Your chamber of commerce needs valuable content to provide to members all throughout the year.
You have unique expertise that is valuable to your fellow chamber members (otherwise, you wouldn’t have a business)
Your chamber is a great place to share your unique expertise, but you only get so many bites at the apple.
What’s that all mean?
It means you have an opportunity, but that you have to take advantage of it.
Chambers of commerce, or all sizes and scopes, have different approaches to content…
Some are content heavy, with a steady supply of educational events, seminars, webinars and blogs throughout the year.
Others focus on their well-established golf tournament, awards galas and perhaps other big community events that take up the bulk of their staff’s effort, without too much else throughout the year.
Some do both.
These approaches are generally reflective of what their communities, members and board need, and are all managed differently.
The beautiful thing about content-drive events is that they’re generally pretty easy to manage, and can often be built quickly – in any of those environments.
The proof is: something happens in your community, and a roundtable or a seminar can usually be built and marketed fairly easily.
But things don’t always happen that require that kind of forum.
This is where you can come in, presenting your topics, and your expertise, as timely and relevant.
That’s the key, though… Timely and relevant.
The more timely and relevant, the better.
Put Your Chamber of Commerce’s Goals First for Success
Your goal is to tell your story in a meaningful and productive way, hopefully positioning yourself as an expert, building new relationships and generating leads.
The chamber’s goal? Fill a room with members and prospects, get worthwhile social media fodder, and show enough value that, in their minds, attendees link your expertise you’ve shared exclusively with their membership with the chamber.
Our advice: If you want to land speaking roles with your chamber in 2024, focus on THEIR goals first.
Which brings us back to point #3 above… You only get so many bites at the apple.
Bring your best stuff.
Not your good stuff. Your best stuff.
See, the goal of providing content for your fellow chamber of commerce members is not one-and-done.
No, it’s to position yourself as a reliable and invaluable resource for the long-term.
Which means that every time you have the opportunity to speak… You knock it out-of-the-park.
People don’t always, which confuses me.
You know – you’ve sat through duds.
I don’t care if it’s “just” your local chamber giving you 30 minutes to speak as part of their Lunch-and-Learn series… You never know what it’s going to lead to.
Best to treat it as though you’re keynoting at a major tech conference, short of getting to wear the wireless mic, and without entry music.
THAT level of attention.
When you bring your best stuff, people will remember your professionalism, and respond to your energy.
Now’s the Time to Plan
It feels like 2024 will be a crazy year, no matter who you are.
Life seems to be moving a mile-a-minute, and there doesn’t actually appear to be any end in sight… In fact, it’s probably going to get busier.
Traditional logic would say NOT to send a key message the week of Thanksgiving, but you know what? For many people, especially in the B2B world, this week gives a small window of having your mind to yourself before the real crazy season kicks off.
So, here we are.
How do you tackle the gauntlet that you’ll be running in the new year? You plan.
We can’t help you plan everything, but we can help you build your chamber strategy for 2024 in a meaningful and impactful way.
Does it work?
Enough for us to create an entire business model around the whole concept. So, yes.
Don’t have time?
Well, that’s what we’re here for, and we can help you not only create a chamber strategy for next year, but we’ll stick around to implement it for you.
Schedule a no-strings-attached Zoom call with us, and we can talk it through. I can promise you that, even if you don’t end up coming on as a client, you’ll leave with takeaways just from the conversation.
Want more tips on prepping to get value from your chamber memberships next year? Check out our past blogs (we try to do new tips for each blog):