When it comes to the evolving landscape of chamber of commerce marketing and communications, I’ve been contemplating an important question this year: Does nuance – the power of language – matter anymore? As a fan, I like to believe it still does.
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It’s that “hear about” that gets me.
I follow a lot of chambers of commerce and business associations on LinkedIn, and I see that all the time – “hear about.”
Nobody needs to leave their office to “hear about” anything… These days, your members can literally get any information they need in about 15 seconds through a combination of ChatGPT and their favorite search engine.
The verbiage is not very compelling, and I don’t know how it happens.
Do WordS Matter Anymore?
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about nuance, for chambers, yes, but elsewhere in society, too.
It seems to be a lost art.
Trying to figure out why.
Consequently, I’ve broken it down to three things:
- Often with chambers, the people who are charged with building newsletters and posting on social media are not trained communications people – a necessary evil in not-for-profit organizations that have a lot to cover
- The combination of social media and texting has created a communications environment where communicating faster is better than communication well. Amirite? LOL
- There’s so much to do that people don’t take an extra minute to make things just a little bit better.
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Doesn’t it tell you – and, probably more importantly, your leadership – a little bit more about what you can expect if you take an hour out of your day to attend?
Want to know how long it took me to rewrite that?
About 10 seconds. I simply cut-and-pasted the original into ChatGPT and asked it to make it more compelling.
Your chamber can too.
WHY IS USING BETTER WORDS IMPORTANT FOR YOUR CHAMBER OF COMMERCE?
Marketing science can be traced back to the early 20th century, with real sophistication of marketing research techniques emerging in the ‘20s and ‘30s, particularly surrounding the psychology of selling.
Since then, technology, beginning with the introduction of the television and leading up to the sheer inundation of information we have today, has created a noisy marketplace where only the fittest survive.
Data analytics has changed everything… The people and companies putting information in front of you are smarter than ever.
To get your members’ attention, you must realize you’re now competing with anything and everything in their e-mail box or social media feeds.
Alas, Chambers of commerce are not exempt from competition in the market.
If a company has a dollar to spend, there are lots of places they can spend it.
Bottom line is… “Hear about” (which I’m using as a stereotype of boring promo language) doesn’t work anymore.
Your communication, every day, has to tell companies: if they spend that dollar with you, they’ll be happy they did.
The same goes for time investment – maybe even more so in the post-pandemic business environment.
It often seems that companies would more readily write you a check than have to give significant amounts of time.
As a membership organization, if you ask your members for their time, it needs to yield more for them than “hearing about” something.
In the competitive information environment we now live in, there’s no way around it.
Our conclusion: it is 100% worth the extra time to make everything you’re saying to them better, stronger and more effective…
So you can compete.
DO BETTER, AND THEN DO BEST
We all know we can do better.
In fact, as I’m writing this blog, I keep going back to my own “stuff,” to make sure I’m practicing what I preach.
(I will admit to falling into buzzwords every once in a while… BUT… I am pretty meticulous about when I use them.)
Here are some best practices for using better words to strengthen even the most basic of your public comms:
- Action-Oriented Language: Using verbs that inspire action can significantly impact the audience’s response. For example, “Join,” “Discover,” “Explore,” and “Start” are powerful action words a chamber of commerce can use to prompt immediate response or engagement.
- Benefit-Driven Words: Words that highlight the benefits of engaging can be very effective. Phrases like “Gain exclusive access,” “Learn cutting-edge strategies,” or “Unlock new opportunities” will be more motivating than simply stating the features of a product or event.
- Creating a Sense of Urgency: Language that conveys urgency or scarcity can drive action. Words like “Limited seats available,” “Exclusive offer ends soon,” or “Don’t miss out” create a feeling that immediate action is a good thing.
- Personalization and Direct Address: Using “you” and “your” makes the message feel personal and directly speaks to your members. Just be consistent throughout your message.
- Emotive Language: Words that evoke emotion, such as, “Empower,” “Transform,” and “Revolutionize” can stir enthusiasm for your chamber of commerce and a sense of victory.
Here’s an article I like from Buffer:
There are lots of ways to look at this, but the important thing is creating a mindset that our chamber of commerce is going to do better, every time we put something into the public.
IT’S NOT JUST A ONE-TIME THING, EITHER
Do you think of Apple as an innovative and revolutionary company?
It’s hard to argue against it.
But, it’s not just about the iPhones and the iPads and the iPods and all the rest of Apple’s technology… They had to get to the point where they had massive lines wrapped around the block on product launch days.
Apple is perpetually reminding all of us that they are an innovative and revolutionary company.
Here’s the “About” section at the bottom of their recent press release about the launch of the iPhone 15…
Apple revolutionized personal technology with the introduction of the Macintosh in 1984. Today, Apple leads the world in innovation with iPhone, iPad, Mac, Apple Watch, and Apple TV. Apple’s five software platforms — iOS, iPadOS, macOS, watchOS, and tvOS — provide seamless experiences across all Apple devices and empower people with breakthrough services including the App Store, Apple Music, Apple Pay, and iCloud. Apple’s more than 100,000 employees are dedicated to making the best products on earth, and to leaving the world better than we found it.
Now, there’s not a reporter in the world who doesn’t know who Apple is, and they will likely get placement of the announcement everywhere… Plus, the article, itself, is peppered with engaging, powerful words like “next generation,” “high-quality” and “beautiful.”
They could have phoned in the “About” section. They hardly needed more.
Instead, they include powerful storytelling, using the exact words that they want people to associate with their brand.
The most famous one, of course, is Steve Jobs’ famous announcement of, “1,000 songs in your pocket” at the release of the original iPod in 2001. Since its inception, Apple has been telling a story that has captivated the world, using the tools of communications to do it.
Is your chamber of commerce doing the same?
Are you consistently using the kinds of words you want associated with who you want your community to know you are?
It works for Apple… It will work for you.
CREATING EMPOWERING A CULTURE OF BETTER AT YOUR CHAMBER OF COMMERCE
Now, there’s a reality that many chambers have to face: You might not have the personnel to do this on a daily basis.
So many chambers have a staff of two, three people, whose day-to-day existence is incredibly busy.
Sometimes, just getting the newsletter finished and out the door is a victory in itself. I get it.
And, often, as we mentioned at the beginning of this post, your content writer wasn’t necessarily hired for their writing skills.
But, it’s imperative that you empower that person to do better.
I hear chambers consistently telling me that they need to find new sources of revenue.
Guess what? There’s new revenue right in everything you’re already doing.
What if the tools that marketing psychology has given us since the beginning of the 20th century could lead you to…
Which means… Don’t let your newsletter go out with boring language about your event, just because it’s on your to-do list for the day.
Post only compelling messages to social media.
Use the 90 seconds you welcome attendees at your chamber of commerce mixer for more than just talking about upcoming events.
Use these opportunities to engage and inspire your members.
Getting Everyone on the Same Page
Why? Because engaged and inspired members attend more functions, spend more money, and tell more people about the great experience they have with your chamber.
You must stress to your team the importance of the conversation that your chamber has with your members.
Especially with high turnover in the job market, not everyone will see this particular challenge through these eyes.
Creating a culture is critical.
You may have a small staff, and/or the person/people designated to get the word out about your chamber’s activities is NOT a trained communications professional… It’s well worth the investment to give them some additional technology and training.
The easy one is ChatGPT Plus – if you follow me on any social media, you’ll know I’m all-in on ChatGPT as a powerful solution for chambers of commerce. ChatGPT Plus is just $20/month, and offers many tools that will help your designated comms person save time, and be wildly more effective. If you’re not ready for that, the free version of ChatGPT can do an awful lot in that regard, itself. Get either at OpenAI.com. (I get nothing from this recommendation, except the joy of knowing I changed your life when you use it).
Literally plug your first draft into ChatGPT and say, “Make this better.” “Make this more exciting and engaging.” “Make this stronger for SEO.”
Even if you don’t end up using the whole thing, I guarantee it will give you ways to upgrade your messaging.
In fact, I’ll even teach your team how to use it!… We offer regular ChatGPT for Chambers webinars.
IF YOU BUILD IT, THEY WILL COME
a subtle difference or distinction in expression, meaning, response, etc.
It’s such a great word – nuance.
Does this all mean that if you start using stronger words, your chamber of commerce will suddenly have double the number of attendees at your events?
Not necessarily. But, here’s the thing:
You’re putting information in front of your members anyway, I’m assuming, to drive some sort of action – whether it’s click a link, register for an event, or weigh in on an issue.
If a stronger word gets 10 of them… 5 of them… to do it, then the 15 seconds it takes to do just a little bit better is completely worth it.
I like this test: When you write copy for your newsletter, or an event announcement, or a link to a blog… Would you, yourself, click on it?
When you write copy for your newsletter, or an event announcement,
or a link to a blog… Would you, yourself, click on it?
If the answer’s no, make it stronger.
That’s a great rule of thumb, especially for newsletters.
It’s a good mantra to get your team taking a little bit of an extra look at everything that goes out with your chamber’s name on it.
This is important.
Don’t throw “information” out there and hope that your members appreciate it.
Give them the good stuff… And then tell them that your chamber of commerce is giving them the good stuff.
Your chamber’s voice can be a beacon of inspiration and action. So, let’s not just communicate; let’s connect, captivate, and create lasting impact. Schedule a 15-minute Zoom with us, and we’ll walk you through how we work with chambers AND their members for stronger, more effective relationships.