Chambers do phenomenal work and because of this their efforts are frequently taken for granted. They are often seen throughout the community but are the unsung champions of business. Many chambers are trying to reframe their reputation and work on some innovative branding. We had a question about this in the Chamber Professional’s Group on Facebook, where a member asked:
Any thoughts……how do you change the thinking of your members to, “Being a member of the chamber is about being a part of something bigger. It’s about being a part of the business community and making it grow, thrive and flourish. The benefits we offer are just an added bonus.”
While this idea may not be popular — and there may be a lot of hot shot agencies who will tell you they can help you rebrand in one of those inspirational come be a part of this massive local movement — you will be fighting an uphill sell.
The above marketing tactic/rebranding involves appealing to enlightened businesses. If you examine Maslow’s hierarchy of needs (and motivations) and apply it to business, you’ll see that a business owner who is starting out, or struggling, will not find the betterment of the community pitch very appealing. He needs someone who can help him make connections and sell his product. His needs are basic survival.
Are All Chamber Members Altruistic?
It’s not until there’s a maturity of the business that someone could embrace the idea of joining for altruistic reasons/the benefit of the larger community. If the members of your business community are community-focused an inspirational video would be a good visual representation of the good your chamber does.
A safer, and generally more effective, route for a chamber membership drive marketing campaign is to clearly illustrate the help your chamber of commerce is providing individual businesses in your community. Don’t expect potential members to draw the inferences from well-written copy or a list of benefits. People won’t take the time to read it.
Chambers as the Face of Business
Approach your most dedicated members and ask them to tell their chamber story through video, then repurpose it into several forms of content (blog posts, case studies, testimonials, still photography with quotes, podcasts, b-footage, bloopers, etc.)
Make sure that while the members are telling their experiences with the chamber, they are also telling about themselves. This provides an authentic referral for your chamber and a marketing piece for them as well. Plus potential members can identify with the story of the member’s business. Create a tag line that can be part of every video, such as “We are <insert city>,” “<Insert chamber name>: we are the face of business.”
It should always be about your chamber members. Yes, you are a part of something greater and yes, your efforts on behalf of the community and local business are substantial but at the end of the day most people are just trying to figure out what they are getting out of it.
Guest post by Christina Green
Photo credit: via Flickr by Hailey E. Herrara