If you’re like most chambers, your resources are very precious to you. You’re probably always looking for ways to stretch your budget and guard your time. If you are the only employee of your chamber and you’re in charge of the day-to-day operations as well as the marketing and new memberships, you may be maxed out. But you’ll be happy to know that creating a basic chamber marketing strategy can help you do more with less time and money. You just need to invest the time in setting up the process in the beginning.
There are five basic steps to creating a chamber marketing strategy. These include:
- Creating member personas.
- Identifying membership goals and required tools.
- Accounting for existing resources (people and pieces).
- Creating and planning campaigns.
- Implementation, measurement and review.
At first glance, these steps for establishing a chamber of commerce marketing strategy may seem overwhelming and more than you need. But if you take the time to create a strategy, everything you do in the future will be plotted against it. You’ll have a tool to help measure against whether this is something that is part of your strategy and bringing you closer to your goals or contrary to your strategy and, thus, taking you further away from your goals. Strategies save time and resources in the long run.
Step One: Creating Member Personas
You needn’t spend a lot of time on this. Just take a quick look at who your current members are. Examine the data of your most loyal and successful members.
- What do they have in common?
- How old are they?
- What industries do they come from?
- What business or service do they provide?
- How long have they been in business?
- Are they from a particular part of town?
- What is the reason that they joined?
All of this data can be used to create your ideal member.
Crunch the numbers quickly, come up with averages, and now you’ll understand what kind of common denominator your most successful members have. You’ll use this information to make sure that you’re marketing to the right people.
Maybe your most successful demographic isn’t the one you want to target. One of the reasons you may decide to do this is because you’re looking to expand who the chamber helps. For instance, your most successful and loyal members might be businesses that have been around for between 5 and 10 years with owners and employees in their 50s and 60s.
Upon looking at that data you may decide that you need younger entrepreneurs to ensure the chamber continues to thrive over the next several decades. If that is the case, you may want to create two-member personas, one for the most successful members that you currently have and one for the type of members you’re looking to attract. Write these personas out and keep them handy so that every time you are posting or creating content you can think about who it is that you’re writing to or creating for.
Step Two: Identifying Membership Goals and Required Tools
Now that you know who you’re speaking to (or creating content for) you want to decide what it is you want them to do. Much of your chamber marketing we’ll target either bringing on new members or retaining old ones. Most likely you’ll have a mixture of both. However, in some situations, your marketing may be targeted at getting people to attend a one-time event or a monthly event the chamber offers such as morning networking.
Before you begin any marketing strategy or campaign, you want to be clear about your goal with the actions you’re laying out. What you want to accomplish will affect how you get there and the tools that are required, just as your ultimate destination on a road trip will affect whether you turn left or right, north or south.
Before creating a strategy, narrow down 1-2 goals. Make sure they are measurable and time-bound. For instance, imagine you want to recruit three members this month. Is that possible? There’s nothing wrong with creating a goal that is difficult to reach but it should never be impossible. If it is, you’re setting yourself up for failure in front of your board. For instance, three members in one month seems like a good goal unless you haven’t recruited three members in a decade.
A goal should always be a little bit of a stretch but not something where you don’t have enough hours in the day or resources to accomplish it.
More Ideas: Tips for Setting Chamber Social Media Goals
Once you have a goal lined up, plot out how you’ll get there. If you want to recruit three new members this month how many do you actually need in the pipeline? How many people should you be actively talking to in order to end up with three members signing paying their dues?
Next, ask yourself what you need to get there. For example, you may decide that in order to recruit three new members you need to implement a newsletter and host an open house.
Make note of the things that you think are necessary to recruit your three new members including any of the costs, tools, or resources required.
Step Three: Accounting for Existing Resources (people and pieces)
Now that you know what is required to reach your goals, note your existing resources. How can they be leveraged to fit what you need? Are there volunteers you can put in roles to help out? Is it possible to find something in the budget for what you want to accomplish?
Consider the role of technology. Would having membership software help you be more efficient? Do you need marketing automation software to help you do more and reach more people with less effort?
If you need board approval for any of these resources that you uncovered in the previous step, make sure you show how meeting your membership recruiting goals will help offset the costs of these resources or help you attain these goals more efficiently saving you resources in the end.
Step Four: Creating and Planning Campaigns
Now we’re at the step that most people overlook. Social media and content marketing can be powerful tools in the hands of chambers. However, when you don’t place a chamber marketing strategy behind them you end up exhausting your time with very little to show for it. That’s where campaigns come in.
Take your list of goals and who it is you’re trying to reach. In creating your member personas you figured out certain things about their online behavior. Things like what social media platforms they use and what types of content they want to interact with.
If you’re unsure of these preferences, do some quick research based on the demographics you have for your ideal member. For instance, if your ideal member is a 30-something-year-old, search online for the most popular social media sites for people in their thirties. Find out if the average 30-year-old watches more videos or reads more articles.
Use this information to create a posting and content plan of how you will reach your ideal member. At first, your plan might be largely guessing based on the research you’ve done. As an example, you may find out that your 30-something spends a lot of time on Instagram and so you might decide to increase your posting from once a week to two posts a day.
You’ll also want to consider how to stay in touch with people who don’t join the chamber after your initial efforts. Creating a nurture or drip marketing campaign will help you stay in contact with people who may be interested in the chamber but aren’t quite ready to join.
Step Five: Implementation, Measurement, and Review
At this point, you have an ideal demographic, a goal you’re targeting, resource needs, and a plan on how you will meet them. The next step is implementation.
Create an editorial calendar where you will schedule not only your content creation but your social media posts as well. Creating a document that will allow you to see the broader picture of your content creation will give you insights into what is needed and where your content strategy holes are.
Since you want to tightly align your content creation with your marketing goals you want to make sure that you have content that moves people down the sales funnel. The sales funnel may be membership sales related or event sales related. The sales steps are based on what your goals are. For example, if your goal is to recruit a new member the sale steps may look something like:
- awareness of the chamber
- interest in what the chamber does or can do for the business
- decision-making about whether the chamber is a good fit for the business
- action or becoming a member
Once you’ve implemented a plan, you want to check back to see how effective your content and post have been. Examine things like shares and interactions. Consider boosting posts for greater reach. Make the necessary adjustments to increase engagement. Things you might play with include:
- day posted
- time posted
- frequency of postings
- social media platform
- tone of post
- using emojis versus not using emojis
- using hashtags and how many
All of these things contribute to the number of shares and engagement you get with each post. Sometimes even changing a few words on a post causes more people to pay attention to it. You may also try using different types of images. You might use a basic image in your blog or you might place the blog post title over the image. Either of those design elements may change the level of engagement you attain.
This stage is all about experimentation in getting to know what format your audience responds to. If something’s not working, try something else. If something is working, do more of it and apply what you’ve learned from that post to your others.
There’s a lot of setup work in creating an effective chamber marketing strategy. But once you’ve taken the time to do the research on your ideal members, you’ve created the type of content they find worthwhile, and you learn from your audience when and how they prefer to receive the content, you can reach your ideal member much more effectively and in an efficient manner improving your return on investment of time and resources.