I was working on our upcoming “Modern Chamber” course, [article and results of this chamber pros survey is from 2014 – this course is no longer available. Consider the Digital Marketing for Chambers program] modifying some of the modules to reflect the answers you provided to the survey question we put out this week.
That lead to writing this post…
Chamber pros, are you giving your target market what it really wants right now?
The world is changing fast. You might be providing them what they wanted yesterday but no longer want from you today.
Chambers are a business, right?
Here is a basic rule of business: You have to offer your prospects what THEY want or need, not what YOU want to sell them.
Sounds simple doesn’t it?
After all, few people are going to reach into their wallet and just give your chamber their money simply because you have a product or service YOU want them to buy.
That’s called a donation. You are not a charity. You can’t rely on the goodness in people’s hearts. This is business.
Let me share a quick story with you.
For the past several years we have been doing an annual survey, asking chamber professionals about their wants, needs, fears, and frustrations concerning social media, technology and marketing.
These surveys have provided us loads of useful data that has helped us serve the industry. We didn’t have to guess about wants and needs. You were glad to tell us.
This summer (2014), we decided to do a mid-year survey. We wanted to know what you wanted NOW from us. When the responses came back, we realized there had been a major shift in the wants and needs of our target market.
Chamber pros didn’t have beginner fears anymore concerning social media.
For example, they weren’t worried about members attacking other members publicly on the chamber’s Facebook page, as they once were. Fears about spelling mistakes, questions on how to post photos, and concerns about looking “unprofessional” online had also evaporated.
People’s wants and needs had shifted, moving from basic how-to’s and protection from risk to advanced strategies that would result in membership growth, revenue, and engagement.
Here are the top answers to one of our mid-year questions (answered by 202 chamber pros).
As you can see in the chart, the biggest wants/needs of our target market are now:
- Member engagement – 71.78%
- Retention – 60.40%
- Membership Growth – 59.90%
- Non-dues Revenue – 50.99%
As I said, this was a dramatic shift from the early days when they wanted to avoid viruses and spam. As an industry, we have progressed from crawl to walk and many are now in the run stage.
Matter of fact, this new information from the mid-year survey required us to change some of our trainings, including the creation of a serious 10 week course (Modern Chamber) to teach chamber pros how to get new members through digital marketing, how to increase retention through engagement, and how to bring in additional non-dues revenue from non-members and members.
These big topics can’t be adequately taught in a single keynote or breakout. The data told us that our audience, you, are ready for advanced courses with measurable results.
Surveying your members and prospects isn’t a one-time deal.
Keep in mind that the first set of questions we had asked allowed us to know what you wanted.
A second set of follow-up questions, asked just this week, allowed us to really understand doubts or misgivings about obtaining what you said you wanted.
Here are the major concerns we heard from the second survey (161 responses):
• No time
• No money
• Can’t keep up as it is
• Members are behind on technology
• Can’t reach all the generations
• Can’t measure ROI
• How to balance old media with new
You said you wanted more engagement, for instance. But, in the back of your minds, there was evidently this hesitation…”Will I have the time? Will we have the resources?”
From knowing this new data we were able to address all of these concerns by modifying the course, adding sub-modules and additional training on these specific issues.
The original set of data (what you want), plus this new information (what might stand in your way) allows us to provide exactly what you are wanting and needing NOW.
Providing Your Members Exactly What They Want
Your chamber must be doing this too, surveying your members and prospects for their needs and then offering products and services to satisfy them.
You need to know what your members want.
You also need to know if they believe they can’t get those things through the chamber.
Said another way, what do your members and prospects really want RIGHT NOW. Is it help with technology? Help with marketing?
Plus, what are their concerns about getting those things from you?
What might their objections be? No Time? No Money? No confidence in the chamber’s ability?
How will you tackle those objections? Payment plans? No attendance requirements? Success stories?
Are you doing this kind of research at your chamber?
It’s easier than you may think.
If you want to do this yourself, use an online survey tool such as the ones produced by Constant Contact or Survey Monkey. Start by asking your members what they want and or need.
Ask open ended questions so you can really hear what your members and prospects are thinking about. Inquire about their fears and frustrations. Ask them about their hopes and dreams.
Then ask them about the chamber and what concerns they have about it delivering on those wants and needs. You might not like hearing the answers. But once you know their concerns, you can answer them or adjust your offerings.
If you need expert help with this, reach out to Cathi Hight of Hight Performance Group. She has been doing benchmarking surveys for chambers, comparing survey results and data against similarity positioned organizations.
You can also reach out to Steve Snyder. Steve was the research lead at the Western Association of Chamber Executives (W.A.C.E). He does research projects for chambers in his semi-retirement.
The first set of data is what training other chambers are looking for.
From this you can extrapolate where their thinking is. They are turning social media to their advantage.
This second set of numbers can provide you some insights on where chambers are going to be putting their attention. Notice that LinkedIn ranked higher than Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. Also notice that blogging, email, and apps are hot topics.