Your chamber wants to get new members. So you’ve spent time studying marketing, you’ve probably heard a guru or two tell you about removing the friction in order to get people to join (or do business with you).
Seems like a very basic idea:
Make it easy to become a member then you’ll get new members and they’ll stay members.
While this isn’t as simple as the idea in Field of Dreams (“build it and they will come”), there is some truth to the importance of making things easy for members and potential members.
So why do some chambers make it so hard for someone to become a new member?
Here is a list of some of the most common things that make it hard for them to get new members by making it hard for a business to become a member.
Do you recognize any of them?
There’s No “Join Now” Button
If you have an older website, you may not have considered all the possible locations for your Join Now button and your potential members may be woefully “under asked” to join on your website pages.
At a minimum, the button should be on your home page in several forms (links, buttons, tab, etc). If you have a long, scrolling home page the button should either scroll with the user or remain visible when they get to the end.
You want the potential member to have easy access to join whenever they are moved to do so, especially if they read all the way to the end.
You also should have a Join Now button anywhere where the prospect would be at a stage where they could be ready to make a decision.
The bottom line is don’t make them search to give you their money.
You Ask for Birth Certificates, DNA Swabs, and Resumes on Your Membership Application
The second biggest point of friction also occurs in the joining process.
Unlike in conversation, it’s a turn off to be asked too many questions on the application form. Instead, ask them the bare minimum and then get the rest of the information from them when you call to introduce yourself or reacquaint yourself.
You’ve undoubtedly seen funny comments on Facebook posts that read, “just take my money.” That member is giving you their money. Take it.
It’s Not Clear What They’ll Get
Since we’re talking about joining, another stoppage point is when someone gets to your site without fully knowing what a chamber is.
Congrats! This means you likely did your keyword work and you rank highly for your ideal market and their needs. It may also mean that you’ve attracted someone through social media. Great!
However, if they found you either way they might not be exactly sure what the chamber does and how it works. Your website needs to clear that up pretty quickly by showing how you can solve their business problems.
You’re Trying to Be Everything to Everyone
If you take a poll of your members and ask them who their ideal customer(s) is for their business, the ones who haven’t developed their marketing to its fullest will tell you, “we serve everyone.” The job of “world’s best Swiss Army knife” is already taken … by the Swiss Army knife company.
Before you argue that you are a great solution for any business, think about your offerings, your most loyal members, and those who don’t stay past the year mark.
If you looked for correlations, you probably could analyze fairly quickly who makes a great member and who just can’t seem to find success with you.
Keep in mind admitting that you’re not a good fit for a certain segment of the businesss population, is not admitting weakness or some kind of flaw.
Quite the opposite.
Knowing who doesn’t thrive with membership (regardless of the reason) helps you focus on those who do. Every moment you spend of your limited time on the wrong person/business is a moment you’re not spending with the right one. Your website content should speak to your ideal prospect.
There’s No “They Get Me” Moment
Remember the TV show Cheers and the theme song? If you don’t, there was a line in the song that was the anthem for extroverts everywhere, “You wanna go where everybody knows your name.”
Today, we can know everyone’s name very easily thanks to pixels, cookies, and the like. Knowing someone’s name is not enough.
What people want now is a group of people who understand them. They long for that nodding of the head moment and feeling like what you offer is exactly what they seek.
This is accomplished by creating content that speaks directly to their problems and provides solutions. It also comes from sharing your personality/the personality of your brand and helping people self-align.
To do this effectively, you need to open up. Your content has to be about more than business. Someone may appreciate the chamber staff for its business acumen but that won’t make them loyal. They want to feel like you are “their kind of people” and that you “get them.”
You can only do this with a defined brand and understanding of your ideal audience/member.
The Content is Stale
Maybe it’s just me, but in today’s business climate with businesses shutting down suddenly with no major announcement, when I see stale and outdated content, I assume they are no longer in business.
Websites are easy to update these days if they’re built on products like WordPress, a current CMS, or other sites like Wix. They generally use “what you see is what you get” (WYSIWYG) or drag and drop editors that are very user-friendly with a gentle learning curve. You no longer need to be techie to control your content.
Because of this, there is no reason for outdated content. Don’t leave your potential members wondering if you are still in business. Stay updated so they know exactly what is going on and that you’re working hard for businesses.
The Website Is Not Engaging
In addition to information being out of date, some websites are simply e-brochures. Your chamber website needs to do more than that now. There are gorgeous designs with animations, rotators, or video.
When creating your website keep in mind that you will have both visual learners and those who enjoy reading. You’ll want to incorporate a lot of different types of media to keep your audience engaged.
Static and unchanging is one of the worst things you can do with today’s prospects. If it takes them a while to decide about membership, you want to ensure they see a vibrant, appealing design containing the information they need that addresses their concerns in a medium they find appealing.
That may sound like a lot of work but it’s a lot less work to win over those who come to your website than it is to let those leads go to waste.
Your Value Isn’t Greater than a Free Facebook Group
There are tons of business resources online as well as networking groups. If your offerings seem similar to free groups, most people will take the free option, all things similar.
However, luckily for the chamber you’re not just like those free groups…at least you shouldn’t be but you need to ensure that someone visiting your website can figure that out right away.
The Chamber Provides the “Best Customer Service Hands Down”
How many times have you heard a business claim that they offer the “best customer service hands down” or some variation of that? There are some claims that have lost their luster because everyone uses them. Claiming great customer service is one of them.
But that’s just an example.
Look for words on your website that have little meaning because they’ve been overused. Weed those out and rework those solutions to better fit what your audience needs.
Not Having an Attractive Membership
There are a lot of different types of businesses out there. Are the ones who would find the most value in membership being adequately represented in your dues structure? If not, how could things be restructured to be more appealing? For instance, do you have entrepreneurs and solopreneurs that you could entice to be members? Are you offering things that make sense for their businesses? Do you serve up the information and “how to” in a great new member welcome packet? If you don’t, they’re not likely to join.
Chamber memberships no longer happen just because someone opens a business. You work to get new members. That’s why you want to ensure you’re not inadvertently making it hard to be (or want to be) a member.