You want to grow membership, not slow it down, but if your chamber is hard to join you are missing out on memberships.
People want easy purchases and they want the solution right away. When your offer provides a solution for their business and it grabs them emotionally, you want them to act now.
But if you don’t take their money when they want to give it to you, they may find another business solution or decide their money can be better spent elsewhere. Don’t let this happen.
Top Reasons Your Chamber Is Hard to Join
There are a lot of reasons why your chamber may be hard to join but these are the most common. They are things that you may not even realize are important when someone is ready to make their membership decision.
You’re Missing a Join Now Button on Your Website
When someone wants to join, take their money! One of the easiest ways to do that is by letting them join on their schedule, not yours. If they want to join when the chamber is closed, don’t make them wait until you’re staffing the phones again whether that’s the next morning or the next weekday.
Besides a Join Now button linking to a simple membership form and working payment system, there’s another way to answer their questions any time of day or night.
Use a Chatbot to Answer Questions When the Office Is Closed
Sometimes people need a quick answer. If you want to grow membership, don’t make them wait. Their new membership or renewal decision could depend on it. Answer it favorably and you have a new (or renewing member). Don’t answer it and they change their mind.
Using a chatbot or Facebook Messenger can help you answer those questions even when you’re not there to answer the phone. These days it’s inexpensive and easy to set up auto answers to your frequently asked questions. Sure, you may have an extensive FAQ section, but we’re all in a hurry. Don’t make people work to get the information they need, especially when software can tirelessly do that work for them.
You Aren’t Educating People on What the Chamber Does
There was a time when most businesspeople knew what the chamber did. But now many people get confused with the chamber and whether it is a branch of government or affiliated with the Better Business Bureau. They just don’t know.
How can you grow membership when people don’t know or don’t understand what they do. A major part of your marketing efforts these days is education.
You’ll do that in at least two ways:
- educating when you’re speaking to potential members
- ensuring your website has the necessary info on it to make decisions about joining and renewing membership.
Asking for too Much Information in the Application Process
When applying for membership on your initial application, too many questions will turn people off. No one wants to fill out a long application form. Research on lead generation and optimization shows that conversion rates go down when more information is requested.
Instead, ask for the bare minimum amount of information you need (name, business name, phone, tier, and payment). Then call them later for the other things you need such as category and website. You want to introduce yourself anyway and it could be an opportunity for an upsell.
Having Your Fingers in Everything
You want your community to know what you do. While getting involved in several big initiatives is a good way to get the chamber’s name out there, taking on more than 5 is too much. You’ll be spread too thin, and people will again wonder what you do.
Instead, before undertaking any program or initiative think about your strategic plan. Decide if those initiatives are advancing your goals to meet your strategic plan. If so, add them to your plans. If not, let them go. You don’t have to be involved in every growth initiative in your community.
Not Knowing Who Your Ideal Member Is
Who is your ideal member? Who thrives with chamber services and benefits? The answer is not everyone. Some businesses do better than others. Cater to those ideal members because you know that they tend to be the most successful.
Why waste your time with members who don’t tend to do well? That makes you look bad because they’ll likely be a “one and done” member if you are recruiting the wrong types of businesses.
Using Marketing Jargon
Several years ago, it was all the rage to use MBA-learned words like synergy. These days, people aren’t even reading entire paragraphs. Long words trip them up.
Keep it simple.
When writing copy always share what’s in it for the reader (or, in this case, potential member) using the most basic language. Don’t leave anyone wondering what you do because of the complicated language you choose to use.
Leaving Stale Information on Your Website
When someone comes to your chamber website and sees information on buying tickets for events that happened six months ago front and center on your homepage as if you are still selling them, they may wonder if you’re still in business. You won’t grow membership if your chamber looks stagnant or inactive.
Keep your info current by assigning someone to review your site weekly at the very least. Even better, update the site after every event.
You Website Doesn’t Explain “What’s in it for Them”
Most salespeople will tell you it’s never about price. It’s about value. While that sounds good, it’s simply not true at a time when we’re experiencing the highest inflation in 40 years. People are trying to cut all costs that are not obviously and directly making or saving money.
Chamber membership can easily fall onto the chopping block if the member doesn’t have a firm understanding of how the chamber saves them money and helps them bring in more revenue. Few chambers explain the direct value of benefits that they wouldn’t be able to afford otherwise like advocacy and employee educational opportunities.
Be specific about what’s in it for your members. Don’t create copy that centers around selling to them. Show them how you provide value and solve for what they need.
There’s something else you need on your website…
They Can’t Find the Price
Building on the argument of costs, potential members need to know what chamber membership costs. If your membership price is above what they can comfortably afford, you don’t want them wasting their time or yours going over the benefits of membership only to find they can’t afford it.
Some chamber pros think they can talk someone into a higher membership level, so they don’t want to publish prices for each tier. Other chambers keep it off the site because of the “complicated” calculation based on headcount. At the very least, give people an idea of what they would pay so that they can self-disqualify and not waste your time.
Even if you could talk them into membership at a price they can’t afford, there’s a good chance that they will not renew next year. Since the first year/onboarding is the most expensive one for you, is that something you really want?
Your Member Tiers Graphic is Hard to Read
The easiest way to help potential members understand the differences between tiers is by illustrating them in a chart or infographic. It may take a little time to create something that quickly shows the differences in levels but it’s critical to helping people decide the best member tier for them.
More importantly, a confused mind says “no” and if they can’t figure it out within a few minutes, they’ll put it off for later. This often turns into never.
Sure, you can sit down with them in person to help them figure out the right tier but what about those potential members who want to join when your office isn’t open? If they’re hung up on the member tier question of which one they should select, they will become a victim of analysis paralysis.
Indecision leads to no decision. Make the option clear. You can always work with them to adjust it later if you think there’s a better solution for them.
Since this is one of your most important sales tools, it’s worth spending time and money on developing this marketing asset. Have an intern or board member research chambers similar to yours and pay a graphic designer or infographic designer to create the final image. The return on investment will be worth the effort.
Your Site Is Slow to Load
People give up on slow-loading sites. If they exit your site, frustrated with the load time, you can only hope they call to get the information they want from you later. But they probably won’t.
You Won’t Grow Membership If You’re Hard to Join
If you’re not bringing in as many members as you would like, ask yourself if your chamber is hard to join. You may be surprised by what causes friction in the membership sales process.