No one would argue that the key to new memberships as well as retention is providing value for member businesses. But how do you do that in a world where everyone wants to be catered to? It’s difficult to scale. Here are a few tips as well as questions you can ask to help ensure you are on your way to providing the most chamber value in your resources and programming.
Chamber Member Personas
Before asking the following questions, it’s important to segment your members into 3-4 member marketing personas. That’s because the answers to these questions may vary based on the type of members you have in your community.
How to Create Effective Member Personas
To create member marketing personas for your chamber of commerce, follow these steps:
- Identify your chamber’s target members. Who are the businesses and individuals that you want to join your chamber? Consider factors such as industry, size, location, interests, and past successful members. There’s no point in trying to recruit a market that traditionally has not been very loyal or successful with the chamber.
- Gather data about your target members. This data can come from a variety of sources, such as your chamber’s membership database, surveys, and interviews. You can also collect data from third-party sources, such as industry reports, government statistics, and/or economic development information about your area.
- Create member personas. Member personas are fictional representations of your ideal (or most successful) members. They should be based on the data you have collected and your understanding of your target market. While we say “fictional” that does not mean you should create them out of thin air on what you’d like them to be such as “Millionaire Megan” who has tons and tons of money to sponsor each of your events. Instead, create these personas from your data and experience. Who are you most able to help?
- Use your buyer personas to develop marketing campaigns and messages that resonate with your target members so you can maximize your ability to provide a valuable, appealing chamber membership.
Examples of Member Marketing Personas for Chambers
Here are some examples of member marketing personas for a chamber of commerce. Use these as examples of how you might formulate your own:
- Techie Tommy: Tommy is a small business owner in the technology industry. They are new to the area and are looking for ways to connect with other businesses and potential customers. Tommy is 35 and looking to grow his business.
- Executive Ellen: Ellen is a corporate executive who is looking for ways to get involved in the community and support local businesses. Her large company launched a diversity initiative (or other large-scale endeavor) this year and wants to partner with organizations that share their goals. Ellen is about 50 with a strong network outside of your area.
- Non-profit Noel: Noel heads up a nonprofit organization that is looking for ways to raise awareness of their mission and connect with potential donors and volunteers. Noel wants everything for free and will tell you that within the first three minutes of meeting you. No one knows how old Noel is.
By creating member personas, you can better understand your target members, develop marketing campaigns that are more likely to be effective, and provide resources of greater value to each segment.
Here are some additional tips for creating member personas:
- Be specific. The more specific you are in your buyer personas, the more effective they will be. For example, instead of creating a buyer persona for “all small businesses,” create different buyer personas for small businesses in different industries or of different sizes. Are your small businesses mainly franchise owners or indies? Are they under 30 or over 45? You want to be as specific as possible but still broad enough that you are not creating a member persona that applies to only one member–even if it is your most loyal member.
- Use real data. Your buyer personas should be based on real data about your target members. Avoid making assumptions about your target members without having any data to support them.
- Keep your buyer personas up-to-date. As your target market changes, you should update your buyer personas to reflect those changes. This will help you ensure your marketing campaigns are always relevant to your target audience.
Questions to Ask to Shape Chamber Value
Now that you know who you’re speaking to, we can start asking the questions that will help you uncover the most valuable resources for each of them.
- What are the common needs and challenges of your target members? List them.
- What are their goals and aspirations?
- Describe what are they dealing with outside of their businesses or professional roles. What part of their personal lives might influence their needs from the chamber? For instance, people in their thirties may have a lot of family responsibilities. Coming to events on the weekend may be difficult unless they can bring their kids. This is important to know because it will influence how you appeal to this demographic.
- What are their goals for the next year and beyond? If you know what they’re working on or planning, you can align some of your resources and programming to assist them.
- Which type of support do they most need from the chamber?
- What local struggle do they have? What problem exists in your area that is hindering their business growth? This is a potential area for advocacy.
- What kind of events and programs would you be interested in attending?
- Is there something you could offer that they can’t efficiently or affordably do for themselves that would make a large difference to their business?
Once you have answered these questions for each of your chamber member segments, use that information to brainstorm the kinds of resources and programming they could benefit from. Next, take a look at what you currently offer and decide which programming fits each segment best. Is there a member demographic that is not represented? Does most of your programming and resources benefit one group over another? Charting this out can help you create a more balanced approach to providing member value and engagement.
A Final Note About Member Value
The most important types of value-add you can offer as a chamber are things your members can’t easily do for themselves. This could include costly training and member benefits, advocacy, and/or introductions to community leaders. Doing so can make them the most loyal members around.