How well is your chamber communicating with its members?
It used to be a simple answer something along the lines of, “We send out a monthly newsletter, event invitations, and dues renewal letters.”
Now how often you communicate is not the only answer to that question. Now the format matters too.
A Story of Generational (Mis)Communication
A member of the Chamber of Commerce Professionals Group on Facebook told a story of an experience she had with generational differences in communication preferences.
See if this makes you nod your head like I did.
What started as a brilliant idea of generational teaching turned into a communication blooper (through no fault of the chamber):
A lot of our businesses are owned or managed by Boomers. There are a lot of old school who don’t see value in social media, web presence. We have some members who don’t even have an email address.
We set up a partnership between the high school FBLA (Future Business Leaders of America) and local businesses to work on Facebook. The kids were going to teach the business owners how to use and help set up. They kids and business leaders couldn’t even connect to get together to do this. The kids didn’t pick up the phone to call the members and the members didn’t respond to emails. When the members tried to call the kids there weren’t able to get a hold of them. Out of the four or five businesses that said they’d like the help I think only one ended up getting it. The rest gave up when they were unable to connect. It became too much of a hassle.
Whether you agree in the generational stereotypes presented in articles on the Interwebs or not, the communication preferences are vastly different. As a member of Gen X, I prefer to communicate over email unless it’s something that needs clarification (like a project). It’s less of an interruption than a phone call.
Boomers, generally, prefer face-to-face but if that’s not possible, phone is the next best thing.
Gen Y goes for texting and messaging, the quicker the better.
What can your chamber do? Send your messages out three different ways to everyone?
Please don’t. That’s even more disruptive.
The best solution, if you have technology that supports it, is to allow members to opt out of certain types of communication. This suits the Gen Xers who don’t want phone calls or the Boomers who never check email (If you can show them how to opt-out through your technology/member profiles.) For Gen Ys, or others who prefer texts, have them sign up for text alerts or work with your Young Professionals group to come up with a solution that meets their preferences.
While it seems tiresome to communicate through member-preferred types of communication, it will radically improve the amount of people who respond to your message.
Guest post by Christina Green
Image credit: Norma Davey