There’s an interesting conversation occurring on the Chamber of Commerce Professionals Group on Facebook, where chamber professionals are discussing all the extras chambers do for businesses for no additional fees. The list is long and growing.
It includes things like:
- Business referrals when people call with questions
- Providing meeting space
- Offering marketing expertise and consultations (some chambers charge for this but some consider it a free member service)
- Social media shares (a chamber’s audience is often larger than the member business)
- Advertising restaurant week
- Encouraging shopping local
- Networking opportunities and more
The Tricky Thing About Member Benefits
A former boss of mine used to say, offer me one hundred benefits. Read off a list, create a play around them, put them in sky writing, I don’t care, but when you name that one item I desperately need, the thing that will solve all of my business problems, I’m sold. You can throw away the rest of the list.
The hard part is figuring out which benefit on that list is the golden one in each prospective members’ eyes.
Just like a key, it takes the perfect one to unlock the door. Any old key won’t get the job done, and while having lots of keys may increase your odds of having the one you need, it doesn’t mean the door will open any quicker if you’re inserting the wrong one.
Let’s take this from a savings perspective at the grocery store. Some stores offer a buy this, get that program. It’s thrilling if the two things are something you often use or want to try. Most of the time in these offers the price of the buy this item is slightly higher than normal. It doesn’t compensate for the free item but it costs more than it normally would. If the second item is something you don’t use and don’t want to try, there’s little reason to pay extra for the first item.
The same is true of benefits. Benefits are only impressive if what you’re getting for free is of value to you. This doesn’t mean that it’s nice to have; but it’s something you would pay for if it wasn’t free. Telling me you are giving me twenty benefits for the cost of one, is nice but doesn’t matter if you’re covering the one thing I need. If you’re not, those twenty things aren’t likely to make up for it.
It’s the difference between must-have and nice-to-have. I will never pay extra for nice-to-have unless there’s a social obligation to do so and let’s be honest. Those are fading fast.
Why market these extras then?
Because most people don’t know all of the chamber’s benefits and maybe, just maybe, the one you market is the one that makes a difference in their renewal. Yet, lists are seldom the way to make an impression. The eyes tend to skim them, and the ears tend to shut them out after the first several entries are heard. Look for unique ways to market your benefits, things like storytelling and social media work well.
A chamber that has a good understanding of what its members consider must haves and nice-to-haves will have an easier sale and higher retention rates.