Land More Business with a Chamber Membership
You’ve probably heard about people wanting to know, like, and trust those they do business with. And maybe you heard how social media is a great way to make that happen. After all, posting to social media brings out your business’ personality.
But some businesses have difficulty being themselves or simply don’t have the time to dedicate to social media consistently.
Luckily, social media isn’t the only way to put a more personable face on your business.
Another way to do that is through chamber membership. Here’s how the chamber helps members like your business become more known, liked, and trusted.
Getting Your Name Out There: How the Chamber Helps People Get to Know You
If you want people to do business with you, they must think about you. No matter what you sell or what service you provide, you won’t do any business if people don’t think about you when they’re in the market to buy what you offer.
Sure, there are moments of emotional purchasing fueled by driving or walking by (how many of us actually leave our house for Cinnabon? Nope, most of us catch a hint of those delicious flavors and buy on impulse), but even in those circumstances of emotional purchases, the buyer needs to know what that business is selling in order to make an impulse buy.
Chamber membership helps businesses become more recognizable in a variety of ways. These include:
- referrals. As the voice of business, visitors and people who are new to the area, often call on the chamber for suggestions. Best of all, these suggestions are considered extremely valuable because they’re not swayed by the business’ marketing.
- networking events. The easiest way to get to know more people is by meeting them in person. Most chambers offer a number of networking opportunities. Some even help you become a better networker.
- introductions. Your chamber wants to introduce you to the kind of people who will be helpful to your business. Tell them who you want to meet and they’ll help arrange it.
- hosting. Your chamber also probably has a number of events that could be hosted or sponsored by your business. This is the perfect way to help people get to know you better by visiting your store or business or sampling what you have to offer.
- cash mobs. Some chambers have events called cash mobs where they round up twenty or so people and ask them to commit to spending a minimum purchase usually around $20. For the business, it provides a quick influx of revenue but it also gives them an opportunity to showcase their offerings to chamber members who might not be familiar with their business.
Sometimes the community knows what you do but doesn’t know enough about you to trust you. In these cases, a chamber membership is invaluable. According to the Schapiro Study, “Chamber membership has consistent and powerful benefits for small business members—if consumers are aware that the small business is involved with its local chamber.”
In that study, they found that if respondents knew a small business was a member of its local chamber, the business saw a 49% increase in its consumer favorability rating (like), a 73% increase in consumer awareness (know), a 68% increase in its local reputation (trust), and an 80% increase in the likelihood that consumers will patronize the business in the future.
Chamber membership goes a long way to helping businesses develop a trustworthy reputation. Many people see chambers as business entities or similar to the Better Business Bureau. While neither is true, these individuals apply the same feelings of community membership and upstanding reputations to the chamber members as they would a good rating from the Better Business Bureau.
The chamber can also help people trust you when you choose to associate or sponsor a well-loved community/chamber event. For instance, let’s assume the July 4th Parade has a large following, and your business is a chamber partner or naming sponsor for that event, the reputation of the event spreads to your business as if you were hosting it yourself. It improves the trust people have for you.
We’ve covered how chamber membership improves your business reputation but being a chamber member can also help you market the most trustworthy parts of your business.
Here’s how the chamber can help you amplify your message.
Become More Likable Through Chamber Membership
Likability is probably one of the easiest parts of the “know, like, and trust” formula for more sales but it is also the one most businesses feel awkward about. They often go about it through social media and their attempts to become more friendly come off as just being salesy.
When that happens, it’s often because they haven’t attributed the same skills needed for an in-person conversation to social media. Just like in a face-to-face conversation, on social media you don’t want to:
- be boring
- talk only about yourself
- blast your message
- ignore others, especially if they’re asking a question you can help with
- say the same thing over and over again
- be fake
- be one way with one person and something different with someone else
The ease of becoming likable (or someone seeing you as likable, because of course you already are, right?) in person is that you can read your audience’s nonverbal queues. If you see them disengaging or uninterested, you can change the conversation back to something they’re interested in. You can tell if they’re enjoying themselves and adjust accordingly.
Getting more involved in the social opportunities at the chamber can give you a lot of time to build on the likability factor. People must first know who you are to later be able to like you. Multiple chances to meet in events through the chamber can make networking easier and less awkward because you’re not playing to an unknown crowd. You learn a little bit more about them–and they about you–each time you meet.
Other ways the chamber helps members to improve the likability factor include:
- presenting and sharing your knowledge with the group. Chambers often host “lunch and learns” and other learning opportunities. They generally allow members in certain areas to speak to the membership to pass on their knowledge or innovative ideas. If you have skills or information to share, this is an excellent way to connect with others. They can’t help but like you when you are answering their questions and providing them with a solution to their problems.
- mentoring. If you have some time and interest in the future of your community, becoming a mentor might help you connect to a new generation of community leaders. There are also reverse mentorship programs and being a mentee that could help contribute to building your likeability.
- asking questions. When you run into fellow chamber members for the second and third times, ask questions about things they mentioned before. People will feel good about you following up and taking an interest.
- looking to solve problems and make connections. As you meet and get to know people through the chamber, with each interaction look to how you might help them with something or connect them with someone you know. People tend to like and admire helpers. Look at every interaction as a way to help.
If you want more business and are struggling with just how to do that, the issue may be that people either don’t know you, trust you, or know you well enough to like you.
Maybe you’ve been working on those things and trying to humanize your brand on social media. While that’s a great idea, connecting online can be difficult for some people. If you’re one of those people, or if you’ve tried connecting online and it’s not giving you the traction you’d like, consider how a chamber membership may help you become better known and trusted–and thus liked–in the community.
As another bonus, the chamber may be able to show you how to connect online as well. While social media may not currently be working for you, that doesn’t mean it won’t. The chamber can help in many ways.
You can talk to the membership chair at your local chamber to understand just how they can play a role in helping you get more business. The options might surprise you.