In the summer of 2013, The Schapiro Group, an Atlanta based strategic consulting group, found that a company’s success rate improves when joining their local Chamber of Commerce. In their study “Post-Recession Value of Chamber of Commerce Brand”, The Schapiro Group surveyed and confirmed that the likelihood of a consumer patronizing a Chamber based business goes up to 80%. This was a result of the explicit knowledge, by that of the consumer, that the business they are patronizing was indeed a Chamber member. [Read study here]
This is great news, especially for all the Chamber of Commerce groups across the nation. The Shapiro Group has proven their worth. My curious mind, however, got the best of me and I wanted to know exactly how local businesses are reaping the benefits through their Chamber of Commerce memberships.
So I set out to ask Denver businesses why they joined their local Chamber, what they hoped to get out of it and if they felt their local Chamber helped them achieve their goals. I also asked what advice they would have for other Chamber members to help them get the most from their memberships.
Jo Guerra, a Denver marketing consultant at Kick A Marketing Group, attended numerous networking events and owned the Denver Entrepreneurs Meetup that consisted of 800 members. “Though it was free to its members, it wasn’t the best resource for getting businesses,” said Guerra. “I joined the Chamber knowing that businesses who belonged had invested money and were real enterprises,” continued Guerra.
In addition to being an Aurora Chamber of Commerce member, Guerra recently joined the Parker Chamber of Commerce. As a result of her company’s membership, Guerra received three website jobs and numerous referrals from the Chamber staff.
Guerra credits her member success with consistent involvement in the Chambers. “If someone decides to join, they need to participate in networking events, join committees and referral or leads groups. Plus, follow up with people they’ve met (i.e. phone calls, emails and notes, etc.). Also get to know the staff and the influencers. Give through your involvement. People get to know you on a personal level when you are on committees or help at events,” Guerra recommends.
Brent Hultman would agree. Hultman is no stranger to the Chamber of Commerce. At the beginning of his insurance career, Hultman started out like every new business owner, sending out direct mail, door-to-door canvasing with flyers, shopping cart advertisements and even cold calling. “I did not know better at the time,” said Hultman.
Then Hultman joined his local Chamber and began volunteering in his community. “You won’t get a lot out of a Chamber by being another name on the member’s list,” said Hultman. “By being actively engaged and present, it shows you care about the community you live in and it’s not just about getting business,“.
As a result of his eight year membership, Hultman increased his commercial insurance business by 25%. “The referrals from other members, along with leads from Chamber networking, comprised of 75% of my business,” explained Hultman.
Hultman has since sold his insurance business and is now a business consultant with Team Concepts Boulder. Today, Hultman continues to be actively involved in his local Chamber under his new business.
In case you’re not seeing the pattern here, Michelle Francis, President of 20/20 Strategy brings it all home. “I joined the Arvada Chamber of Commerce when I launched my PR firm in 2010. My goal was to meet with like-minded business owners in the community in which I work and live, taking advantage of the learning opportunities that Chambers offers business owners, and learning how to better my community through a philanthropic perspective,” said Francis. “I wanted to gain new business, meet community leaders and become more involved (i.e. in the nonprofit sector).”
When asked if her Chamber goals have been met, she responded, “Yes. 75% of my new business leads come through referrals and networking with members and 50% of those leads become clients.”
Some advice Francis offers other Chamber members, “Attend as many networking events as you can, have a prepared “elevator pitch” about what you do and what you can offer business owners. Join committees as they provide an opportunity to showcase your industry expertise.”
What are your thoughts? Is your company a Chamber member? What benefits has your company experienced as a result of its membership?