Most of your chamber members are businesses. Businesses need to make money and stay profitable. As a good businessperson, they have to question every expense and ensure it benefits the business. While this can be frustrating for us as a chamber of commerce, it’s good to understand where they’re coming from and be able to communicate the value of chamber membership to them – because it is valuable!
Many of our members already like us, but they have trouble translating the value of membership into concrete words that justify the expense.
Have a Strong Value Proposition in Place
If you freeze or don’t have an immediate response when a business asks you “What do I receive for the dues I pay?” then you’re not allowed to skip this part.
Your chamber of commerce provides valuable tools & resources for your members to conduct their business locally, but you’re not the only one. You need to know why a business should join the chamber instead of another organization or business.
You’re not the only networking event in town. You’re not the only one providing business resources & webinars. You might not even be the only chamber in your area.
So if you don’t already know, then think hard and be able to answer, “Why should a business join YOUR organization (over all the other options?)”
- Do you get them results?
- Do you help mitigate risk or uncertainty?
- Do you provide access to exclusive or otherwise expensive assets, experiences, etc.?
- Do you provide a custom service specific their need?
- Convenience – Do you make something quicker or easier for them?
- What kinds of connections do you make for your members?
- How much money do you save your members & how/where?
- Do you help elevate their brand in the community?
Hopefully you answer yes to many of these, but you need to be able to provide more detail or explanation so that your message better resonates with your potential members.
You don’t just ‘save members money,’ you ‘save local businesses hundreds of dollars through collaborations with national partners like Office Depot, Blue Cross Blue Shield, and more.”
Feel the difference?
Try to relate your chamber missions to be more relatable to small businesses that don’t know what you mean. I worked at my chamber for 7 years and still couldn’t tell you what a ‘stronger business climate‘ means. Instead, consider using examples to explain, like ‘advocacy efforts that make it easier to do business, like improving the local sign ordinance and collaborating with chambers across the state to prevent excessive tax burdens on small businesses.”
It’s time to ask yourself some hard questions. What do we actually do for them?
Assigning Monetary Value to Your Benefits of Membership
If your response about the value of membership included ‘networking,’ then you should be prepared to assign a dollar amount to it.
While we know the value of chamber membership is infinitely exponential due to a number of factors (sometimes outside our control), our business members are actually asking for a dollar amount when they say the word ‘value.’
Make a list of every benefit or opportunity you offer.
Don’t worry about the details, just start brain dumping every single little thing you do that benefits at least one member.
The easy ones are networking and marketing, but also think about the sponsorship discounts you offer, the money they save with affinity programs, and your advocacy work. Or that time you casually mentioned to your local representatives that businesses were directly impacted – losing money and cutting staff hours – because of boaters ignoring the ‘no wake zone.’
Do not pass Go, do not collect $200 until you literally list everything.
Once you have your list, the research can begin. Oh, joy.
Save yourself some research time and download the free spreadsheet I started for you:
There’s some different ways you might go about this. You could:
- See what other chambers are charging
- See what marketing agencies or other businesses are charging for something similar
- Consider the opportunity cost – how would their business be impacted if you didn’t do that community project, program, advocacy effort, etc.
How to Use Your Membership ROI Values
You can use the dollar amounts you come up with anywhere your promote your benefits of membership – in your literature, member packet, social posts, website, etc.
If you’re looking for something more interactive, you might consider a tool like ROI-Calc. They create a web-based calculator that potential members can fill out based on the benefits of membership that interest them.
Potential members are automatically shown the value of their investment based only on the benefits they’re interested. They can even immediately download a report without having to wait for a staff member to get back to them.
Best of all, ROI-Calc is offering $100 off for chambers of commerce – just tell them Izzy sent you!