This is a repurposed blog by Ellen Sartin from ZipSprout
At ZipSprout, we work with thousands of Chambers of Commerce all across the country. We have found that joining a local Chamber can be a quick and cost-effective strategy to increase visibility and brand recognition. It also allows us to specifically drill down on the local areas so businesses can be seen by, and engage directly with, their community. I’d call that a win-win.
Let’s take a closer look at all the benefits of joining a local Chamber of Commerce, and how your client can get the most out of their membership.
What is a Chamber of Commerce?
A Chamber of Commerce is a group of local businesses working together to support the same goals. This can include leading community events, driving engagement, and facilitating marketing opportunities. Chambers are largely run by volunteers and they elect their own leadership and board members.
Chambers of Commerce are considered nonprofit organizations, so membership dues can be tax deductible (this is not tax advice – always consult an expert on tax benefits). Unlike charity organizations, they can lobby and take stances on legislation in local and state government.
This gives Chambers a unique position in the community and can open doors for businesses who work with them to make stronger connections.
Why would joining a Chamber of Commerce be beneficial to my clients?
Chambers of Commerce are strongly trusted by search engines, including Google, so having a directory listing on a Chamber website gives your client a strong back-link and can in turn boost their rankings. In addition, they are widely respected and usually in excellent standing with their local communities.
Most Chambers allow businesses to publish deals and articles that speak to their local business community. Directory listings include contact information, website address, and any offerings the business has at the time.
Members can easily stay up-to-date with what’s going on in their community, and connect with other businesses. For large businesses with bigger marketing budgets, there are many sponsorship opportunities and ad campaigns available to join.
Chambers further boost marketing through the use of a variety of services and offerings, such as:
Networking events and community events
News release posts
Special offers or discounts from other members
Social Media advertising
Email marketing and new-member announcements
Media advertisements in local newspapers
Small Business Development Center Consultation
Flyers and signage in the Chamber office
While we have found a wide variety in things like membership dues and types of sponsorships among different Chambers nationally, these core benefits and marketing opportunities are generally the same.
There may be several Chambers in your client’s local area, so find what’s important to them to help narrow down the search. If a Chamber’s goals align with theirs, it can be a great way to get in front of a targeted community (both in the digital world and the real one).
How does joining a Chamber of Commerce compare cost-wise to other types of marketing?
As far as cost, a basic Chamber of Commerce membership runs on average around $300-$400 for the year, while the average local SEO initiative averages around $500 a month.
Now, obviously, investing in a full SEO marketing plan is going to yield the best results, but having a Chamber membership can be a step in the right direction.
I do want to mention that the membership pricing can be extremely variable, so don’t be surprised when you see that during your research. Depending on location, services offered, and how active the Chamber is within the community, membership levels can range from $100-$5,000 a year, and can even go as high as $10,000 or more. The high end of the scale is usually seen in highly populated areas.
For your large business clients, investing in a higher-tier membership with all the bells and whistles, like additional advertisements on the Chamber’s homepage, would be an excellent way for them to get the most out of their membership. They might even want to consider joining more than one Chamber, especially if they have several local offices in different areas.
As with most things, this wide and seemingly extreme range of membership fees fall into the old adage, “you get what you pay for.” The more your client can invest in membership, the more benefits and services they will receive.
How can your clients get the most out of their membership?
Once your client has joined the Chamber of Commerce that best aligns with their goals and budget, it is important for them to stay active in their Chamber. According to many of the Chambers we work with, the most important thing a member can do is attend events. This can take the form of a guest speaker, hosting a booth, or sponsoring an event.
If your client is a large business with locations all over the area or country, have their team members at the local offices attend events. The Chambers love to see this type of participation and will be more likely to refer your client’s business to others.
Another way to get the most out of membership is to write news release posts for the Chamber. This can be a detailed description of your client’s business and how they can help the community, or even just an information blog post on a hot business topic.
News feed posts usually stay up on the Chamber website for a few weeks, so cranking out a variety of content often can help your client be seen as a source of information to the community, which will only add value to their business.
In addition to newsfeed posts, there are also opportunities to offer hot deals (community-focused discounts) and member-to-member special offers. Another avenue to connect with members is joining the monthly newsletter, and taking advantage of the many free marketing opportunities the Chambers have to offer. These are all great ways they can get the most out of their Chamber membership.
Joining a Chamber of Commerce is the best of both worlds as far as classic marketing and SEO marketing are concerned. Not only is it a quick and easy way to increase exposure in the local community, but it can also be a cost-effective marketing tool for your business clients.
Looking for other ways to enhance your client’s marketability? At ZipSprout, we specialize in hand-matching our clients with local nonprofits, organizations, and events. To learn more, email us at email@example.com.