How to Increase Your Chamber’s Online Success
If you could dramatically improve the odds of someone saying yes to joining your chamber (and your other requests), would you go for it?
What if I told you it didn’t take all that much effort? Would you say, “tell me more!”?
When it comes to online marketing, many chambers make their lives much harder than they need to be. Not sure what I’m talking about or wondering if you’re one of those chambers?
You’re a successful chamber professional, and your board tells you that you need to raise $500 from members in two days.
But here’s the hitch…not your members. Chamber members from across the state or country. And you can’t tell the members what the money is for exactly.
These will be people you don’t know and people who don’t know you.
You must approach them through the dreaded cold call, and it’s just as awful as you would imagine.
They won’t take your calls. When they do, they refuse to give you even a dime.
It’s nearly impossible. You’ve interrupted these people. They have no idea why you would disturb them and ask for money. They sound sorry that they even answered the phone. And you’re under the gun. Feeling the pressure from your board, pulling your hair out trying to meet the goal.
There’s no way you can raise that kind of money for your chamber in two days let alone two months. It’s frustrating dealing with these strangers, and they seem completely unimpressed with anything you say to them.
Now let’s imagine your board says you need to raise $1,000, but you can do it by contacting your own members. But again, you can’t tell them what the money is for exactly.
Bet you know exactly who to call. Your job would likely be complete in three phone calls.
Because your members know, like, and trust you.
You’ve helped them with their business. They see you as a resource, and they want you to be able to continue doing what you’re doing for their business and the rest of the community.
That’s the power of establishing know, like, and trust before asking for something.
Said another way, that’s the difference in trying to sell to cold traffic versus warm and hot traffic.
So which chamber are you when it comes to online marketing? Are you trying to sell to cold traffic?
Are you posting to the world only to promote yourself and what’s important to you? Posting your hours, your events, your non-dues revenue programs?
Is it all you, you, you?
Don’t be fooled. You’re not that exciting that your chamber news should be all you post about. Maybe you think you’re acting as a resource by posting your hours. You’re not.
Maybe you think you’re being helpful when you post about your events. And maybe you are to some people, but only the first few times. Mostly, you're just interrupting people that won’t attend even if they know about the events.
If that’s all you’re ever posting, you are the self-centered guy or gal always talking about themselves at the dinner party. Those people aren’t liked and trusted.
However, if you’re delivering value with most of your posts, posting about things people in your community care about, you’re establishing a relationship, and people are getting to know, like, and trust you.
That makes enticing people to join or purchase from you exponentially easier, especially when you sell through the appropriate channels (Email and now Facebook Messenger).
This strategy works online and off.
Look at ChamberMaster, for instance. The sales and leadership team there attends state and national chamber conferences. But they don’t just show up and ask strangers to buy from them.
They go to dinner/drinks with clients and prospects. They go dancing or laugh at themselves singing Karaoke. They take the time to build relationships first.
Be like the ChamberMaster team: Help people know, like, and trust you, because once they do, they are more likely to say yes.
Online, do content marketing. Post valuable content to social media. Entertain them with photos. Educate them on business strategies that make them money or save them from grief. Inspire them with words and pictures.
Along the way, collect contact information in exchange for premium content that people want, like checklists, guides, and lists. Ask people if you can stay in touch with them via email and/or Messenger. (Start experimenting with Facebook Messenger bots if haven’t set one up yet).
So which chamber are you?
The one who’s trying to sell online to strangers? The one interrupting people?
Or the chamber making warm and hot calls through the appropriate channels to people who know, like, and trust you?
It better be the latter if you expect them to take your “call” and quickly say yes.
Frank J. Kenny is an internationally recognized author, professional speaker, and consultant. He is on the faculty of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Institute for Organization Management (IOM). He has taught social media, digital marketing, and technology strategies to business audiences from around the world.