Monday, November 12, 2012

Thanksgiving for Chambers

We are fully into the “thankful” month. Next week everyone will be focused on gratitude for family and friends and sharing time and creating memories AND eating lots of great food!!!

Chamber of Commerce and Membership Organizations

Who remembers your parents talking to you about the two magic words? Please AND THANK YOU….right?? The last couple of years have been very difficult for membership organizations. Retention, for many, is at an all-time low and we have been challenged to search for relevance in new and different ways. I would submit that your biggest asset is your voice. Your greatest opportunity for relevance is using that voice in a positive way in your community. We talk and people listen. Chambers of Commerce, by default, end up being the “go to” organization in our communities. We are regularly approached for help and answers whether it’s to find the rest room or pass a capital improvement tax!! So, our capacity for reaching a wide audience is great AND if we use that voice in a positive way, by “thanking”, very visibly, that gratitude will return to US in many, many ways.

Who should we thank??

  • Chamber of Commerce Members

  • Public Servants and local leaders

  • Citizens exhibiting a gesture of good will

  • Young People

  • Educators

  • Non-profits or other organizations who have helped the community

  • Alliances/partnerships for progress
And on, and on and on….

How can we thank?

  • Letters to the editor

  • Social media channels

  • Video shorts posted to social media and on your website

  • Print, Chamber TV shows, radio shows and other traditional mediums

  • Special mailing or email

  • Our newsletters
Create a culture of thanks as part of your program of work. It doesn't cost a thing!!!! Generate a list of people and success stories and members and celebrate their gifts by publicly thanking them with your Chamber voice and sit back and watch that come back as good for YOUR organization!!


Monday, October 29, 2012

Does Size Matter???

Whether you are a 200 member Chamber of Commerce or a 2000 member chamber is irrelevant in terms of the value you bring to the table. Naturally, you have a larger pool of resources, both financial and human, if you have a larger chamber, but it’s not a statement on who you are and what you offer. Just as we are taught to “live within our means” in our personal life, we have to do that in our chamber as well.

So……..should I grow and how????

There are a number of questions you can ask to determine not only your organizations capacity for growth, but whether or not that growth is sustainable.
  1. How many businesses are in your service area and what is your market share or penetration? Use that to determine your capacity for growth.
  2. Is your program of work manageable? Your quantity of programs should only be what you are capable of handling. Look at each one. Honestly look at whether it has value or not, and don’t forget that employee cost needs to be factored in. If the answer is NO then get rid of that “sacred cow”. Engage your Chamber of Commerce members in this process; ask them what they find valuable. These responses give you the support you need if you do eliminate something that has been around for a while.
  3. ARE you the “voice of business” in your community, or is that just the fluff you throw around to sound meaningful? You have to stand for something that matters to business locally. These will be different in EVERY community and only you can determine what those issues are. Again, engage your members in the process. Ask them what matters and build your platform from there.
Answer these questions honestly, determine your capacity for growth and then share that story repeatedly and you WILL grow in an appropriate way AND your growth will stand a better chance of being for the long term!! It’s really not about numbers; THINKING small doesn't serve your organization OR your community!