Every business day this week in Sacramento, all the local Chambers are organizing crossover events designing to help small businesses.
I attended a function last night where there were six or seven chambers in attendance. I even got interviewed for a promotional video being out together to encourage membership. Later this week I’ll be attending a luncheon where four Chambers of Commerce are having a power lunch.
So what’s the ROI of being a Chamber member, if you’re a business owner?
I can tell you from experience that joining a local business group like a Chamber of Commerce pays off.
I’m a member of two local Chambers now, with plan on joining a couple more later this year. My business has seen a sharp increase this year. Coincidence?
My feeling is if you’re not joining a local Chamber of Commerce, you’re not marketing your business to full efficiency.
Business Is All About Trust
Some businesses are built on transnational relationships, but service businesses rely on trust. If you sell real estate, financial planning, accounting services, insurance — or like me — web design, you already know trust is everything.
Before people buy anything from you, they have to get to know you and build a relationship with you. Especially in local business.
When you join local business groups like a Chamber of Commerce, you’re going to where the people are. Those other business owners are often your target customers, or they have the ability to tell their customers about your business. Part of raising your visibility in your local market is hanging out where other business leaders hang out.
Find Who The Leaders Are, Then Help Them Out
Here’s one thing that’s really key: if you can get people on the leadership team of your local Chamber to be an advocate for your business.
Most Chambers refer members to one another when they are looking for a service. So automatically, you’re on the fast track to getting more clients and customers.
But it pays off to be helpful to the Chamber leadership in whatever way that you can be. Some ways you can help out are by endorsing the Chamber, becoming an ambassador, sponsoring, or volunteering. This puts you on the radar of the leadership team. If you’re a new member, this helps establish trust.
Other Businesses As Advocates
It also helps when you do work for other Chamber members and they have good things to say about your service. Your reputation is everything in business. When you do good work for good people on a consistent basis, the word begins to spread, and your positive reputation grows.
Other business owners can often be your biggest advocates, because they intersect with so many other people in the community. Even if another business owner can’t hire you directly, they often encounter people who are looking for your service.
Another great reason to join a local Chamber of Commerce is you get to be around other people who run a business.
Iron sharpens iron, and when you’re around other business owners, you can learn from each other, and this can improve your business.
Joining A Chamber of Commerce Improves Local SEO
Another side effect of joining your local Chamber of Commerce is it’s good for your local SEO.
Google looks at local signals like Chamber memberships as a signal that you are operating like a real business. If you’re trying to rank in your local market, those memberships tell Google that your business is part of the local community.
Most Chamber websites also provide a good back link to your website. This helps boost your ranking, meaning more people in your local community find you through organic search.
If you live in a large metropolitan area, there often certain Chambers that provide more of a SEO benefit than others. If you look for correlations between back link profiles and rankings, you may find which Chambers Google considers to be the strongest in your city.
Local Visibility and Communal Bonding
The biggest benefit of joining your local Chamber is the new business it brings you because you’re raising your visibility.
Other business owners are more likely to try your service because now you’re one of them. When you’re part of a club with someone, there’s an automatic proxy for trust — because you are now associated with them. People tend to look more favorably on other people who are part of their group.
The Bottom Line? It’s Great ROI
What about direct return on investment?
All the memberships that I’ve invested into — they’ve paid dividends multiple times over. Being part of different Chambers is an essential part of my Sacramento marketing and SEO strategy. It’s brought me tons of new business, and it has helped raise my visibility. Not only to other business owners, but to the larger Sacramento region.
If you own a business of any kind, my advice is to seek out opportunities where you can join local groups. Organizations like a local Chamber of Commerce are a great place to be around other business leaders and get your hands dirty with old-school business development.