In the business world, many of us live or die by how well we sell the value proposition. For many businesses this is an easy task—simply pull out a price sheet which shows that your price is lower than your competitor’s or the money saved over the long term with your products’ increased reliability. But for some businesses, the value proposition can be a hard sell, especially when there is no physical product being sold.
That is the world that chambers of commerce reside in; as membership-based organizations, we thrive or falter on the quality of programs we offer and how well we articulate that value to our members. The newest chamber members can easily see that value in the form of discounts and publicity they receive as new members. After that, it sometimes becomes difficult to enumerate the benefits to members who aren’t able to look at a balance sheet and see direct savings.
We at the Peoria Area Chamber of Commerce believe there is a great deal of value that we offer our members beyond discounts and networking opportunities. While attending the American Chamber of Commerce Executives conference this year, our beliefs were validated with the release of some very interesting survey results. Two consulting groups, Shapiro Group, Inc. and Market Street Services, conducted a joint nationwide study in order to find the real value businesses receive as members of a chamber.
The importance of this study is that it targeted the most important people in business, the consumers. An owner or operator can make decisions based on their own perceptions as much as they’d like, but as we all know, if you don’t listen to the consumer, it’s only a matter of time before those decisions catch up to you. Not surprisingly, the consumers also agree that being a chamber member is a valuable business strategy—59 percent of them, actually.
For small businesses in particular, chamber membership is an important asset. The average consumer is 44 percent more likely to think favorably of a small business that is a chamber member and 63 percent more likely to patronize that business in the future. Why, you ask? Well, it’s about perception. Consumers respect chambers of commerce and believe in the integrity of their membership. When a business joins the chamber, it is a stamp of approval, so to speak, of the integrity of that business. As a business becomes more active in their local chamber, the consumer becomes more likely to patronize that business.
Likewise, large restaurant chains can also benefit significantly from chamber membership. When a restaurant chain is a member of its local chamber, consumers are 50 percent more likely to eat at that chain and 25 percent more likely to think favorably of the franchise as a whole. Insurance sales offices can also reap benefits from chamber membership, as consumers are 43 percent more likely to purchase insurance from an office once they know it is a chamber member.
The numbers are difficult to ignore; most businesses can’t afford not to be chamber members. When you look at these numbers, it’s hard to deny that chamber membership may be one of the best investments a business can make. IBI