Communications: Set Your Chamber Apart

After being in the non-profit business for more than 20 years, if there's one thing that sets one chamber or association above the other is the way they are communicating their story.

I can't emphasize enough the importance of having a great communications team on your staff.

A consistent message on the activities of your chamber is critical to position you as the leader in the community.

You've all heard the phrase: "if a tree falls in the woods and no one hears it, does it make a noise?"

Well, the same is true for your chamber.  If you're not promoting what you're doing on behalf of your members they will not, nor will the community, have any idea the role your chamber is playing in the success of the community.

Remember, if it's true, it's not bragging!

Focus on what your chamber stands for (advocacy, economic development, community) and communicate that to your members and non-members alike through all of your communication vehicles.

Or as Tony Rubleski would say, use the COPE method – “create once publish everywhere!”

If that's not enough, how about Bill Graham's comment at a recent educational session I attended:

"Communication is not an activity, it's a result." It's about "what I leave in your head."

Everyone wants to be associated with a winner!  There are 7,000 chambers out there.  Don't you want to stand above the rest?

Communicate.  Communicate.  Communicate.

Communicate the winning programs of your chamber and how you're serving your members better than anyone else.

Something to think/talk about!

Are You Charging Extra for Certain Membership Features

This is an interesting statement. Remember, if you've met one chamber, you've met one chamber.

But for discussion purposes, how many chambers are in the ribbon cutting business?

Every chamber executive I talk to that has a robust ribbon cutting program talk about how their members love it.

Well, that's a great opportunity to charge a premium for that feature. That's a special member feature that they should pay a premium for.  It's not a member benefit.  The benefit is awareness of the business to the community from the press received at the event.

Let's take a minute to have a discussion on the difference between a member feature and a member benefit.  And by the way, I've been guilty of using the two words interchangeably.

But, let's be clear, the difference can be illustrated in the following examples:

Member Feature vs Member Benefit

  • 4 tires, two doors on a car vs transportation to the airport
  • Educational program vs knowledge to comply with a new regulation
  • Ribbon cutting ceremony vs public awareness and new business
  • Tissue vs germ free

Talk about the benefits of joining your organization not the features you provide.

Specialize in something!