Your Business Can Learn from Superchex

No, Superchex isn't a heroic breakfast cereal, it's the Superior Chamber Executives of Northern California. Every few months they put on a day-long seminar that's relevant to chamber staff. This time it was membership's turn, so 50 Chamber executives gathered in the CalChamber office for "Membership Development & Retention in Whitewater Times."

Sounds like a day of esoteric information of interest only to a few lonely Membership Directors (there's usually only one of us per town). But I took away great information from the speakers that would benefit anyone's business.

From Dave Kilby, CEO of the Western Association of Chamber Executives:
  • There are three keys to success for Chambers
    1. Dedicated volunteer leadership (for small businesses this means cultivating clients who have an interest in seeing you succeed.)
    2. The best professional staff you can afford.
    3. Programs that meet the needs of your members (i.e. products that meet the needs of your customers.)
  • The number one question a chamber needs to ask itself: "WHY is this activity/announcement/event, etc. important to our members?" (Ask yourself, "WHY is this service/marketing campaign/product important to our clients?")
From Ben Wolf, Vice President of Member Services for the Nashville Chamber:
  • Don't get sucked into blaming everything on "the economy." The solution to "the economy" is to sell ourselves out of this.
  • Membership is everyone's job (clients/customers are everyone's job). No members (no clients)? Then no one has a job whether or not their title includes the word "member" (or "customer").
  • We need to return to "high touch" marketing. It's easy to use technology to do it.
Jeni Coke, Membership Investment & Relationship Manager for the Lake Havasu Area Chamber:
  • If you can find a way for other people to benefit from helping you, not only will you get help, but you'll get more than you expected. (Jeni told a great story about an Ambassador who was starting a new insurance office. Email or Tweet me (or Jeni!) to find out how this new agent/Ambassador got 1 out of 5 people she cold-visited to call her back.)
  • People rarely know that you've referred them, so use three-way calling to make the introduction as soon as someone calls for a referral. "Hello, Bob? I have Joan on the phone, she called me looking for a real estate agent who could help her. I thought of you and now I have Joan on the phone. Joan, this is Bob." Bob will never forget that you have referred to him.
From Scott Ashton, Director of Sales & Marketing for the Oceanside Chamber:
  • Packaging your services together can help you sell more. (This can apply to any business, but especially service businesses - spas do it all the time.)
  • It's even more important to continue adding value for your members (and your customers).
  • Scott allows non-members to sponsor their events. My lesson from this is to not be elitist about where your revenue is coming from. You might also build new relationships from unexpected sources.

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