Recently, I was having an introductory meeting with a large metro chamber of commerce, and the chamber rep opened the conversation by saying to me, “I’ve looked at your web site, and it seems like with what you do, there’s a chance you might talk companies out of spending money with the chamber.”
The question caught me off-guard, because, in fact, the exact opposite is true.
At Momentum, we actually encourage companies to spend more money with their chambers of commerce – often even at the expense of other marketing outlets. (Notwithstanding, the conversation did spur me to make some tweaks to the web site!).
Why spend more with your chamber of commerce?
For business-to-business companies (B2B), we would argue that there is no better way to target your marketing spend than through chambers of commerce and other business associations. In a particularly noisy world, perhaps the biggest challenges for marketers is gaining access to your target audience to tell your story. If you’re not telling your story to your target audience, you might as well not be telling it at all.
Think of all the avenues that are available to try to reach your audience in 2021. Traditional forms of media such as television, radio and newspaper. Obviously, the new media, with your choice of platforms on which to find your audience and spend money on them. E-mail has its plusses and minuses. Many companies like billboards. Podcasts. Airplane banners. You can even have your logo show up in video games.
To sum it up, there are lots of places to spend your marketing dollars, with various levels of targeting available. Take your pick.
Then, there are memberships and sponsorships.
Here’s the secret we live by at Momentum: No matter who your target audience is, there’s a good chance that there are organizations that have already collected them for you, and have them bundled up in a beautiful package for you to get to.
Chambers of Commerce are a great place to start, because while their memberships are diverse and often too vast for your needs, generally chambers have various subsets of their membership collected in various ways. There are topical committees that gather like-minded people and companies together. There are newsletters that go to categories of their membership. There are events and content that cater to specific industries or, sometimes even better yet, specific titles. Your target audiences have already gathered.
Now, can you get access to these resources without spending any additional money above and beyond your membership? Perhaps – if you’re a master networker and very good at creating mutual value for your organization . But can you definitely reach them through a sponsorship? Yes you can.
Sponsorship costs money, of course, and it might not be something you’re thinking about, or haven’t budgeted. But think about marketing dollars you’ve frittered away in the past – we’ve all done it! – with little or nothing to show for it. Think what you could’ve gotten by giving that budget to the chamber and telling them exactly what you want to achieve with it.
Talk to your chamber
Which is really the key to successful sponsorship. There are many, many opportunities to sponsor events available through the year, but not all of them will get you where you need to go. As someone who runs a business association and sells sponsorship (in addition to buying it for our small business and clients), I can tell you that looking at sponsorship recruitment annually is difficult. Because I may put something in front of you in the spring that you take, when a fall program that hasn’t been developed yet better fits what you need. It’s important to communicate throughout the year with your chambers and other organizations, so they knew exactly what to bring to you.
That communication can also help with their creativity. There are plenty of events a chamber has to do throughout the year that are critical for their mission in the community, but aren’t necessarily great sponsorship opportunities. Seminars on controversial topics are a great example – discussions that need to be had, but nothing anyone specifically wants to tie their name to. Consequently, if you’ve already told them you have an interest in doing content on a specific topic, and you’re willing to put sponsorship dollars toward it, well, they might be thrilled to add your topic to their docket to make it work for you – and get that cash!
It’s also important to remember the critical role that these organizations play in our communities, and that your support for them through sponsorship not only positions you, your story and your services in front of your target audience, but also helps them fulfill their mission. Think about that for a minute: You’re getting the benefit of highly-targeted exposure, and you’re getting the benefit of the work they’re doing to make your business community stronger. There are not many other marketing spends out there that can return that double decker value.
So, do we steer people away from spending money with the chamber of commerce and business associations? I think it’s important to note that that particular meeting ended with us agreeing to a $2,500 investment in the chamber for our client – one that’s already paid dividends.
Momentum – The Business Growth Agency helps companies develop, implement and optimize their chamber of commerce membership and sponsorship strategy. Want to learn how? Schedule a 15-minute Zoom call with us!