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You're running four Chambers

There is a huge misconception in the chamber industry that a chamber of commerce is a membership organization. Well, of course it’s a membership organization, but it’s actually about four different membership organizations. 

Over the years, Chambers have become pretty good at taking care of a pretty loud segment of the membership with the most needs and the highest sensitivity to price. As a result, you get prices that are too low, values that are too diluted and we end up feeding the churn through fundraisers like Membership Drives which are what I call #FakeDues. But this member profile is just just one of the four profiles. That's right, you're not running a membership organization, you're running four different membership organizations. 

The simple truth is that if you want to grow your chamber of commerce, you have got to attract and cater to the three other business profiles in your membership.

I’ve worked with some incredible organizations and...

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Does your model have this ONE thing?

After working with hundreds of chambers and other business organizations, I've found that there is one key difference between those who need my approach and those who need it a lot: Their revenue structure provides a natural incentive to be good at sales.

For most chambers, your first transaction is membership. Memberships that offer choice in value and investment provide a natural incentive for the chamber to match the best value to the needs and desires of a particular member. If your chamber still has fair-share dues, you don't have a reason to be good at this thing called sales. 

There are three ways to grow your revenue:
  1. Increase the number of members or customers
  2. Increase the revenue per member
  3. Increase the number of transactions per member or customer
I don't focus on increasing the number of members in my organizations because there are some factors that create a ceiling on growth in this area: 
  • Physical proximity to the organization's services
  • The...
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Here's one area where your board should never speak for the members

Your board thinks that every business is just like them, feeling the same pains, having the same reactions to change. It's why I developed the Map to Remembership: To help your board and staff understand that different businesses have different needs.

I've talked with many of you about email conversations you're having with your executive team, and they are making a lot of assumptions.

  1. Members can't afford membership renewals right now. This breaks my NUMBER ONE rule: Never say no for someone else. Don't tell them they can't afford it. Believe in your value.

  2. Things we used to charge for should be free right now. Why? Because someone else is offering something for free? Great plan. Hey when we close for good and you're the last one here, get the lights, would ya?

  3. Chamber functions aren't essential right now. C'mon man. Hey if you believe this, get off my email list.

People commonly do something called projection in group settings where social constructs exist and they want to...

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You sell more memberships when you make more offers

  It's easy to throw your hands in the air and raise the white flag of surrender. Sadly, I'm seeing chambers do it all over the place... But not my Chamber People. No. My chamber people are fighters. So if you're ready to fight for your community with me, I want to talk about revenue. 

The problem is, your board members are clamping down on their cashflow and they assume every other business is doing the same. Well, bullshit. Businesses are still investing in the strategies and tactics that WORK, and the PEOPLE who care about what they care about. So if your board isn't leading with courage, maybe they can borrow some of yours. And you can borrow some of mine. 

Your new membership sales revenue is directly proportional to the number of offers you make. More offers, more sales. More sales, more revenue. 

Here are three things you can do to adapt your membership sales efforts today.

  1. Automate your inbound. Whoever sells memberships for your chamber needs an...

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Everything is cancelled

Community leaders need community followers. And I was on a call with about twenty or so community leaders here in Salem, Oregon, last week. They were talking about events and gatherings that they had planned for their followers -- and they were using the word "cancelled" over and over again. 

Man that is depressing. What a bunch of quitters. But Kyle it's too hard. Hey I'm a Chamber People OK? We find the upside to stuff. We look for opportunities. 

Hey if you don't believe in your own cause then by all means, cancel that thing you never should have been doing in the first place. 

Quick story: There was a conference last week. It was supposed to be $3,000 to attend this two-day conference with about two or three hundred people in Nashville, Tennessee. The leader of that team said, "We will not cancel. Our people are counting on us to find a way." 

Not only did that show go on, but they wound up with 900 people in this conference. Because they...

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Why You M.U.S.T. Pivot

 You MUST pivot? You MUST? My dad always said words like always, never and must are too strong to throw around casually. 

MUST is an acronym that us marketing people use in times like this. 

M: Massive Problem. It's not too hard to find a massive problem to solve in your community. For example, many of your restaurants who have looked at all of the third party meal delivery apps that take 30% of the sale and said, We're not built for that financially. It's a massive problem. Those restaurants are either closed or they are about to be. 

U: Unique Solution. Can you solve the massive problem with a unique solution in your market. It doesn't have to be unique to the world, just unique to the situation. If you can get drivers from your community to help local restaurants at 10-15% of the sale, that's a unique solution. 

S: Starving Market. Hey we're talking about food delivery here. Isn't it obvious? 

T: Timing. This is a terrible idea last February. But...

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Did you get blown off-course? Or is this the better course?

  Well, so much for your strategic plan, right? We need a new strategic plan and we need a better way to communicate it FAST. 

But your last strategic plan was developed over weeks or months and you gathered the team and the board and brought in a facilitator but all of that is a lot more complicated-slash-impossible right now. 

So here is a simple approach to rebuilding your strategic plan. First, get your compass. Your mission statement, your vision statement and your organizational values. Then, list your actions. 

The actions on your last strategic plan are irrelevant so start over right now, today. List up to five different focus areas. Have a goal for each. Have a target date for each. And have a champion for each. 

And here's the deal... the Champion can't be you on every single one. Delegate. Team up. Have one or two champions on one or more goals. No more than 2 or 3 goals per focus area. Keep it simple. 

If you followed the launch of my...

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What should you do about invoicing your members right now? 


I get it: when the economic mood changes, sending invoices for membership renewals can make you feel uncomfortable. 

Three things you need to know before you delay your invoicing.

  1. Delaying your renewals is a bad idea. I've been through four of these shifts in my chamber career and if anything you should be thinking sending invoices early by a week or two. Don't be the last one to get paid. 

  2. Not every business is hurting right now. Grocery, McDonald's double drive thrus, shipping companies, delivery businesses and home improvement stores are all still busy. So are gun shops and many of the remaining local book stores, especially religious book stores. 

  3. You need to know about the Economic Recovery Grant. It's something my boss and I created in 2009 and it still works today. 

There are two situations where it's appropriate to use this valuable tool. 

  1. When a member reaches out to you to cancel their membership

  2. When a member is more than 30...

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What should you do next? 

What should we be doing next? Three things...

  1. Don't contribute to panic, doom or gloom

  2. Deal in facts

  3. Refuse to predict

Don't panic... When you add adjectives to your message, such as "unprecedented" or "crazy," you are piling on to the emotions of those we are trying to help. If you need to vent, or rant, make sure you're doing it privately. Your tribe needs you to be on your A-game. 

Deal in facts... There are lots of organizations who now believe they are in the business of sharing unfiltered information. The problem is that the information is buried in corporation-speak. Instead of passing along information they already know or are getting from somewhere else, be the filter. Pass on ONLY the directions they NEED to KNOW or the advice that only you can give. 

Refuse to predict... Everyone is a pundit, it seems. Don't fall into the trap of trying to predict an outcome here. Everyone is dealing with change. Not every business is suffering. If you don't believe...

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How can you keep your meetings during a stay-at-home order? 

  Your meetings can keep on happening -- and I believe they should. Here's what you need to know about virtual meetings. 

  1. Live Video has the best engagement, so if you're comfortable with it, I suggest you give it a go with Zoom or Facebook Live.

  2. Second best for engagement is to record your video, upload it to Facebook, and then do a watch party at a time where you would normally meet. 

  3. Many of our members are asking for ways to engage and connect with each other and not just your chamber. With that in mind, you should be thinking about creating a GROUP on Facebook for each of the different groups that you manage. Even better, when you broadcast live for that group's meeting, you can do your Facebook Live right inside that Facebook Group. 



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