Chambers of Commerce are a key component in most small businesses’ marketing plan. Members receive numerous promotional perks, exclusive advertising and networking options, and additional exposure for their companies or organizations. In fact, if a consumer knows a business if part of its local chamber they are 63% more likely to shop with them according to this article in Quality Logo Products.
Let’s dive deeper and see what they say the 5 pros and 5 cons of joining a local chamber of commerce are.
1. Connect with New Residents
Did you know that chambers run programs that welcome new residents to the community? Were you aware that members receive an online listing (with a link) to help interested parties find you in searches? Both of those opportunities alone could give your company a significant boost in buzz. In chambers that work closely with large organizations, like school districts, the chamber is frequently the main entity that puts together new hire welcome packets.
2. Networking Opportunities
Every chamber is different and offers different networking opportunities, but what is definite is that you will be in direct connection with other local business owners. These connections offer a great chance to ask a more experienced owner questions and give back to your community by helping other business owners with your own knowledge.
3. Access to Mailing Lists, Community Events Calendars, and Job Posting Boards
Direct mailing lists can cost hundreds to thousands of dollars, but being a member of your local chamber can get you access to a mailing list included in your membership. Additionally, many chambers have an online community calendar that you can post your events to and often also have a job board to help find local talent to fill your employment needs.
4. Grants and Funding
Many community run grants and funding opportunities are available through local chambers. They disperse information about national and local level business related news and grants, like during the recent pandemic lockdowns, many businesses turned to their local chambers to get information about PPP Loans.
5. Expos, Conferences, and Mixers
Expos and conventions frequently take place in communities; in fact, you’ll probably find one or two in your local newspaper or newsletter if you open it up right now. Chamber members typically gain booth access to those conventions before non-members, and sometimes at a worthwhile discount. Furthermore, chamber leaders groups put you in direct contact with other professionals in the area for networking purposes.
1. Membership Dues
Up-front cost gives people pause, especially newly-established businesses with low seed money.
Money isn’t everything, but it’s sure helpful for businesses with minimal starting costs. The membership fees associated with chambers of commerce deter many from taking the plunge. How much up-front cash are we talking? Chamber of commerce dues are based off of the number of employees working for a company, so it can range between $300 and $1,000 a year. For a full list of the Leander Chamber of Commerce membership benefits, use the link below.
2. ROI Urgency
Companies with low start up seed money may be looking for a quicker return on investment. Chambers are not a magic solution. They give lots of opportunities, but it will still take time to build your business.
3. Time & Effort Requirements
All the networking opportunities provided by your local chamber are a huge benefit, but they all require a time commitment on your part. As a business owner, you are probably already feeling the time crunch. To get the most out of your membership, you will want to attend as much as you can. At the end of the day, it will come down to your priorities. Where are you willing to invest your time?
4. Hyper-Local Leads
While you can get direct contact with your potential leads, most of them will be from a very local group. If your business is focused more on national or international sales then you will still need to invest in digital marketing.
5. Face-to-Face Meetings with Competitors
If sitting in a room with your toughest competitor on the other side of the table sounds intimidating, then you may not like belonging to a chamber. Depending on what type of business you’re running, there’s a chance you’ll face competition straight on when you’re in meetings. It’s important to remember that chambers of commerce not only network with one another, but they also work together to coordinate special community events and fundraisers. Sometimes you’ll have to band with competing businesses in order to make the area a better place to live; if you’re not cool with working together, then this could be a major deterrent.
Should You Join a Chamber of Commerce, or not?
So, depending on how you look at it, these cons might not be negative at all after you take the time to analyze them.
Do you belong to a chamber of commerce in your area? What’s your take — is the cost worth it? Do the pros outweigh the cons? Any other points worth mentioning?