I live and breathe digital marketing. I can not get enough of it. Link building is still part of search engine optimization, even though it is starting to become less relevant.
Every Chamber of Commerce has a highly visible directory that drives web traffic. By joining the Chamber of Commerce, you are able to be part of the directory and get a high-quality link from a great source to your website.
The small Chamber of Commerce I belong to drives nearly 500k web hits per month. This is a highly visited site full of relevant content to my business (things Google likes). In my opinion, this link is worth the price of admission.
The Chamber of Commerce can give your website a quick boost in rankings. To drive even more traffic, see if you can be a guest blogger for the Chamber and link back to your site on even more relevant keywords.
Networking is not for everyone. I will admit that even to this day, I hate networking events. I make myself get out there and meet people because it is vital to my business.
I believe that the networking events through the Chamber of Commerce are a great way to source new customers.
The great part of the Chamber of Commerce is that everyone has the same goal, to make connections. I will warn you about being the guy with the half unbuttoned shirt passing out 500 business cards every event, I call him the card flipper.
Your goal must be to build relationships with people, not burn through an order from VistaPrint every meeting. Nobody really likes that guy, do things the right way, get to know people. People want to do business with people.
MAKE BUSINESS PARTNERSHIPS
The reason you do not want to be the card flipper is that you are looking to build relationships. Got it! One of the best things that I have found from networking is building business partnerships and sharing leads.
For example, we do marketing training and marketing plans for clients. I have met a web developer, promotional vendor (think pens, business cards, tee shirts, etc), my CPA, and even my commercial real estate agents.
Did they become paying clients? No, they got advice for free. However, they send me leads all the time and vice versa.
We created a lead group and we try to promote each other whenever possible. It has turned into a great partnership and I think of them as extensions of my company. A great benefit to have.
PART OF YOUR HOLISTIC MARKETING PLAN
I believe in order to be successful in marketing you must develop a holistic marketing plan. It is the only way to truly be successful. Combine the best of traditional marketing with the new inbound marketing approaches.
Through the networking events (traditional) I have been able to create an automated marketing (inbound) message that closes about 5% of participants to training clients. They see the way that I do my marketing and want a piece of it for their company.
Your holistic marketing plan is important to grow your business. The Chamber of Commerce gives you tons of opportunity to create a well-oiled holistic marketing plan.
ADVERTISE WITH AN ENGAGED AUDIENCE
Have you ever bought an email list to get zero coupon redemptions? I thought so.
Your Chamber of Commerce will give you the opportunity to use their email list or magazine/newsletter to advertise your business. Normally this is going to be cheaper and produce better results.
Because you are sending promotions to “members”, you are not going to get bad email addresses, incorrect names, or bad segmentation. These are people looking for the communications from the Chamber already and many times very engaged.
I had one client, an auto repair facility, that did mailers to his direct zip code with a free oil change. He received 2 redemptions. It cost him more for the mailer than to give away the oil changes.
He did the same mailer with the Chamber of Commerce and received 50 new customers. The mailer cost him half the amount and produced much better results.
Remember the goal of the Chamber of Commerce is to help and most Chamber members want to help other members. So they will respond to your ads.
BONUS: GET TO KNOW YOUR COMMUNITY
Do you live in a community that has monthly movies in the park or sports leagues on the weekend? You don’t know? Well, let the Chamber of Commerce help.
I have talked to many people at the Chamber of Commerce that are citizens, not businesses. Just like your local church, it is a great way to get to know the people in your community and get involved.
This might not directly benefit your business, but it could make your community more bearable to live in. Who knows, you might even make a friend.