Should your small business join a local chamber of commerce?
If you're looking for ways to increase sales and grow your business, joining a local chamber of commerce may be the right option.
Key Takeaways You Will Get From This Article
1. No matter where you are or what kind of business you have, a chamber of commerce can help support you.
2. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce represents businesses of all types from across the United States.
3. The primary goal of a chamber of commerce is to increase credibility and help businesses gain more customers.
4. Chamber of Commerce membership increases awareness and the likelihood that consumers would choose those companies to do business with on a local and national level.
In this post, we will explore the missions of various chambers and the benefits of becoming a member.
Table of Contents
- What is a Local Chamber of Commerce?
- Chamber Mission and Purpose [With Examples]
- How a Chamber Membership Can Serve Your Business
What is a Local Chamber of Commerce?
Your local Chamber of commerce is a network for businesses that operate in the same location or within a particular industry.
The chamber organization works in the best interest of these businesses through advocacy, networking, and various other benefits.
Because each Chamber caters to similar businesses, there are thousands of them across the United States, and each is entirely different.
There are also different levels of chambers.
For example, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is a national group that serves all kinds of American businesses.
There are also state organizations, such as the Ohio Chamber of Commerce, a statewide organization that serves businesses large and small in Ohio.
No matter where you are or what kind of business you have, it's safe to assume a chamber of commerce can support you.
Chamber of Commerce Mission and Purpose [With Examples]
Now that you know what a chamber of commerce is, you may be wondering what exactly it does. What is the purpose of a chamber of commerce? That's a good question.
The short answer is: to serve and advocate for businesses in a certain area or industry. However, there are many different chambers across the nation, all with slightly different missions.
On a national scale, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce represents businesses of all types from across the United States.
According to their website, "Our members range from mom-and-pop shops and local chambers to leading industry associations and large corporations. They all share one thing—they count on the Chamber to be their voice in Washington, D.C.".
Therefore, the mission of the U.S. Chamber is to speak for American businesses in Congress.
State-level chambers often have similar missions. Let's continue to use the Ohio Chamber of Commerce as an example.
Their mission states, "As the state's leading business advocate and resource, the Ohio Chamber of Commerce aggressively champions free enterprise, economic competitiveness, and growth for the benefit of all Ohioans."
Small or large businesses can become a member of this organization if they hail from Ohio.
The Greater Cleveland Partnership, Cleveland's Chamber of Commerce, is one of the largest metropolitan chambers in the United States.
Their website states, "We're focused on driving the economic vitality of our region through building a strong and thriving climate for the broad business community, including small businesses, middle-market companies, and large corporations."
This organization strives to better serve its members by dividing them into different programs.
For small businesses, there is the Council for Smaller Enterprises (COSE) which advocates for small businesses in the greater Cleveland area.
The Accelerating Middle-Market Progress (AMMP) division serves middle-market companies in the region.
All chambers of commerce have similar missions, but each goes about accomplishing it differently.
How a Chamber Membership Can Serve Your Business
How a Chamber Membership Can Serve Your Business
Most chambers will partially rely on your membership dues to remain in operation.
Most local chambers are nonprofit, private organizations, so they rely on membership dues, donations, and fundraising to keep the lights on.
Membership costs vary depending on the size of your business and number of employees you have, but most charge around $300 - $400 per year.
As the saying goes, "you get out what you put in."
If you put in the time and the capital, there are many business-boosting benefits to being a chamber of commerce member.
Here are six of the top examples:
1. Increased Credibility
We put this one first because it's probably the most important.
Gaining a positive perception of your business in any way is worth its weight in gold.
Marketing your business as a chamber of commerce member boosts credibility, and your business becomes more desirable to customers.
You'll also have an advantage over your non-member competition, as customers will see your business as more trustworthy.
You are also more likely to gain customer referrals.
Many chambers will allow you to use their logo on your website or marketing materials, so make sure to take advantage of that!
As a new member of the Chamber, you may be listed in the chamber newsletter, e-newsletter, on Facebook and can have the opportunity to be highlighted in other chamber publications with other business leaders in your community.
You also can grow your business by advertising with the Chamber and sponsoring events.
2. Discounts and Resources
The primary goal of a chamber of commerce is to increase your credibility and gain more customers, but there are other perks as well.
Being a member has additional perks for your day-to-day operations.
As a member, you may have access to assistance with:
- Discounted insurance
- Office supplies
- Accounting software
- Payroll services
- Access to business loans
- And more!
Think of your membership as an AAA® card for your business and enjoy savings every day!
Network with other members, and you'll find that you can access many different business resources to help solve problems or improve efficiency.
3. Networking & Advocacy Advantages
We touched on this at the end of the last section, but networking events within your Chamber can be a great way to find the resources you maybe didn't even know you needed.
Share triumphs, express concerns, exchange business contacts, and talk about your business challenges with other business owners in your area to find the answer you need.
Or, perhaps you will be able to assist other businesses with a challenge at up-and-coming chamber events.
Because the Chamber's mission is to support the businesses in your area or industry, it will act as a voice for your everyday needs with local government.
In addition to networking, there will also be several educational opportunities you can take advantage of.
As a member, you have access to numerous opportunities for networking, and you will have the power to help influence change for the businesses in your community.
4. Professional Development Events
Often chambers host training, educational, or meeting sessions for businesses in the area.
Be sure to send a team to events relevant to your business to encourage growth and learning.
These events are designed to teach new skills or help employees improve upon current skills to run your business better.
Plus, events are often free for members or available at a significantly discounted rate.
5. Marketing Opportunities
Especially when you first become a member, your Chamber may help to promote your business.
The Chamber likely has a more significant following than your small business, so take advantage of their reach and the exposure they can offer your business.
Here are just a few marketing advantages you get when you join your local Chamber:
- Marketing Outlets: Some local chambers of commerce offer advertising opportunities on their websites. Chambers may also publish newsletters, maintain social media pages, run publications, and access to email lists.
- Sponsorships: Some organizations offer sponsorships or fundraisers for member businesses or the Chamber itself.
- New Business Opportunities: Chambers provide business referrals, insights into new local businesses, professional leadership development, and networking opportunities with industry leaders.
- Business Credibility: Customers are more likely to use the goods of businesses that belong to a local chamber.
- Community Involvement: Many local chambers of commerce work with local organizations to bring awareness to local needs. Being a part of the local Chamber of commerce gives business owners numerous opportunities to get involved in the community.
6. Gain A Voice In Government
Local chambers of commerce take on tough issues like new regulations, taxes, assessments, and costs that could negatively impact small businesses.
You may not personally have the time to get involved, but your local Chamber will use its resources to better small business owners.
Many chambers of commerce exist on the local and regional levels.
You should determine if it would be more advantageous to join your local Chamber or regional chamber commerce, or both.
Join Your Local Chamber Today!
Joining a chamber of commerce is a wonderful way to be part of the community and grow your network. If you consider joining yours, we hope that this post aids in your decision.
There are plenty of benefits to joining a chamber of commerce.
Perhaps the biggest one is how it changes your perception among consumers.
Studies have shown that customers are more likely to have a favorable opinion of a business if they know it is a member of their local Chamber of commerce.
Membership increases awareness and the likelihood that consumers would choose those companies to do business with on a local and national level.
It all comes down to trust.
When someone is active in their local Chamber of commerce, it gives the impression that the business is trustworthy, leaders in the community, and they're someone that consumers want to do business with.
The idea is that your local Chamber of commerce is a trusted entity within your community.
So by becoming a member, you get to enjoy some of that trust among your target customers.
Just remember, you get out what you put in, so participate in events, network, and raise your voice for the community!
If you're looking for more ways to grow your business, contact us today! Our various merchant services offerings can help you increase efficiency, boost profitability, and enhance the customer experience.