So you’ve just opened a small black-owned business in your neighborhood, and you’re excited to get started. Now that you’re finished with all the paperwork, it’s “official” and time to figure out your marketing strategy. If you’re like most entrepreneurs; social media marketing and online advertising seem like the best way to generate leads for your new business. Depending on your company, product, or service, other tools may be necessary to help you navigate through a competitive market. Doing business in a predominantly social and digital age has entrepreneurs questioning whether they should even bother with such an “old-school” tactic, such as joining a chamber.
Believe it or not, the secret sauce to business exposure lies within your local black chamber of commerce. With membership pricing that’s affordable for all, joining a black chamber of commerce is definitely worth considering as another way to drive consumers to your establishment.
Let’s start by answering the obvious question of what is a Chamber of Commerce? By definition, it is an association or network of businesspeople designed to promote and protect its members’ interests. Sometimes known as a “board of trade,” they are often business owners who share a locale or similar business interests. In this case, it is a group of businesses located in the greater Fort Wayne area.
5 Benefits to Joining a Black Chamber of Commerce
Today, a lot of leaders are turning to technology as a way to connect with people. Unfortunately, we depend so much on technology in the selling process that we often forget to examine the human element. Next to free publicity for your business, a good old fashion business referral is one of the lowest-cost customer acquisition modes. Chamber advisors are able to match you with other businesses and consumers who are seeking your product and/or service. This provides members with the opportunity to increase their exposure, and gain information, while successfully developing a sustainable business network.
Most chambers of commerce offer their members a basic listing within their online or printed directory. Others offer their members a business page or direct link to their website. Member directories are an excellent way to gain exposure for your business beyond your typical social media post. Remember the yellow pages…well like phone books, business directories make finding your black-owned business more convenient. They give consumers a way to shop black without joining a social media group or scan the comment section for recommendations.
Networking With Other Black Business Owners
Networking is one of those things that you’ll only get out of it, what you put into it. One of the most common reasons professionals get little to no value from their chamber membership, is because they did not actively participate in networking opportunities. The keyword in this is “active.” Remember that networking is designed to be a mutually beneficial relationship, so simply handing out your business cards isn’t enough. Chamber meetings, events, and seminars allow members to meet, greet and connect with other like-minded business professionals to exchange information.
Discounts & Perks
Member-to-member discounts are not required, but are strongly encouraged to bring a sense of unity amongst chamber members. Offering discounts are also an excellent way to make your business more visible to other chamber members, while potentially gaining new leads as well. Utilizing member discounts allows organizations to support their community, strengthen black businesses and encourage future entrepreneurship.
Training and Seminars
Training and seminars are among the many Chamber benefits that most business owners ignore. Hands-on workshops, mentors, and coaches can help entrepreneurs reach their potential faster. With shared resources, events, and staff, chamber partners work collaboratively to provide services that contribute to closing the economic wealth gap.
- A national survey of 2,000 adults reveals that being active in a local chamber of commerce is an effective business strategy because two-thirds of consumers believe that such companies use good business practices, are reputable, care about their customers, and are involved in the community.
- The Schapiro Group, an Atlanta-based market research firm, found positive attitudes among adults in 2012 have actually increased over the very favorable findings of the first study in 2007.
- Studies show that approximately 8% of small businesses fail when they do not have a network.
- When consumers know that a small business is a member of the chamber of commerce, they are 49% more likely to think favorably of the establishment.
- While 80% are more likely to purchase goods or services from the company in the future.