Why Joining is Effective
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 study, conducted by The Schapiro Group, an Atlanta-based strategic consulting firm, found consumer perceptions of chamber members to be positive in many ways:
- When consumers know that a small business is a member of a local chamber of commerce, they are 49% more likely to think favorably of it and 80% more likely to purchase goods or services from the company in the future.
- When consumers know that a restaurant franchise is a member of the chamber of commerce, they are 68% more likely to eat at the franchise in the next few months.
- When consumers know that an insurance company is a member of the chamber of commerce, they are 36% more likely to think favorably of the company.
Major Impact on Small Businesses
Small businesses represent the largest segment of most local chamber membership rolls, and the study indicates that chamber membership has consistent and powerful benefits for small business members—if consumers are aware that the small business is involved with its local chamber.
For example, if respondents know that a small business is a member of its local chamber, the business enjoys a 49% increase in its consumer favorability rating, a 73% increase in consumer awareness, a 68% increase in its local reputation, and an 80% increase in the likelihood that consumers will patronize the business in the future.
Most people know fairly well what their local chambers do; the study assessed the effect of this knowledge on perceptions of chamber members. The researchers said ”any belief about the chamber of commerce—whether that belief was true or not—could have a significant positive impact on how someone views a member… he or she is more likely to think that the member company’s products stack up well and have a favorable opinion toward the company.”
The key factor in developing and maintaining positive consumer perception of chamber members, the Schapiro Group said, was that “positive outcomes only occur when consumers know that a business is a chamber member (i.e., being involved in the chamber is a known facet of the company’s reputation).”
Accordingly, when consumers know that a large business is a member of the chamber, they are likely to patronize the company more often, to express favorable opinions about the company, to know more about the company, and to buy the company’s products.
The study, commissioned by the American Chamber of Commerce Executives (ACCE), in cooperation with the Western Association of Chamber Executives, was sponsored by Insperity, a Houston-based company that provides human resources and other business services to more than 100,000 businesses nationwide. J. Mac Holladay, founder and CEO of Market Street Services, an economic development firm in Atlanta, was a key contributor of concepts used to develop the study.
The new study tracks similar data reported by The Schapiro Group in 2007. “Despite changes in markets and demographics, a nagging recession and the growing influence of the internet, the chamber brand today is stronger and more dynamic than ever,” said ACCE President Mick Fleming. “We’re proud that the numbers prove, once again, that engagement in a chamber means a positive perception of the business in the eyes of the buying public.”
So what is a Chamber of Commerce?
At the heart of each local economy and comprising the backbone of the nation’s economy, you’ll find local Chambers of Commerce. They celebrate and promote the diversity and uniqueness of their communities, and help businesses work to solve issues that are too big to tackle alone.
Chambers are independent business organizations, generally incorporated as a non-profit 501(c)(6) business. Chambers are not part of the local, state, or federal government, though Chambers communicate with government to accomplish things that are in the best interest of their members.
Chambers are funded primarily by membership dues as well as non-dues items such as events and sponsorships. The vast majority of Chamber members are small businesses with fewer than 10 employees. Chambers of Commerce are typically strong business advocates, that can only work with support of the local business community.
The Southwest Michigan Regional Chamber focuses on a broad range of activities and support for both businesses and communities. We provide opportunities for members to make an impact on critical business and community issues. Together with other community leaders and Chamber members a professional staff works to make the community a better place.
Every chamber of commerce is different and has a unique set of benefits and programs. The Southwest Michigan Regional Chamber focuses primarily on what it calls its Four Pillars of Work: Networking, Advocacy, Visibility, and Benefits.