Why Join Your Local Chamber of Commerce
Some business owners might say their schedule is demanding enough at the moment, and the thought of adding one more activity to their busy calendar is unbearable. Other business owners might say their budget is extremely tight, and the thought of adding another bill sounds foolish. So why make the investment?
Because membership in the local chamber offers numerous benefits and keeps business owners on top of important, ever-changing issues and trends within their community and local marketplace. Not only that, but research points out that consumers are more likely to do business with a company if it’s a member of their local chamber of commerce.
According a research study by The Shapiro Group, Inc. and Market Street Services, when consumers know that a business is a member of their local chamber of commerce, they are 44 percent more likely to think favorably of it and 63 percent more likely to purchase goods or services from the company in the future.
If you still don’t think you have time to join and participate in your local chamber of commerce, consider the following:
- Most consumers (59 percent) think that being active in the local chamber of commerce is an effective business strategy overall. It’s 29 percent more effective, however, for communicating to consumers that a company uses good business practices and 26 percent more effective for communicating that a business is reputable.
- If a company shows that it’s highly involved in its local chamber (e.g., sits on the chamber board), consumers are 12 percent more likely to think that its products stack up better against its competition.
- When a consumer thinks that a company’s products stack up better against the competition because the company is highly involved in its local chamber of commerce, it is because he or she infers that the company is trustworthy, involved in the community and is an industry leader.
- When consumers know that a restaurant franchise is a member of the chamber of commerce, they are 40 percent 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 43 percent more likely to consider buying insurance from it.
How does all that sound? If your business is a restaurant or an insurance company, isn’t it fantastic to hear the news that consumers are more likely to choose your business over a competing, non-member business because you’re a member of your local chamber of commerce? Are you convinced yet that you should join your local chamber if you aren’t a member already?
If not, read this top 10 list of reasons why you should join your local chamber of commerce.
- Membership brings credibility to your business. You can increase positive perception among consumers and business owners when you’re identified as a member of a chamber of commerce.
- Increase your visibility in the community. As a member of the chamber of commerce, your membership may be listed in the chamber e-newsletter; announced on social media, radio, and at social events; and be highlighted in other chamber publications. You also can grow your business by advertising with the chamber and sponsoring events. With a chamber membership, you can reach potential clients through member exclusive advertising and opportunities for business-to-business advertising and publicity. The chamber may also promote your grand opening/ ribbon-cutting ceremony and assist with any public relations efforts. Visit our advertising page to learn about your advertising opportunities as a Chamber Member.
- Create networking opportunities. Chambers have numerous committees and serving on one of them provides numerous networking opportunities as well as professional leadership development. You can build your business while promoting developments of keen interest to local businesses and the community at large. It may also open doors for future partnerships to help your business grow.
- Gain a voice in government. You don’t have time to stay on top of all the local, regional, and state issues which could impact your business, but that’s at the heart of what we do. We keep you informed so that you can concentrate on growing your business. We also take on the tough issues and opposes new regulations, taxes, fees, assessments and costs directed at small businesses. It also helps protect the principles of free enterprise and aids businesses in being treated fairly.
- Make business contacts. The chamber’s most fundamental mission is to generate more business activity for the community. The chamber initiates more business-to-business commerce and more opportunities for networking and connecting local professionals than is available through most other local organizations.
- Get access to new resources. The problems you face in business are likely shared by your fellow men and women in the business community. What better way to talk through difficulties or problems in your business than discussing with those who are walking on the same path as you. The Chamber can introduce you to people who can help you with your problem, get you the information you need to handle it yourself, or even, in some cases, resolve the issue for you.
- Acquire customer referrals. Every day, your local chamber receives calls from individuals and businesses looking for potential vendors, and chamber members typically recommend chamber members.
- Chamber events and programs. Chamber events and programs provide members with great opportunities to get to know new people and expand their prospect base. Chamber events are innovative and fun ways to help members meet potential customers, clients and vendors— and generate new business leads. Visit our events page to learn about upcoming events.
- Stay up to date. Training can get expensive when you do not have a large training budget. Chambers provide an inexpensive way to bridge the gap between no training and topic-expert training. Whether it is a lunch and learn or a seminar on improving your company’s marketing, the Chamber hosts countless programs to help you increase your skills in all aspects of your business. Visit our events page to learn about upcoming opportunities.
- Access to members-only discounts and services. These differ from chamber to chamber. For example, the Bay County Chamber of Commerce in Florida has a member-to-member discount program where a chamber member will receive 50% off their first year of web hosting from Aaron Rich Marketing, which is a member of the chamber. Visit our Member Discounts page to see more deals offered by our members.
Small businesses represent the largest segment by number of most local chamber membership rolls. Results in the research study by The Shapiro Group, Inc. and Market Street indicate the impact of local chamber membership on small businesses is very powerful. If a consumer knows a small business is a member of its local chamber, the business enjoys a 44 percent increase in its consumer favorability rating, a 51 percent increase in consumer awareness, a 57 percent increase in its local reputation and a 63 percent increase in the likelihood that consumers will patronize the business in the future.
Research indicates that chamber membership stimulates business-to-business commerce in the local community. Other businesses in town are more likely to do business with you and your company if you are a member of the local chamber. Because a major part of a small business typically comes from business-to-business services, it is essential to maintain a positive standing within the local business community.
Ready to join your local chamber, if you aren’t already? Keep in mind, however, that you can’t just be a member of the local chamber to reap the benefits of chamber membership. Paying your annual dues just isn’t enough. You must also make an investment of time and effort in chamber activities and become involved (See information about committees below). Simply put, what you get out of chamber membership is directly relative to what you put in.
Opportunities for networking and community involvement are the most important benefits the Chamber has to offer our members on an individual basis. There are a wide range of committees to get you involved.
New Member Benefits
Free e-Biz Newsletter Ads
New members receive two free business card ad in the e-Biz newsletter, which can be linked to a website or digital flier. The e-Biz is a bi-weekly newsletter that is emailed to the membership, posted to our social media, and is available on our website.
Free News Herald Ads
New members receive one free quarter page (4″ x 10″) ad in the Panama City News Herald printed newspaper valued at $440.
Free Banner Ad on MyPanhandle.com
New members receive a ad banner campaign for one month, guaranteed to have more than 20,000 page views.
Chamber Targeted Advertising and Sponsorships
The Chamber has many targeted advertising and sponsorship opportunities for all members. Details can be found by clicking here.
Membership Directory Listing
Members receive a free basic business listing in the printed Membership Directory and on the Chamber’s website. For an additional fee of $475 annually, your business can have an “enhanced” listing, in priority order rather than alphabetical, with the company’s logo, business description, link to website and more.
Free Membership Referral Service
The Chamber only refers to our members to the thousands of phone calls, walk-ins and online information requests we receive each month. A report from our website and referral database is created monthly at a member’s request.
The Chamber lobby display is available, free of charge, for members to place their business cards, fliers, brochures, magazines or any other information. The Chamber’s lobby is visited by many individuals and groups daily, looking for information and opportunities in Bay County.
New Member Promotion
New members are automatically promoted and welcomed through radio spots on iHeart Media Stations, the e-Biz Newsletter, quarterly in the Bay Biz Magazine as well as the Chamber’s social media.
Grand Openings and Ground Breakings
Upon a member’s request, the Chamber will coordinate member grand openings and ground breakings with our Ambassadors. The ribbon cutting photo is then pictured in the e-Biz newsletter and the Chamber’s social media and website. To request, please contact Tamara Barnes, VP of Membership Development, at Tamara@BayChamberFL.com.
Members are welcome to attend the Chamber’s free, monthly networking events. First Friday is a morning event with an average of over 300 attendees while Business After Hours is an evening social with an average of 150 attendees. Members are also encouraged to participate in committees.
Members may submit business news such as new hires, promotions, new programs, awards, and other accolades to appear in the “Biz List” section of the Bay Biz Magazine.
Members are able to reserve the Chamber’s Boardroom at no charge during regular business hours, and for a small fee for after-hours. Call 850.785.5206 for more information and to reserve. The sales of goods or services in the Chamber Boardroom is prohibited.
As one of the largest manufacturers in Bay County, our challenges are somewhat unique to the area. Over the last few years, the Chamber staff has generously provided guidance and assistance in a number of our key initiatives that promote growth in our business. Improved business results has allowed us to increase our full time employee base which improves the local economy. Whether your business is small or large, I strongly encourage a membership with Bay County Chamber of Commerce!
When I started my business one of the very first things I did was join the Bay County Chamber of Commerce because I knew from my previous employer what it could do for my business. We could not have achieved the level of success that we have today without the lasting relationships that we have cultivated through the chamber of commerce throughout the years. The chamber has provided me the opportunity to make my entrepreneurial dreams into a reality. I encourage businesses to not only join the chamber but to also make the investment of their time into the organization to really recognize the full benefits of membership.
The Eye Center of North Florida is a proud and supportive member of the Bay County Chamber of Commerce. Our membership allows us the opportunity to network and work alongside like-minded individuals who truly care about the business community and the overall well being of Bay County. We are pleased to support an organization which is focused on sustaining, growing and supporting local businesses and positively impacting our community. The Chamber has always been and continues to be an invaluable resource. We are thrilled to be involved with such a vibrant, connected, and quality organization and look forward to our continued membership and all the benefits it has to offer.
As I look back at the last ten years and examine reasons for my company’s growth, I can certainly say a huge part of our success has been our relationship with the Bay County Chamber of Commerce and its thriving membership base. The Chamber staff is a wonderful group of individuals who work tirelessly to help businesses in our community succeed in every way possible. This truly is a powerful organization to be part of and I am thankful for the partnership that we have formed.
Through the Bay County Chamber, I met people from all walks of life… from CEOS’ of large corporations, to small business owners in our community. I have formed lifelong friendships and business partnerships that have followed me to this day. The Chamber has helped my son and I expand our knowledge and needs for successful business practices and is helping our business reach its fullest potential. There is no better networking tool for your business, no matter how large…or small that Business is…than the Bay County Chamber of Commerce!