By Ashley Laabs
Salon owners across the country report word of mouth as their most successful marketing method, but many are doing absolutely nothing to cultivate more of it. When it comes to marketing a business, owners are often so focused on the latest and greatest that they forget how to truly make an impact. They key to breaking through in your town might not have anything to do with Facebook or the newspaper, and you don’t need a single tutorial on how to use it.
The chamber of commerce is a local business network dedicated to connecting resources and addressing business challenges together. Typically, there are membership dues involved, but the savvy business owner knows how to work his or her way around the benefits of the organization – it’s easy to make up the investment quickly. With all of the noise in social media and advertising, the chamber of commerce gives businesses a unique chance to supercharge their reputation and develop a real connection not only with other entrepreneurs, but with the community that they serve.
Here’s how your membership with the local chamber of commerce could result in a more profitable business:
Save money on basic costs: Becoming a member of the chamber means you have access to a bevy of discounts and incentives through their network of preferred vendors. You are not limited to working with these companies as a result of your affiliation, but some businesses will find discounts on health insurance, phone services and office supplies is a great reason to give them a shot.
Pick the brains of leaders: Businesses across every market join the chamber for the same reasons as you. Expand your horizons and get out of your comfort zone. Get to know fellow entrepreneurs and bounce ideas off of businesses you don’t compete with. Inter-market brainstorming sessions can lead to some breakthrough ideas for your business.
Enjoy free advertising: Chambers of commerce utilize newsletters, email blasts, web listings and other methods to boost the visibility of member businesses both online and offline. With little to no effort from you, you could see improved brand recognition and search engine optimization.
Participate in the community: Many salon owners will donate a gift card or a basket of products for charitable events, but the chamber puts you in a position of power to be more than some random donor. These organizations are regularly seeking sponsors for various events, which means your logo could end up on brochures and signage if you get involved. The physical presence of your business at these events puts you face to face with new potential customers while you do something to improve the place you live and work.
Increase your credibility: More than half of consumers view chamber members as more reputable and believe they use better business practices. They even perceive the products and services of these businesses as superior. Become one of the upstanding establishments in your area by participating in an organization that cares about the future of business and your neighborhood.
Increase referral business: When a business or individual contacts the chamber of commerce for a specific product or service, they specifically refer them to member businesses. You never know who might call in or when, so it surely doesn’t hurt to make sure your business’s name is on that list!
The great thing about membership in your local chamber of commerce is that you can improve the perception of your business just by joining. But it’s not a passive cure-all for slow season or a small advertising budget. Like membership in any group, you will reap the most benefits with active participation. Make a conscious effort to be an involved member to increase and improve word of mouth in your community.