Low-cost member perks ideas to attract new members
Merchants associations and chambers of commerce primarily exist to gather entrepreneurs, who voluntarily help each other and the business community as a whole. With a focus on shared values and common goals, membership in these types or organizations are an invaluable asset to one’s business.
These Main Street organizations have proven to be a significant force in local economies, representing the collective voice of entrepreneurs and their businesses, offering a rich network and providing support and promotion for local businesses.
Members often meet to discuss and agree on important issues pertaining to business, the economy, and their community.
These organizations are also a rich source of networking, where businesses can increase their contacts and get referred to potential clients through co-members.
One of the most valuable benefits you can provide your members is to keep them in the loop on local business news. Be sure to update your members regularly on news and issues happening within the local community.
Business Directory for Referrals
Providing a Directory listing as well as referrals from your Directory database is a great way to connect members, develop mentoring relationships, cultivate ambassador programs and more.
Offer Discounts to Members
Some levels of membership may include:
- Free tickets to your annual event
- Discounts on professional trainings & events
- Discount in your online-store
Local Savings for Members Only
Develop partnerships with commonly used services in the area, such as office supply store, UPS, airport parking, notary public, accounting software, etc. Find out if your organization can open a corporate account that your members can use as well.
Access to Insurance
Work with members in the insurance industry to create group benefit plans that give your members, especially small business owners, access to health insurance, dental insurance and long-term care insurance that they might not otherwise be able to provide.
Exclusive Member to Member Discounts
Create a member discount program focused on driving sales to member businesses. Members benefit by offering exclusive discounts to members and their employees, thus increasing sales. They can also take advantage of exclusive discounts offered by other members.
Offer marketing opportunities to your members. Advertising in your e-newsletter, website and print publications is a great way to get in front of your entire membership. Bonus value: Research shows that nearly 50% of consumers are more likely to think favorably of a business involved with their local chamber or merchants association.
Create a new member welcome process that includes website promotion, posting to social media pages, special introduction of new members at in-person meetings. As your organization grows, take it a step further by hosting monthly new member welcome & information sessions.
Celebrate all member accomplishments. Is there something special going on in their business? Has one of their employees won a special award? Completed special training? Let fellow chamber members know! Offer your members the opportunity to share their news in your monthly newsletter or online news feed. Take it one step further and share member celebration posts to your social media pages. Increased visibility benefits everyone!
Ribbon Cutting Events
Ribbon cuttings are a great way to promote local business and announce – “We are here!” Ribbons can be cut for anniversaries, new staff members, remodeled spaces, or simply to welcome a new member to your organization!
Give your members the opportunity to add their events to your community calendar. Offer to help promote member events on social media and encourage your members to share event posts that link back to your calendar page.
For large annual events, create a membership level that include an exclusive meet and greet with VIPs in attendance. A member looking to engage a new target market can build awareness for their products and services by sponsoring highly promoted, well attended events. For members with smaller budgets, offer a less-expensive membership level that includes opportunities to ‘host’ smaller mixer type events, where the association provides event promotion and the member provides refreshments.
Be sure to outline the type of sponsor recognition each level will receive at these events. Ie: All event sponsors recognized in newsletter promotions, Premier Level members also receive complimentary tickets to the event and top billing on all event signage.
Build an ambassador program. Coach ambassadors on what your organization is all about. Let them develop their own narrative about why they joined and the value their membership brings to them. Encourage ambassadors to promote member engagement. Current members reaching out to potential members at events and meetings is a powerful way to broaden your organization’s reach and visibility.
Start a referral program. Encourage members to ‘connect and do business’ with fellow members first. Create a culture where members are great at supporting and referring each other. Be sure to recognize and thank your top referrers at your annual meeting.
Expand your ‘connect and do business’ referral program to include your staff. Most associations get hundreds of inquiries each year from people looking for services in the area. Let your members know that you will always refer to from your Business Directory first.
For companies that do not have a large training budget, attending national conferences or bringing in experts may be out of the question. Associations and chambers can provide an inexpensive way to bridge the gap between no training and industry expert training. Providing relevant speakers and guest trainers in a timely manner can be an invaluable benefit for your members.
Consider offering online trainings or webinars that include continuing education credits or a certification option.
Schedule speaker sessions on timely topics like – ‘Diversity and equity in the Workplace’ or ‘Integrating Work & Live in a Hybrid Environment’.
Cultivate young professionals within your organization. YP’s can bring knowledge of new industry trends. YP’s bring fresh ideas and fresh perspective to challenges you may have been struggling with. Engaging YP’s can be key to developing and retaining membership.
Woman to Woman
In business, we all benefit from having a network of well-connected peers across different groups. Women who also have an inner circle of close female contacts are more likely to land executive positions with greater authority and higher pay.1 Facilitate opportunities for women to help other women, for example a women-to-women mentoring circle, or an women entrepreneur group.
Host panel or round table discussions exclusively for members at the Premier or CEO level. Be sure to plan topic ahead of time that will be valuable to attendees and train facilitators to guide discussions in a useful direction. Suggested topics: Staying Motivated, How to Thrive Under Pressure, Thought Leadership for Executives.
Group volunteer opportunities
Create opportunities for your members to support important causes in the heart of their community by organizing group volunteer projects. Volunteering connects people with shared values. It is good for the mind and body, plus working on a project together builds stronger bonds that simple networking.
Your members might also learn a new skill while volunteering that they can add to their resume!
Shared Meeting Room
Is your organization fortunate enough to have a conference room? Don’t leave it sitting empty half the time, consider offering the space to your members at a free or discounted rate.