The Mutual Benefit of Content Marketing with the Chamber
As a business owner, you’ve likely heard of the importance of content marketing by now. But if not, here’s the short version of it. Content marketing is producing content on topics of interest to your customers, in a medium they enjoy, at the time that it is relevant to them. If you’re hearing a lot of references to the customer you’ve got the crux of content marketing.It’s all about the customer. If you’re selling locally, you can assume your chamber has your customer’s attention. Your customer may not know exactly what the chamber does, but they most likely think very positively of the chamber and the businesses that are affiliated with it. In fact, many people mistake the chamber for the Better Business Bureau and thus hold it in very high esteem. Being a member benefits you because the chamber’s good reputation transfers onto its members. However, branding is not the only way you can improve your marketing with a chamber membership. The chamber can help you make the most of content marketing as well. Top Ways to Improve Content Marketing Through Chamber Membership The thing that makes content marketing so successful is knowledge of what the customer wants. Without that, you’re simply marketing the same old way. Pick the Chamber Brain If you know a little bit about your ideal customer demographic, your local chamber can probably help you fill in the holes. Many times staff members at the chamber have had their own business or come from a business background. Plus, they also have witnessed what other challenges members have overcome and can provide advice through that lens. Finally, if your demographic is completely different than anything they’ve ever seen or worked with (doubt it, but anything is possible), they know professionals in your area that they can put you in touch with. Write Content on Behalf of the Chamber This is a quid pro quo situation that everyone benefits from: Your potential customers need helpful content but don’t know how to find you or it. Your chamber wants to share good content with its community via its blog, website, social media profiles, and/or its newsletter. Best of all, they have a large following. You have in-depth knowledge in your area of expertise that others would find valuable but you don’t have a large audience. See how this is the perfect match for everyone? You have information that others want. The chamber has a large bullhorn that you have access to as a member. You showcase your expertise. They help the community with useful information. The community sees you both as great resources. How to Produce Valuable Content for the Chamber and Beyond I know, who has time to do that? But let’s talk about return on investment. Creating content costs you only your time. If you don’t want it to impede on business time, create something over the weekend. You can do a quick video or blog post in about an hour. Let’s say your hourly rate is $100. For a maximum investment of $100, you can get seen by a couple hundred people (a small estimate). Let’s say only two of those 100 convert into sales for you. What’s your lifetime customer sale worth? I’m going to assume more than $100. Plus, if you recycle your own content to be used by the chamber instead of creating it from scratch, you’re also not spending an hour on the content. That’s a pretty decent rate of return. If you approach the chamber, and they agree to a blog post, here’s how you can get the most out of your investment and create a piece that everyone appreciates: Don’t make it salesy. This isn’t about how well you sell your product. This content should become a resource for your community. Be helpful not a hard sell. Cover all options you can think of to instill trust. If you’re a gym owner and writing an article about the best places to exercise, include gyms but also talk about a running trail in town, or the new city bike rental program. Giving all the options without hard selling yours, makes you trustworthy and a strong resource. It also will cause people to like you for your candor. They’ll feel like you care about their needs and will often patronize your business because of it. Link to other articles from good sources, reputable authors/journalists, or embed video that corroborates your assertions in your written content. If you’re creating video or doing an interview, talk about these references and add them in the transcript or closed captioning. Admit to positives and negatives about your topic. For instance, if you’re talking about working out in a gym admit that it’s wonderful to run outside on a beautiful day. And it’s good to lead with these ideas because you build immediate trust when you give a concession like that before your audience comes up with it. But it’s also fine to point out the benefits of gyms, such as they are safe areas to exercise that are air-conditioned and staffed with professionals that can ensure you are exercising in a way that is beneficial and not too stressful on joints. Ask for a by-line. You likely won’t get a direct call-to-action where you can ask the chamber audience to call you for more information but the chamber will likely give you a by-line where you can mention your business and link to your website (bonus SEO link from a reputable site) and social media contact information. If you’re interested in launching content marketing for your business, the chamber is a great place to start. They have a large, local audience that turns to them as a resource and they need good content. This can become a solid, mutually beneficial partnership that serves the entire community. Christina R. Green teaches small businesses, chambers, and associations how to connect through content. Her articles have appeared in the Midwest Society of Association Executives’ Magazine, NTEN.org, AssociationTech, and Socialfish. She is a regular blogger at Frankjkenny.com and the Event Manager Blog. She’s a bookish writer on a quest to bring great storytelling to organizations everywhere.