By Kelly Fanelli


Using Testimonials For Chamber Recruitment and Retention

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Kelly Fanelli



This is the third post in the guest blog series by Kelly Fanelli, the Membership Director at the Chamber of Commerce of the Palm Beaches in West Palm Beach, Florida. (If you need to get caught up, start with her first blog post.)



One word comes to mind when I think of membership recruitment and retention…


I am a big believer in the power of testimonials. Why should people take your word for it, when they can hear it from a fellow member? Totally different! You need testimonials for virtually every element of your programming and every step of a member’s timeline.

What Types of Testimonials Do You Need?

Before you start collecting testimonials, it’s important to identify the different elements—or “value propositions”—of your Chamber that you want to promote.

These value propositions might be:

  • Membership, in general
  • Visibility tools
  • Committee involvement
  • Your Chamber’s role as an advocate

You could also focus on collecting testimonials to represent different business categories, sizes and locations.

How To Acquire Testimonials

There are several different strategies for acquiring testimonials.

Sometimes you’ll get lucky, and a testimonial will occur naturally:

When you’re having a conversation with a member and they say, “Wow!  I really loved ______!”, ask for a testimonial that says exactly that, in that moment.  Don’t just say you’re looking for one and put the burden of what to say on them.  Ask them in that moment when they are so happy, and tell them to say exactly that, and they will. 

Most likely, though, you’ll also need to actively seek testimonials.

One way to do this is to put together a list of questions that will generate testimonial-geared answers.

Questions you might ask:

  • What were your initial hesitations about joining the chamber, and how did the Chamber overcome those hesitations?
  • What challenges your business the most and how has the Chamber helped with that?
  • What part of the Chamber’s programming would you recommend to someone who is not a member?  To a new member?

Your goal is to assemble a library of testimonials that you can draw upon for membership sales and renewals.  The more depth you can create in this library, the more compelling the messages will be and the greater number of opportunities you’ll find to use them. 

Examples of Effective Testimonials

Here are a couple of examples that have worked well for me:


  • New Member:  “I just joined the Chamber and I loved___________, got a new client right away, etc.”  This testimonial expresses an immediate return on their investment.
  • Long-term member:   “My company has been a Chamber member for (10, 20, 30…) years and we continue to reap the benefit of our affiliation with our Chamber.”  This testimonial speaks to the continued benefits of membership and is perfect for renewals.
  • Returning member:  “We were forced to drop our membership during the recession, but now that we are back, our business is really growing as a result of the Chamber.”  This message is geared toward dropped members and taking advantage of a recovering economy.

Visibility tools: 

  •  “I opened the new directory this morning and was thrilled to see my company listed there.  The credibility that provides will make a measurable difference for me.”  Here we’ve got kudos for the directory AND we’re stressing the ability of the Chamber to create credibility.
  • “Appearing on the Chamber website has given me an Internet presence we really lacked and it’s directing traffic to my site as well.”  Many smaller members struggle with creating an impact for an online presence.  The Chamber can help.
  • “My ribbon cutting photo appeared in the Chamber newsletter and my phone started to ring.”  I think we sometimes underestimate the value of the simplest Chamber perk.  Remember-a picture is worth a thousand words. 


  • “I attended ___________ and made some great contacts!  I’m looking forward to the next event and will be bringing my sales staff/marketing director/CEO/new hire.”  Again, networking is one of the things we do best and now we are stressing the value of engaging the staff and reinforcing that value.
  • “I hosted the recent (Chamber event) and had (#) business owners and area professionals tour my facility/taste my food/see my work.  I loved it!  Thanks!”

You get the idea!

How To Use Testimonials

  • Use testimonials in emails to prospects and renewing members, and on invoices, event flyers, marketing materials and sales presentations. 
  • Your website should include testimonials on every page.  They’ll need to be reviewed and updated on a regular basis, to weed out dropped members and reflect new programming.  It’s a great way to keep your website fresh and engaging.
  • Social media!  Testimonials are a great means to create a Facebook entry and a LinkedIn post.  Those being quoted will do the same – it just gets better and better.
  • Reward your sponsors, best volunteers and most engaged members with the opportunity to submit a testimonial and use it prominently.                                                     

fa-star Kelly Fanelli 101

Turn them into videos!  Below, you'll see an example of a video I created that includes several testimonials.  Since a video is scripted, you can take the basic messages of your members and craft them into videos with a call to action. Put them in your signature line, tailor it to the recipient and you’ve created a message that really speaks to them.  Use these videos to drive traffic to your website!

 Your Turn

Testimonials are a great tactic for recruiting and retaining members.  Now you have some ideas for getting them, strategies for organizing them and ways to leverage them. 

In the true spirit of my message to you….don’t take my word for it, try it yourself! Then, do me a favor, and send me a testimonial of how well these ideas are working for you.

Thanks for reading!


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