How To Find Chamber Prospects In Unexpected PlacesTuesday, October 21, 2014
This is the fourth 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 from the beginning.)
Sometimes you’re lucky enough that your phone is ringing and your inbox is full of messages requesting information on joining your Chamber.
Sometimes, not so much.
When you have to actively search for prospects, where do you look? Today, I’ll tell you how to find prospects in two unexpected places—at ribbon cuttings, and on advertising platforms. I’ll also tell you how to build a relationship with these prospects, just by using one simple tactic…asking!
Unexpected place #1: Ribbon Cuttings
At the Chamber of Commerce of the Palm Beaches, we do ribbon cuttings free for our members.
Here’s how to turn a ribbon cutting into a great prospecting opportunity:
Meet the guests.
The hosts have usually invited their circle of influence (clients, attorneys, CPAs, landlords, vendors, etc.) There are all of these introductions happening in the glow of a celebration. Don’t be shy, ask for the introductions and FOLLOW UP!
Don’t forget to approach those people who are creating the glow.
The caterer, florist, entertainers and public relations professionals who are contributing to the event would all love to do more of them, and ribbon cuttings are one of the things Chambers do best.
Don’t take a lot of their time. They’re working! Ask for their card in the moment when they are making money, tell them you can help them find more such moments, and you will have their attention when you follow up.
Take advantage of the buzz.
Ribbon cuttings attract a lot of attention, so visit the host’s neighbors and fellow tenants and get them excited about their own future ribbon cutting. Everyone wants to play with the giant scissors and appear in a great photo! Describe all of the wonderful places where you’ll be featuring their photo. Ask them if they’d like you to create a buzz all about them.
Exchange free ribbon cuttings for referrals.
Now we get to the good part. Our ribbon cuttings are free, so I ask for referrals in exchange. Our Ribbon Cutting Request Form includes a field for submitting referrals, and I almost always get the forms back with excellent new prospects. It’s a quick process, too. Once I’ve gotten them excited about their ribbon cutting, they are anxious to get it on the calendar.
fa-star Kelly Fanelli 101
After we’ve cut the ribbon, I date and mark it as a “CHAMBER OF COMMERCE OF THE PALM BEACH RIBBON CUTTING CELEBRATION.” Then, I have all the guests sign it with a permanent magic marker. I suggest to the host that they take the picture of the event I’ll send them and frame it bordered by the ribbon. My members LOVE this idea and many of them have these framed in their offices, stores and restaurants. It’s a powerful reminder of that great “Chamber of Commerce Day” and helps with renewals!
Unexpected place #2: Advertising Platforms
Advertisers make great Chamber prospects:
- Advertising is expensive, so the companies that invest heavily in advertising are generally financially sound. This is one of the basic and most important qualities of a good prospect.
- Advertisers are actively seeking new clients and customers (the very purpose of advertising).
- They tend to be leaders in their fields with a solid message to get out, as well as an integrated marketing plan and tools to track it. These are all great qualities in a Chamber member and helps to position them for success and renewals.
So, where do you find advertisers?
Advertisers are everywhere! Many use traditional platforms like billboards, newspapers and radio. Companies also advertise on websites, search engines, and my favorite…Groupon! Ask yourself—how many different kinds of advertisers can you find?
Once you’ve identified advertisers, use these tactics to nurture them as prospects:
- Ask them if they’d like to explore one of the most cost effective ways of advertising there is. Chamber websites, directories and newsletters get the word out about their business. These tools also contain additional advertising opportunities, if the member wants to take advantage of those.
- Ask them if they’d like the credibility Chamber membership provides. They can include your Chamber logo or membership badge in their ads. “Proud member of…..” is a phrase that works for them and for your Chamber!
- Ask them if they’d like their message to go to area business owners and professionals (in other words, your members!).
fa-star Kelly Fanelli 101
Pay special attention to the audience that the advertiser is looking to reach. Then, match that to an element of your Chamber programming. Is it young professionals? Suggest they host a young professionals meeting or event. Is it health related? Invite them to attend a Health Care Committee meeting as your guest or bring them a copy of the committee roster, so they can see the quality of the contacts. Include a testimonial from their target market in your email with Chamber information. Match their message to successful Chamber members and they’ll see strong prospects in your Chamber!
Thinking outside the box and looking for prospects in unexpected places can reveal some really high quality prospects for your Chamber. Ribbon cuttings and advertising platforms are just two places where I’ve had success.
Share Your Thoughts
Have you looked for chamber prospects in unexpected places? If so, please share your experience in the comments section below!