Times are tough, money is tight, and No One is spending money right now. Well the first two points are certainly true, but the latter is not. The truth is; everyone is more selective in how and where they spend their money, but they ARE spending money. Your members are looking to make the most of their dollars and get a clear Return on Investment (ROI) from your chamber. You are in the right place at exactly the right time to make money with your website and provide tremendous value AND results to your members.
Why chambers exist
Now is an opportune time to revisit why you exist in the first place, or at least why members belong to your organization. Chamber initiatives are diverse and you do so many important things for the local economy you serve, but members join to grow their business.
It bears repeating. Members join primarily to grow their business. If you are helping them grow their business, you are VERY valuable to them. Most especially in tough economic times.
The chamber brand = Credibility
Chambers of commerce have a “brand name” advantage over other local directory sites as most consumers know each community has a chamber and they will seek out a chamber’s website to search before the site of a local newspaper, TV station or radio station. And chambers have a physical presence to support their efforts – something most directory websites do not. Local means physically local and that still matters to buyers.
In the 2007 Schapiro Study, a key takeaway is that when consumers know that a small business is a member of the chamber of commerce, they are 44% more likely to think favorably of them and 63% more likely to purchase goods or services from that company in the future. This translates directly into credibility. Why does that matter? People do business with businesses they trust. They can’t afford to take risks with their money and a chamber membership is an implied seal of approval by the local business community when people search for local businesses online.
So what is the potential? Let’s look at some important trends.
Internet advertising trends
In 2008, $100 Billion was projected to be spent on local advertising across all mediums (Insiders Report – Universal McCann Dec. 07). Local online advertising was expected to reach $13.1 Billion in 2008 according to Borrell and Associates. What was your share of the $13.1 Billion spent in 2008 and are you positioned to take advantage of the $100 Billion already spent locally that is migrating online?
Online usage trends and directories
According to a recent Pew Internet and American Life Study – 49% of people use online search at least once a day. More importantly to you, a study conducted by Piper Jaffrey & Co. in 2007 determined that 58% of online activities are searches for local information! People are already searching online for local businesses in your community EVERY DAY.
New sites with interactive directories are popping up continually and other sites are adding them to compete for advertising dollars. Traditional local media websites such as TV, radio, newspaper and yellow page sites are moving to designs and features that blur the lines regarding their media type. In essence, everyone is going online and you have a fantastic resource in your online business directory that is under-promoted and under-monetized as a profit center.
Results matter and conversion is king
A client of WebLink is generating a 2.9% click through rate on ads on their website. As a point of reference, industry-wide average click through rates for web advertising (impressions delivered / clicks) are typically 0.1% to 0.2%. This means that ads on chamber sites can 14x to 28x more productive than other websites. Conversion rates are high on chamber sites because you are trusted by visitors. Greater credibility AND greater results. Now that will get members’ attention. And their dollars.
History shows that the greatest opportunities often come during the times of greatest adversity. Your chamber IS the most valuable cost effective advertising medium there is. Your chamber website provides targeted, immediate, affordable, and measurable results. Remember that members join primarily to grow their business and you can help them do exactly that with your website.
To summarize: people are searching for local business information, your website has high credibility, and businesses are already purchasing local online advertising.
NOW is the time to take action and make money from your website.