Recently, the Chamber has been conducting a series of business outreach events which involve members of our staff, Ambassadors, and others spending a couple of hours at a time walking through various business neighborhoods.   Our purpose is to introduce ourselves to local business owners, share information about the services that we provide, and identify any specific needs they may have that we can help address.

As we prepared for these events, it made me go back and articulate again for myself what we do at the Chamber and why it’s important for businesses in the community to support that effort through membership, etc.   Fortunately, we had just completed our branding exercise, which had involved this same thought exercise, e.g. identifying the why and the value of a Chamber.

Santa Maria’s Chamber is unique in the breadth of services that it provides.   Because of the visible nature of the work that we do in promoting tourism and economic development in the community, often many people know is in those contexts.   But, what about the Chamber itself?

At its core, the Chamber is a membership organization.    We exist to represent and provide services to our members, e.g. those businesses that invest in the overall economic vitality of our community through their memberships in the Chamber.   For these members, we do the following (among many other things):

– Provide customer referrals

– Introduce business owners to new partners and vendors

– Review business plans and make recommendations

– Provide access to demographic information about Santa Maria

– Provide educational programs and resources

– Track, influence, and educate about laws and regulations that will impact their operation

– Promoting events and special opportunities

– Connect to special events and marketing opportunities

– Inform educational and training programs to ensure they’re aligned with business needs

Finally, research commissioned by the American Association of Chamber Executives and the Western Association of Chamber Executives commissioned found that being active in a local chamber is an effective business strategy.  It communicates to consumers that a company uses good business practices, is reputable, cares about its customers, and is involved in its community.

Some of the specific benefits for businesses that were members of their local chamber included:

– If a company shows that it is highly involved in its local chamber, consumers are 10% more likely to think that its products stack up better against its competition.

– When consumers know that a restaurant franchise is a member of the chamber, they are 68% more likely to eat at the franchise in the next few months.

– When consumers know that an insurance company is a member of the chamber, they are 36% more likely to think favorably of the company.

– When consumers know that a small business is a member of the chamber, they are 49% more likely to think favorably of it and 80% more likely to purchase goods or services from the company in the future.

If your business is currently active as a member of the Chamber … thank you!   If you’re interested in learning more about how to take full advantage of the benefits available …. call us at (805) 925-2403!   And, if you’re not currently a member, but want these benefits … also call us!