Between shutdowns and layoffs, 2020 was not kind to the businesses that make up small-town chambers of commerce, thanks to COVID-19. But good days are ahead as analysts predict a lot of pent-up consumer demand is about to be unleashed onto the economy, making now an excellent time to help your members get their strategy in tip-top shape. Here are six of our best small-town chamber of commerce ideas to support your community.
6 Ways You Can Support Local Business
1. Help with recruitment by building a job board.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce reports a record 8.1 million vacant job openings in the United States and similar work shortages rising globally. Hence, one of the best ways you can support your chamber members is to help build or refresh their job boards.
Most successful chamber of commerce models include a job board, but they’re not always easy to find on chamber websites, easy to use or regularly updated. And what’s the point of a job board if it doesn’t serve your members and community?
Here are some of the most important things to keep in mind as you’re building a great job board:
- Make it easy to find. Many people include a link to the job board on the home page, often on the main navigation.
- Include a search bar so people can look for roles based on title, skills, part-time or full-time status, and location.
- Post job descriptions that are clear and provide contact information (usually an email address) for job seekers to use in case they have questions about the roles.
- Let members’ branding shine in their job postings by including their logos in the listings.
- Schedule regular time to ensure postings are updated.
The Springfield Chamber of Commerce’s job board is clear and searchable.
2. Provide training to your chamber members and their staff, so they’re ready for reopening.
A lot has changed for companies during the pandemic, and not all of those changes will disappear once COVID restrictions start to ease. Maybe some of your chambers’ local shops are opting to require patrons to wear masks. Or possibly your local businesses have enhanced sanitization protocols. Perhaps restaurants and retail are continuing their online ordering and curbside offerings.
For this new, post-COVID world, providing training resources for your members and their staff shows true partnership and shows your commitment to local business growth.
To get an understanding of your chamber members’ staffing, training, and other operational needs, check out this quick guide.
3. Encourage easy and collaborative promotion between small businesses.
One of the best things you can do to support your chamber members is to let the community know that they’re there and ready to serve them.
A member directory is the most common way to promote your members to the community, and it’s usually one of the most visited pages on a chamber of commerce website.
A good membership directory has many of the same elements of a job board:
- It should be easy and clear to use.
- It should be searchable.
- It should encourage branding elements like logos.
In addition, one of the most significant benefits of a good membership directory is that it helps build community between chamber members as well as with the public. This is why member directories should include contact information and social profiles of all chamber organizations. If they can find one another, they can build partnerships and promote each other’s businesses.
The Big Lake Chamber of Commerce & Industry’s member directory lists their active members by category and gives the option for a basic and advanced search.
A deeper look into Big Lake’s member director reveals that it posts all of the relevant company information on the main page — before you have to click anything — and includes eye-catching logos.
4. Celebrate the moment with seasonal promotions.
After such a challenging year, businesses reopening should be something to celebrate! Make a big splash of local shops opening to full capacity, getting more inventory, and offering new products and services.
Consider a summer campaign or an event announcing “We’re back” or “Come see what we’ve been up to.” You can schedule email and social campaigns that offer seasonal promotions that encourage people to visit small-town businesses.
And don’t forget to encourage your members to promote each other’s events and deals.
You could even guide how to partner up with fellow members for a shared promotion (book a stay at a local hotel and get 15% off of your meal at a nearby restaurant) in a blog or newsletter article.
5. Give people new ways to engage with and buy from your chamber members.
"Influencer marketing" isn't something you hear a lot about when it comes to small businesses. It's the strategy that leverages well-known local leaders, subject matter experts, and celebrities to post about an organization to get their followers to engage with the organization or buy its products. Probably because it can get expensive, but it doesn't have to be!
You can offer local influencers discounts or free merchandise or services in exchange for promotional posts that highlight reopenings or new products.
And if influence marketing isn’t your thing, get your local community in on the action. Encourage people to share their love for their favorite local shops, create social campaigns complete with unique social image and hashtag that will let people know that your chamber members are back in business.
This customized social image from Estevan Chamber of Commerce encourages different levels of engagement from their social followers and indirectly points people to small-town businesses.
6. Share your members’ success stories.
Honestly, we all deserve a little recognition for getting through a tough year. Featuring your members’ success stories in a dedicated spot on your website, in your newsletter, and on social media is a small way to support local business.
Video is a popular way to share success stories, and they don’t have to break the bank! Many of the social platforms allow for easy uploads of videos recorded on your phones. You could also have members record their success stories using Zoom or another popular video conference platform since so many people are now used to using those tools.
If you don’t want to record a video, but you still want the human element, a quick interview featured in a blog or article is an excellent way for the community to get to know them.
Do you have questions about these small-town chambers of commerce ideas?
As a chamber of commerce there is so much you can do to help your small business members lift off this summer. Try out these strategies, and if you find your membership growing as people take notice, feel free to get in touch with us at MemberClicks and see how we can help your chamber.