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Reece: Chamber brand stronger than ever

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I got an email the other day from Mick Fleming, president of the American Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives and in it he wrote that “despite changes in markets and demographics, a nagging recession and the growing influence of the Internet, the chamber brand today is stronger and more dynamic than ever.”

ACCE commissioned a new study, “The Real Value of Joining a Local Chamber of Commerce.” Expanding upon related work from five years ago, it reconfirms the fact that being an active member in a local chamber of commerce is an effective business strategy because two-thirds of consumers believe that chamber members are better than non-chamber members at four core business traits: They use good business practices, are reputable, they care about their customers and are involved in the community.

Some highlights of the study:

• If a company  shows that it is highly involved in its local chamber (e.g., sits on the chamber board), consumers are 10 percent more likely to think that its products stack up better against its competition.

• When a consumer thinks more favorably of a company because the company is highly involved  in its local chamber of commerce, it is because he or she infers that the company is trustworthy and cares about its customers.

• When consumers know that a restaurant franchise is a member of the chamber of commerce, they are 68 percent 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 of commerce, they are 36 percent more likely to think favorably of the company.

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

• The positive impacts of chamber membership have remained the same and even increased over time.

Consumers also responded that:

• 91 percent believe the fact that chambers are made up of local businesses and are financed in large part by membership dues.

• 89 percent believe the fact chambers promote job creation and a strong local economy.

• 86 percent believe the fact chambers function as a storehouse of information on current business trends and public policies.

• Only 54 percent of consumers believe the myth that chambers give small loans to local businesses and other community organizations.

• Only 54 percent of consumers believe the myth that the chamber is a government agency funded by the city government.

It’s interesting that these last two results differ from those in 2007, “in that belief about the chamber of commerce – whether that belief was true or not – could have a significant positive impact on how someone views a member. Even if a person thinks that the chamber is a government agency or gives small loans, he or she is more likely to think that the company’s products stack up well and have a favorable opinion toward the company.”

So once again it’s been proven that being active in the local chamber of commerce is a good strategy, regardless of whatever the consumer may or may not already think about a company. And like five, 10 or even 50 years ago, while constantly evolving in an effort to serve our members better, chambers are still the single entity that promote strong local economies, go to bat for busy business owners on issues (both pro and con) that effect them, provide exceptional networking opportunities and continue being a highly relevant organization in our communities.

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Join us from 5 to 7 p.m. today at The Salvation Army 290 W. Crystal Lake Ave., Crystal Lake, for its annual mixer. All chamber members and their guests are encouraged to attend for great networking opportunities.

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Do you know what your competitors are doing on March 23 and 24? Well, they’re probably showcasing their business in front of 5,000 potential customers at the Crystal Lake chamber’s  Home & Business EXPO. With booths almost 70 percent sold out, don’t wait any longer and register today!

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Beginning Jan. 10, the Crystal Lake chamber’s “Leaders in Action” program, now in its 37th  consecutive year, will again provide world-class training by eight presenters each of whom is a dynamic experts in his respective field. Worth more than $5,000, the chamber is proud to be able to present Leaders for only $195 for chamber members and only $245 for nonmembers. Your investment includes breakfast each week and all materials. Class size is limited to 50 people. Sign up at www.clchamber.com. Scholarships available from the Chamber Foundation at clchamberfoundation.org.

• Gary Reece is president of the Crystal Lake Chamber of Commerce. Email garyreece@clchamber.com.

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