Local chambers help members gain competitive edge

In these tough economic times, small businesses need to tap the resources that are available in their communities to weather the storm. They need to look no further than their local chambers for help, according to a press release from the Blount County Chamber of Commerce.

In an article written by Raymond P. Towle with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the Blount County Chamber of Commerce has this advice for local businesses:

“Local chambers advocate for small businesses at the local, regional, state and national levels. Every day, they work to keep government at bay so that individuals can focus on running their business. They also introduce members to potential customers through business referral programs, market member’s business online and in directories, and offer special discounts through various affinity programs such as insurance, shipping, and office supplies.

“Local chambers are a one-stop shop for business information, including market access information for small businesses thinking about expanding, economic profiles of the community, workforce statistics, contact information for government officials, and regional trend studies.

“Small business tool kits, which are found on the chamber’s website, can help with developing business, marketing, and communications plans as well as finding capital. If someone is thinking about expanding their business, the local chamber should be their first call.

“Local chambers are one of the best places to make business connections. After-hour networking programs and networking luncheons on topics relevant to business help members stay in the game and gain a competitive edge.

In addition, membership in the local chamber can greatly enhance a company’s brand. A national study titled “The Real Value of Joining a Local Chamber of Commerce,” conducted by The Schapiro Group, an Atlanta-based marketing research firm, suggests the following:

When consumers know that a business is a member of the local chamber, they are 44 percent more likely to think favorably of it.

Consumers who are told that a business is a chamber member are 51 percent more likely to be highly aware of it and 57 percent more likely to think positively of its local reputation.

Consumers are 63 percent more likely to buy goods and services in the future from a company that they believe is a member of the local Chamber of Commerce.

“In addition, when business decision makers believe that a business is a Chamber member, they are 37 percent more likely to think favorably of the business, 51 percent more likely to be highly aware of it, 58 percent more likely to think positively of its local reputation, and 59 percent more likely to buy goods and services from it.

“A strong chamber symbolizes a strong community and both benefit from each other.”

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