Published on Oct 12, 2015

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Consumers are 63 per cent more likely to purchase goods or services from a small business that is a member of a chamber of commerce.

That’s according to a 2012 US study to determine the value of chamber membership to business.  The study also found membership was viewed as an effective business strategy by 59 per cent of consumers, and carried with it increased positive perceptions about business practices and reputation.

However, the benefits of chamber and industry association membership aren’t just limited to positive consumer opinion.

An article in the International Journal of Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Marketing found chamber membership benefits fall into three broad categories: confidence benefits, social benefits, and special treatment benefits.

The article outlined that of these three categories the most valued was the confidence benefit; chamber members derive a large measure of value and satisfaction from the credibility and trustworthiness implied by their membership to their customers and contemporaries.

Second to confidence was the special treatment benefit.  Included in this category is access to member databases for marketing and referrals.  It is this access that has the potential to be one of the most powerful marketing tools available to chamber members.

WOMM for the win

Chamber and industry association members should always aim to build networks and strengthen relationships because this opens up more channels for word of mouth marketing (WOMM).

In a time when everyone is abuzz about social media marketing strategies and on which platform businesses have a presence; one could be forgiven for assuming good old-fashioned WOMM is a relic of a bygone era.

Whilst there’s no doubt a well thought out and executed social marketing strategy is an essential part of the marketing mix, research reveals WOMM is still an essential element for reputational and sales success.

A 2014 study on the return on investment of WOMM found that, overall, 13 per cent of consumer sales in the United States were driven by WOMM – equating to $6 trillion each year.  The impact of WOMM was greater for higher price and consideration purchasing, responsible for driving up to 27 per cent of sales in that category – on par with paid marketing.  It was also found WOMM amplified the effect of paid media by 15 per cent.

This US research reflects anecdotal findings of our own Business Capability Study carried out in the Cessnock LGA.  WOMM was cited by 29 businesses as an advantage of doing business in the Cessnock LGA, ranking as the seventh top advantage of doing business in the region.

More information

The Cessnock LGA has a number of Industry Associations and Chambers of Commerce.  To find out more about networks in your local area, visit our business support partners page.

In the meantime, why not get WOMM-ing and build your networks at our business networking function at the Hunter Valley Visitor Centre on 13 October 2015.  Use the online registration form to book your place now!

Read about WOMM return on investment here, and find out more about what consumers think about Chamber membership here.