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Don’t Be Lazy – The Role of a Chamber of Commerce in Your Small Business Marketing Efforts


A Chamber of Commerce plays a very important role in your marketing efforts. Just not the way you probably think it should. I have served in almost every capacity you can think of for the local Chambers, and can say without a doubt if you think the Chamber’s job is to market your business for you and to drive customers your way – you are going to be disappointed.

Before you come at me with pitchforks, hear me out …

In mid-late 2011 I (RyCOM) joined the Rockford Chamber (paying more than I could afford at the time), and was accepted into their Leadership Rockford curriculum, which cost three times as much as my membership. Needless to say, I was “invested”.

Through the 8 month curriculum, I had built some great friendships, learned a ton about the Rockford region, and established some connections that would be the foundation of success over the next few years. After I graduated from Leadership Rockford in 2012, I stopped participating in Rockford Chamber events, and never saw a return on my membership investment again. Weird how that works – stop putting in time – stop getting a return. HMM?? Nobody ever told me they were referred to me by the Chamber. Nobody ever came to my website from the chamber’s directory.

Actually, all I ever got from the Chamber’s directory listing was telemarketing calls.

Soon thereafter, I had joined both the Rockton & Roscoe Chambers. Subsequently, my little freelancing business has exploded into a turn-key marketing firm. There are many reasons why we’ve seen success, but the Chamber has been one of the greatest investments I’ve ever made. A small yearly fee, some event sponsorship, and a ridiculous amount of time & volunteerism all turned into some amazing business opportunities for me.

I believe that anyone can see the same kind of results from their local Chamber. Its important to remember that just joining isn’t enough. You see, many small businesses think that a Chamber is suppose to drive new customers to their door. In my experience, this is a fundamentally flawed view of the Chamber’s purpose – and a lazy one at that.

If you want more customers, you should be investing in a marketing firm to help you (I know a great one). Fact is that an investment of just a couple hundred dollars isn’t going to revolutionize your marketing. It takes a lot more than a trade association membership to do that. It takes an understanding of brand positioning, marketing options, knowing your target audience, managing your digital assets, brand loyalty, and shaping the customer experience. You know – all the things you could learn about by networking with other successful business leaders – or hiring RyCOM to worry about it for you 🙂

Your local Chamber is a system available to you for networking, relationship building, educational resources, community stewardship and professional advocacy. Operating under the view that “we can do more together than we can apart”, the Chamber gives everyone an equal opportunity to contribute to our collective success. The Chamber is not a marketing company, the Chamber is not a news medium, the Chamber is not a social media manager, and the Chamber is most definitely not an account sales rep for your business.

Think about it this way – Your internet provider doesn’t write your emails for you, shop for you, or download music for you. You have to log on, participate, find what you want, and use the systems available to you if you want to get the benefits of it.

The Chamber is like an internet connection to some great knowledge and relationships. You should be asking yourself “when was the last time I logged in?”. If you are not seeing the ROI you expect from your Chamber, I would venture to say you are not investing the right things. Consider networking more, sending in more articles, hosting an educational seminar, sponsoring more events, and just generally being a more attentive and contributing member to the Chamber’s mission.

If you don’t want to do any of those things – by all means, keep paying your membership dues. Then call us for a consultation – cause you probably need some honest marketing advice.

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Misconceptions About the Psychology of Color

We hosted a Winnebago Buy Local expert panel a couple weeks back. I had the pleasure of being one of the marketing experts on the panel that answered questions about small business marketing.

Many topics were covered from media buying to branding. While discussing branding, I remember talking about how you have to trust your marketing professional. Business owners like to think that they are their target audience and that they know which shapes, colors, words, images, etc… will work better for their customers because “I am my audience, and I don’t like it”. Well, the truth is that this is a faulty way of thinking about the design process.

I had said during that discussion that if your designer says red is the best color to use, you have to trust them even if you don’t like the color red.

Well – I still stand by that statement, but I think it’s important to clarify something. Not all design professionals know what colors are best. Some of them like to think that every color will invoke specific reactions from people. They claim to understand “color theory” and “color psychology”. Usually, these people use meaningless industry jargon to make themselves sound better than they are. Too many “designers” read a fancy infographic and claim to know something about color in branding & design.

I am here to tell you, for the most part – color means a lot less than you think.  Here is a great article from that discusses this exact topic.

The psychology of color as it relates to persuasion is one of the most interesting–and most controversial–aspects of marketing.

The reason: Most of today’s conversations on colors and persuasion consist of hunches, anecdotal evidence and advertisers blowing smoke about “colors and the mind.”

To alleviate this trend and give proper treatment to a truly fascinating element of human behavior, today we’re going to cover a selection of the most reliable research on color theory and persuasion.

Read more at the source:

I think the general concept of this article is wrapped up well when they say “So the idea that colors such as yellow or purple are able to invoke some sort of hyper-specific emotion is about as accurate as your standard Tarot card reading.” However, color does play a huge part in the design process for a number of reasons:

  • Brand consistency
  • Product Awareness
  • Ease/Complication in Printing
  • Company/Brand Personality

But that doesn’t mean that using the color blue will automatically make you trustworthy. Having a trustworthy business is a better way to make people trust you.


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The Definitive Marketing Comparison

It’s no secret that Digital Marketing is taking over as the go to advertising medium around the world. With newspaper and magazine subscriptions shrinking, print ads don’t give the kind of return they use to. Then there’s internet TV and DVR eliminating a huge chunk of TV commercial viewership.

Of course, that’s not to say that traditional marketing is useless. It may not be what it use to be, but it still has its place. Businesses are still spending money on traditional, and it actually covers the majority of ad spend worldwide. However, this could mean that traditional is just that much more expensive, and ad spend doesn’t always result in a return.

So – we came up with a quick comparison for you. Hopefully, this will help you see the main differences between traditional and digital marketing. Then you can make a decision, after a consult with a professional marketing firm, about which path is best for your marketing goals.

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