What Does It Mean to Be a Chamber Member?

What Does It Mean to Be a Chamber Member?

The Hidden Value Behind Chamber Membership

Traditionally, a chamber of commerce was a membership organization that supports the interests of its business members. It is not affiliated with the government, nor is it a charity. The chamber is separate from the Better Business Bureau. Now that we’ve explained the traditional notion of chamber membership, let’s dive into what it means to be a member of a chamber of commerce today. If you think chambers are outdated, it’s time you take another look.

As a chamber member, you are represented by a powerful organization. Because they are not government-affiliated, chambers weather the political storms, cannot get voted out of office, and always represent the business community. And since healthy communities are good places to work with strong employment opportunities, a chamber helps all members of a community.

Chamber members are a critical part of the following work in your community.

What Does it Mean to be a Chamber Member?

There is a long list of benefits to chamber membership. But those benefits are only the surface of what you and your employees receive from joining. If you want to be part of something larger than yourself and your business, striving to improve opportunities in your community, chamber membership is an ideal way to do that.

Volunteerism and Cause-based Marketing

There are many ways to volunteer in the chamber. From assisting with events to running educational webinars, serving on the board to working with the scholarship program or chamber’s foundation. Your skills or sponsorships will be leveraged in a way that helps you increase your network, your knowledge, and your business exposure.

When you volunteer—and the chamber shares that information with others—your business is aligned with the cause in the eyes of community members. Chambers embrace many causes to improve the quality of life for the communities they serve. Check with your chamber to find out what its goals are or view its strategic plan. You may be surprised by what community efforts it’s championing such as:

  • Affordable housing solutions
  • Workforce development
  • Safe streets
  • Tax-reduction legislation
  • Mental health initiatives

Many people who question membership have a narrow-minded view of the chamber as a “business only” entity without realizing that every issue in the community affects business. If the community is not seen as a prosperous one, people won’t want to live, work, or open a business there. Being pro-community is pro-business.

You can likely help with the causes that are important to you through chamber work, while also strengthening your business and growing your network with cause-based marketing.

Community Leadership and Responsibility

Chamber members are viewed as reputable and dedicated to creating (or continuing) a flourishing community. When you become a chamber member, you are announcing to the community that your business is here to stay and you’re investing in the success of the area. Through membership, you are choosing to be part of an organization that has championed the cause of business for many years.

Pro-Diversity

At first glance, you may assume the chamber is comprised of a very homogenous mix of business owners. That is no longer the case. In many communities, the chamber is leading diversity initiatives. Chambers understand the importance of representing every aspect of business and ensuring each voice is heard. Representing minority- and women-owned businesses is a responsibility that chambers take seriously because a chamber can affect change. By amplifying the business owners’ voices and convening community leaders, business owners, and employees, chambers are leading diversity initiatives across the country. They’re advocating for legislation, hosting town halls, and providing educational DEI programs.

Chambers often recognize what the business community needs before individual businesses can address it themselves. As a member of the chamber, you are part of helping traditionally underserved populations discover the joy, opportunity, and challenges of business ownership.

Being a chamber member in the 21st century goes beyond the list of benefits you’ll see in the membership brochure. Sure, those items are good investments for your business, and they can save you money and help you grow but the chamber offers much more than that. The chamber is leading the efforts to make your community a better place to live, work, and play for everyone.  And membership offers you a highly visible opportunity to be part of that excitement.

 


Christina Metcalf is a writer/ghostwriter who believes in the power of story. She works with small businesses, chambers of commerce, and business professionals who want to make an impression and grow a loyal customer/member base. She loves road trips, hates exclamation points, and believes the world would be a better place if we all had our own theme song that played when we entered the room. What would yours be?

2023 Civics Bee

Civics Bee Student Flyer The National Civics Bee is an annual competition that encourages young Americans to engage in civics and contribute to their communities. In the first round of the contest, local 6th, 7th and 8th grade students will participate in an essay competition. Judges will then select 20 finalists to participate in the local competition: a live quiz event testing civics knowledge. Then, the top 3 students from each local competition will advance to the state competition.  

 Local Prizes 

First Place: $500 cash prize 

Second Place: $250 cash prize 

Third Place: $125 cash prize 

State Prizes 

First Place: $1,000 cash prize  

Second Place: $500 cash prize  

Third Place: $250 cash prize  

Each finalist receives a certificate. 

 

OFFICIAL RULES OF THE U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation CIVICS BEE contest (“OFFICIAL RULES”)

Sponsor:

The sponsor of the contest is the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation, 1615 H Street NW, Washington D.C., 20062 (“Sponsor”).  The co-sponsor of the contest is Lima/Allen County Chamber of Commerce, 144 South Main St Suite 100 Lima, OH 45801 (“Co-Sponsor”).

NO PURCHASE IS NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. A PURCHASE WILL NOT INCREASE YOUR CHANCE OF WINNING. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED. ALL APPLICABLE FEDERAL, STATE, AND LOCAL REGULATIONS APPLY.

Eligibility for Entry:

To be eligible to participate in the Lima/Allen County Chamber of Commerce Civics Bee, an applicant (“Entrant”) must:

Be a student in grades six through eight at the time of entry;

Enter only one local chamber competition, which must be in their state of residence;

Submit entries in the English language;

Submit a new, unique entry, if they’ve participated in any past Civics Bees;

Agree to all Civics Bee Rules, including potentially attending the local and state Civics Bee Competitions.

Employees, officers, and directors of the Sponsor or Co-Sponsor and any affiliated entities, and their respective immediate families (parents, spouses, children, siblings) or individuals residing in their household (whether or not related) are not eligible entrants.

Term: 

The Contest begins on JANUARY 13, 2023 at 11:59PM EASTERN STANDARD TIME (EST)  and ends Wednesday, April 19, 2023 at 4:00 p.m. (EST). All entries must be submitted by FEBRUARY 24, 2023 at 11:59PM EASTERN STANDARD TIME (EST). By submitting an entry, each entrant agrees to the Official Rules and warrants that his or her entry complies with all requirements set out in the Official Rules. This is a skills-based contest and chance plays no part in the determination of winners.

MORE DETAILS

Ten 2023 Trends Hand-picked for Small Business

Ten 2023 Trends Hand-picked for Small Business

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Whether you sell food, things, or services, we’ve brought together a round-up of trends that you can incorporate into your business in 2023 for increased revenue and better market traction.
 

Ten 2023 Trends for Small Business

  1. According to Architectural Digest, kitsch is in. From vacation rentals to home décor, over-the-top is just the beginning.
  2. The New York Times proclaimed that climatarianism is the new Cabbage Patch Doll (what everyone wants and is willing to fight for – for those of you who didn’t grow up in the 80s). “It’s no longer about eating sustainably, which implies a state of preserving what is. A new generation wants food from companies that are actively healing the planet.”
  3. Creative employee incentives. The buzz around professional placement agencies is everyone wants to work from home. If you can offer that to your employees, great. But not everyone can. That’s why we’ll probably see a rise in creative employee incentives that will help offset the work-from-home benefit for companies that simply can’t offer that.
  4. Going remote. This is not a new trend but it’s likely because of the rising costs, we will see more businesses deciding to give up their physical space and support their employees going remote.
  5. Doing more with less. There are a lot of great technology options out there but not everyone can afford new technology. Many businesses will instead look for ways to maximize the technology they’re currently using; working with the help desk or consultants to get the most out of their existing software and tech.
  6. Reducing paper. According to Inc., “It’s time to actively reduce your company’s carbon footprint. This can both save you money and engage clients and customers who prioritize environmental concerns.” A focus on the environment is becoming increasingly popular. Businesses that continue to use non-essential things like paper may find themselves on the wrong end of a public relations kerfuffle.
  7. Performance media. With the increasing usage of video platforms like TikTok, organizations will find that they are now in the business of performance media. People want to see personalities and humor in brand videos along with products and services. Go ahead. Roll your eyes. Then get to streaming.
  8. Creating a Cheers environment. For those of us who are old enough to remember this popular 80s sitcom, you can’t hear the name Cheers without thinking of its theme song and the popular line, “…where everybody knows your name.” This type of familiarity is becoming an expectation for brands. Customers want to be remembered. This gives small business an advantage over the larger companies that can only do that virtually.
  9. Concentrate on supply chain security. While there are a lot of not-so-positive economic predictions for 2023, there is good news for local small business. Thought leaders like Forbes are warning, “Companies need to improve their resilience in any way that they can. This means reducing exposure to volatile market pricing of commodities, as well as building protective measures into supply chains to deal with shortages and rising logistical costs.” Local small business often relies on local suppliers so they may have an advantage with the supply chain. However, if you don’t, you should consider how you will navigate continued shortages and Forbes’ prediction of rising logistical costs.
  10. Become more human. This has been a trend on New Year’s lists for the past 10 years. But as many experts are predicting 2023 will be the year of digital transformation for many large companies, small companies can embrace their own secret weapon–humanity. While many companies combat hiring problems with an investment in mechanization, small businesses score big with what Forbes refers to as “… uniquely human skills that currently can’t be automated…skills such as creativity, critical thinking, interpersonal communication, leadership, and applying “humane” qualities like caring and compassion.”

Christina Metcalf is a writer/ghostwriter who believes in the power of story. She works with small businesses, chambers of commerce, and business professionals who want to make an impression and grow a loyal customer/member base. She loves road trips, hates exclamation points, and believes the world would be a better place if we all had our own theme song that played when we entered the room. What would yours be?

_______________________________________

Twitter: @christinagsmith

Facebook: @tellyourstorygetemtalking

LinkedIn: @christinagsmith

It’s Small Business Season!

It’s Small Business Season!

From October 31 – December 31st, we’re celebrating Small Business Season™. The chamber is encouraging every person of our community to support friends and neighbors by shopping, dining, and exploring our small businesses.

Small Businesses Are a Big Deal to Lima/Allen County!

Small business made up over 60% of all new jobs this year and yet they face many challenges from rising costs to filling vacancies. Plus, according to JP Morgan Chase, “The median small business holds (only) 27 cash buffer days in reserve. Half of all small businesses hold a cash buffer of less than one month. Moreover, 25% of small businesses hold fewer than 13 cash buffer days in reserve.” That means over 50% of small businesses wouldn’t last over a month on their reserves.

They need our help, and we need theirs. On average, $68 of every $100 spent locally stays in our community. Most of us turn to small businesses first when we’re seeking help for our nonprofits, youth activities, and sponsorships. When they thrive, we thrive!

Where you spend your money this holiday season matters.

Support small businesses by patronizing them and/or:

  • Writing reviews
  • Referring friends
  • Checking-in and taking pictures or videos and sharing them on social media when you’re visiting small businesses
  • Sharing small business posts on social media
  • Talking about your favorite businesses on social media
  • Participating in Chamber Gift Certificates

Join us and pledge to support local this holiday season. Shopping small can make a big difference.

If you’re a small business, visit the Small Business Season website for your free marketing collateral.

 

 

Annual Awards Gala 2023-Nominations

 

Lima/Allen County Chamber of Commerce is pleased to announce the 21st Annual Awards Gala on Tuesday, May 2, 2023. We invite you to join us and enjoy this elegant evening where we will recognize area businesses and leaders for outstanding accomplishments.
(Formal wear, black tie optional)

The evening will begin at 5:30 pm.  Dinner begins at 6:00 pm. 
Following dinner, we will present the 2023 Awards.
 
Make reservations online now or by contacting the Lima Chamber at 419-222-6045 or by emailing jklingler@limachamber.com.

Tickets are $55 each and $420 for a table of eight for members and $65 each and $500 for a table of eight for future members.

Nominate HERE

Helping Jobs Creators Lower Costs in a Tough Economy – By Ohio Treasurer Robert Sprague

Helping Jobs Creators Lower Costs in a Tough Economy

By Ohio Treasurer Robert Sprague

Forty-year high inflation. An unprecedented supply chain crisis. Record-breaking energy prices. And now, interest rate hikes at the Federal Reserve that will make the cost of borrowing more expensive. As small businesses try to stay afloat, they’re being confronted with no shortage of new and complicating challenges.

However, the Treasurer’s office is more committed than ever before to serving job creators and family businesses across Ohio. Through the long-standing linked deposit programs described below, we can assist Ohio-based businesses in accessing interest rate reductions on eligible loans to drive down the rising costs of borrowing.

Ag-LINK

Since 1986, the Ag-LINK program has been a trusted tool in helping farmers and agribusinesses to lower interest costs on new and existing operating loans. Every year, borrowers use the program to finance upfront costs for feed, seed, fertilizer, fuel, equipment, and other expenses.

As part of our Ohio Gains initiative and in direct response to feedback we received from the ag community, we recently made several reforms that modernize Ag-LINK and make it even more impactful amid the current economic climate. For the first time in the program’s history, loan applications are being accepted year-round. This new, year-long application period provides borrowers with greater flexibility and ensures they can access capital whenever they may need it most.

In addition to adding agricultural cooperatives as eligible Ag-LINK borrowers, we’ve also removed outdated programmatic and loan caps from statute. Previously, only loans up to $150,000 were eligible for reduced interest rates through Ag-LINK. That’s no longer the case, as we’ve removed these caps to allow the program to better keep pace with modern borrowing needs. Moving forward, loan caps will be assessed and set by our office on an annual basis.

GrowNOWDesigned to support Ohio-based small businesses, GrowNOW offers interest rate reductions on business loans. Under the program, loan proceeds must directly support job creation or retention efforts, which may be accomplished through a variety of means, including, but not limited to, start-up costs, on-going supply purchases, marketing, building expansions or renovations, or equipment purchases. To be eligible, a small business must also be organized for profit, headquartered in Ohio, and have less than 150 employees with the majority located in Ohio. Depending on your lending institution, additional requirements and restrictions may apply.

In the Treasurer’s office, we’re committed to putting the power of finance to work for Ohio and its communities. While the economy faces an uncertain road ahead, we’ll continue to look for new and innovative ways to put the state’s strong balance sheet to work for our residents, families, and job creators. And we’re ready to help more Ohioans and businesses lower their borrowing costs through our linked deposit programs.

For more information about these programs, please visit our website at www.tos.ohio.gov. As always, we encourage you to stay up to date on news from the office through social media. Follow us on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram at @OhioTreasurer.

Acing the Basics of Grant Writing

Acing the Basics of Grant Writing

 

Hiring a grant writer isn’t cheap. Some charge a flat fee, while others base their fee as a percentage of the grant amount. If you’re a small business or nonprofit, you may not be able to afford to hire someone. But it is worth it. To take on grant writing yourself, you’ll miss out on the years of experience you’ll get with a professional and it will likely take more time. But if you’re looking for a DIY solution, you need to know the basics of grant writing.

Basics of Grant Writing

First, know that good grant writing is simply good writing. If you struggle with the basics of grammar, you either want to hire it out or hire an editor once you write it. However, one thing to keep in mind about grant writing is that even if you hired a grant writer, you would still need to give them the bullets to put together a compelling grant application. Knowing this, the rest of the writing is simply polishing. The points will always be yours anyway.

Another important aspect is research. Grant bestowers won’t contact you. You must apply. Half of the work in a grant is finding one that’s a good fit for you. Do you fit their criteria? If you’re lucky, you’ll be an obvious fit and hit all of their requirements, but for some you may need to (creatively) illustrate the fit for the person/group giving the money away to show them how you meet their specifications.

Assuming you’ve found a grant you’re interested in, do the following:

  1. Set aside time. A grant is not the same as a credit card application. It will likely take you hours to compile the information needed. If you want to be successful in your grant writing, clear the table, and make sure you have the bandwidth. Delegate, if you must. Applying for money is a big deal. Treat it that way. This is not something you want to write at home in front of the TV at night.
  2. Double check your eligibility. Don’t waste everyone else’s time applying for things you are not remotely eligible for. For instance, if the grant is for a Florida business, don’t apply as an orange grower from California hoping you can sneak in.
  3. Consider the fit between your group and the one giving out the money. Ever watch a sponsor drop a celebrity because they do or say something that is not in keeping with the sponsor’s brand? Well, you want to consider the same thing when applying for grants. Don’t take money from an organization that does not jive with your mission or beliefs. If you can’t tell from the grant offering write-up, do your own research on the group.
  4. Follow the instructions. Even if the grant is being awarded for creative pursuits, follow their directions. If they require a 500-word essay, don’t write a sentence, and submit that thinking it will be Avant Garde and make a statement. If they say 500 words, that’s what they want.
  5. Tell a story. If you watch America’s Got Talent or other talent show with judges or an audience selection process, you’ll notice that contestants who share their tearful stories of family members with cancer or lives spent living in vans, often when paired with a little talent, progress to the next level. A good voice can sound extraordinary when accompanied by a compelling story. Think about your focus, your passion, your successes, and your obstacles. Make people feel what you’ve gone through as you answer the grant questions. Your story will also help you stand out from other applicants.
  6. Use the right language. In addition to telling your story, you want to use persuasive, concise language. Don’t drone on and on thinking the more often you reiterate something, the more you’ll hit the point home. Imagine each word costs (you) money and use as few as possible (following their guidelines, of course) to prove your point and convince the decision maker that yours is the best entity for the money. Axe words like “really,” “actually,” and “very.” They add nothing to your application. Were things really hard or challenging? See the difference? The latter conveys feeling, the former doesn’t.
  7. Then do it again. And again. We all make mistakes but not on applications for large amounts of money. Run your finished application by several people. Ask them to read for grammar/typos, as well as understanding. If they can’t follow your reasoning as to why you should be awarded the money, the grantor certainly won’t be able to either.

Christina Metcalf is a writer/ghostwriter who believes in the power of story. She works with small businesses, chambers of commerce, and business professionals who want to make an impression and grow a loyal customer/member base. She loves road trips, hates exclamation points, and believes the world would be a better place if we all had our own theme song that played when we entered the room. What would yours be?

_______________________________________

Twitter: @christinagsmith

Facebook: @tellyourstorygetemtalking

LinkedIn: @christinagsmith

“Small Businessing” Ain’t Easy

There was a time when the biggest concern a business had was bringing in customers. These days, we know you’re worrying about a lot more. You’re wondering where you will find qualified employees. When you do find them on paper or through an application, you keep your fingers crossed that they will show up for their first day of work, or better yet, the interview. Once you hire them, you hope they’ll come back the next day and the next.

You worry about how you will sell items if you can’t get anything on the shelf. And you’re so very tired of hearing your suppliers talk about the supply chain. Two years ago, you didn’t even think about a supply chain in reference to anything more than toilet paper.

You worry about baby formula or people getting sick, your loved ones, your friends, your employees. You wonder if you should ask the person who’s been coughing the entire time they’ve been in your business to leave. Will they be offended or angry?

You worry that if you raise prices to try to make the smallest of profits to help pay for your gas to get to work or the groceries that keep getting more expensive while the quantities shrink that people will stop buying from you. Lag times and scheduling keep you up at night.

Or you’re challenged with too much need of your product or service and an inability to deliver. You hope that when you tell people it will be two to three weeks before you can meet their needs that your competitors are in the same boat.

You want to learn more, do more, and help more but your profits are dwindling almost as quickly as your “rainy day” money and investments are. Rents are going up and you worry your business’ lease will increase above what you can afford or you worry your landlord will sell your building. Home prices are going up but if you sell now, you won’t be able to find an affordable place to live.

It’s summer and you want to take vacation but there’s no one to run your business and even if there was, plane tickets and gas prices look more like car payments these days.

And you worry about safety.

No, this is not an easy time. But we see you small business owner. We are working to connect need with solutions. We’re talking to municipal, county, state, and federal leaders and voicing what you need most. We are brainstorming solutions for these unprecedented times.

We know you’re stressed and anxious, but we are here for you. Small businesses like yours are the backbone of our community and our country. You are not in this alone even though it can feel that way as a business owner.

While it’s important to have a support system, many small business owners struggle when they turn to friends and family for advice. Unless your family and friends are/were business owners themselves, they likely do not fully understand what you are facing.

At the chamber, we do.

While these are unprecedented times, we are working with all our resources to find solutions. We have experience in business and are bringing business owners together.

We can’t make your anxiety go away, or fix the supply chain over night, but we’re working on viable solutions and growth for all.

And because we understand what you’re going through, we’re sharing the following. Please feel free to use it (or edit it) however you see fit:

<<feel free to share this with your customers>>

We’re Business Owners, Not Miracle Workers

Behind this business is a person and a family.

The employee you’re fed up with or questioning because prices are “too high” or service is  slow, is someone’s mother, father, child, friend, or loved one.

We’re not a faceless conglomerate.

We are your neighbors and we’re doing the best we can working in times no one prepared us for.

And while we seem to have everything together, we’re working round the clock just to help keep appearing like they used to be. In reality, we’re getting by and doing what we can to keep our doors open. A lot of people depend on us–our employees, our landlord, our vendors, our suppliers, our own family.

We are providing you service with a smile today even if you’re not showing us your best self.

And we’ll do it again tomorrow and as often as you want to patronize us. We will be here as long as we can keep our business open.

We thank you for sticking with us while we navigate unprecedented times. And yes, some days we’re going to run out of things or we’ll be short-staffed. That may inconvenience you for an hour or two, but please don’t take it out on the person who’s working a double shift because a co-worker called out.

We love being part of this community, but we’re worried, too, just like you. We drive to work, we buy groceries, we must take off when people who depend on us are ill.

No small business owner or employee signed up for the challenges we’re facing now. But we’re making the best of it—like you are—and we sure could use your continued help and understanding.

Thank you for your support. We want to continue to serve you long into the future—or at least as long as it takes for the supply chain to get untangled.

Christina Metcalf is a writer/ghostwriter who believes in the power of story. She works with small businesses, chambers of commerce, and business professionals who want to make an impression and grow a loyal customer/member base. She loves road trips, hates exclamation points, and believes the world would be a better place if we all had our own theme song that played when we entered the room. What would yours be?

6 Ways to Make Your Business Stand Out During a Local Event

6 Ways to Make Your Business Stand Out During a Local Event

 

Does your town host a Wine Walk, Holiday Stroll, First Friday, or other downtown event where they close off streets and encourage people to get out and support business? If so, you may know that those events often bring the crowds but also bring “tire kickers,” people who are just out for a stroll, not really interested in what you sell. They’re just going into each business, poking around, and usually leaving empty handed.

The hard part of that is that you likely brought in full staff to ensure you had enough coverage only to deal with a lot of “lookers.”

But it doesn’t have to be that way. Here are a few suggestions on how to transform your looky-loos into looky heres.

6 Ways to Help Get the Sale

If you have an event that will bring a lot of commerce “tourists” to your business who do a lot of visiting and not much buying, you need to change that with these ideas.

  1. Tell a story. While you may not have the time to do this for everyone in the store, if you see someone eyeballing one of your items in a loving way, go up to them and tell them something interesting about the piece. You’d be surprised what may inspire a sale.
  2. Give a taste. If you sell food or drink, offer someone a taste before they buy. This works to create a sale in two ways: they’ll (hopefully) enjoy it and want more and/or because you kindly gave them a taste (and did something for them), they will feel obligated to buy from you.
  3. Teach a quick skill or use for your product. Draw the crowd into a quick presentation that features a product you sell. Have several products to hand people who want to buy right there. Alternately, have a pro available to answer questions. For instance, a store that sells painted furniture might have an expert on hand to walk people through how to do it themselves. Don’t worry that it will discourage them from buying from you. When they realize how hard it is, they will beg you to take their money.
  4. Get people on your mailing list. You never know when a “tire kicker” may see something in store and decide later that week they must have it. When people are in your store, ask them to join your mailing list. A few days after the event, follow up with a coupon, special offer, or sales notification. That call-to-action will likely send them your way.
  5. Offer a freebie for that night only. If it’s a special night or event, give away a little something to anyone who buys from you or offer specials for that night only.
  6. Create a singalong. In a crowded store, it’s hard to talk to everyone but you want to make sure people have fun and feel the energy of your business. You want them to remember you. A good way to accomplish that is by queuing up the tunes and encouraging people to sing with you. There are certain songs people just can’t help but sing along with—”Don’t stop believing.” You know what I mean. If you don’t, just put on Sweet Caroline and see what happens.

 

 

Christina R. Metcalf (formerly Green) is a marketer who enjoys using the power of story and refuses to believe meaningful copy can be written by bots. She helps chamber and small business professionals find the right words when they don’t have the time or interest to do so. 

Christina hates exclamation points and loves road trips. Say hi on Twitter or reach out on Facebook.

 

3 Creative Ways to Become Top of Mind

3 Creative Ways to Become Top of Mind

Do you want people to think about your business before all others? Of course, you do. The first step to patronizing your business is remembering it exists.

Imagine you have a free evening, and you want to go out to eat. It doesn’t matter how amazing the food is at the new place down the street; if it doesn’t pop into your mind, you won’t be going there.

The same is true of your potential customers. They need to think of you to spend money with you.

So how do you ensure you’re top of mind and that they will think about your business over the competition? You need to find a way to stand out and be memorable. A good product or service is the first step. Good customer service is also a solid choice. But to truly stand out you must do something slightly different.

Ways to Ensure Your Business Is Top of Mind

Events

Hosting an event at your business is a great way to help people remember you. It also provides an experience, and many individuals admit to enjoying them over physical purchases. When you host an event encourage people to share the occasion on social media for even greater reach.

There are several types of events that draw crowds:

  1. Sampling your offerings or services. You can host an event that is directly related to what you do. For instance, a restaurant may have an invitation-only, special tasting night to sample its new menu.
  2. Education event. You could also offer an evening out based around something that you sell. For instance, a yarn store may hold classes on how to knit.
  3. Block party. Celebrate your customers and potential customers by throwing a party outside your store. A patio furniture store held a parking lot party every weekend with a band and hot dogs. It drew a crowd and people lingered. It was a nice tie in with the product they sold—outdoor furniture. It helped people imagine hosting their own parties later with their new furniture.

A Facebook Group

Depending on the nature of your business, and the things your ideal customer/target audience may have in common, a Facebook group can connect your buyers to you and to one another. This idea works well when you can find a connection or mutual interest among your customers. For instance, a bookstore might create a Facebook group for writers or for fans of a specific genre. In a Facebook group you can share information and flash sales, stream events, and invite your audience to talk about their favorite books. The online community will keep your brand center stage while uniting and engaging your audience.

Savings Clubs/Subscriptions

Have you noticed that a lot of companies are charging their customers a monthly fee for some sort of discount or benefit? It began with Amazon Prime, where customers paid an annual fee for free shipping. The program has expanded beyond that now, but you can certainly start with one benefit like that.

Panera has created an unlimited coffee subscription where coffee lovers are auto-charged a fee each month and given a free cup of coffee daily. Both programs drive sales (and loyalty). When people pay for something, they want to get their money’s worth. Often, that means buying from one store over another because they’re part of a savings club.

However, like gift certificates, there may be people who pay every month and don’t use your services. That’s OK too as the subscription (even if it’s only a few dollars) is a source of revenue you did not have before.

If you want strong sales at your business, you need to ensure that your target market thinks about you. You can do that through email marketing, social media participation, or these three ideas. But whatever you do, make sure you use consistent branding and tone. After all, you want them to remember you, not question who you are.

 

 

Christina R. Metcalf (formerly Green) is a marketer who enjoys using the power of story and refuses to believe meaningful copy can be written by bots. She helps chamber and small business professionals find the right words when they don’t have the time or interest to do so. 

Christina hates exclamation points and loves road trips. Say hi on Twitter or reach out on Facebook.