A Few Tweaks Can Inject New Life (And Revenue) Into Your Chamber Membership Directory

Not so long ago, a chamber membership directory was an extremely valuable tool for the community. Back in the day when the Yellow Pages and White Pages were the places to go to find business listings, the chamber membership directory, in a lot of ways, played an important role as a “phone book”of chamber members.

Times have changed. People now search for businesses on their mobile devices. They go to Google and other apps to find local listings. The need for a printed publication that solely fills the “phone book” role, save for some very unique situations, is on its way to extinction. A traditional chamber membership directory is now a dinosaur. People just aren’t going to use it.

So, what’s a chamber to do?

The revenue generated from chamber publications is often quite important to the organization’s financial health. But as use of the traditional printed chamber membership directory declines, that revenue goes with it.

By shifting the purpose of your publication, you can re-invent your chamber membership directory into a must-read community guide that tells your community’s story and revives members’ interest in investing their advertising dollars with the chamber. Plano Cover 2016 100 dpi

The traditional chamber membership directory is evolving to a community guide, or a relocation guide, or an economic profile or something else that is relevant to the community, and each still has a business directory component. Your re-invented publication focuses more on quality editorial content – articles that tell the stories of your community. It presents a prime opportunity to feature the good news that’s going in your city or region, what’s ahead for the future, and to showcase the best that your community has to offer.

These guides are a great way to tell people about the chamber, not about committees and events but short stories about how the chamber pushed through the construction of “x”’project which created “y” new jobs and generated “z”revenue for the community.

To do a good job you need a plan.

Start by asking ”what’s our message, what do we want to say, who do we want to say it to, how are we going to get it out there, what’s driving our community economically?” Perhaps it’s tourism, or maybe a major employer has recently moved in your city. For some communities, small business is the driver. Answering this question will help you identify the purpose of your publication. Defining your purpose will help you create meaningful content that readers want to read and advertisers want to attach themselves to.

Santa Barbara Eco Profile Cover 2016

Another tip

Make a list of recent successful projects, as well as any progress for your community that is expected to be made in the next 12 to 18 months. Community successes make for great content. These nuggets can be turned into informative articles that add value and readability to your publication as it makes its transformation.

Don’t forget the photos

Your community guide will have more appeal if you bring in actual images of your community. Real places…real people.

What do you want to show? Think about the types of images that will best define your area. Contact the City, your Parks Department and other organizations to gather the photos you need as well as the permission to use them. Find amember photographer to capture other photos that will help support the stories you are trying to tell. Use stock photos only as a last resort.