fbpx

Wendi Rich Perry County (Indiana) Chamber of Commerce – Episode 4

by | Jan 22, 2021

Wendi-Rich-Perry-County-Chamber-04

Topics include:
1. Merchandising from multi-organization rebranding
2. Revenue from Billboard space sales
3. Tapping local corporate grants
4. Hometown Chambers Council at ACCE

Wendi Rich, CEO of the Perry County (Indiana) Chamber of Commerce discusses how merchandising, selling advertising, tapping a hospital grant and belonging to ACCE’s Hometown Chambers Council all helped keep this 300-member chamber afloat through 2020.

Listen to the full discussion here:

Watch the full discussion here:

Connect with the Guest:

Wendi Rich: LinkedIn

Perry County (Indiana) Chamber of Commerce

Key Takeaways:

You will learn these non-dues revenue ideas:

  • Merchandising a community’s brand generates revenue
  • Selling remnant billboard space generates revenue
  • How this chamber sourced and tapped local corporate grants
  • How the Hometown Chambers Council helps small chambers

Resources:

Full Transcript

Ed Burzminski
Welcome to more non dues revenue, a semi monthly seminar series sponsored by chamber marketing partners, where we interview Chamber of Commerce leaders and visionaries to shar e their creative entrepreneurial strategies for generating non dues revenue. catch us live twice a month or see prior Zoominars at chambermarketingpartners.com/podcasts, our sponsors is chamber marketing partners, generating substantial non dues revenue from Chamber of Commerce publications. With out using a turnkey publisher, the chamber gets total control full financial transparency and uses local vendors. Visit www.chambermarketingpartners.com to learn more, and follow us on LinkedIn. Now before we begin, in the chat section, tell us who you are and what organization you’re with. So everybody can see your comments. Be sure be sure to change the at the bottom of the chat screen from to all panelists to all panelists and attendees. That way everybody can see your comments, post your questions in the q&a section, and we’ll answer them following the interview. I’m your host, Ed Burzminski, President of chamber marketing partners, let’s connect on LinkedIn. And now let’s get started. Today’s guest is Wendy rich, Executive Director of the Perry County Indiana Chamber of Commerce with 300 members and one full time staff person, Wendy had to be really creative with non dues revenue in 2020 and into 2021 of her various non dues revenue efforts. The most notable for Wendy are merchandising with local multiple organizations, generating revenue from billboard ad space sales, tapping local corporate grants, and being part of the hometown chamber, hometown chambers council at ACC, the Association of Chamber of Commerce executives. Actually Wendy just before we started, mentioned a couple more that she’ll share with us. We’re excited to have her on the show. Welcome, Wendy. Rich.

Wendi Rich
Thank you. I really appreciate it. I feel honored to be your main change the rear speaker, Can you see me?

Ed Burzminski
I can see you.

Wendi Rich
Okay. And I appreciate everything that you know, being asked to be on here and to share my ideas. I feel like I i I’m like most chambers. I just beg borrow and steal and collaborate. So it’s all about networking and the way you look at things. So I’m definitely I’m willing to share any any information that I have to help others. So

Ed Burzminski
that’s great. Well, let’s jump let’s jump right in. Then Wendy, tell us a little bit about your chamber, how many members you have, how many staff major industries in your town, things like that.

Wendi Rich
Okay, so, um, Can you see me? Yes. Okay. I have. Okay. I have a staff of one Me, myself and I and I work a lot of hours sometimes, but that’s okay. And I actually have an intern that she’s amazing. She’s a high school intern that is planning to go into marketing and has quite a bit of experience actually in in marketing and worked for the manufacturing facility that’s located inside of her high school. And so things have changed a lot. And she’s amazing. She’s she gets a lot of work done. Even when she’s not on the clock like we always are. Never On the clock, you know, we’re always working. And I also have a collaboration with Perry County Development Corporation and the Perry County convention and Visitor’s Bureau. We’re all separate entities. But this is kind of how our story starts. I started the chamber a little over four years ago. And at that time, we rebranded and we, we as in both of those organizations, our Lido and Visitor’s Bureau, if it’s okay, I want to share my screen now to this. Can everyone see that? Okay,

Ed Burzminski
it’s coming up. There we go.

Wendi Rich
So, four years ago, the CVB, the chamber and the Development Corporation, we all joined together and said, Hey, we need to like, we need to collaborate and work together, we’re doing a lot we were already serving. And in doing that, some of the same things. And we were collaborating together and meetings that we needed to have a united front. And so we call ourselves pick Perry, and the logo that’s in the middle of the screen there. Green at the top here, this is our logo, my logo is actually a light blue. But all of the logos for each entity is the same. So it’s just different colors. And that is one thing that we made a huge splash with several years ago was we wanted to grow our population. And we we kind of caught a little bit of flack of like, why are you doing more internal marketing than external marketing, to get people to move into the area for jobs or, you know, living here, working here, whatever. But we needed to change the mentality of people that lived here first. So this is a great place to live. We enjoy we have a lot of beautiful things. As you can see. We’re along the river. The Ohio River we are surrounded by the Hoosier National Forest. It’s like 62,000 acres of forest. So we needed to like really just focus on all the assets that we had. We did asset mapping and launched a new brand and a new website. So with that, we started also merchandising, merchandising. So that’s where I wanted to like that’s, that’s been a really great saving grace during a pandemic is to have merchandise for sale. I don’t know if I can scroll down.

Ed Burzminski
How to what kind of merchandising What is it?

Wendi Rich
It Wait, anything to have everything. As you can see on the bottom of the screen we have everything from like little bumper stickers that claims that are in shop windows. We have branded, we made the brand everywhere you know, so we wanted it to be a commonality. The as you can see right here to hover over Instagram. We made all the entry signs into the county to match our new brand. Let me see. Here’s one of our billboards. We billboard we brand all of our billboards with with our brand as well, which we’ll talk about in just a little bit. But really it started with shirts. So yeah, let me show you that. I think I’ve got a photo of some shirts.

Ed Burzminski
And you’re wearing one right?

Wendi Rich
I’m wearing one shirt said that we have on right here. So initially our shirts were all gray and we asked employers to consider buying the shirts or a type of a shirt that had the same logo, the same message that we are all one in this together. And using our hashtag pic Perry. You can see it on on the side of the heart over here on this billboard. We wanted to be united. So every Friday businesses started letting employees wear the shirts. I think the first the first Friday that we launched it. I think we had over 40 Businesses that had purchased shirts for their employees. And over the last couple of years, we’ve sold 1000s and 1000s of shirts to people all over the nation. We also highlight the shirts like on our social media, and our other propaganda, not just shirts, but on social media on pig pieridae. So the first Friday of every month is tic parody, and we celebrate our community. So we ask people to wear their merchandise, and maybe talk about what they love about our community. And so

Ed Burzminski
the merchants, sorry to interrupt you, but to get the merchandise they have to go and purchase the merchandise, right?

Wendi Rich
Yeah. Now, yes, there are times that we have corporate sponsors buy merchandise for certain events. But we some of the merchandise we put into the actual local stores, and the vendors can sell them and we make a minimal profit off of that. And some of the merchandise we make, or the chamber makes the majority of the profit.

Ed Burzminski
So if I understand correctly, the logo is a it’s a consistent logo across the the Visitors Bureau and the EDC it’s just the colors change, but it’s consistent for the branding of the overall community. Now, you had mentioned that prior to us being on live, that the merchandising generated revenue, and it helped carry you through during 2020,

Wendi Rich
right, right, right.

Ed Burzminski
Tell us a little about the revenue that’s that’s generated from the merchandising?

Wendi Rich
Um, so I had mentioned the shirts Of course. We I’ve also had everything from playing cards to inverted umbrellas, kind of unique items that people would actually want to give as gifts. I know in December, the train depot word Visitor’s Bureau is located sold over $500 of my merchandise and just Christmas t shirts, and umbrellas, you name it. You gotta have Chicago hat. Well, hats is new hats are actually new. I can go back to this. We haven’t started selling hats yet. But we we have a few prototypes of hats that we’re going to sell hopefully for the summer. And we’re using, we try to use all local vendors for those merchandise items, the hats that we hope to sell over the summer, we actually have a leather Craftsman that’s going to make our logo for us. And so we can have the tag on the hat. This is the Christmas shirt that we sold. We sell Christmas shirts for the last two years. And oh, it’s green. It’s probably like,

Ed Burzminski
there we go.

Wendi Rich
Can you see it?

Ed Burzminski
Yeah, it goes away. It has a pickup truck on it. It’s actually pretty cool. down

Wendi Rich
the side of the pickup truck. It has our logo. So what we did was we actually got a red pickup truck and had a magnet put on the side that had our logo so people could come out, wear the shirts, take a photo in front of the actual truck. And it was a big hit. But that was that was actually here before last when we did that. So you kind of have to get creative with your marketing. But people love it because they love to send out Family Photos with everyone wearing the same merchandise. And we’ve had people jumping out of planes wearing our shirt. Scuba diving, we’ve been in night, I think 19 different countries, we encourage people to like send us their photo after they’ve been on vacation. Sometimes it’s mission work. Sometimes it’s work that they’re in Japan or different places, and they’ll wear merchandise and send it to us so we can advertise. But it helps our community. And it helps our small business owners that sell this merchandise but also part of the profit comes back to us. So unfortunately, things happen even during a pandemic and we things like your website needs repair or you know, you got to keep your lights

Ed Burzminski
on. So so so how does this perform financially? What is it done for the chamber financially? How much of a percentage of non dues revenue would you say the merchandising is bringing in?

Wendi Rich
Well, this this year, it’s been one of the only revenue streams that I’ve had. So I mean, other than chamber dues, it’s primarily been the number one I think I’m stirring for for the chamber. Now, some of the money actually goes into that joint, you know, I said that we have a combined website, and with the CVB, and the Perry County Development Corporation, which helps us do bigger marketing campaigns together. So the money doesn’t all filter down into the chambers account directly, some of it does, depending on who owns the merchandise. But people have really taken off with the brand. So they’re willing to, they’re always eager and looking for new things to send to the relatives that’s moved out of town, or we like to send our branded merchandise to people that were trying to get to move to town or work here. So so it works. It works in a lot of different ways.

Ed Burzminski
So it’s a it’s a, it’s a branding effort. It’s a visibility effort, it’s a revenue generator, you’re using local vendors to provide them to produce the merchandise, you’re distributing, you’re selling to larger companies, as well as individually around town, and encouraging people to wear the merchandise as a promotion. And as for visibility. And you’re partnering with two other organizations, for the same branding to promote the entire county and the area. What would you suggest a chamber do if they wanted to start a program like this? What would be like the first step? Or to get a program like this started?

Wendi Rich
It depends. I think it depends on where you are. We had some friction on like losing some identity, you know. And we did we the Perry County Chamber is a very old organization, we’ve been in existence since 1903. But I am one person. So we are stronger together. And that kind of had to become our motto, that we were going to work collaboratively and not duplicate things and, and saves time efficiency and money. So we we reached out to a local university, got some grant money to have an outside facilitator come in and decide where our focus should be. We invited people from all different walks of life to be part of the collaboration on what is pig Perry? What does it look like? Who do we need to? How do we need to launch it? What kind of items are we going to allow to be on the market? And who’s going to profit from those items? So

Ed Burzminski
so you’re able to bring in a consultant to help kind of focus?

Wendi Rich
Right,

Ed Burzminski
what that what that was,

Wendi Rich
it started with our combined website. So then we it kind of took off, people wanted to put banners out, people wanted to put signs up, you know,

Ed Burzminski
whatever sounds like it really started with the rebranding division, and coming up with a consistent brand that everybody could use and moving forward. Right.

Wendi Rich
And it helps on your search engine optimization, too, you know? Because I’ve said so many different times, I don’t know very many people under probably the age of 40. That and over that’s like, I don’t know what the chamber does. And I’m like, we, you know, they they don’t understand where, what kind of information and what tools and assets that we have. But people are often interested in a bigger picture, like your area, your industry, you know, those type things. So by combining the website, I still have my information on there. Links, my chamber members, my chamber member page, actually, the views probably tripled or quadrupled went from when we had our own individual website. So

Ed Burzminski
so it gave you bigger visibility for the generator as well by having an ad. It’s a smart strategy. Now, as far as other non dues revenue, you’ve also had to deal with a local billboard company, and you sell some billboard advertising. Tell us about that. And how do you make money from that?

Wendi Rich
Well, um, well, what what happened was just a conversation, you know? Our local billboard rep came in several times saying, Do you have marketing money? Do you want to spend marketing money on billboards? Well, billboards is a great tool. They’re, they’re phenomenal tool to use, in my opinion, and I have we’ve used them for years. Yours, we decided to sign a year contract and have a billboard, you know, that changes every eight weeks and it rotates and location that also, we work to collaboration with, with our sales person that we can actually use his leftover billboards at a discount, which most small business owners probably couldn’t afford, especially during a pandemic. Or maybe even last year, it was during Christmas, so is doing Christmas promotions. So we wanted to give them a bigger more bang for your buck, you know, type of situation, we partnered with a local bank that helps offset some of the costs and we ran a billboards in like every surrounding county that was leftover, we got them at a huge discount, and then I charge I group branded each billboard that was around in other county. So they, they were actually on multiple billboards, and only had to pay about $500 per part per business, which is you can’t get one billboard for that. But because of the banks, collaboration, and maybe it was $600, the banks collaboration, and then what small fee that each business joined in, it did produce some revenue. So you need to look at opportunities of like, our people, their marketing budgets are down. So can I work with local ad, people or local, billboard or TV because there’s not as much money in people’s budgets. But if you do it collaboratively, like through the chamber, they can give me a lot better deal because I’m a nonprofit.

Ed Burzminski
And had you had the quote, investment, not subsidy, but investment from the bank to kind of underwrite a lot of it.

Wendi Rich
Right, right. So that was great that we have, we’ve had a great relationship, it’s really about making relationships with your, with with people in your community, like I mentioned, before we went on air, you know, my marketing dollars went down to so I had a meeting with I know this is about revenue generating. But it also is about reducing your expenses, you know, so it’s basically it’s one, it’s kind of one in the same. So my marketing dollars went way down, of course, like everyone else that you budgeted, and I had several conversations with local newspaper. And I said, you know, I’m not able to get information out to the, to the people like I want to, and I’m not being I can’t run ads, like I usually have in the past. So what they did was, I have a dedicated article every month and some ad space, and they sell ads to my chamber members or local businesses at a super discounted rate, it’s like half or less than what a normal ad would cost to support the chamber page. So it’s a full it’s full page in the newspaper color, and my chamber members get a discounted ad, I get dedicated space, and free ad space. So it’s offset my marketing dollars.

Ed Burzminski
So it’s kind of become your like the Chamber’s newsletter, but partnered with the news, local newspaper to produce which has helped you reduce your marketing expense, but give you visibility to members as well at a discount.

Wendi Rich
But you know, because the newspaper is making some profit off of it, I know that my information is going to make the newspaper be hidden in a small town. If I just submitted a press release or information, sometimes it would make it in there. Sometimes it wouldn’t, or it might show up the day of you know, so now I have a regulated a regular time that I can put all of my information for the whole month out there. And because they are selling and they’re selling ads, so they have they have to produce my information for these people. So it was really it is working very well.

Ed Burzminski
Question for you on both of these. Who’s taking care of the design and layout of the ads and the Billboard and that kind of stuff. Is it the vendors Is it the newspaper and the billboard vendor doing all that?

Wendi Rich
We work closely with our with all of those. Luckily, there is a designer in our network of people. So the executive director of our Perry County Development Corporation, She just by default is also a marketer and a designer. And she does a lot of our design work now for the newspaper. I just tell them how I want it. And they kind of create it and we tweak it as we go. The billboards, same similar situation, a lot of times we’ll create something in Canva. I don’t know if you, I’m, I’m not an Adobe Pro, a lot of people are Canva is super simple. We uploaded all of our logos into that we can kind of send them something that we’re looking at look that we’re that we’re wanting, send it to the designer, the designer sends us back the proof. Sure. We’ve never been disappointed so

Ed Burzminski
so it’s not the newspaper or the billboard that’s providing that service, you actually have found that, oh,

Wendi Rich
it’s both we may start, we may start the look of what how we want it to look.

Ed Burzminski
And then they’ll take it to completion.

Wendi Rich
Right? And then we approve it. So you know, it’s like those collaborations you don’t have time to do it all. You know,

Ed Burzminski
yeah, sure. So the for the billboard, you’re selling the ad, the remnant space on the billboards. And on the newspaper, it’s the newspaper, that’s selling the ads, correct. And you’re not making any revenue off of that. But you’re getting free visibility in the newspaper. And that’s about

Wendi Rich
more visibility. I actually get articles in ads, you know,

Ed Burzminski
articles and ads. Now as this isn’t necessarily revenue

Wendi Rich
my members to because they get full, full color ads and at a huge discount, if a price right.

Ed Burzminski
So this this, this isn’t necessarily a revenue generator. But it’s a it’s kind of a network for you to lean on. You’re a member of ACCE’s hometown chambers Council, the association Chamber of Commerce executives, can you tell us a little bit about that? What is that? And how has that helped you? As a small town chamber?

Wendi Rich
Well, the hometown chambers are if anyone is not a member of ACC, and there’s local state chamber Association, it’s money well spent every year when you have to look at your budget, you’re like, should I really spend that money? But hands down, it’s always worth it. I’ll start nationally with ACC. They have, of course, different levels, bass, as most people know. And I’m a small chamber. So I’m hometown chamber there every single day, any question that you want to ask regarding anything can be asked and you get, not only can you get like examples, you can get free, you know, like workup of, I’m looking for a form, I’m looking for a news, a press release and are examples of things. Because we are short staffed, I know a lot of people I’ve laid people off, use those to your benefit. It’s about using that time wisely. And, and seeing if anybody else has any additional input for those as the state chamber. I live in Indiana. So Shelly actually, is our executive director and on this, she’s part of this as well. But they’re the same way. They’re, they’re at our door waiting for us to just, you know, collaborate with other chambers. And if a chamber has struggling, hey, I’m going to have them call you. And maybe you guys can work out something and you can talk about what’s worked for you because she knows what territories and what communities are similar in size, and monetary income. And then locally, on a smaller level, we have a group of chamber executives, and we try during the pandemic, we that when it started the first maybe three to five months, we met weekly, we on zoom. So we were constantly looking for sharing information sharing, talking about revenue, talking about revenue, ideas, spinning things off, you know, and so all of those people have been intercal. And or you have to you’re one, even if you’re a staff of 10 during a time like this, everybody’s everybody has a million things going on. Sure. And so using having those resources and turning to them have been so valuable for my chamber.

Ed Burzminski
So they so it’s really a accs group is more of a it’s kind of a network. It’s a lean on it and You know if anybody has, certainly they have the call that right? There’s a Frank Kenny has a great group group that you can lean on WACE for the western states, the local state chambers, all these great groups are great resources to

Wendi Rich
I rely on to LinkedIn has several resources. Yeah, and that’s the best thing about being a chamber director actually in in at any time is they’re the most giving and sharing group of people, why recreate it, just grow off of it and utilize it to what best benefits and would fit your community?

Ed Burzminski
Definitely. Wendy, we’re coming up on some time constraints here. So, you know, I wanted to thank you actually, for your insights, and sharing your non dues revenue ideas with us, I wanted to just move on. But before we run out of time to any questions that we might have from the audience, we have Judy Hayes, who’s helping us review some of those questions, and field some of those questions. Judy, Do we have anything coming up?

Judi Hays
Um, yes, one question came up as far as the the billboards? Does the account person at the paper? So it’s probably not the billboards, it’s the papers. Does the account person at the paper take care of the ad sales? Do they get? Is there a revenue share there? Do they do the selling? How does the ad sales work? Well,

Wendi Rich
I mean, they’re offsetting the revenue, what they would be paying me by letting me have my ads for free and my articles. So yes, they do the selling of the ads, and the designing and all of that. But I do talk to my ads executive weekly, about potential supporters of the chamber. So we work collectively and collaboratively now there are certain times a year that certain ad sales will go to back to the chamber, but it’s usually when we’re doing a benefit for an organization. So you know, what, I know other chambers can do had deals that, that they receive a portion of it back, but I felt it was important to allow that my chamber members be able to afford advertising. So it’s about half of the normal price to let them have an ad on my page. So and it’s in color. So you know, I could have probably been made money off of this, but I chose to like let’s let’s work collectively, I’m I’m getting my space for free, and they’re going to be able to afford an advertisement that they could probably not afford during this time.

Ed Burzminski
Sure. Makes sense.

Judi Hays
Okay, yeah, that was the only question that came in. So thank you so much. Got a lot of accolades. Here, Wendy.

Wendi Rich
I have. I have one more thing real quick, when we had talked about earlier is check with your there’s always we were talking about grants. TPP is also now available for chambers. It just opened this week. And I wanted to mention that Also, check with your local city and government. I know, through some of our associations, some of the city and county government have funneled some funds into the chamber that they received through different grants or cares money, or I don’t know different Did you know, because they were working collaboratively, our local city government offered me a loan interest free with no closing cost. So it was even cheaper than the Ei dl alone. So a lot of times that money comes through the USDA, or could come through the cares act money, too. So typically, that money is held for businesses, but that they will sometimes make exceptions for chambers because you’re such an integral part of what’s going on right now during COVID times in business success.

Ed Burzminski
chambers are totally relevant for business and helping grow the local economy. And a rising tide helps float all boats, which chambers do is incredibly amazing. And that’s why I’ve been in this industry since 1993. Probably longer than a lot of these people who are attending have been alive. Wendy, I want to thank you for being here today. And thank you to Judy Hayes for helping us and assisting us. I’m Ed Burzminski. With chamber marketing partners, catch the live more non dues revenue seminars twice a month, or subscribe and see all the episodes at chamber marketing partners.com slash podcast Cast, stay relevant and keep on making a difference in your business community. Our next guest will be Bruce Hillegeis from the Tomball Chamber of Commerce, just northwest of Houston, Texas. We look forward to seeing you then. Keep on making a difference in your community. Onward and upward. Thanks, everybody.

Wendi Rich
Thank you

About the interviewer:

Ed Burzminski is President/CEO of Chamber Marketing Partners, Inc., a publishing project management and consulting firm helping chambers of commerce generate substantial non-dues revenue from publications without using a turnkey publisher.  CMP’s unique model gives chambers total control, full financial transparency, utilizes local vendors and lets the chamber decide how much money to make.  Learn more….

SUBSCRIBE

Get notified of upcoming podcasts and webinars

Subscribe for updates!

Get updates from Chamber Marketing Partners, Inc. in your inbox

Name(Required)
Email Lists(Required)
This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

You May Also Like:

Lets Talk!

Name(Required)
This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.