Is Print Dead? Is Publishing In-House Worth The Effort?

by | Feb 29, 2024

An engaging and informative webinar with a panel of three chamber CEOs as we discuss the value of chamber of commerce publications. We will explore how these chambers have generated non-dues revenue by publishing in-house and we will hear if it was worth the effort.

Discussion will include the relevancy of chamber publications like magazines, community guides, visitor guides, etc. and whether the non-dues revenue that is generated through in-house publishing is worth the effort (AND what the pros and cons are of in-house publishing versus partnering with traditional publishers?).

The CEOs on the panel have either recently converted to in-house publishing or inherited an in-house publishing project, so they know firsthand about this topic and they are willing to share their experience and knowledge with their peers.

Kathy Lehner, CEO of the Venice Area Chamber of Commerce on the Gulf coast.  When she was hired, Kathy inherited both a Visitor Guide and a Member Directory as in-house projects.  Kathy’s membership director, Andrea Arnold sold ads.

Robert Goltz, currently CEO of the Fort Myers Chamber of Commerce, was the CEO at Key West chamber of commerce when he chose to bring a publication in-house, with a small staff Robert sold the ads himself.

Josh Wooten, CEO of the Citrus County Chamber north of Tampa, had published a visitor guide with a traditional publisher for years and after consulting with staff, chose to bring their publication in-house.  Josh’s membership director, Corrine Sachewicz sold ads.


Handouts & Resources

Read the full transcript below.

Full Transcript

Mon, Feb 26, 2024 9:39AM • 1:05:28

Ed Burzminski  00:07

Well welcome to this webinar sponsored by Chamber Marketing Partners where we interview Chamber of Commerce professionals to share their creative, entrepreneurial strategies for generating non dues revenue. This episode is a twofold it’s a twofer. We ask the question is print dead slash, how relevant are chamber of commerce publications.  And the second part is, is publishing in house worth all the effort? So before we begin, I want to thank Tammy Bracewell, of FACP, Florida Chamber, Florida Association of Chamber of Commerce Professionals for arranging the panel discussion. So are chamber publications still relevant, why or why not? Is print at the end of its rope. Are you producing publication and is publishing in house worth all that effort? I’m your host, Ed Burzminski, president of Chamber Marketing Partners, and let’s get started. Joining us for this power panel discussion are CEOs from three Florida chambers of commerce, Kathy Lehner, CEO of the Venice area Chamber, and when Kathy was hired, she inherited both the visitors guide and a membership directory as in house projects. Kathy’s membership and Sales Director Andrea Arnold was selling ads. Robert Goltz is running a little bit behind and he’ll join us in just a moment. But Robert is currently the CEO of the Fort Myers Chamber of Commerce, and he was CEO of Key West when he chose to bring a publication in house. Now with a small staff, Robert decided to sell the ads himself, Josh Wooten, he’s the CEO of the Citrus County Chamber. He and his team were publishing a visitor’s guide with a traditional publisher for many, many years. But after consulting with staff, Josh and his team chose to bring their publication in house, and Josh’s membership relations manager Corinne Sachewicz, she sold the ads. Now for full disclosure, each of our guests are, or have been clients of Chamber Marketing Partners. They’ve each produced a publication and had different experiences with in house publishing. So I am really excited to have the three of you well, two of you for now, join us and share your experience. So let’s jump right in. Okay, so Chamber of Commerce publications, like directories have been evolving into Community Guides, relocation guides, or destination guides, things like that. And they usually have a business directory component, either at the back of the book or somewhere nestled within it. And the question comes up a lot, how relevant is a printed publication? So Kathy Lehner, question number one goes to you. In your experience, what’s the value to a chamber of commerce to produce a printed magazine style publication, like a Guide?


Kathy Lehner  02:51

Well, you know, I’m sure everyone could agree with this, our members want to see their ROI instantly, how am I getting my return on investment from being a chamber member. So to be able to say that we print 15,000 books, and are giving them out with your name in it? To me, that’s instant return, because you’re not going to be able to pay that dollar a day to have your name out in 15,000 books. So getting that message out there. And having that those 15,000 books out there is providing visibility is what I’m hearing you saying? Absolutely. And with 1000 people moving into Sarasota County every day with what’s coming into Florida. I mean, our our chamber is also a true Visitor Center. So we have them coming in our front door. And that’s what they’re looking for information. And even though it might be a visitor center, a visitor today is a resident tomorrow. So we have to tee them up with everything about our community. And with Yellow Pages kind of being on the… extinct. Our average age here wants something in their hand, and then they want to know who to deal with. So they’re looking for something to hold on to to take back to home or wherever they’re going and have a reference guide to to help them out.


Ed Burzminski  04:20

Make sense? Robert, thanks for joining us. I’ll pose the question to you. What is the value of a chamber of commerce producing a printed publication like a magazine style guide? And you’re muted? Here you go.


Robert Goltz  04:35

Yeah, for for us. It’s for the different organizations that I’ve worked with. It is for the community. We utilize it to share information about what the chamber is primarily, but really to showcase our community in a different way. You know, I’ve been lucky.


Robert Goltz  04:55

The couple of years that we did the one in Key West it was a, really in the aspect of talking about its history and things, not traditional chamber stuff, but something that we can make as a coffee table piece that they would want to read and keep, keep abreast I’ve done over the years, these directories in various fashions for the communities that I worked for I’ve done small ones, which we knew that our members were putting in their cars, for something smaller to be in there, and I’ve done the large ones, really has been a good piece, to promote our members, but also to promote our community, whether it’s being a visitor or just the city that we’re promoting at the time.


Ed Burzminski  05:42

So if I hear you correctly, the value of the chamber really is promoting the community promoting the chamber and promoting your members.


Robert Goltz  05:50

Yeah, cuz even if you don’t do tourism, and you’re not that entity, and you’re providing history and then some other little pieces, you’re no one else is doing that, in that kind of fashion. And so, for us, it’s been definitely and it’s less, it doesn’t come off as salesy. But, you know, I look at the publications that I’ve been able to produce over the years, they’re really that salesy in that aspect, it’s really showing off more of what we have than saying, hey, buy, buy, buy, and ads, which, and especially a lot of communities now we’ve gotten away from even our newspapers aren’t giving you news. They’re just providing you advertisement. And that’s it.


Kathy Lehner  06:35

And opinions,


Ed Burzminski  06:40

Josh, I’ll pose the question to you, what’s the value to the chamber to produce a printed Style magazine style publication like a guide?


Josh Wooten  06:51

Much of what they both said, so far, I agree with we do we also act as a welcome center, and you know, are constantly replenishing those magazines in our lobby. So we know that the visitors the residents are taking them, but I’ll go in a little bit different direction is that we also around delivering boxes to the hotel so that they’re in their lobby. So as people are in line checking in or wandering around having coffee, they’re picking the magazine up aware, I don’t think there’s any other way they could get to all that information. If it wasn’t right in their face. We’re also big on making sure that they’re in all of our doctor’s offices. Imagine how many people read that publication over the course of a year, when it’s on the table, at the doctor’s offices, and any of our member, hairstylist or salons. Same thing, people that are waiting to be service or reading that magazine,


Josh Wooten  07:54

is tremendous value. And I can tell you that it’s our members are very exciting when it comes out. And we easily have a publication party is very well attended. And we love it. And we have two cities here in our community hammered us in Crystal River, and enables us to feature those two cities and other incorporated areas that otherwise wouldn’t get the exposure to our visitors. So we were a big proponent.


Ed Burzminski  08:28

So in terms of value in there, in the publication, what are you guys talking about? You’ve got a visitor center, so you’re more of a visitor community. But what what do you put in there that you think is a value for the reader and helps the value for the chamber?


Josh Wooten  08:47

If asked a follow up to me, yeah, we want to tell them about all all the things there are to do in our community. All the you know, rather than if you’re already a golfer, or you fisherman, is you’re saying scuba diving or you want to swim with the manatees. Do you want to ride on our trail system? Do you want to camp in our forest, all of those things we had gives us an opportunity to highlight all of those things and put it in front of them. It also, you know, is tell can tell visitors about what our average wages what our you know, medical care is in our community and educational opportunities on our community. So we use this a lot in our economic development united to present to people that may want to do business here. And I’m sure my colleagues can tell you that a lot of people looking to come into our community. They don’t go to the government first they go to the chamber first. And so it’s so nice to have that really good publication. I’ll say one more thing that we’ve kind of gotten into Any conventions here, we’re not a big convention area, because we don’t have the hotels for it. But we have micro conventions, we’ve hosted the FACP before. And I guarantee our magazines and every goodie bag for every delegate to every convention we have. So you couldn’t do that he couldn’t get that information out. Otherwise, it


Ed Burzminski  10:21

makes sense. So visitors guide like a Truman Visitors Bureau is really all about heads and beds. But a chamber publication is not only about attracting people, if that’s part of what, what, what they talk about or what you do. But it has to talk about multiple different things that the Chamber does for business, the local community, that kind of stuff. Kathy, I asked you to expand on that. What kinds of things do you buy us put into your publication? You you’re kind of quasi your visitor and business as well.


Kathy Lehner  10:52

We are we do take advantage of both last year, we had 48 hours in the Venice area, which went over very well. So this year, we decided some of the areas in our service area that aren’t as popular as our island and downtown, which everyone flocks to, we thought, how can we support those businesses by giving them a direction. So we took the 18 miles of the Tamiami Trail that go through our service area, and we gave different destination points for people to know what else is out there to be able to visit. And what was really awesome is, yes, we do highlight different parks, we’ve highlighted different things to do. So a couple of businesses were named because of their unique attraction, that would keep somebody busy when they were visiting, that what was really great was when then you hear some members say, hey, I want to be in that next one. So maybe you can mention me. So we’re gaining that interest too. And then we’re and then they’re wanting to be helpful on how their theme would be to be to them to be the attraction.


Ed Burzminski  12:03

It’s make sense. You’re elaborating on that editorial content? You’ve provided a lot of valuable information. Robert, to you, too. In QoS, he talks about history. But what what kind of things were you putting in into your publication?


Robert Goltz  12:18

Yeah, for us it you know, I kind of went differently, especially in Key West than we did our two publications. Because what was going on is I have so many other publications being created about our tourism market. And so we focused on the chamber primarily, which is a little bit different, in that a little bit of economic development. But, you know, we had a great foundation, and I gave away a lot of money did scholarships, so we put our scholarship kids in there, and we’re the are the ones that just won this year. And then what those scholarships did for some people that got scholarships 20 years ago, and where they are now. And then we also did some of the oldest businesses within our community that were celebrating mile markers. And it went over for the two years that we did, you know, there, it went over really, really well. People wanted it, wanted it the most was the business community, but they wanted to see what was why should we join the chamber, and we made it our own little, a scream out loud, we’re here for you. And this is what we do for other businesses. And it’s got it went over really, really well for us, instead of focusing on the visitor aspect. We had a little bit of that. But you know, it wasn’t, it wasn’t our focus at all in that process.


Ed Burzminski  13:40

You know, you brought up something very important. A lot of chambers don’t really toot their own horns, and tell their own story. And a lot of people don’t really know what a Chamber of Commerce is, they don’t know what it does. So I’ve seen that these publications, at least in my experience, were in with you guys to telling the story of what the chamber does, not necessarily from the perspective of here’s this committee, here’s that committee rah rah rah rah rah. But the chamber supported this initiative, which led to, you know, 50 new jobs are helping this business grow and navigate through city red tape, which contributed $3 million to the local economy, those kinds of success stories that the Chamber’s do in the background that people don’t necessarily know about. Those are things that I found that that are really powerful messages to put into publication. So when somebody picks it up as Oh, the Chamber does that. Really, I had no idea. So thank you for sharing that, Robert. Okay, so I want to just touch on a different perspective on the value of a chamber publication. What about to the members? What value does a chamber guide provide for its members Kathy?


Kathy Lehner  15:00

Well, I guess it’s twofold if they, here’s your threefold. First, they’re automatically listed. So their name is there. And it’s, it’s listed twice by category and then alphabetically, and then if they advertise, there’s bigger exposure. And I guess I would say, I might be jumping the question as worrying about things being digital, we are, we are so proud to say that, if they advertise, when we take people there, they usually call up say, we’re coming to town, we want the book. So we try to find out when are you coming to town, oh, next week, or you won’t get it in time. So we walk them through online to visit the guide. And then of course, recommend to come in and see us and then we’ll give them a map. But our advertisers are hyperlinked right to their website. So that benefit to those members for the advertisement has been huge. And they have really appreciated it. And of course, so to the visitors, and then the ones who are, you know, a long way out, or just right around the corner to be here to be able to see it.


Ed Burzminski  16:14

You bring up something important to that. Yeah, that a printed publication really has to have a digital component to go along with it. The flip book or the digital edition, as they’re called, just print alone, I think that’s kind of that’s kind of a dinosaur. You got to have that digital interaction and all of you do. Yeah, and having that member listing, when somebody is coming into the community, and they don’t know what, what company, they’re looking for products and services. In their mind. It’s the comprehensive list of products and services, but it’s really the Chamber members that are listed. So they get some exposure. I’m answering your question. Sorry. That’s okay.


Kathy Lehner  16:54

No, that’s okay. So one thing we added to that was so that, because of where we are located, we are visitor strong. Yep. So we were able to expand our book by giving different sections and thanks to our publisher, to create these, whether it’s arts and entertainment, whether it’s dining, it just real estate, it just is really laid out so nice that it’s for everybody, our beaches, our parks. So it really is. It’s funny, we put it on Facebook, that it’s here, you know, and never did we expect someone to walk in and say, I want that guide that’s out now. So it was really made us feel good that it was in demand.


Ed Burzminski  17:44

Sounds good. And you guys print 15,000 copies 15,000.


Kathy Lehner  17:48

And like, Josh, we do have a great distribution. We have some real estate offices that are downtown, in our Main Street area that they go through a lot. So that distribution is great real estate doctors, even the car dealers want them.


Ed Burzminski  18:06

I’ll pose… Thank you, Kathy, I’ll pose the question to Josh, what’s the value to the members? From your perspective? If it’s Can you elaborate on what Kathy said, and what’s your perspective on that?


Josh Wooten  18:18

Well, the first thing I tell him ever, like, why should I join the chamber is like just being in our magazine and on our website is worth that’s worth the value of your membership, just that was it, nothing else. Because we’re not working for you when you’re at work. You know, if you run a donut shop, you’re basically making a donut. So we’re promoting your business. We’re telling people about it, we’re getting your business, in front of people all over the community, and to our visitors. And so we, in addition to them being listed, and we also feature different businesses, like unique businesses, whether it’s a winery or some medical technology, new medical technology, we like to do a story. But in addition to that, you know, they have advertising opportunities. And there’s a lot of eyeballs on our website and on this magazine. And we print 10,000 We’re, you know, we’re a smaller county than Kathy’s but, you know, they get passed around a lot. So there’s a lot of eyeballs on these magazines and the ads are probably comparable to one ad in the local newspaper for one day.


Ed Burzminski  19:42

And goes,


Josh Wooten  19:44

Yes, so it’s also a bargain. But it’s, it’s for us it’s a touch to the member. You know, when this magazine comes out, I have 1100 touches. They get it mailed to them. We bring them additional copies. So it keeps us engaged with our membership as we try to do nine touches a year, somehow, someway. This is a major touch.


Ed Burzminski  20:10

So visibility is important component is what you’re saying to the members, Robert, question to you that your perspective on how a guide provides value to them.


Robert Goltz  20:21

Yeah, so I know the panelists, I produced the least amount, I only produced 5000. in Key West, getting into major tourism attraction area, we did 5000. But again, ours was focused on the business community, primarily, our members. So when you look at the Yellow Pages, and you look at the newspapers and all these other things, Yellow Pages kind of gone away. They’re not in people’s hands, newspapers are a day and old and thrown away, we were looking for something that people would keep out for the year. And that’s what we accomplish, most of our businesses would have them sitting out all year round, and for that exposure, and we kept it, low cost for them. Even though, we made a good we made it’s funny, from doing this for years, we were making good money still, even with a low number of products, because we did it in house, we saved some money in that aspect. But our members really liked it, because it got to expose them. And they said, hey, you know what, there, we don’t get this kind of long term exposure, and in color, and and everything else. And it really helped out for them and for their business. And it was one of the things that our members always ask for, when’s the next directory? Oh, I’m not going to be in this year’s directory. You know, I have people that would even hold off from joining till they knew they were going to be in the next directory. And I’m okay with that.


Ed Burzminski  21:54

Let me ask you a question about that. In the past, when the yellow pages were still around, it used to be a kind of a membership development tool to say, Join the chamber by x-date so you can be in the directory. Is that still valid? There’s still value to that? Oh, yeah.


Robert Goltz  22:13

Because for us, that’s what we exactly did, because so Key West was annual billing in January, everybody was due in January, in March, we did all of our drops. And if you didn’t, if you were dropped, you were not going to be in the directory, we cleaned out a clean house, boom, 90 days, clean house. And we would send out for months, Hey, join the chamber, now’s the time for the directory. This is when you’re going to be in it. And people would come at that point to join the organization to be in that directory, because it was really the only locally printed piece for business information.


Ed Burzminski  22:59

Got it? Okay, so that’s still valid. Okay, I want to move on to so before I do move on, can we say that it print is print dead? Or is print not dead? Yet? Everybody in unison


Robert Goltz  23:15

and not dead? Not dead, not not on Citrus


Josh Wooten  23:18



Robert Goltz  23:19

I think the key to that ad is it’s not dead. But for some chambers, especially those that are not tourism areas. They need to reshape what they’re putting in their directory. Very


Ed Burzminski  23:33

good place a new, a new focus. And you’ve heard the phrase, if you’ve seen one chamber, you’ve seen one chamber will work for one doesn’t work for another. Yes. The three of you have represented tourism communities. And Robert, you took a different perspective on it, because you had a lot of visitors guides. So you’re right. It kind of really depends on what’s important for that particular community, and how to put a publication together. I do want to just show the audience, Robert’s Keywest guide, had a history picture on the cover and a head talked about the history of Key West. Venice. Kathy, what’s the what’s this picture of?


Kathy Lehner  24:14

This is at historical Spanish Point. It’s where they used to bring in the actually that’s where they sent the oranges out through the packing house in historical Spanish points so people could go there. The law covers always something that we could tell people they can go there and see that and and that’s what you see, you see out into the intercoastal and then even further out into the Gulf.


Ed Burzminski  24:41

Got it. And this is Josh’s cover and Josh, what’s this?


Josh Wooten  24:47

That is Liberty Park. The city of Endres made a major investment in that park. And that’s a fake water tower. But those are very popular. A lot of communities are saving there. water towers. But there’s a stage underneath that. And that’s all Lake Sal Apopka and the m&s chain. And it’s just a gorgeous part of our county that we thought we would showcase. And boy, the Arizona city leaders love it too.


Ed Burzminski  25:15

That’s great. So each of you decided to do a hero shot, one big hero shot on the cover. So I do want to switch gears. So we have time to address the second part or the second question, that even though it’s not a Chamber’s core competency, many chambers produced publications on their own in house, you’ve each had experience producing a publication in house. So let me ask you, first of go to Robert. Robert, what compelled you to produce the publication in house yourself?


Robert Goltz  25:48

Well, well, two things. The first thing is, I got tired of hiring outside companies to do the publication and then leaving. And our industry, we’ve seen it over and over again. And so that became a big issue for us. The second aspect is, I am greedy. And I want more money for the, for the chamber. And you know, what we found that, typically in hiring out salespeople to sell and they don’t do as well as doing it inside as somebody that already has the connection. And that was a big key and being able to control the whole process, we really set forth because typically, most of your chambers, hear the same story, oh, you’re doing a publication and all the print is out of town, or the graphic design, all these things is farmed out from outside. When you do it in house, you get to choose as much as you want, or as little as you want being done in your backyard and giving back to your community even financially, to the businesses that are members of your organization.


Ed Burzminski  26:58

So it sounds like there was a number of benefits, but including members in the process or giving members the opportunity to be part of the process and be vendors for the process was important to Okay, Kathy, I’ll come to you last. But Josh, what compelled you to produce a publication in house?


Josh Wooten  27:20

Well, as we’ve talked before, that this is not a core competency of the Chamber of Commerce. But what is the core competencies, we know our community. So I think the overriding thing started as a financial reason to look for an alternative because we kind of got burned by one of our companies at the end of the day. So my board was getting skeptical about continuing doing business the same way. And then we found a company that that helped us put a template together to do it. So if we could have a revenue stream, a modest revenue stream is what we projected and a superior product. Then the board said, Okay, we trust the staff to do it. This is where I turned to our project manager, because this was a team at the Citrus County Chamber that is Qur’an. And this is Jade, go read manage a project that all will say also in and Jade did a lot of work on the content. But financial was the reason why we looked at it. But we weren’t willing to compromise on a very nice product as as was just pointed out. So that’s why we did it. And we ended up making twice the money almost three times the money that I budgeted. So it turned out to be a win win for our members. And for us and for the partnership that we had with the company. You


Ed Burzminski  29:02

can say the company name


Josh Wooten  29:05

it oh one other thing we control the finances to you which was important for my board after getting burned. One time we control the finances but we have somebody that’s coaching us along the way and we can pick up the phone with our consultant and so we like control over the money


Ed Burzminski  29:30

so and Kathy I want to get to you because you you inherited in in house project. But one last question for Josh was what kind of trepidation was there What were you thinking? Oh my gosh, we’re gonna take this all we’ve got to do it all ourselves. What was it was their staff burden considerations? What? What were your thoughts there?


Josh Wooten  29:52

Well, you know, chamber stay busy and taking on any kind of a new project. It is very difficult and it can really tamp tamper Down staff morale, because I’m always bringing ideas, I’m out of the community, I come back and said, We ought to do that as well to do that. So, you know, this was a big project. So you have to determine one who could give us an outline to be successful, because we don’t know what we don’t know. So we were able to find that relationship, then who want our team could pull this thing together and do it. So you know, obviously, Corinne, we collaborated on this the right decision for us, and Qur’an not only met my expectations, but exceeded them. And then we have our own in house public relations shop communication shop. So instead of having an out of town, write or write about floral city, or our festival, we know how to best do that. That doesn’t mean that we don’t need some help and guidance along the way. But, but it just worked out very good. The trepidation was, can we handle this, and we were even taught how to manage our time on this project, you know, and so I implemented those things that we were taught, and Corinne certainly adhere to those. She’s, there’s no problem with trust from our members. They trust her when she brings a product to them. It’s just time management. And so we were able to do all of that. And maybe we headed out, I say we these Qur’an, mostly Jade, hit it out of the park.


Ed Burzminski  31:43

The good. Thank you for sharing that. Josh. Kathy, you inherited an in house project? Yeah, we meant to it. And there was, tell me about tell us about that.


Kathy Lehner  31:55

We used to do two books. So we would have the little visitor’s guide that was just like half a page or something. Oh, half the book. And that went like hotcakes. And then we found that the membership directory, you know, they really didn’t want to take it. So it was, let’s put it this way. Our smiling. membership and Sales Director Andrea Arnold is the real hero in making this so successful. And of course, Jennifer Cook, because she’s the backup. And Andrea used to say, Well, I feel like I’m selling stale bread. Yeah, have to eat, but it’s not the greatest. So what can we do. And that’s what we looked at, I mean, our keys promoting our members. But as the President CEO, I’m also looking at it helps let my membership and Sales Director make a lot. That’s going to be terrible English, her condition will be a lot more than she doubled in sales of what she was selling stale bread compared to what we’re doing. With us with Chamber Marketing Partners. Totally different look, people are wanting to be in it. And with her selling more, obviously, there’s more touchpoints with our members, there’s a better building of relationships with them. So I think it just brought us even closer with our membership. And they say and then we’re making them look good. So they actually appreciate us for something.


Ed Burzminski  33:34

So you, you and Josh, both have somewhat larger staff for a chamber. How many staff do you have? Kathy?


Kathy Lehner  33:41

I have seven.


Ed Burzminski  33:42

And Josh, how many do you have?


Josh Wooten  33:45

I have seven and in turn and a part timer during our busy season.


Ed Burzminski  33:53

I see Robert smiling. You guys are you’re blessed with having a larger staff. Robert, you didn’t have as many staff when you were Keywest. And you sold the ads yourself. So share with us kind of how what what that created, what kind of issues that created for you and how you dealt with them.


Robert Goltz  34:11

So what was funny it is, you know, we it was me and my marketing person she wrote, you know, I hired somebody specifically write articles on staff. To do that I sold the ads, I took pictures and things of that nature. It was and we did it very quickly. Our books probably were done faster than any of your other books because my time is a time lapse. I think we did our projects like within three months on both projects that we did with you and it you know, it wasn’t difficult because people trusted the staff already. So when I sent out the emails, they moved really quickly for For us, which was a positive, we were able to cut down a lot of costs by doing it that way by just not having a designated salesperson other than me sending out some email blasts and doing follow up calls. Did we have as much sales as I wanted it? No, but it wasn’t a headache to do. And we had a great publication at the end. The best part, I think, was that as we were going through the process, and getting the pitchers that we needed, we didn’t trade out hotel rooms and all this other stuff, in the process of losing money for somebody else to come in and make a commission. That money stayed with us. I think the end, the biggest, I think the biggest hope that having a partner in this was giving some guidance. And the other big thing was finding us a printer that would keep keep our costs low. In today’s day and age. You know, print is expensive, especially if you’re doing the lossy and asking for the high end stuff. It’s expensive to do. And if you don’t have those connections, and for some of our small community communities, we don’t have those individuals in our backyard, we ended up saving Gosh, over I think over $2,000 by having our partner, you find us a printer outside. And it was the only thing that we really brought in from the outside and some graphic, we you took care of all the heavy lifting for us.


Ed Burzminski  36:44

So selling the ad yourself, thank you selling the ad yourself. That’s typically I mean, that’s a lot to layer on to as chamber CEO. But you’re saying that wasn’t that big of an issue for you, because you had already had the relationships and you’re already talking with people?


Robert Goltz  37:03

It was so you know, once you get get the ad slicks ready to go. And you have your pricing created, sending it out and talking to your board and making a couple calls. Literally, I did not spend a ton of time selling. Okay, I didn’t, because I have a relationship with our members. And they trust me because they hired me. So when I said, Hey, this is a publication, they were jumping very quickly. And what was even more fun was after we got the books, they were jumping also of where else can we help you distribute those books, too. It wasn’t even me that had to look for a district distribution. They came out and said, Hey, we need to push you to do this. How do we help you in that process?


Kathy Lehner  37:58

And can I add to something Robert said that kind of resonated. Robert mentioned that you helped him find a printer that was in local. And I know that’s one of the perks that you offer to have I’m sure every one of us that if we can use one of our members first, you always will price them out and and ask them to help long? Well, we try to do that. And I’m sure everyone listening and chamber world will understand sometimes we just can’t use our Chamber members. We have a fabulous printing company. The quality I know Ed was just really wanting to use. But the cost was three times as much. It was all I know is it all I know is that it was pretty much what our profit would have been to make anything. And I even went as far to the member to say will Yes, split it with me so that we can work with a member? And they said no. So sometimes, I mean, you still have to do business and when it comes I know in our bylaws. It’s also stated when it’s over certain dollars supposed to shop anyway, of course she wanted to be Chamber members, but then it does come down to doing business and I really tried hard. And


Robert Goltz  39:22

then that’s another big perk by by doing this on your own, but also having a partner that knows the industry. But if we would have needed a writer, I could have fallen back and calling my partner and saying hey, do you have a writer that’s available? They could do this? Luckily, most of my stuff, my photography, everything was done in done locally with our members and things of that nature. So I put out a lot more of those dollars and that exposure back home, no plan and you can only do so much, especially in small communities, you don’t have some of these larger companies. But we ended a same thing. When we were looking, we were looking at even staying within the state for our printer. And we found delivery and printing to be at a much cheaper to go outside and bring in and did a wonderful job for us and hit our timelines with it, you know, and that was the other thing, we could work in and expand our timelines as we see fit, if things aren’t going well. Expansion without someone coming down and going, Hey, this is all that, you know, my second book wasn’t the biggest bigger seller than my first year. But I had a great book, I still made 36% profit 30% 36% of the income came back to my organization, I will say most of you don’t get that kind of money back. We got that kind of money back by doing it in house, that was a big seller for us that we kept most of the money at the Chamber is


Ed Burzminski  41:06

different. So one of the things that you guys were mentioning is yes, using a local vendor. It’s tricky, like with printing, because a lot of chambers when they do it themselves, they’re paying retail, they’re one shot. So they’re they’re paying retail, rather than having volume discounts. I don’t want to pitch us but one of the things that we do is we we consolidate printing from a lot of different chambers around the country through just a handful of volume printers. So we’re able to pass those discounts along to our clients, there’s a question that comes up, can we get a list of the printers, they go through us, we’re we’re the customer of the printer. And that gives us volume buying. And we just pass that along to our clients or to any chamber actually, whether they’re a client, oh, we can just do a quick quote. But and that’s the trick


Tammy Bracewell  41:56

question. And if I may, I wanted to know, what software did the various chambers use to do their own to publish their book? Did they create the artwork in house? Or was that part of the partnership that was that your company did for that? Good question.


Ed Burzminski  42:16

Well, as far as working with us, it’s up to the chamber. We can use local vendors that are designers not going to so but typically, it’s our designers that will do the job. They know what they need to do, they’ve been doing it for a long time, they can get it done really quickly. We a lot of times, there are members who come up and say, we can design we can put together a publication. After we start vetting them, we realize that they can put a an ad together or a flyer, but putting a full magazine style publication together is out of their wheelhouse. So I’ve been surprised, we found one that was a member of a board of directors at a chamber who actually does magazine layouts. But that was once in 30 years, that I’ve been able to find somebody like that. So typically it’s through us and we provide that service. But with going back to the printers, it’s tricky because you want to use somebody local, but you’re also running a business and you have a budget to meet. And you know, if it’s 1000 or $2,000, more, well, okay, maybe it’s worthwhile to keep it local. But if it’s $10,000, or more than that, that’s a real hit to the budget, but it is up to the chamber. And that’s,


Josh Wooten  43:28

that’s why this is more attractive. Yes. Working with somebody like you because we have all these options, we can go out and find a local printer. If they’re competitive. We can do more on the publication or you can help us do more on the publication. That’s what I’m saying we have this freedom. And it takes a lot of pressure off. Knowing that you’ve got our back. Yeah,


Ed Burzminski  43:52

well, I’m sorry, you guys didn’t mean to make this about us. But the panels are bringing it up. One of the things I did want to mention is this is a model that works for a number of chambers, this producing it in house number of chambers. It really started in the late 2000s. during that recession of 2008. There were a lot of chambers that were using outside publishers. But with that recession, revenue went down, non dues revenue and dues revenue went down. So what anecdotally for me was 5% of chambers publishing and house went up to like 25% chambers were chasing the cash. And so they started to see that we chase you guys chambers can sell anything. You can sell this space right here for $5,000 a month. And I have no clue how you guys are able to do that. But it’s like chambers are master salespeople. Robert in particular can sell like that right there for a lot of money. But so there was an increase in the number of chambers producing publications in house and That’s where I think the trend really started to go because it was it was about money and control. That said, there, there aren’t that many chamber publishers out there these days, but they’re very good. And they do do a very good job. And it fits for a lot of different chambers of commerce. It’s a traditional model, turnkey model, you get the royalty, there have been a lot that have gone out of business, but a number a lot of chambers, are choosing to do it. In house. Josh made that conversion, Robert made that conversion, Kathy adopted it. It’s not for everybody. But it does work when everything does work. Right. So I just wanted to say that to the audience. It’s not like we’re bashing publishers out there. This just particularly fits for this group of panelists. And


Robert Goltz  45:49

I’m sorry, and for me, it was originally when when I hadn’t started working with you, it was a it was a one and done, you were going to train me to do what I needed to do. And it was going to be my own in house publication after that. That’s that was the goal originally. And when we started working with you, what we found was that the money that we did pay for to work with you, we still saved a ton of money, because you were able to shop out the things that I couldn’t, I couldn’t done those publications in house the second year. The problem is, I would have spilt still spent a ton of money in print, I would have spent way more money on graphic design, because we were pricing those things out. Because we were able to partner with you, you kept us on track you helped us through you gave us ideas to think through and how to sell and what account to add into the publication. But we had full control, you never said, Hey, you should do an article like this. None of that. We knew what we wanted to do. And it was very easy for us to go. And when we had an issue. We go ahead, we got an issue yours who do you got something to backup on this. I knew that no matter what I was going to have a publication come out. And it was either way, it was a nice safety net for us. Like


Kathy Lehner  47:14

if I could add one of the things we forget is our time you get so involved in doing this when the one I inherited our from the first year I was here, one of the staff, I mean, was so focused on putting this on that she was a mess. And God the rest of the team would come in, I’m not want to be near her. And then you know, then you try to do your job and do that at the same time. So I was I lost double the person because of all the time loss from doing her job. Someone else had to do it. And then just the stress among the team, too. It was too much so and and not everyone had to be involved. Because sometimes more hands in the pot. I forget how that goes. I don’t cook. So does it make a good meal. But um, can’t really cooks


Josh Wooten  48:07

in the kitchen. That’s


Kathy Lehner  48:09

what it is. See, I don’t I don’t spend much time in the kitchen. Proud to say that. But by not doing that. It’s really nice to just say, add make us look good. And honestly, when we the first book we were putting square here, square here, square here, square here. No wonder why no one wants to look at it. We didn’t want to look at it. So when you start looking at how things are laid out now, because of your expertise, we love looking at our book. Our guide is something we’re proud to carry around and handout. So time is money and whatever it’s costing us to use chamber marketing. It was it’s just priceless in its own way. Because we are making money so you can’t beat that.


Ed Burzminski  48:58

Gosh, okay, thank you. Oh, yeah, we weren’t asking for that. But thank you. Well, let’s we’re at 50 minutes in, let’s take some time to take some questions from the audience. Tammy or Steve, do we have any questions coming through? Well,


Tammy Bracewell  49:19

we had one question that says what exactly do you mean by doing it on your own? Does that mean the design or just selling the ads and writing the content?


Ed Burzminski  49:29

That’s a really good question. So in doing it on your own means, at least in our vernacular, the Chamber becomes the publisher, which means there’s not typically in the traditional model. There’s a publisher that comes in, sells the ads, does the articles, get some articles from the chamber, get some photos, database, prints, it delivers it all the the advertisers all paid the publisher, so there’s some outside and entities that, you know, the advertisers pay, which is fine that’s worked for generate for decades. Publishing in house means fundamentally, it turns around where the advertisers pay the chamber, the chamber can choose to sell the ads, or bring in somebody else to sell the ads, but it’s up to the chamber, the chamber can choose to write its own editorial content, or bring in an outside writer to write the editorial content. It’s it’s your choice. Operating operationally, it’s very similar, because there’s a project manager assigned. And that that kind of is the quarterback to keep all the moving parts working. And the other big fundamental differences, the Chamber controls the cash. And there’s a budget so that it’s the Chamber’s budget for the project, the chamber can see how much revenue there is, what the expense items are, and how much profit there is at the end. So there’s no royalty or revenue share. It’s the bottom line, that’s the chambers. So the chamber really kind of controls the budget, if sales get higher, and the more money drops to the Chamber’s bottom line, if sales are not as expected, pos can get adjusted, fewer pages can get printed, the Chamber’s able to make that kind of a decision through the lens of the budget. Robert?


Robert Goltz  51:24

Yeah, for me, it was was the real aspect was I kept my ad cost very, very low. My members, were getting a steal on pricing. And edit, I had talked about it at the beginning. And we knew that it was more value and should have had higher pricing. But my members didn’t want to pay higher pricing because of the economy and everything else. So we were able to make that control and make those decisions. Were with the normal publisher, you don’t get to make those decisions. They’re they’re controlling everything. I had control from the start to the finish. The chamber made the decision, who was going to do the printing, who was doing the writing everything in that process. So it was that control aspect that we wanted to do if we didn’t if we had wanted something else in, you know, I could have went to a different graphic design. But when I pray, so graphic design, it was expensive. For what we were looking for. We said, You know what? Why am I doing it? I can do it in house was somebody’s already working with me on that portion. We looked at different I think what Edie for about two months, I was sending you printers from all over the state of Florida, trying to find out I was trying to do deals with members. And I couldn’t find the the amount and Eddie went out. And he said, Okay, here’s your local guy. Here’s what I can bring in outside of that with delivery and everything else. And we go oh my gosh, it was 1000s of dollars difference. Oh, it was a no brainer for me. And at the end of the day, we made money. Yep. And Josh,


Ed Burzminski  53:13

Corinne was selling the ads. And she chose you guys chose to do that. How does that? Because it’s in house. Does that give her ability to sell more? Or where I’m going is you can create packages, you can sell year round. How does that help? In the process, Josh for you. And Corinne.


Josh Wooten  53:38

Well, she on boards, every new member. So she has the opportunity to tell them about the directory. And she’s already got a waiting list. I mean, we just got an artist out in the field, I think in December was in December. And she’s kind of waiting lists already. So she gets to tell the new members about everything, including the directory. They trust her. She’s at every ribbon cutting, she won boards them, she answers their questions. So there’s that trust factor. Now we feel like our chamber has a good reputation. In fact, I just pulled our members and they have a 78% approval rating of us. They just didn’t know that I can see who said negative facts. But But anyway, I polled and that’s a pretty high number 78% approval rating I think 12 disapprove. So they trust us. So why not bring it in house? Rather than let a company come in? We’ve done all that we brought it outside companies we’ve bartered with the hotels to let them stay here two weeks and then they’re gone and can’t answer any questions. Korean manages the project all the way through and then has, I guess you guys have editorial meetings week or weekly meetings. stay on schedule to make sure We know when the next things do. Those are the things to be the minutia that so time consuming. That’s what your firm does. That keeps us on track of what is current highest and best use it selling ads for this directory, not worrying about printers, or who’s designing what ad and how we’re going to do that. So, I mean, it’s just, I’m sold on the whole program that we’ve already we up for next year.


Kathy Lehner  55:27

Wouldn’t even the other thing, selling ads as much as just like, Kern is doing the same thing as Andrea, building relationships with our members? Do you send a stranger out? You know, our community is very hesitant to deal with anything like that. But when they see it’s Andrea, or they get Andrea’s call, and they know it’s coming right from us. We’re building a better relationship with those members.


Josh Wooten  55:52

It’s another touch and yes, if they don’t, if they don’t advertise with us, correct, doesn’t say go to hell. So then other times, she’s like, Okay, well, we’ll meet you at the mixer Thursday. Yeah, we have that relationship. And she sent out an email today, you can probably get 30% would come back and say amen, just with an email. Yeah. So I can say we’re sold on this deal. Where do we sign? Yeah. And


Robert Goltz  56:20

the other and the other aspect is, for a chamber CEO, President, Executive Director, you’re controlling your voice and your brand still into salesperson, if my salesperson isn’t selling properly, I get to discipline and take care and go, okay, this person isn’t the right salesperson, probably not the right membership salesperson, for me, either or whatever it is, in my organization, when you hit somebody from the outside coming in, you don’t know what they’re saying. You don’t control that, again, another control factor in having good people. And you know, and it goes, this is the other thing, it goes directly to the salaries of your staff. Yep, your staff is making that money to work for you not for working for somebody else in that process. So my by me looking for underneath my marketing director, someone who has writing abilities, now they’re paying for their own salary by helping me write our book. I’m not hitting somebody else on the outside where I can’t do the edit. And we own all the writing aspect, I’ve had this happen to me twice over 25 years, where the company, I stopped using a company. And they required that we could not even just update their information in our following years directory, because they claimed it was their property, their publication, we own everything now. So if I go, a I’m just updating a school systems information. That’s it. And I’m using the same words as I did last year. I have control of that, I own that. That’s a big difference for some of you, especially as we’re getting into this age of everybody saying that they own certain properties, logos and everything else, it that way, you can control that and keep it yourself.


Josh Wooten  58:20

Let me let me add this one quick thing. It’s also, you know, sharing sharing the wealth with your employees. If you do well, you know, it’s enabled to current help her own bottom line. And we have benchmarks that she gets more part of, and I think had taught her how to negotiate that. But


Kathy Lehner  58:45

he was very good at that. And if even if it’s not just her bottom line, we also worked with some of our folks here in our different local magazines to do the writing. And then we were able to work something to work their magazine into ours. So


Josh Wooten  59:04

with members co located with tourists from China, we they give us a lot of great pictures. But anyway, go to your question.


Tammy Bracewell  59:13

Tammy art our our question that comes from Vicki and it says, I plan to offer ads and my tiered membership for 2025. And I’m wondering if any of you have tiered member levels, and if you offer any ads as part of your tiered level memberships.


Kathy Lehner  59:29

So I could tell you we do we do for our titanium partners. They’re at a $10,000 level. So we do give them a page in the book, our $5,000 level, we we give them a six step page but then we will give them a discount which they usually buy up to have a bigger presence. And then the others we give discounts that are in our tears towards an ad


Josh Wooten  59:59

We do not we have a legacy program 2500 up to 10,000. In addition to their dues, we do have a special section, my Corrine, and the book that says here with our legacy members, but we do not give them an ad. Because we feel like that’s a, you know, that’s, that’s costing us real money by giving that space away. And it’s something they didn’t require because they were legacy members before we took on this project. And nobody’s ever asked us about it.


Robert Goltz  1:00:36

We’re switching over benefits. Yeah, we’re switching over our aspect to tiered right now. And that is one of the things that we are considering, and increasing accordingly on those tiered dues. But, you know, it’s going to be an option that we’re looking at putting in there. As we’re moving forward, we’re thinking about saying, Okay, if you’re at this level, a full page ad comes with it. But what we’re going to be looking at is what does that full page that the benefit is, because now we control the pricing. I can, I can offer those ads without having to worry that I’m going to lose money throughout the year, if something goes up, I control that pricing of that revenue. But we’re definitely looking at that, for some of our upper tiers, to be a part of that we add on to our tears,


Josh Wooten  1:01:30

probably have a page or two, that refers to them. And they seem very happy with that. And a lot of my answer in addition to that,


Ed Burzminski  1:01:38

well, the other thing that you can do, once you have a couple of years under your belt or a couple of additions under your belt, you can get a better ability to monitor total investment in the chamber, since the chamber is billing, you can run a report and see how much this member has invested in the chamber in the last 18 months, right versus when you’re using an outside publishing company, you got to get their sales report, and you got to put a spreadsheet together and kind of do an analysis here, you just run a report by member Oh, they invested it whatever, five different times throughout the course of the last 12 or 18 months. And a lot of members, you know, they don’t like to have the chamber calling reaching into their pocket five or six times a year. So yes, so to the answer the question of the to dues. Even if you don’t have to your dues, you can still create packages that include the advertising, and the member will pay one check, write one check. And it’ll include that ad in there, even if you’re under formula, you know, you a lot of chamber is still doing the president circle the Chairman’s Circle, or a special package where they can include the advertising in there.


Kathy Lehner  1:02:43

And don’t forget to discount it because even by giving them a discount towards their app, now at least you have an Add. Add to begin with. So discounts the way to go. And


Robert Goltz  1:02:57

I’m seeing that as I’m is that we’re looking and moving into your dues I’m seeing a lot of chambers have in your mid to upper dues levels, where they’re saying, hey, Gator, do you get X amount X percent off of advertising, you’re not selling the ad, you’re giving them a discount at certain levels to come in, right to incentivize, so you’re really not losing the money. Because we would take that in for us in our model is if we have that in a tiered use aspect. My sales person unless they make the sale, that’s the only time they get it. So that’s not a sale for them, our hope is that they go back to them to make that sale for the discount afterward. But originally, it’s not. It’s not costing me anything. It’s actually a very easy sale, you know, what, then that dues, you get 25% off. And every year if the book goes up, I’m still sliding up. I don’t have to worry about changing all my tears and things of that nature. Just because I’m doing a percentage. I raised the price on the publication,


Ed Burzminski  1:04:06

that’s actually a really smart strategy, because then even if they don’t want to buy an ad as part of that, that package, you’re giving them the discount so they can be approached later versus I already said no. You’ve said you’re at this level, you’re getting a discount. We’re approaching you later, when the quote add sales period as is open to buy the Yeah, that’s smart, Robert, good idea. Thank you. Okay, so we’re at 1205. Well, I mean, 305 your time? I’m sorry, we’re on the west coast. So we’ve gone a little bit over an hour. Tammy, are there any other questions that we could answer?


Tammy Bracewell  1:04:46

I think you’ve already addressed most of them. Okay, Chad, I saw you answer a few directly in chat and then the q&a is empty right now.


Ed Burzminski  1:04:54

Okay, sounds good. So I want to thank Kathy, Robert and Josh for Your insights I want to thank you, Tammy for arranging the webinar and we’ll see you at the spring FACP conference where I’ll be doing a session on six steps to more effective cold calling. I’m Ed Burzminski for Chamber Marketing Partners. Onward and upward everybody. We’ll see you in May. Bye bye

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….


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