How using marketing materials at local meetings and events can be a a real boost for your business…
An unbeatable way to make connections with professional peers is to head to a Chamber-sponsored beach luau or a monthly dinner, prepared to mingle and share the sharpest, most outstanding business cards and marketing materials in the crowd. Most business owners will attest to the fact that it didn’t take long after they started their professional journeys before they were asked to join a service club or organization such as Rotary, Kiwanis, Lions and of course, the local chapters of the Chamber of Commerce.
Making commitments to these clubs on a regular basis may, at first, seem taxing with the requests to be involved in service projects and weekly meetings on top of running the business that prompted the invitation to join in the first place. However, networking with local service clubs offers many beneficial things to small businesses, especially new ones. The Chamber of Commerce, for instance, provides a united voice for the business community and provides a unique link between government, volunteers, corporations, religious groups, school clubs, homeowners associations, and the general public.
Your membership in something that reaches such a diverse local population can be monumental to your professional health. Active participation in these organizations allows you to make a difference in society while super-charging your business with the incredible marketing opportunities that are presented at every event. So, go prepared to make a fantastic impression with expertly designed and printed marketing materials and enjoy building your network of allies.
Attending only some of these events will yield long-lasting marketing opportunities in the form of promotion, public relations, networking and free media coverage, which easily justifies the time investment. A major resource of income for small business typically comes from business to business services, so it’s of paramount importance to maintain a positive standing within one’s local business community.
The value of joining as many business-type organizations as possible (including The Chamber of Commerce) pays out in strong ties with fellow entrepreneurs, which are vital to establishing a firm word-of-mouth marketing advantage. Additionally, members have access to mailing lists that wouldn’t generally be available and are especially helpful if one’s business is primarily B2B (business to business) because visiting or contacting the person directly in charge is superior to trying to reach those with buying power by chance alone.
Bob Heimbuch, MD/VA Regional Vice President for Minuteman Press International encourages regular participation to capitalize on marketing opportunities that business club meetings provide, saying, “Business clubs and business organization meetings such as Chamber of Commerce and BNI chapters are extremely beneficial in attending because you have a large audience to introduce your products and services to in one place. Take advantage of these meetings by introducing yourself and your company to as many people as you can. These meetings are perfect opportunities for you to leave your potential customers with information about your company. Whether it be a business card, pen, a notepad or a brochure, make sure you bring enough for everybody in attendance.”
In many ways, community service clubs like Rotary, Kiwanis and Lions were the original ways to network and today there are thousands of such groups worldwide. A unique angle is provided to you to display authority in your industry by taking opportunities to be a guest speaker. Make presentations on relevant business topics or lead discussions on pertinent legislation issues, local business programs or community affairs and your reputation will be enhanced every time.
Sue Schabert, owner of Minuteman Press in New Brighton, MN, has taken full advantage of the incredible platform that these clubs provide for promoting businesses and developing solid reputations. Sue shares, “Participation in networking groups can be a very effective way to grow your business. The key is ‘active’ participation. It’s not enough to simply join a group and show up. For example, if you join your local chamber, get involved. Become an ambassador and visit new members. Volunteer for committees and get involved in the community events. The more your face is out in the marketplace the more you are recognized.”
Sue was invited as a guest speaker on more than one occasion and her compatriots were, indeed, impressed and they now know who to turn to for marketing advice. She explains, “I found that chamber members viewed me differently after I presented as a subject-matter expert on the effective use of direct mail as part of an overall marketing strategy and plan. After my first presentation, members waited as long as 45 minutes to talk with me about direct mail. I became an expert marketer in their eyes – not just a printer. My sales increased significantly through referrals and testimonials. I have also had the same experience with my BNI group. Each time I present, fellow members compliment me and tell me they learn something new. Again, they see me as their go-to resource for marketing tips to help build and strengthen their communication strategies.”
Follow these 5 guidelines from Minuteman Press franchise owner Sue Schabert and you too can become known as the subject matter expert:
- Never product pitch! Yes, it is important to briefly review capabilities. You need to connect with your audience on a specific need.
- Educate, educate, educate! Pick a subject that you know well that will teach your audience something new about your business.
- Be sincere! Your audience can tell if you’re just trying to “sell” them. If you truly believe in what you are presenting and are well prepared, they will value your information.
- Be prepared! Again, know your topic. You should be the subject matter expert and well-prepared.
- Have Fun! And Smile!
Grabbing the opportunity for expansion and meaningful growth through business club networking should indeed be done with a smile and a lot of enthusiasm because it pays off. Chamber of Commerce mixers alone draw about 50 people or more, while grand openings can draw a couple of dozen folks and committee meetings draw at least another dozen or more. Remember, when handing out cards, notepads, pens, lanyards, etc., to add, “If you do not currently need our services or products, kindly take this item/card and give it to someone who you know may be interested. Thank you.” This will relieve any pressure the recipient at the meeting might have as they take your materials and they will be more than glad to pass it on. For this reason and more, it is advisable to attend as many business organization meetings as possible, enough so that wearing a name tag no longer becomes necessary because everyone is familiar with you.
As owner of the Minuteman Press Franchise in Sandy Springs, GA, Jon Wittenberg is experienced and able to advise on the best approaches to using marketing materials at business organization meetings. Jon shares, “When I attend Chamber of Commerce events, I typically carry a few of our very popular stylus pens to give away and I always have lots of business cards with me. When allowed, I also give away a door prize such as a 6-pack cooler branded with our name and contact information with a few goodies inside. Those are always appreciated.” Every event becomes a perfect opportunity to give out items that highlight and promote one’s brand.
The publicity boost from networking in these ways works on both the online and offline fronts as members of Chambers of Commerce can receive an online listing with a link to help those interested find them in searches online. Additionally, business organizations such as Chambers of Commerce provide welcome packets with featured companies getting a real edge over the rest with potential new customers. Also, expos and conventions can be found in local newspapers and club members can frequently gain booth access before other professionals in the area for networking purposes. This makes it infinitely easier to be in the same room with other business owners for meetings and an ideal chance to utilize carefully crafted marketing materials.
Jude Arijaje owns his Minuteman Press Franchise in Philadelphia, PA, and he advises to use promotional and marketing materials that stand out, as well as interpersonal skills that help select fellow entrepreneurs with like minds and similar goals, as he stated, “Don’t be like everyone else. Make sure the materials would be usable. Don’t shove your cards into everybody’s face. Find out what problems you can solve. Don’t try and do business with everybody. Look for synergies.”
Doug Harlan, Minuteman Press International Regional Vice President, Chicago, states, “Business and community clubs & organizations are a great way to get to know other business owners and decision makers, people responsible for buying printing and promotional products. Utilizing the social time before and after meetings to hand out something different will show other members the variety of product and services we can offer. Having the proper tools to promote the services your Minuteman Press store can provide to other Chamber (or BNI) members is essential.”
Minuteman Press franchises have numerous ways to help make attendance at these events flourish with the right kind of attention. As Doug explains, “Every Minuteman Press franchise can provide a variety of ideas, layouts and artwork that can be utilized to show what you can do. From a monthly special flyer, a calendar or direct mail piece to the Bic/Norwood cycle flyers, there are many tools at your fingertips. Ask how they market their business and show them samples of projects you’ve done for other customers. Giving them something with their name on it often prompts additional orders.”
Go to these business organization meetings with a “How can I help you?” attitude and gain an immediate warm reception that will pay dividends as the business cards and branded items are distributed. Since there are countless non-profits that need assistance and are always asking for time and money, coming in with the air of one who wishes to offer help will be refreshing to fellow members and will positively impact your marketing efforts at each meeting and event. Everyone loves new allies, so a promise to bring a friend to a fellow member’s establishment or a pledge to refer customers to other members will make them remember your name and hold onto whatever marketing materials you hand to them, with a greater willingness to return the referral favors.
Business organizations provide networking possibilities with thousands of other entrepreneurs in communities worldwide, and ample opportunity to distribute marketing materials that if they are of unmatched high-quality they will stand out and make the most impact. To get to this level of distinction, design consultation and production with experts such as those at The Minuteman Press Franchise continues to be the best route. Be assured that networking with business professionals, fellow owners and community leaders while providing them with your best printed marketing materials is a way to energize overall marketing efforts and keep your brand in front of business professionals. Your reputation will be uniquely enhanced and your business will be met with stronger, more significant growth.
Minuteman Press International is a business service franchise that is rated #1 in category by Entrepreneur for 12 years in a row and 24 times overall, including 2016. We are the modern version of the printing industry, providing high quality products and services for businesses that go way beyond just ink on paper. Today our stores produce promotional products, custom apparel, large format printing (banners and posters), signs, and much more.
Learn more about Minuteman Press design, marketing, and printing franchise opportunities by visiting our website at www.minutemanpressfranchise.com