I often write in this column about how local businesses can maximize their chamber memberships by regularly attending our networking functions and participating in our business expos. But often this just isn’t possible for some of our members, especially those of family owned and operated businesses who can’t spare someone for two hours to attend a monthly membership luncheon. How can we at the chamber support those businesses? What can we offer them?
We send them quarterly printed newsletters with informational articles on advertising on a shoestring, charitable marketing and other such helpful topics. We can refer customers to them if someone contacts the chamber asking for that particular industry. And we are always advocating for laws and ordinances that support small businesses.
Now we’ve added two small touches that are really making a huge difference. One is selecting a business of the week and announcing it every time we answer the phone. For example, last week we drew – completely at random – Realtech Realty from the bowl. Whenever one of our volunteers answered the phone, the caller would hear “Thank you for calling the Sun City Center Chamber of Commerce, where our business of the week is Realtech Realty. How may I assist you today?”
Realtech knew they were selected and also knew their name would be mentioned to well over 200 people last week. That’s free advertising.
Another program we started in January was a visit by Bizzy Bear. Bizzy is a dapper teddy bear clad in a business suit complete with briefcase. Every Monday we take Bizzy to a business that has a difficult time attending or participating in any of our chamber events. We take a photo of him there and post it on Facebook and email it out to all of our member businesses. The first person to guess where Bizzy is gets to attend our next membership luncheon free. There’s a story line that goes with each visit and we always give a little hint.
For example, Bizzy started out the year getting a full check-up at VeriMed Healthcare Center. The following week folks found him at Sun Laboratories, where he was getting some follow-up blood work done. Next, he spent the week at the Zamikoff dental office. In February he was at Boggs Jewelers, where he bought an engagement ring for his beloved Bella. She accepted and the following week he was with Berkshire Hathaway Home Services Realty searching for a new house. Partners Funding helped him with a mortgage. Last week, Bizzy found out he got a promotion and a bonus at his job at Acme Widget & Gizmo Co. It was no surprise when we found him at Ed Morse Cadillac/Brandon Fiat checking out new cars.
Where is he this week? You’ll have to check out our Facebook page to see. But one thing’s for sure – he’s bringing smiles and a lot of attention to those businesses who can’t come to us. He’s our great little ambassador to the location-bound member.
Dana Dittmar is the executive director of the Sun City Center Area Chamber of Commerce.