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Smart marketers know how important it is to understand your target market. If you’re trying to reach a more diverse audience(s) it starts with communication and research. Knowing what to say and how to say it to ensure diverse audiences know, like, and trust you is important. Creating valuable content for a more diverse market is not about watching what you say but understanding what they need.

Here are some ways that you can begin uncovering the information you need to make valuable inroads into reaching a new market(s) for your chamber.

Understanding Your Diversity Landscape

Consider what audience you are trying to reach. Are you attempting to recruit more young professionals, or do you have something of value to offer minority business owners? Maybe you want to ensure that all business owners feel welcome regardless of background or experience.

So how do you do that?

You start by figuring out what is going well and what should be changed, altered, or expanded.

Conduct an Audience Analysis

Identify the different demographics and communities within your chamber's target audience. Consult your member personas or create some so you know who your current members are and what they need. Then consider who is missing/not represented or underrepresented.

Consider factors such as:

  • ​​Age
  • ​Race and ethnicity
  • ​Gender
  • ​Sexual orientation
  • ​Background/experience level
  • ​Economic background
  • ​Education level
  • ​Industry or business type
  • ​Language needs
  • ​Geographic location such as appealing to Main Street businesses or a new area in town.

Wanting to build a diverse member base is not all about the first four factors listed above, although that’s what most people think of. There’s also diversity of experience, economic background, educational level attained, language, etc.

Make a list of people you know you can help. We’re going to use this in designing a chamber communication strategy shortly.​

Assess Current Communication

Before we create a communication strategy based on the needs of the people you want to reach, list and analyze existing communication channels, messages, and imagery to identify potential biases or blind spots. Gather feedback on your existing communication. Conduct surveys, focus groups, or interviews with diverse members and non-members.

Begin to establish relationships with people who fit your extended demographic. Don’t approach them trying to sell a membership. Instead, get to know their business and professional challenges.

When you converse with them, think about how two things:

  • How the chamber can help with their challenges and
  • ​What communication/education component needs to be put in place or adjusted so that they are aware of how you can help

For instance, if you wanted to recruit young entrepreneurs (under 25), their greatest challenge may be funding and a lack of business knowledge. The solution your chamber can provide may be networking (to help introduce them to potential investors or financiers), webinars on funding approaches, and an entrepreneur mentorship program.

After speaking with several under-25 entrepreneurs, you may realize that few of them know what a chamber is. That means that part of your communication and marketing strategy behind making members out of them will be educating them on what a chamber of commerce is and how it can help.

Tailor Your Communication Strategy

After having conversations with the underrepresented groups and understanding their needs, you should review your current chamber communications. Analyze how well your current communications and marketing strategies fit their needs. Make a list of what should be amended or altered to reach your desired market.

Areas requiring change may include:

  • Language accessibility: Offer translated materials, multilingual communication channels, and accessibility features like closed captioning.
  • Culturally relevant imagery: Use visuals that reflect the diversity of your audience and avoid stereotypical representations.
  • Non-presumptive content: Analyze your content to see if you have information for all levels of business and backgrounds. For instance, do you assume everyone knows the basics of what a chamber is? While there are chambers of commerce all over the world, they may not mean the same thing to businesspeople from other countries who may be new to your community, for instance. There may be biases, stereotypes, or misinformation (about chambers) that you must combat if you are trying to market to businesspeople who came from other areas of the world. Ensure you have content that fits all knowledge and experience levels.

  • ​Inclusive messaging: Employ language that is respectful, welcoming, and avoids jargon or assumptions about prior knowledge.
  • Focus on shared values: Highlight the common interests and goals that unite your diverse members, such as economic prosperity, community engagement, and professional development.

  • ​Platform diversification: Utilize a variety of communication channels to reach different preferences, including print, digital, social media, and in-person events.

  • Amplifying diverse voices: Feature stories and testimonials from members of different backgrounds to showcase the value and perspectives of all chamber members.

Building an Inclusive Chamber Culture

No one will want to join the chamber if they don’t see themselves represented. They will feel like your communication and marketing initiatives are simple lip service if they don’t feel welcome and included.

To do this, you may want to:

  • Model leadership diversity: Ensure your board and committees reflect the demographics of your community.
  • Host diversity and inclusion training: Implement training programs for staff and members to raise awareness and build cultural competency.
  • Form member engagement committees: Create a committee(s) focused on specific demographic groups to ensure their needs and voices are heard.
  • Celebrate diversity: Organize events and programs that celebrate the cultural richness and unique contributions of your diverse members.

Measuring and Adapting

This is the step most people are apt to forget, especially once they’re able to see some progress in their efforts to attract a more diverse audience and chamber members. But you don’t want to appear to be going through the motions simply because it’s trendy or something you “should” do. You want to be a sincere help to all member businesses and that means tracking and analyzing your effectiveness.

Some suggestions to do this include:

  • Tracking demographics of membership and engagement: Monitor your progress in reaching and engaging diverse audiences.
  • ​​​Gathering feedback on communication initiatives: Continuously seek feedback from members to refine your approach.
  • Remaining adaptable: Be willing to adjust your strategies and communication channels based on data and feedback.

Remember, aligning your chamber communication with diversity is an ongoing process. By actively listening, adapting your approach, and building an inclusive environment, you can ensure your chamber truly serves and benefits all members of your community.

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