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This is a two-part series that came out of a conversation with Shannan Reid from the Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce on how she transformed her chamber by instituting member marketing personas. In the first post, we covered what marketing personas are, why they’re important, and how to begin crafting them. In part two, we’ll discover how she used the exercise to transform her chamber’s offerings.

When Shannan Reid from the Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce wanted to engage her members on a deeper level, she looked to understand them first. What resulted was a deep dive and team board activity to help identify the major types of members in her chamber as well as what they needed and wanted. Using Shannan's exercises, we'll walk through how she obtained invaluable insights into her members and used that knowledge to shape her chamber's offerings and marketing.

Shannan's Member Personas

After compiling her data, Shannan realized that most of her members fell into a handful of industries that shared the same types of needs. She then worked with her board to create marketing personas. These personas included demographic information, success data, pain points, challenges, backgrounds, and clearly enumerate how the chamber could help each of them. In this post, we'll present what she found. Some of them may work for your chamber, others won't. But you can follow her examples to see how she derived what she did and come up with your own. 

Agent Andy

This persona made up about 30% of the Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce's members. Agent Andy's had a 25% drop rate since 2015. These agents are in the relationship building biz. They know people need time to develop trust before investing, and yet corporate brand is breathing down their necks for them to meet (or preferably exceed) quotas. They are:

  • Middle-age range 
  • $100,000-200,000 per year salary
  • The job is still predominantly a "man's world"

What does he want? Or what motivates him?

  • Retirement Security for self
  • ​Financial Stability for family and future
  • ​He's a problem solver and is community minded

What are his challenges?

  • Establishing credibility in the community and among peers
  • ​Being pulled in too many directions to invest in clients
  • Having too many groups to cultivate and produce leads
  • ​Spending time on required corporate training calls

Pain points:

  • Finding new clients
  • ​Not enough time to spend building the required relationships to produce a client
  • ​Competition in the community
  • ​Unable to say "no"
  • ​Heavy pressure for meeting quotas and goals
  • ​Agents must invest their own money to be a sponsor—no corporate help
  • ​Must be selective in extra activities—to gain most value

What successful engagement looks like to Agent Andy:

  • Involvement and giving back, taking on leadership roles to shape community toward success
  • ​Building on relationships to gain and retain clients
  • ​Finding new ways to get in front of NEW people, not the same handful over and over
  • ​Sponsoring affordable events that highlight their name/business/brand

Entrepreneur Emily

Entrepreneur Emily makes up 28% of chamber's membership. They had an alarming 46% drop rate since 2015 but 25% of them simply went out of business. There's a lot of room here for the chamber to help. Entrepreneur Emily is:

  • The owner of a small business.
  • Married. Perhaps has children.
  • Not taking a salary yet.

Emily needs to make enough to send her kids to college or save for retirement. She wants to achieve balance between work and family. Someday she wants to grow enough to have staff to run the daily activities. Her vision is to create a “legacy” business to hand off to kids or to sell for $$.

Emily wants to be taken seriously but she doesn’t know what she doesn’t know. She has limited business experience outside of her product/service expertise. Sadly, she hasn’t taken a paycheck because it all goes back into the business. The reality of business is often a harsher place than the original dream. She needs
a motivational support system.

Since she has been open, Emily has realized that “wearing multiple hats” creates conflicting priorities. She had no idea that the myth of “flexible hours” is really 24/7 with no breaks. It's a lot harder to hire quality employees who can be trusted than she thought. There's never any budget left for the marketing and business tools needed.

Emily's pain points are:

  • A lack of time
  • ​Inexperience. She's never run a business before
  • ​An inability to keep up with the ever-changing technology for doing business
    (can’t catch up)
  • ​Not knowing what to spend money on (priorities for leveraging limited funds)
  • ​An inability to delegate to trustworthy staff
  • ​A reactionary approach. She can only deal with the immediate problem. She can’t look
    ahead or behind to troubleshoot.

How the chamber can help:

  • Introducing her to people with whom she can create partnerships  to help solve problems (free or reasonably priced) in a timely manner
  • ​Provide a sounding board of ideas from members
  • ​Establish a feed of customers through other members in related business
  • ​Provide a​ library of knowledge content for immediate problem solving
  • ​Celebrate her. Help her get noticed and promoted. ​

CEO Charlie

CEO Charlie makes up 16% of the chamber membership. He is middle-aged and just starting to take a pay check from the company. There are many factors that dictate how Charlie can do business, but they must still take ownership for all the challenges. Charlie wants to provide employment opportunities for the community, set the family up for future success—working hard now to enjoy time later. Someday Charlie hopes to take a vacation.

Charlie must adhere to laws and rules governing employment. He has supply chain challenges and logistics surrounding doing business. He wants to maintain the culture of business as if he was the one personally doing the work.

Charlie's pain points include:

  • Staying current on all the rules and regulations
  • ​Finding time to look ahead (nearly impossible)
  • ​Connecting with like-level leaders in a safe place (who are not competitors).

How the chamber can help Charlie:

  • Provide meaningful connections with key people who can help Charlie's business
  • ​Celebrate milestones and accomplishments to help keep business top of mind
  • ​Provide affordable avenues to promote business without all the extra hassle, because the rest of business is full of hassle

Branch Manager Bobby

Branch Manager Bobby comprises about 9% of members at Shannan's chamber. The drop rate is 9% since 2015. Bobby is salaried, making $80-100K a year. He leads a team, has benefits, and works regular 9-5 hours. Bobby desires (and likely has) the opportunity for upward mobility. He appreciates job security and full bene-
fits for his family. He's able to balance work and family while saving for retirement and kid’s tuition. He enjoys his paid time off. But...

Sometimes there is little to no flexibility on decision making in his role. He must stick to the brand and vision
established by corporate regardless of community fit.

Bobby needs to be seen as successful at his current level before being recognized to advance upward. This means some participation is seen as just a part of the job duty.

HIs biggest challenges are that he feels like he must connect higher than the small community in order to leverage advancement. Bobby must adhere to corporate structure and answer to high authority for marketing, philanthropy, et al. He is accountable to superiors for meeting dept/branch/division goals. His time is limited to his current position.

Bobby's pain points include:

  • Not being able to break away from the office to attend functions
  • ​Corporate decision makers not embracing the branch’s community needs for a specific personality
  • ​Not finding “peers” at functions to connect with
  • ​His time is dictated by corporate

How the chamber can help Bobby:

  • Provide corporate (not necessarily personal) recognition for time and money given
  • ​Extend an invitation to attend high profile events that pertain to big rocks for the community or values of the company
  • ​Help him establish partnerships that further the mission of the business
  • ​Invite him to engage with the Chamber at the Board level to shape a healthy community for future growth 
  • ​Suggest sponsorships that give back to the community in a way that is aligned with the mission of the company

Community Cassie

Community Cassy makes up another 9% of the membership and also has a drop rate of 9% insect 2015. These do-good ladies often start as stay-at-home moms, empty nesters, or Millennials wanting to impact change. Cassie struggles to get paid to do what she loves so she may pick up additional part-time or full-time jobs to supplement her passionate cause. Occasionally, Cassie shuns a real paid job for her passionate cause. Cassie has LOTS of connections.

Cassie longs to leave a legacy by promoting community awareness on an issue. She wants to be part of something bigger than herself. She is driven by personal fulfillment.

Cassie's biggest challenges are trying to balance her personal life and her dedication to her mission. Her passion for the cause can consume her emotionally as well as time wise. Her dedication means she is always wishing and wanting to do more. Burnout rates are high from feeling constantly overwhelmed by the awareness of the needs out there.

Cassie's pain points include:

  • Getting shrugged off as “not a potential client”
  • ​Having a limited target of potential partners to connect with
  • ​Knowing that a lack of engagement with members means out of sight, out of mind and loss of funding
  • ​Establishing perceived value with other businesses or Chamber leadership
  • ​Narrowing the “ask” to something we can do now​

What the chamber can do for Cassie:

  • Help with community initiates
  • ​Work on a mutual partnerships of promotion​ with the Chamber and other businesses
  • ​Provide low cost marketing opportunities
  • Provide meaningful connections to people who share Cassie's passions... then she can do the rest.

Check out the rest of Shannan's marketing personas after this story about the value she found in chamber member personas when recruiting a potential member.

The Power of Member Marketing Personas 

Shannan shared a story with us about the power of personas. She said, "I’ve spent so much time pouring over these personas and talking to people to fine tune their accuracy that I practically know them by heart now. My Board talks about them like they are real people too. It’s fun.

One day, a guy with a Farmers Insurance agency called. He wanted to join. I shared with him the link etc. Then he says he wants me to stop by his office because he wanted me to be clear on what he's looking for in a chamber membership...So I went.

As I sat across from him, I chuckled to myself, because he perfectly matched the Agent Andy in my picture. So as he began, I was in my head completing his sentences.

In our conversation, I asked him questions like “I bet you’d like to …”. And "I know it can be hard when people don’t realize that your marketing budget comes from your own pocket… and not corporate…"

When I finished, he stared right at me. His jaw dropped.

It was so much fun. I didn’t say anything about my personas… but it was just a solid reminder of just how accurate these have been for me.

He became a Platinum Member and would later sponsor lots of things. (I think) mainly because he felt a connection that I understood!!!"

Wouldn't it be great to forge those kinds of relationships with all of your members?

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