With only a few days left before the end of the year, I have been wondering what information I could share with small business that would have the greatest positive impact on their business in 2011. Then it struck me.
A few months back, I was approached by a national membership organization that wanted me to establish their first chapter in the Twin Cities. In the process of doing my due diligence, the more I learned about MainStreetChamber™ (MSC), the more excited I became. There are three main reasons why I got so excited.
First, MSC specializes in helping micro (home-based) and small business owners promote their business. Because they are a national organization, members can belong to one chapter and participate in the activities of any other chapter. This is quite different from traditional Chambers that restrict membership to a specific chapter. And, this is not the only difference between a traditional Chamber and MSC.
Second, the MSC business model differs from the traditional Chamber model in one very important way. Traditional Chambers generate revenue from membership dues and event fees. Given the financial challenges faced by most small businesses, in many cases, owners simply cannot justify this expense. In contrast, MSC does not rely on revenue generated from membership dues or event fees. In fact, members are not required to spend a single penny!
Members of MSC enjoy free lifetime membership, free attendance at networking events and free opportunities to promote their business. Revenue for MSC chapters is generated from local and/or national sponsors and partners who offer various goods and services to members, who may or may not purchase them.
Considering the fact that current and prospective customers tend to view a business more favorably if they are a member of a Chamber, small businesses are thrilled when they discover that a lifetime membership in MSC is free! Members receive a great looking membership certificate they can hang on their wall and a member logo they can add to their website (see logo on the right of this blog), which gives their business more credibility with the public. Did I mention it was all free?
MSC also hosts monthly free events for small business owners in areas where they have chapters. Small business owners love these events because they are very well attended (usually 100+) as you can see from the video below. The only downside is that although they are the fastest growing Chamber in America, MSC is a little over six months old and has only 30-35 chapters nationwide. The good news is that new chapters are being established every month and sooner or later there will be one in your area. In the meantime, if you can’t find a chapter in your area, there are many virtual benefits you can enjoy. In addition, if the MSC business model appeals to you or someone you know, why not have them contact me and I will introduce them to people who can help them establish a chapter in their area?
Third, MSC is continually searching for innovative ways to help small businesses promote and grow their business. For example, as of the first of the year, they are introducing a new program called the VIP Membership program. There are two distinct parts to this program. One part of the program offers VIP Membership card holders discounts at thousands of local and national, online and offline businesses. The other part of the program provides MSC members with an opportunity to promote their products/services free of charge, which gives them both national and local exposure, in exchange for offering card holders a meaningful discount. What a great way to promote your business free while increasing sales and revenue!
Briefly, here is how the VIP Membership program works. Although the VIP Membership card has a suggested retail price of $399, MSC members and fundraisers can purchase them at wholesale for a mere fraction of that price (no more than the cost of an Entertainment book). The price is a one-time (lifetime), nominal fee, which gives the local MSC chapter the opportunity to make a profit on it. The big difference between the VIP Membership card and an Entertainment book is that consumers don’t have to purchase one every year and they are not limited to coupons which can be used only once. While the VIP Membership card isn’t free to the consumer, it is every inexpensive. This makes it a perfect fundraising vehicle similar to the Entertainment coupon book.
The biggest advantage to MainStreetChamber™ members who choose to become MSC VIP Discount Providers is that eventually hundreds of thousands (perhaps millions) of consumers will have a chance to do business with them because of the VIP Membership card. Did I mention that members can promote their business here for free?
Of course, there are many other benefits MSC offers to small businesses but I’ve run out of space. My intent was simply to make you aware of this organization and how you might take advantage of its many benefits during 2011, all at no cost.
By the way, if you’ve been wondering whether or not I decided to take that offer to establish the first Twin Cities chapter after doing my due diligence, I did not. I got so excited that I bought the rights for the entire State of Minnesota. At this point, I have helped launch two chapters in Minnesota owned by others (the plan is to launch eight more by the end of 2011) and, in the last forty-eight hours, have negotiated the rights for Wisconsin and Illinois as well. If any of my readers are interested in establishing a MSC chapter in Minnesota, Wisconsin or Illinois, please contact me and I will explain the opportunity to you. If you are interested in establishing a chapter elsewhere, let me know and I will introduce you to the right people. For everyone else, I recommend that you become members as soon as you can! Chick here to do so now.
Editor’s Note [2/2/11]: Due to the many emails I have received about this post, I thought I would add a video of another event as it features comments from many members. Enjoy!
My wish to every small business worldwide for 2011 is prosperity and success. Happy New Year!!
Posted by: Mike Clough