What to Look for in a Local Business Association
We have lived on the Central Coast for over 9 years. When we first moved here, we started a company focused on selling aromatherapy products to high-end spas, hotels and boutiques. We were encouraged to join the local Chambers of Commerce (which we did) and started the networking. There was no value at all for us, especially considering all of our clients were either individuals buying online or retailers around the country. As a company looking at our bottom line and ROI on any investments (like a Chamber membership), we tried mightily to leverage all the resources we could within those organizations but we ultimately decided to move on without renewing.
Fast-forward 9 years and TheraBee is making waves and selling our culinary honey and body care products in a number of local retailers. In that time, the quality of services and fruitful networking opportunities of the local Chambers has improved dramatically. With that progress, Life Elements and TheraBee are now proud members of the San Luis Obispo (aka “SLO”) and Paso Robles (aka “Paso”) Chambers of Commerce as well as the Paso Robles Wine Alliance starting this year.
Whether it is our own team, our retailers or other partners, we are looking for an alignment of our values and especially our ideals of providing quality service along with a great product and of course, Honey Bee Goodness!
Yes, we like to give back to the community, but we are also looking at these memberships, so our due diligence in deciding to join was really based on “What can you do for us?” Here is our list of the things we are looking for:
- Marketing visibility: Whether it is online thru the Chamber Business locators or their promotion of members at mixers, business education events, there are many ways these organizations can be leveraged. It’s also up to you to dive in and engage.
- Networking: Its not just about throwing mixers with nibbles and booze. We love the concept of the perfect host at a party who knows enough about you to introduce you to others who share similar interests or inspirations. That’s what we want.
- Legislative Affairs: As a small business owner, we need to know what the government is up to, whether it is related to health care or food safety. The SLO Chamber has a very strong legislative team that provides leadership on critical issues as well as keeping members informed on the actions of local leaders.
- Physical Presence: We love that both Paso and SLO have physical locations in prime downtown spots that receive a ton of visitor traffic. For TheraBee especially, it helps when a visitor comes in and asks for some local goodies, that we have retail locations literally within site of these storefronts. SLO takes it one step further by noting every referral they provide to a visitor, and sending us an email.
- Spread the Love: When you live and work in a town that was named the Wine Region of the Year by Wine Enthusiast Magazine, it pays to ride that wave. While the local wineries and growers grow the grapes and make the wine, the Paso Wine Alliance is a powerful marketing and advocacy organization that has a lot do with our region’s success. If you are visiting the area, you MUST check out their incredibly detailed list of wineries and events. And don’t forget to let us know….We’re happy to point you in the right direction.