Differentiate or Die

  •  By: Chamber President & CEO, Al Smith

I recently took down from my bookcase and reread a book written back in the year 2000 by Jack Trout along with Steve Rivkin. It was about how to survive in a world that has become as competitive as ours.

Trout was the highly acclaimed author of such business self-help books as “Positioning” and “Marketing Warfare”.  By the way, Amazon reports that Trout’s “Positioning” book has become the world’s number one when it comes to business strategy.

In “Differentiate or Die”, Trout emphasizes the extreme importance of finding any element, no matter how small, to separate yourself from the pack.  It is definitely a book worth reading.

So with that segue, I’ll begin my shameful plug for the importance of Chamber membership in your differentiation effort.

Periodically, two Chamber trade organizations; the Western Association of Chamber Executive (WACE) and the American Chamber of Commerce Executives (ACCE) go into the market place to see if they can quantify “real value” for a business in being a member of a Chamber of Commerce.  The goal was to identify consumer outcome for businesses that belong. Do consumers really support businesses because they are Chamber members?

The 2012 study conducted by the Shapiro Group out of Atlanta, GA pretty much mirrored a similar report conducted in 2007.  They surveyed over 2,000 adults nationwide.  In brief the survey indicated:

  • Being active in the local Chamber is an effective business strategy.  It communicates to consumers that a company uses good business practices, is reputable, cares about its customers and is involved in its community.
  • If a company shows that it is highly involved in its local Chamber, consumers are 10% more likely to think that its products stack up better against its competition.
  • When a consumer thinks more favorably of a company because of Chamber involvement, it is  because he or she infers that the company is trustworthy and cares about its customers.
  • When consumers know that a small business is a member of the Chamber, they are 49% more likely to think favorably of it and 80% more likely to purchase goods or services from the company in the future.
  • The positive impacts of Chamber membership have remained the same or even increase over time.

The complete report drills down into benefits for specific industries, like large or small business; restaurants; insurance; automobiles.  We have the complete results at our Chamber offices and would be happy to share to those interested.

There are many ways to differentiate your business.  Some things carry more weight than others, but as Jack Trout says, use every tool possible to get that slight edge.

Displaying to your customers your support for your community and your businesses involvement is just one more tool in the box.  So when we bring you that Chamber plaque and door/window decal, recognize that it’s not just a token of our thanks.  It is a small but important vehicle that can help differentiate your business from the pack. Or as Trout says, ”….thinking through the organization’s difference and defining it clearly and visibly.”



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