Steal These Pages from Santa Clara’s Playbook, and Boost Business for Members

Santa Clara, California, in the heart of Silicon Valley and at the south end of San Fransisco Bay, is coming up on its one-year anniversary with Save Local Now. As always, we wanted to get some feedback on what is working for chamber members there, and what insight might be useful for our partners throughout the country.

It turns out Santa Clara has been doing some totally awesome things to keep the community and the chamber growing!

One of those things is reaching consumers in a creative, effective way. Chamber leaders in Santa Clara realize that for Save Local Now to work, they need to get people using it and finding their members’ promotions. First, they make sure they’re using the marketing materials $LN gives them. “We always take cards and sell sheets to any event we attend,” says Denise Harris, the chamber’s vice president of membership programs.

Denise shared with us some ideas to promote downloads — ideas we hadn’t even considered before. In September 2012, Santa Clara had a community art and wine festival, and the chamber set up a Save Local Now booth. Anyone who came to the booth could download the $LN app and win a prize. “The prizes were all products or services of local business as well, so that helped us to boost business for our members,” Denise says. Innovative ideas like this can help any chamber that’s looking for new ways to promote local business and get consumers to download the app. (We hope you’re taking notes!)

Carol Zimring, the chamber’s membership investment manager, says $LN has been a great tool for improving chamber member relations. She says it’s easy to use to recruit new members for the chamber because businesses see real value in it. “A lot of  businesses have thought about using Groupon or other daily deal programs, and we use $LN as a tool, or door opener to talk to them,” Carol says. “They really like it because it gives them more control” and is free for them.

We also asked Santa Clara’s leaders about how they present $LN to potential members. Carol says, “I usually go into the business to talk and pull the app up on my phone. It takes five minutes.” This is a simple but effective way to talk to business owners because five minutes might be all they have to give. Carol mentioned she can reach different types of businesses with all the different aspects of $LN. “We use it in our sales pitch especially for restaurants and retail…It’s also a great selling point for businesses that just want to post events, such as financial advisors or realtors.” Denise adds, “It’s not just the app — a lot of our members see traffic through the website.”

Santa Clara also mails new-member toolkits and quarterly member briefings to keep their businesses informed about chamber news and community events. When the chamber gets a new member, it immediately enters them into the Save Local Now platform. Then, “I like to follow up with an email to let them know they are on there and if they have any questions, we are here for them,” says Alice Martinez, member relations specialist for the Santa Clara chamber. (That’s a nice gesture, and a great idea.)

We were pleased to hear great ideas and perspective from Santa Clara about promoting local buying to the community and using $LN to help businesses grow. I want to remind our partner chambers and businesses (that’s you!) that we’re happy and eager to provide any other materials that will support your companies and communities. Our team works hard for you, so keep the ideas flowing, and we’ll do the same on our end. Also, don’t forget to read the articles on this blog for great tips from other chambers and communities across the country (and soon globe?) Stay tuned…