Getting the Most Bang for your Buck
The Christmas holidays are over and you are back at your desk, sifting through New Year mail when you start to see them. They congregate into a small pile to the right of your regular mail like a group of uninvited guests at a party. You know you have to feed some of them eventually while others will be asked to leave.
They are membership renewals.
During 2011, it was a good idea to join 5 of your Local Business Organizations (LBO); in our case, 3 Chambers and a 2 local business organizations. But in January, at a time when cash flow is tight, all require that you renew your membership. You could be looking at several invoices for:
- LBO 1: $275
- LBO 2: $250
- LBO 3: $200
- LBO 4: $120
- LBO 5: $100
That’s a total outlay of $945, which can add up to a serious dent in your finances so how do you decide what to renew and what to let fall by the wayside this year? Here are a few ways to make that decision.
So the question here is, “How do you determine value from the different LBOs and the bottom line is, are they bringing me business?” The first step is to look at ways they are marketing your business.
What types of opportunities do the organizations offer and what value do you place on them?
- Have you received business from word-of-mouth? Are you recommended by them?
- Does the LBO have a brochure and where do they rack them?
- Do they have office/storefront space?
- Does the LBO do print ads and how does that affect your business?
- Does the LBO have a website?
- Do you have access to get information on the website?
- Do they send out emails and do you read or delete them?
- Do they have regular networking events?
They all work in slightly different ways and the big dilemma is how do you keep track of what is working and what is not? Websites have an advantage of being out there 24/7 and when set up correctly, are trackable. Here are some tips to help you look at your web presence.
Do you know how much traffic your website receives from the various LBOs that you joined? Do you know how much traffic your website gets anyway? Your web designer can help you to understand this.
If you are using Google Analytics (you need a free Google account), this information is easy to figure out.
First, you need to select the entire year as a custom date range. Then under “Traffic Sources”, open the “Sources” navigation item and click on “Referrals” to compare apples to apples. From the above example (of paulmycroft.com), you can see:
- Organization 1 (#1) brought our website 45 referrals in one year whereas organization 2 (#2) brought just 40% of that with 18. That’s nearly 4 per month compared to nearly 2.
- Referrals from #1 looked at slightly less pages per visit than #2 but spent longer.
- The “Bounce Rate” from #1 was higher than #2, which means the visitor was more likely the click the “back” button from #1 than #2. However, referrals from #1 came from 15 different pages (articles, profile page, regular pages) whereas #2 was from just one page (profile). That indicates that website #1 was more active in linking to your website in a variety of ways than #2.
In other words, #1 was marketing your website better than #2, which resulted in 222% more referrals.
Who’s on First? Where do you Appear in Searches?
The easiest way to find out if your profile page can be found is to search for your own business name. Which profile appears first?
If you appear on the first page for LBO #1, this is working for you for LBO #1. If your ranking is not working for you, LBO #2 could be off the first page and even the second. If it’s really bad, you could even be on page 10!
Your position may be a reflection of how “valuable” (on a scale of 10) the link from the LBO is to your website. Google places a higher value on websites who have a high authority and rewards anyone they link to with a higher rank.
In other words, if LBO #1 is ranked 8/10, you will benefit with a link from LBO #1 than from LBO #2, which is only ranked 3/10. It’s a popularity contest!
If LBO #1′s website has been around for a few years and they actively post articles, news and events, it can be worth joining just to get that valuable inbound link.
Use this free tool (www.opensiteexplorer.org) to input your web address then find out the best links to your website. The domain authority is the 3rd tab, which may help determine who’s on first and who’s on second. You want to be linked to from the most popular and smartest website in the class!
Networking takes time and dedication. What types of opportunities do the organizations offer and what value do you place on them?
For us, one of our organizations offers a regular “Business-after-Business” at a member’s business location and is a popular event with nearly 100 people in regular attendance. This provides value in itself as the opportunities for work are greater as the atmosphere is more social, quality of attendees s higher, and the time is convenient. All these factors are more conducive to doing business and establishing a relationship, which hopefully leads to a business connection.
They also offer regular monthly luncheons with important, relevant speakers and a “Business-before-Business” for the early birds. A very active organization.
However, another of our choices offers very little in the way of networking—maybe 3 or 4 events per year—and usually gets average attendance. Not particularly inspiring.
How Well Is Your Business Marketed?
Do your membership dollars work for you? How well is your business marketed while you are busy at work? Hey, it’s always nice to get referral business.
- Do they send out regular email notices?
- Is your business listed in their membership brochure?
- If someone walks into their office and asks for your type of service, do you get mentioned?
It’s no longer smart to join a business organization just because that’s the “right thing to do.” There has to be value in that membership otherwise it’s just a donation. And there’s plenty of charities who would gladly accept your donation.
Please let us know if you need further explanation or would like a hand figuring this out.
You could also rotate your memberships on an annual basis. This has several benefits:
- You rejoin a year later and see fresh networking opportunities
- You could feel energized, like seeing an “old friend”
- Keeps you in touch rather than severing ties completely
- You can still attend meetings as a guest
- Keeps things interesting
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