2016 Wrap Up

Pictured above L-R: 2017 Chamber President Jeffery Godfrey, Chamber Executive Director Jennifer Heinzman, State Representative Phil Potvin

2016 is just about in the books for the Chamber and what a full year it has been!  As we look back over the last 12 months it is hard to believe all that has taken place. Was it all in one year?

We have just finished up another wonderfully successful Holiday Gala. There are not enough thanks in the world to show how much we appreciate all of the committee members, volunteers, sponsors and businesses that donated to our event.

The foundation of the new Chamber/CVB Welcome Center is being poured as we speak. Another huge thank you to everyone who has already donated to the capital campaign, making our new building a reality.  The Welcome Center is going to be an eye-catching addition to State Street and will allow both the Convention and Visitor’s Bureau, and the Chamber to serve an even greater number of visitors and residents of our area. We can’t wait to show everyone around our new home this spring! If you are still interested in donating to this exciting project, call the Chamber office at (231)796-7649 and ask a staff member how to get involved!

You may have heard that members of the Chamber staff had the opportunity to meet with Democratic Senator Debbie Stabenow as she made a stop in Big Rapids as part of her Small Business Tour.  It was an honor to spend time with the senator as she met with local business owners, discussing the current state of small business, as well as the future of politics with regards to the country’s most recent election.

This year, the hard work that has been happening at the Chamber was recognized by the Michigan Association of Chamber Professionals as The Mecosta County Area Chamber of Commerce was honored to be named Outstanding Chamber of the Year.  Board Members and Chamber staff attended the awards ceremony, which took place in Ann Arbor at the breathtaking University of Michigan Football Stadium.  While at “The Big House,” the group was able to tour the facility, visiting the locker room and even had the opportunity to go on to the field itself.

Because of the Chamber’s achievement, at our recent Gala, State Representative Phil Potvin presented the Chamber with a proclamation from Governor Rick Snyder. This proclamation recognizes the dedication and hard work from the Chamber which led to the Outstanding Chamber of the Year Award.  The proclamation will find a great home on the wall of our new building.

The goal of the Chamber is to promote the quality of life through the economic, educational and cultural development of Mecosta County. We are working to achieve this through many new projects, as well as our ongoing efforts.

The Chamber has partnered with the CVB, The City of Big Rapids, Mecosta County, The Jaycees and other community members to form the Mecosta County Trail Alliance. The MCTA is working to help our local communities gain Pure Michigan Trail Town Status, which will help to encourage commerce and tourism within the area.  This effort will begin with Big Rapids, followed by surrounding communities.

Your Chamber of Commerce continues to grow and is looking forward to 2017!  We continue work on our annual events, such as the upcoming Taste of Mecosta, the Community and Family Expo, the Glow Run, the Pioneer Group Chamber Open, the Dam Festival, the Labor Day Arts and Crafts Festival, and so much more!

Your Chamber is stronger than ever, but we cannot do it without you and we encourage all of our members to get involved with the activities we have going on all of the time.  Take advantage of the networking opportunities found at Business After Hours and Rise and Shine events.  Volunteer your time to join a committee, helping us to organize all of the great programming and events that the Chamber offers!

Your Chamber staff wishes you and your family a happy and safe holiday season.  We will see you in the new year!

Simple Fall Marketing Ideas

Fall is upon us, and with the changing weather, comes a change in spending habits. Summer is over, students are back to school, and consumers are already planning ahead by saving for the holiday season (which will be here before you know it!) With this in mind, a change in your marketing strategies may be in order. Here are some simple ideas to freshen up your business’ marketing plan for the changing season.

sporacio-cherry-fall-20071.Host an Instagram photo contest. 

Fall is a gorgeous time, when the colors of the leaves change and people are outside at sporting events, fall festivals, pumpkin patches, cider mills and more. Why not challenge your customers to share their best fall pictures with you on Instagram? Or if your business features some fall specific items (i.e. pumpkin spice, fall decor, etc.), challenge customers to share photos of themselves using your products.Be sure they tag your business in the photo.  Those that do so, receive a special discount or incentive from your business.  Be sure to be specific about your promotion, and include any conditions or restrictions, as well as a clear end date for your promotion.

2. Utilize your local media outlets.

Fall high school sports are beginning now as well. Many local media outlets use this time to feature specific local teams on posters, game programs or local radio broadcasts. Contact your local newspaper and radio stations and check out what options they have available to you. You could be included on media that is utilized throught the entire season.

3. Donate to local auctions.

Many organizations use this time of year to organize their big fundraising events.  Often times, one of the big portions of the event is a silent auction.  Create a gift basket, highlighting products available at your business, or donate a gift certificate for a service that you offer. Be sure to include your business information and logo, so that even if someone bids on your item but doesn’t win it, they know where to find it to purchase it themselves.  This is a great opportunity to help a local cause and to promote name recognition of your business within your community.

4. Hold a can drive event.

In keeping with the theme of goodwill, why not hold a canned food drive.  Offer your patrons a discount or special incentive on your services if they bring in a certain number of canned goods.  This could increase traffic to your business, and also help promote commuity goodwill. Be sure to be clear to participants where their donation is going. Again, you have a chance to benefit a local food pantry or shelter, and could inspire others to do the same.

5. Reusable shopping bags.

With the holiday shopping season right around the corner, why not get your business in everyone’s mind by offering a free reusable shopping bag with your business name and logo featured prominently on the front.  That way, as your customers make their way around town to make their purchases, they are carrying a little piece of your advertising with them.  In order to offset the cost of the bag, you could require patrons make a minimum purchase in order to receive the bag.

These are just a couple of simple ideas to make the most out of your marketing dollar and to help you make the transition from the sizzling days of summer to the cool, crisp autumn afternoons. How does YOUR marketing strategy shift from summer to fall? Share your ideas here. Happy fall!

 

2015 Annual Report

As we move in to 2016, I am proud to look back on all that we have accomplished in this past year! We have made great strides in implementing our three-year strategic plan, with this being the third year, we are now in the beginning stages of creating our plan for the next three years. We have continued our partnership with the Small Business Association of Michigan (SBAM) to increase member value, advanced our members’ accessibility through the use of Mychamberapp, created an educational programming committee, continued our Chamber blog, offered several educational opportunities for businesses, which included hosting nationally recognized speakers, worked with the Small Business Development Center to provide one-on-one business training sessions, created a small business startup guide, created an employee / student relocation handbook, hosted several successful community events and improved referral services for our members – just to name a few of our successes. We would like to sincerely thank everyone that contributed to all of these events and activities! We could not do it without your support!

We are excited to see what 2016 has in store for us! Our plans, for the coming year, include: getting Big Rapids designated as a “Trail Town” to promote use of our trails and encourage tourism, in order to increase the economic impact, reestablish a SCORE (Service Corp of Retired Executives) program to connect entrepreneurs with mentors, bringing the Glow Run back, conducting a membership drive, surveying membership to gather input prior to developing the next strategic plan and creating a Chamber Promotions committee, among other things.

We continue to grow and our Chamber is stronger for it. We have an enthusiastic staff that is always looking for ways to improve our organization. Amanda Greenwood and Angela Cool are very dedicated and are always available and eager to discuss any needs that may arise. Looking forward, we will continue to create programs that will benefit our members and serve as an innovator for the business community. If you have any ideas or suggestions that you would like to discuss, please do not hesitate to contact us, we are always here for you!

Let us know if you are interested in participating in any of our programs and/or events and as always, please let us know if there is anything that we can do for you!

We wish you a Happy and Prosperous New Year!

2015 – A Year in Review

Events Held

9th Annual Taste of Mecosta County
8th Annual Community & Family Expo
Pioneer Group Chamber Golf Open
4th Annual Dam Festival
47th Annual Labor Day Arts & Crafts Festival
Bulldog Bonanza
30th Annual Holiday Gala

Membership Interaction

390     2015 Membership (Oct. 1, 2014—Sept. 30, 2015)
27       New Chamber Members
14       Ribbon Cuttings
17       Ambassador Visits
12       Business After Hours
12       Members of the Month
10       Rise & Shines
52       Members of the Week
6        Lunch & Learns
2         Educational Speakers
2        T.I.P.S. Classes (Training for Intervention Procedures)

New and Ongoing Projects

Legislative Breakfast
Speaker Series
Chamber Blog
Chamber Instagram & Pinterest
Chamber YouTube Station
Smart Texting
Membership Directory
Monthly Chamber Newsletter
Weekly Electronic Chamber Newsletter
Educational Programming
Relocation Initiative
Chamber Costa Rica Tour
Mini-MBA Program
Leadership Mecosta

Community Involvement

Big Rapids Elks
Friends of Ferris
Big Rapids Jaycees
Our Brothers Keeper Shelter
Big Rapids Rotary
Mecosta Area Committee
Broadband Internet Providers
Mecosta County Economic Development
Mecosta County Area CVB
Community Garden Project
Downtown Business Association of Big Rapids
Poverty Reduction Initiative
WISE
Project Connect
Michigan Association of Chamber Professionals
Riverdays
Mecosta County Habitat for Humanity
Remus Days
Big Rapids Rotary Club
Salvation Army of Big Rapids
Eagle Village

How to Create a Member to Member Deal

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What are Member to Member DEALS?

Member to member deals are coupon postings, to the Mecosta County Chamber’s website, that can be printed and presented to member businesses.

Why would I want to utilize this?

The Member to member deals portion of our website is updated frequently, so people are ALWAYS checking it. This is a great opportunity to gain exposure, to other members, about any sales or coupons your business has to offer. These offers are exclusively for members only.

Not sure how to create a job posting? Don’t you worry! Our how to guide is here.

Step 1: Click on the Member to Member Deals tab

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Step 2: Click on the add Member to Member Deal tab

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To add a Member to Member Deal, click on the Add Member to Member Deal tab. You can also manage all your Member to Member Deal postings by clicking on the Manage Member to Member Deals tab.

Step 3: Add the General Information and Category

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Add the general information of your member to member deal here. Select the categories in which you would want your member to member deal to display.

Step 4: Add all the needed details to the Member to Member deal

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Add all the details about the member to member deal here including text, images, and links.

Step 5: Add your offer start and end date and add an image

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Select the start and end date of the offer and add a search result logo here.

Step 6: Add contact details, publish dates and save for further editing or submit for approval

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Add all your contact details here. Select the dates that you want your member to member deal to be published. Save the member to member deal as a draft for further editing or click submit for approval.

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How to Create a News Release

Step 1: Click on the News Release tab 

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Step 2: Click on the Add News Release tab 

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To add a news release click on the job posting tab. You can also manage all your news release postings by clicking on the manage news release tab.

Step 3: Add the General Information and Release Date

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In the add news release tab, you will be able to specify all the details of your news release. Add all the content of your news release in the content area, including text, links, and images.

Step 4: Select a Results Logo

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Add a search result logo to make your new release stand out in the categories in which it will display.

Step 5: Add contact information and submit your News Release for approval or save it as a draft for further editing

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Add all the contact information that you want to display. When your news release is complete, click submit for approval to submit the news release for approval or save as draft if you want to edit it at a later stage.

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How to Upload and Manage Events

Are you planning a community event? Share it with your fellow Chamber members by adding general information about the upcoming event to Chamber Master. Get the new out today! Inform Chamber members about your event and have a great turn out.

Step 1: Click on the Events tab

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Step 2: Click on the Add Events tab

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To add an event click on the Add Event tab. You can also manage all your event postings by clicking on the Manage Events tab.

Step 3: Enter all General information about the event

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Add all the general information about your event here.

Step 4: Add event details

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Add the detailed description about your event here. Add the location, date, time, fees, administration, and contact information.

Step 5: Select Category

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Select the event categories so that members can search and find the event per category.

Step 6: Photo and Image Selection

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Post the main event image, search result logo and gallery images to enrich your event page.

Step 7: Map Integration

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Integrate a google image or upload a map image to display the event location.

Step 8: Video Integration

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Link a YouTube video to your event page for extra media enrichment. Save the event page as a draft for future editing or submit for approval.

Kind Regards

 

How to Properly Send Emails to Other Professionals

Close up of a man using smart phone

Are you caught up in today’s generation of communication habits? Are you constantly using your smartphone to send and receive emails to and from other professionals?

If you are using your smartphone to send out emails, you may be experiencing some misspelled, or auto-corrected words within the content being sent. This is just one of the embarrassing mistakes that could take place and could even end up being detrimental to your professional interaction.

Here are a few ways to improve how you send professional emails

1. Make sure the email address you are using has your name in it. This could be your first and last name or even just your first name and last name initial. Avoid using an inappropriate email address for business, such as “moneyking@…” or “financelife@…” no matter how unique you may think it may be. Your email address gives other professionals an impression of the type of person you are. An individual should be able to notice who they are receiving an email from, so that they can respond to it effectively.

2. Know what you want your subject line to be before starting the email. A subject line should be clear and very straight forward for the recipient(s). When the subject line is directed clearly, professionals are more likely to open an email as it is believed to be addressing their concerns. A subject line should never be too long or too broad, but it should get the information across so that it is noticeable, in which the recipient(s) won’t overlook it or delete it. An example of a good subject line includes “New member information.” Also while sending emails one should never use the same subject line.

3. When addressing your audience be sure to use professional salutations. Starting off your email with a simple “Hi David,” is a great formal approach of communicating. Steer away from informal salutations, such as “Hey there,” “What’s up,” or “You guys.” These are less personable approaches and shouldn’t be used in the workplace.

4. Tailor your message based on your receiver’s cultural background. Miscommunication can occur during writing exchanges. It is important to be aware of cultural differences and to remain open minded. If you are doing business with an individual from a high-context culture like Japan, then you may need to be prepared for the possibility of the individual wanting to get to know you before getting to the business side of things. As Americans we come from a low-context culture and are more likely to just get straight to business and skip the small talk.

5. Before sending your email to the recipient(s), be sure to proof read your message. You don’t want to accidentally send a message with misspelled words or without addressing the individual first.

6. Save the recipient(s) address for insertion last. By saving this step for last you are mostly likely to go back and re-read your message before sending it. As well as carefully selecting the recipient(s) name from your address book. This could save you the embarrassment of sending an email by mistake to the wrong person.

  • Tip – Timing is one important factor to consider while you are busy creating or responding to emails. Most professionals work from 9 -5 at their job, you may find it quicker to get a response during mid-morning or late afternoon when most people are either just settling in to, or taking a break at the end of the day.

Kind Regards