With new members joining and retention climbing, the Greater Farmington Area Chamber of Commerce ended 2015 with momentum.
Now chamber staffers believe they’ve found a way to build on that momentum.
The chamber Board of Directors has unanimously approved a plan formed by Executive Director Dan Irvin to film four promotional videos over the next few months that will highlight all the things the Farmington community has to offer.
“I’d like to create a better marketing presence through the chamber,” said Irvin, who took over the chamber in October 2014. “I envisioned a community marketing committee when I started, and this (video campaign) is going to be a driving force to make that happen.”
The chamber has contracted with Rochester, N.Y.-based CGI Communications to make four promotional videos. A video team from CGI will be in the Farmington area April 18-19 to make the videos — on economic development, member benefits and relocation and a “welcome to Farmington” video.
The videos, being shot at no cost to the chamber (CGI will market them to local businesses), should be ready by July.
Irvin said CGI has partnered with more than 500 chambers of commerce across the country, including the Blue Water Area Chamber of Commerce, which serves Port Huron.
The videos will use local people — Farmington development director Kevin Chrisitansen and Farmington Hills economic development director Khalfani Stephens are among officials who will appear — and tout local businesses and programs.
The videos will be linked on the chamber’s newly designed website, which went live around Christmas. The site already gets some 30,000 hits a month, and Irvin believes the videos will increase that.
“It’s a very user-friendly site,” Irvin said. “We hope between the hits we’re already getting, and the hits we hope to get, we hope the videos send the message the chamber is here to support its entire community.”
Statistics show that’s what’s been happening the last 18 months or so in a variety of ways:
• As 2014 ended, the chamber had 390 members. By the end of 2015, there were 470.
• Retention rate (percentage of members who renewed their memberships) was 67 percent in 2014; it grew to 85 percent in 2015.
• Percentage of readers opening chamber emails used to hover around 8 percent, Irvin said. Last week, it was 35 percent.
• Networking events are seeing more participants. Where events such as coffees or after-hours events used to draw 8-10 people, Irvin said, now they’re drawing 40-45.
Duane Reynolds, the past president of the chamber board, has been around the chamber “since about the mid-1980s,” and is pleased with the direction it’s taking now.
“(2015) was significant from the standpoint of a fresh look at things,” Reynolds said. “We freshened up some tried-and-true programs and tried some new things. We were able to get our house in order.”
People are noticing. Farmington Hills Mayor Ken Massey and Farmington Mayor Bill Galvin have both paid compliments to the chamber at recent public events.
And Irvin said he’s noticing an uptick in the chamber’s popularity. He said it’s a “credit to the staff,” but the staff isn’t resting on its laurels.
“We’re staying humble and focused on improving the chamber as the key to success,” Irvin said. “But we’re really proud of 2015.”
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