Questions for Tim Wilson about Chamber of Commerce TV Show
I read an earlier post of yours where you talked about a TV show you produced for your local Chamber. You were answering someone's question about networking techniques. Your idea seemed like a great one and I'd like to learn more about it. This is a good idea that several of us here can duplicate all around the country!
Basically, can you give us some more details about how you produced the show?
Did you have to sweeten the deal for the Chamber, meaning, did you give it to them for a song in hopes that you would make that up with new business?
Where did you air the show?
Was it a tough sell to convince the chamber to get on board?
I'm sure I'll think of some other questions, but that should get you started!
Thanks for your time.
[FischTale] "Did you have to sweeten the deal for the Chamber, meaning, did you give it to them for a song in hopes that you would make that up with new business?"
Somewhere between "a song" and our regular rate. Some of it was to make it affordable to them, but some of it was (at the risk of sounding holy) because we were really into the idea of community-building. We were part of a successful campaign to help our area incorporate, and part of the reason the show ended was because my wife went into politics.
We built the pricing around an annual price. The target was a typical small-to-medium sized project of theirs, and you can guess the pitch: we'll help every event be more successful, etc.
[FischTale] "Where did you air the show?"
It was a small community, and the only local TV was the cable access channel. Only one cable provider, which also made it easy. We bought the time, but that was pretty cheap.
[FischTale] "Was it a tough sell to convince the chamber to get on board?"
I'd call it moderate. It helped that we'd been visibly involved in the community for a while, and in the chamber for six or seven years at that point. My wife was on the board of directors by then -- although she didn't vote on anything related to the show. In fact, being on the board made it a little tougher, I think.
The most important factor was timing. The Chamber was growing, but wanted to get to the next level. They had ambitions of being a genuine influence in the community, and not just a social club. They saw this as lending their efforts weight.
Although we'd already stopped by the time the next administration came in, there's no way in hell that we'd have kept the contract. There was a strong backlash against activism, including active outreach. The irony was that the veterans deeply resented the newbies, who were finding it easier to just show up and start making their voices heard. So our original goal was a smashing success -- and people were pretty pissed about it. :-)
So, our resented success notwithstanding, the same issues apply here as to anything else. You have to tailor the pitch to what they want.
As a go-go town on the move, Phoenix's chamber really might respond to a show offering business tips from its members -- issues around incorporating your business, tax tips, safety tips from police and fire, how to sell/buy your home or business...those are pretty lame examples, but see what I mean? You know better than I do -- maybe profile-raising and muscle-flexing is what they're about.
Just line the pitch up with the Chamber's existing goals, rather than try to get them to do something they're not because "they should."
Things may be different in a larger town -- maybe you can show up and pitch like you would any other business. But for our small town, the key was being known as community-oriented first. By the time we made the pitch, seeing our work was largely beside the point -- everyone making the decision had already seen some of it at some point.
I hope this helps. It really was a fun gig. It also forced us to raise our game creatively, precisely because the format was so restrictive. Kind of like haiku. Or a limerick. :-)
Tim's idea reminds me that in our area of California there are many small businesses that alone cannot buy advertising, for the most part. So, through the Chamber and sometimes through creative cable ad salespeople, they will "pool" their commercial around two or three companies in the same block of the street and will feature the town or area as a "wrapper" and then "drop in" to that block and feature the sponsoring businesses. It's that sort of "How long has it been since you've visited Morro Bay?" then they do the "localization" of the sponsors and end with a tag for the "Members of the Morro Bay Chamber of Commerce."
Also, I am not sure how long it's been since I mentioned this one (and I hope someone here finds this helpful and not just my pre-caffeinated early morning musings) but Kathlyn and I once did a job through the City of Atacadero and the San Luis Obispo Zoological Society. We have a local zoo and it was sort of an out-of-sight-and-out-of-mind place for the most part. Kathlyn and I pitched the city manager and the zoological society board to give us the permission to create a 48 page booklet that could be given to kids at school and also to zoo visitors as a hand-out. We gave each animal there a page filled with great information and facts. We created quizzes made up of the animals found in the zoo. We had crossword puzzles made up of the zoo's inhabitants. We featured pages on how the zoological societies around the world are helping preserve animals that are near extinct. One example was the Arabian Oryx that was wiped out in Arabia but was bred in zoos around the world and zoos would swap specimens to keep the genepool strong. Eventually, when the Arabian government realized that they had lost a national treasure, they asked for specimens to be given back to the Arabian people and the government placed them on the protected species list to keep them from being wiped out a second time.
We told the city and the zoo that we would create this for them but that due to the costs, the ad sales were ours. We also made it clear that it was our original work and that the right of reprint was also ours. They agreed. We asked both the city and the zoo for official letters declaring that this was a project under the auspices of the city and the zoo society. When we pitched local businesses, it gave us a lot of credibility to have those letters as our starting point.
We created a mock up of the booklet in a three-ring binder and we went around and sold positions in the zoo guide. The local businesses loved it and we sold about $12,000 worth of ads and it took us two months to produce and sell. It cost us about $500 or so, as I recall, to print 20,000 copies with the local newspaper press. It was on a nice white newspaper stock and was only two-color. We got a good rate in return for making the paper one of the sponsors.
Sure the money wasn't great but we made some money and we also met a lot of people doing it, people who some would later do business in other areas. When we started our video business, some of them worked with us there, as well.
Did we ever reprint? No. The zoological society wanted all the money if we did it again and we told them, no way. We didn't mind splitting the money with them (as the work was already done) but they wanted it all. We told them they could have it all under one condition: That they sold all the ads and handed them to us as ready-to-go no-changes-needed artwork. They got the point. They did not want to do the work but felt that we had made too much money on the original deal. Considering that we worked 12 to 18 hour days for two months, it wasn't a lot of money. But, hey, politics is politics...
Thank you both for all that great information!