04/28/04 — Chamber takes new approach to marketing

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Chamber takes new approach to marketing

By Sam Atkins
Published in News on April 28, 2004 2:09 PM

Wayne County Chamber of Commerce officials are taking a more proactive approach to finding out what they can do for their members.

Jim Slowinski, chairman of the member services division, said he started the new tactic at this year's business exposition, which was held in March for Wayne County businesses and organizations to show their services to the public. He interviewed employees from many of the member businesses to find out what they wanted done for them.

He said a majority of the membership is small businesses that cannot afford a marketing or public relations firm to market their business. The chamber's role is to be a voice for them by knowing what they want and need.

It is also helping member businesses understand how to market what they offer. Slowinski has helped develop a four-part marketing plan to accomplish this. The chamber was the host of an event called Marketing 101, which was open to any member. They discussed what their markets are and how the chamber can help in the process.

He plans to have a Lunch and Learn panel discussion geared toward the Hispanic population. The purpose will be to understand cultural differences and to have discussions with members, said Slowinski. The final two parts of the plan will be revealed in May, and he is not sure of the details yet.

The chamber also plans to poll members to find out what its best services are. It also wants to help members understand how to deal with Seymour Johnson Air Force Base and get more people involved in Leadership Wayne County, a program that introduces potential leaders to the county.

He said the chamber recognizes the importance of retaining current members, as well as gaining new ones.

He wants to make the chamber Ambassadors more prestigious because they do so much to get the word out about the chamber at functions across the county. The Ambassadors have been holding their monthly meetings at member businesses so they can learn more about what they offer and pass that information on to other members.

He said the chamber is the hometown information center for residents and those looking to relocate to the area. More information can be found at the Web site www.waynecountychamber.com.

Slowinski was named the new member services chairman at the chamber's annual meeting in February.

The other division chairman are Dr. Ken Benton, education; Tim Finan, community development; Dr. Ed Wilson, organizational development; Dave Quick, transportation; Jimmie Edmundson, military affairs; Rex Pennington, Northern Wayne Council; Horace Best, treasurer; and Tony Worrell, immediate past chairman and interim chairman for 2004.

The chamber's plan for this year also includes increasing volunteer involvement, placing the chamber on a more stable financial footing and developing staff professionalism and expertise.