wisconsin chamber of commerce

I have a limited advertising budget. I have tried all the free online tools, but most of those seem to lead to a lot of phone calls about upgrading to a paid version. I don’t know if a paid version is right for me. I’ve heard some talk of getting involved with a chamber of commerce, but, again, I don’t know which one is right for me.

If you are a small business in the Milwaukee area, I’d love to connect with you personally, via the contact on this site or Linkedin. However, many of you are probably like me: weary of endless connections with people who don’t tend to send you business. In fact, even though I may be solvent after the first year of my business, none of the jobs in the first two quarters will have come from virtual connections. Rather, they are from real people I already know or have met who can see a vision of what my skills and abilities can for them individually.

With that in mind, I probably need to meet more people in person. My latest session with a SCORE counselor pushed me towards chambers of commerce. You apparently get to meet real people. My bigger problem is that it generally takes me a few meetings with others to really show who I am, but it might be a good situation. However, being a member of a chamber of commerce costs money, and I have been gun-shy about spending any of that on a business that seems to get most of its clients from people I already know. Again, if you’re a small service business, you know about this sort of thing, too.

I’m sure there’s a national standard for chambers of commerce, but I can only join one or two with the money I’ve made so far, so I will concentrate in the Milwaukee area.

 

Chamber

Cost (single owner)

Thinking

Milwaukee Area

$500

Widest reach.

1800 members = $.28 per member connection

Wauwatosa

$334

Closest to my house; they also have the worst website ever, so a potential client right from the start; some fancier shops might like my design

285 members = $1.17 per member connection

West Allis

$250

Cheaper alternative to Tosa; I’ve lived in W. Allis; lots of business in need of web services

353 members = $.71 per member connection

New Berlin

$110

Decent option because of single owner rate; still close to home

196 members = $.56 per member connection

Hales Corners

$50 to $75

Not sure if I’m a private individual or independent contractor, but still not expensive

 75 members = $1.00 per member connection

Greenfield

$75

Inexpensive; I get the impression there are lots of businesses in Greenfield, but also a lot of big-box national websites

 126 members = $.60 per member connection

Greendale

$100

More small, niche shops that might appreciate my designs than its neighbors

71 members = $1.41 per member connection (and a surprising number of big box retail)

Greater Brookfield

$365

+$50 joining

So I know wealthy people live in Brookfield, but I’m not sure enough small businesses exist there for it to be worth my money, though it is “Greater” Brookfield. Elm Grove might have its own, but the Elm Grove website is not working today - they probably need a pro like me to take a look.

473 members = $.88 per member connection year 1/ $.77 per connection after year 1

Butler

? - $205 once signed up

Not sure how much it costs, if anything. One to look into if free. It was not free. I had to sign up and then found it was going to cost double Greendale or Greenfield or Hales Corners? Now I'll have to deal with making their salespeople go away.

92 members = $2.23 per member connection

 

In the end, I’ll probably have to look at lists of who is represented in my field in each chamber before I join. I’d hate to join a chamber with 50 members and five web design firms.

Other chambers I was unsure whether I could/should join include the Hmong and American Indian ones. I also got laid off from Menomonee Falls, so that one's not on my list. An intriguing one was the "West Suburban" Chamber of Commerce, which Google+ says is a mile away from my house but does not appear to have a website of its own.

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