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Association Memberships

Discussion in 'Sales, Marketing, Pricing Etc.' started by RedClayGraphics, Jan 22, 2020.

  1. RedClayGraphics

    RedClayGraphics Owner, Lead Designer

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    Was wondering if you belong to any associations, guilds or organizations in the sign industry or graphic design profession? If so, which one and how has it helped you in your company?

    I am a certified Women Owned Business and am in the process of getting registered to review contracts available to minority businesses. But I don't belong (yet) to any sign industry specific associations. I attend the ISA and SGIA events but have not joined. Any feedback is appreciated!
     
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  2. visual800

    visual800 Very Active Member

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    Dont waste your time, I look at organizations the same as joining the chamber of commerce...pointless. I have never heard of any "graphics or sign" organizations
     
  3. Reveal1

    Reveal1 Member

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    Those are curious comments. Red Clay mentioned SGIA and ISA which are both 'graphics or sign' organizations. Having attended both shows, I'm glad they exist for that purpose.

    Whether to join is another debatable topic. I belonged to SGIA for a couple of years, but like a lot of organizations, they seem to exist primarily to run shows. I found their training webinars to be running advertisements for the presenter's and those of value were extra fee, so I dropped membership. Both SGIA and ISA do have some member discounts which I've found of minimal value.

    Regarding Chambers; the value is probably highly dependent on local factors. Early on I sponsored several breakfasts where I was given 5 minutes presentation time. Picked up three of the largest local accounts in the area as a result of the exposure. Dropped membership when their politics started leaning left and they began pandering to some other large local/regional businesses whose business interests are not always in line with small business.

    Currently, I belong NFIB which is essentially focused on biz less than 50 employees. They are a lobbying group and seem highly effective at both the state and fed level in addressing small biz regulation, taxation etc and other policy affecting small business. Probably not the most focused fit for someone seeking 'minority' contracts, but if supporting small business capability to thrive in a free enterprise environment is your thing, definitely worth a look.
     
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  4. Stacey K

    Stacey K Getting Back in the Game

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    I am a member of the Chamber of Commerce. The fee is only $25 per year. It was helpful when I first opened as they had a ribbon cutting ceremony for me and put it on their facebook page. I've become pretty good friends with the secretary so that has benefited me some for smaller jobs. My town is only 3,772 so I feel like it pays for me to be a member - small towns talk. I would not have continued my membership if my town was larger. I don't have any interest in being "involved" but I could see it benefiting me more if I were to actually attend meetings! LOL
     
  5. Texas_Signmaker

    Texas_Signmaker Very Active Signmaker

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    I second that. Small towns are differant. Even being a member in say the Lions club will let you rub shoulders with people in local government and school boards and can get referrals that way.
     
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  6. binki

    binki Premium Subscriber

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    We are in a medium to small town in So.Cal., about 70K people and the COC meetings were either very large corps like the phone and electric company or very small, 1 man/woman shops. The price was expensive too, several hundred a year. It also cost more to do anything so for us we dropped out after a few years. After we dropped out, someone in the COC started writing negative reviews on yelp about us. So much for that. We also tried ASI for a year but that wasn't very good either as most of the vendors in it will still do business with us even not being a member.
     
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  7. Bobby H

    Bobby H Very Active Member

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    Our shop is a member of our local chamber of commerce. We also have memberships with the ISA and two regional sign associations, the Tri State Sign Association (comprised of sign companies based in Oklahoma, Kansas and Missouri) and the Texas Sign Association (since we do quite a bit of work in Texas). The associations are good for a variety of purposes, one of which being that it's easier to meet up with all kinds of new vendors at trade shows and other gatherings. The associations provide opportunities to learn new things and get into new markets.

    Others may have a different opinion, but I think it's smart to be a member of your local chamber of commerce and be involved in that organization. Not only is it good for networking and staying up on local politics, but it can figure in as a positive to educate local business people and leaders about the benefits of good signage. Let's also not forget there is a BIG anti-signs crowd made up of various groups with their own agendas. The more plugged-in you are with the goings on in your community will make it easier to fight some of the stupid ordinance ideas that try to make it onto city council agendas.
     
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  8. RedClayGraphics

    RedClayGraphics Owner, Lead Designer

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    I think it's great to belong to the local chamber, and every year I continue to send the $200 for membership and attend the annual gala (+$100 ticket). However, I have never had a single person walk in and say they got my name off the chamber member list even though I am very active - I even sit on the tourism committee. So because of this, I have become active in other ways in the community. My coworkers rag on me and say my title is "Bleeding Heart and Sign Shop Owner":rolleyes:. Check out my Linkedin profile and you'll see I am heavily involved. All of that involvement has helped as far as exposure if nothing else. I feel I'm off to a great start establishing myself as the go-to graphics guru and marketing specialist. But giving those talents away for free certainly hasn't helped my sign business. I know exposure is good - but it needs to turn into orders eventually, right?!

    But this is a very small town of about 14,000 so I've also decided to join other local chambers in surrounding counties. I can see now that some chambers are run better than others and hope to refocus my local efforts to these new markets. I seem to be gaining more traction there! I will always be involved in volunteering locally, though, and paying it forward in my community. Helps contribute to the brand I'm trying to build and just a good thing to do!

    I had a NFIB rep visit the office once and was very interested.
    I have since joined the new local chapter of BNI. I know - I had never heard of it either - but Google it and you will see it is the No.1 business networking org. They establish chapters locally and pass referrals member to member. Only one person can hold the seat per industry, so by joining, I have effectively locked out my competition from the group (another advantage over the chamber). We track the referrals given, especially if they turn into closed business. So far I have realized over $12K in jobs resulting from those referrals in ONE MONTH.
     
  9. Reveal1

    Reveal1 Member

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    NFIB is primarily a (effective) business lobbying org so that won't help gain customers, but good resource for keeping up on and influencing govt. policy and affecting small biz.

    I attended a BNI meeting and was put off by the fact that most in there were mid low/mid level managers and sales people and not business decision makers or even that close to the decision maker. Mainly, a bunch of people with little authority trying to sell each other. Some swear by it, but I've noticed most of the other biz owners that I know who have tried it locally no longer belong. Sounds like you are getting good results for your first month so maybe you have a strong chapter. But I wonder how long that patch of ground will produce. Good for you getting out there and exploring different ways to build referrals.
     
  10. visual800

    visual800 Very Active Member

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    So basically as I have read a majority of responders to this post "were" members than dropped membership. OP made the post about what has "helped" the company. None of the organizations helped anything but themselves after taking your money. I have better things to do than to backslap and smile at people I dont really like anyway. It s nothing more than a "adult club" that gets mentioned in the social pages.

    What can help you get business is beating the bushes, making cold calls when you see a "coming soon" sign. Check the planning commission website for your town and see who is breaking ground. Im not a networker I have always thought it to be a groveling PITA. Do your own creative ways of getting jobs, it can be done and save your money from joining these so called oraganizations
     
    • OMG / Wow! OMG / Wow! x 1
  11. Reveal1

    Reveal1 Member

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    Sorry - Meant to reply to
    Wow - I share some skepticism on the value of some of these organizations, but I'm not about to make a blanket rejection of anyone's efforts to build business through relationships and I wouldn't share your apparent opinion that cold calling and checking web-sites is the primary way to build business. Communicating with others that have shared business interests is not 'groveling'. If you're not effective at it doesn't mean it won't work for others. In fact, probably 80% of my 600+ customers are relationship/referrals of the 20% I successfully cold-called; they work hand-in-hand.
     
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  12. visual800

    visual800 Very Active Member

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    Congratulations, you are the first human Ive ever met that actually benefited from networking. Most people I know say networking is BS but they usually go to get drunk and socialize, maybe our networking groups here are different from yours where you live. And yes I did notice you left some skepticism I took it to another level and I stand by my opinion networking is BS
     
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  13. Texas_Signmaker

    Texas_Signmaker Very Active Signmaker

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    Things that have worked...

    - REPEAT customers
    - Customer REFERRALS
    - SEO
    - FREE Google Listing
    - Good looking and functional website
    - Paid Google Ads (Negligible due to quality of calls)
    - Cold calling (stopping by a place with a shitty sign)
    - Having wrapped vehicles
    - People coming up to me in the field while working

    Things that have not worked...
    - Facebook
    - Most paid advertising
    - Radio ads
    - Networking groups like you're asking about
    - Advertising in charity events
     
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  14. Nickprints

    Nickprints Member

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    We seriously need white dude equal rights
     
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  15. MI Bearcat

    MI Bearcat Member

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    I agree you can't make a blanket statement that networking doesn't work. Now if you think you can sign up for a chamber and get your name in a directory and the phone is going to start ringing your crazy. You have to attend events and meet people. The best way is to volunteer on committees or better yet, get on the board. I'm a member of 2 chambers and Kiwanis. Kiwanis/Rotary is full of business owners. I have become friends with many of them and have gotten a lot of business from them over the years. BNI is a different story for me. That was too much of a pain in the arse for the tiny jobs that we got out of it.
     
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  16. Bobby H

    Bobby H Very Active Member

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    I don't know the nature of the sign business in your region. But around here people tend to make recommendations based on who they know. That's the value of networking.

    I don't buy any claims for one second that there is zero benefit to being involved in a regional sign association or be a member of a local chamber of commerce. My company has gained business from other sign companies in the same association who didn't have the time or the gear for a certain project and referred the customer to us. It's easier to get better service from sign materials suppliers when you know their people on a more personal level. It's not hard to make acquaintances and even build friendships from other business people you meet at local chamber events.

    We don't hound any of our customers, asking them to fill out some PITA survey or just say how they first heard about us. Most people do not want to deal with any of that. I know I hate surveys on the phone, online or in person. That's shoots a big hole in this theory that no one uses any businesses they found out about from their chamber of commerce. If chamber organizations didn't have any success or track record of connecting various business people together to exchange services the chambers wouldn't exist.

    Here's another tip: get involved with at least one or more civic organizations. It doesn't matter if it's the Rotary Club, Lions Club, etc. It's another way to meet more local business people and do good in your community at the same time. I'm a member of a local AMBUCS chapter. I like its charitable mission for helping people of all ages who have disabilities lead more independent lives. I've built a lot of friendships through that organization and many AMBUCS members have done business at our company.

    Being a member of a local church can also be a plus. Again, it's another way to meet a lot of people on a personal level. In some regards that's way better than just running ads on TV, the radio or the Internet.

    At any rate, it does no sign shop anywhere any good by being socially isolated and rejecting all these "good ole boy network" clubs. Yeah, a sign company needs to advertise itself and have a good social media presence. But that is NOT a substitute for getting out into the community on an in-person level.
     
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  17. Reveal1

    Reveal1 Member

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    Hmm - It appears there is at least ONE other 'human' sign shop owner that sees value in in-person networking. Doesn't surprise me that this discussion is taking place on a social media site, where it's so easy easy to express opinions that are essentially 'my opinion is the final word and there's no way you can be right'. Try that face-to-face with a real human and see where it gets you. Having spent a lifetime in sales and sales management (not to boast, but very successfully) I suspect that many of those so rigidly against building relationships are either just not very good at it or not choosing the right places and techniques to improve their results.

    Or maybe I mistakenly found my way to forum of non-human sign-shop owners? The truth is out there.
     
  18. visual800

    visual800 Very Active Member

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    Gentlemen, my opinion is not the final word. I answer posts to the best of my ability for the area I live in and experiences I have had. This town is nothing but circle jerkers, social pages and other BS that I simply want no part of. A long time ago I joined the local chamber, I went a few meetings saw some folks I knew BUT they always told me when I signed up every month I could get a list of new businesses coming to town, I requested that list for about 4 months and was finally sent a list from 2 months before I joined....that did me a lot of good. So I just quit

    Went to local homebuilders meeting, Lots of drinking, lots of screwing, lots of drunk *** folks. The one contact I made was a real estate dude wanting to get into making 18x24 signs screenprinting and was picking my brain about it (yes this was a while back)...I just left. I dont drink and dont care to participate in time wasting crap like this. In this town who you jerk is who you do business with. I dont play that game. If you want me because of the years Ive been doing this thats great.

    If you guys live a community that does not act like this I applaud you. But that is exactly the kind of BS that goes on in our city
     
  19. Texas_Signmaker

    Texas_Signmaker Very Active Signmaker

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    Realestate agents are pretty attractive. You have a place to drink, screw and jerk with them? I'm interested.
     
  20. crystalcoastgraphics

    crystalcoastgraphics Member

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    I’m a member of 3 chamber of commerces in our area, a rotary club, ISA member, SGIA/PDAA member, along with certification from every vinyl manufacturer. 3m, 3m dinoc, Avery, orafol, hexis, PDAA, arlon, lowen, wrapify, and Paint is dead. I think a lot of it is about more of the type of vinyl work you do. We are primarily are a wrap company so many of those organizations that are industry related help with that. Of those, the PDAA and 3m have got us the most business. I receive more business though from my Rotary Club. They seem to like to stick together and send work to other members. With the chambers, that seems to be more about relationships with the office staff than other members. The office staffs send customers to you if they know and like you. 1 chamber I get a lot of work from, other two, not close to as much.
     

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