Director’s Blog

February 27th – March 5th

Good afternoon!

It seems like the freezing weather will never end, but we have Chamber events all season to keep you active and keep your mind off the cold! 

One of these events is coming up this Saturday, March 2nd – our second and final 2019 Sturgis Legislative Crackerbarrel. If you’ve never been to a Crackerbarrel before, don’t worry – I hadn’t, either! Our first one in February was well-attended and extremely informative.

Here’s the Crackerbarrel break-down for first-time attendees:

1. Show up! 
Crackerbarrels are platforms to provide information and answer questions about the legislative topics that matter to you as an individual, or as a member of a larger group. Click here to view a list of 2019 bills currently being discussed in our SD legislative session. You are not required to ask questions or participate in any way – just observing is fine!

2. Meet your legislators! 
The best part about attending a Crackerbarrel is that you get to meet your district legislators face-to-face. The environment is casual and upbeat, a bit like visiting a good friend. Sturgis is located in District 29, but if you’re not in the Sturgis area you can look up your own legislators by clicking here.

3. Ask questions and provide input!
After you’ve reviewed the current bills and met your legislators, it’s time to start asking questions and let them know where you and/or your group stand. This step is vital – speaking up and communicating ideas is how we make positive change! Be sure to bring a list of any important questions or topics you want to have a discussion about. Your questions can be as general or detailed as you wish.

That’s it! Political events can be intimidating, but a Crackerbarrel is truly an informal and friendly way to get your foot in the door, meet our local politicians, and be heard. This Saturday will be my second Crackerbarrel, and I’m looking forward to it! Hope to see some new faces!

February 20th – 26th

Happy Wednesday!It’s been an exciting month so far here at the Chamber! Today I want to discuss something that many businesses have thought about, but tend to shy away from:  Sponsorship! If you’re like most, you probably have a few questions about the benefits of sponsorship. What exactly does becoming a sponsor entail? How do I pick which events or activities to sponsor? Do I really get a return on my sponsorship investment? Don’t worry! Follow my next five points for a step-by-step sponsorship crash course:


Sponsorships:  A Step-by-Step Crash Course


Step 1:  Identify ROI potential
 Many businesses (especially small businesses) are hesitant to become a sponsor because the benefits are unclear, or the return on investment is difficult to track. What you should note is that the benefits realized from sponsoring an event are long-term – you might not see fifty new leads the night of the event, but you will likely see the leads you were hoping for over the course of a few months or a year as the attendees have a need for your services and remember your brand. Leads happen through increased brand awareness, and from the attendees identifying that your business is invested in their area. Sponsorship helps your business establish itself as a leader and a pillar of the community.

Step 2:  Select the right sponsorship for your business

Once  you’ve decided to become a sponsor, the question becomes WHICH event or activity is best for your business? A good rule of thumb is to choose a sponsorship that relates. If you sell agricultural equipment, consider sponsoring an Ag Banquet or Ag Fest. If you sell outdoor apparel, sponsor a bike race or a winter festival. Essentially, the events that your target market likes to attend are the events you should be sponsoring! Another point to consider is how you will be promoted via your sponsorship. Make sure to review the different sponsorship levels – many times, you can opt to simply hang a banner at the event, or you can select a higher sponsorship level to set up an entire booth or be promoted on all event advertising. What you select makes a big difference in how involved you can be, and your involvement makes a big difference in your ROI.

Step 3:  Set yourself up for success – go above and beyond!

Speaking of involvement as a sponsor, what can you do to bring in the most ROI? Think outside the box – send your best, most outgoing employees to the event. Bring free prizes or giveaway items. Set up a booth that draws the eye and offers an experience rather than simply a stack of business cards. Have a clear call to action or must-have deal. A sponsorship is an opportunity for your business to interact with its target market and make the best possible impression, so take advantage of it!

Step 4:  Persistence

Cultivating your sponsorship is like cultivating your Facebook  presence – the more you put into it, the more you get out of it! If you make a Facebook page and post one single time, then don’t “like” anyone else’s posts, you are not likely to have any interaction on your own page. However, if you are persistent and log in daily, post regularly, and interact with others’ posts, you will see the notifications start to roll in. Use this same rule of thumb with your sponsorships – try to sponsor events regularly, attend the events to encourage interaction, and support the other businesses and organizations in attendance to foster a community atmosphere.

Step 5:  Summary – Realizing your ROI

As mentioned earlier, sponsorships are a unique opportunity for a business because the results are felt long-term. Don’t forget to be involved, be persistent, and be thoughtful in your sponsorship selections. If you follow each of these rules and form a strong relationship with the organizations that are putting on the events, you can realize your ideal return on investment.

February 11th – 17th

Good afternoon!

As a Chamber of Commerce follower, how well do you know us? What does the Chamber do that you may be surprised by, or not have taken advantage of in the past? For many, the answer to this first question is unclear. Today I want to take a moment to share a few of our main goals and why it is critical to the development of our community.

What exactly does a Chamber of Commerce do?

1.  Networking
A Chamber of Commerce is many things, but most notably it is a network for local business. Our goal is to support our Member network as much as possible by making connections – whether between businesses, between a business and a new customer, or between a business and the community as a whole. We are not an advertising or marketing agency, but we do support your individual marketing efforts through our services and business network. We are not an event planner, but we do organize events specifically to give businesses the opportunity to support and give back to the community.

2.  Credibility
Belonging to a Chamber of Commerce is one of the oldest, most traditional ways to lend credibility to your business. It shows the community that you are here not just to make sales, but to give back and help other businesses navigate business management alongside you. In an age of pop-up entrepreneurship, belonging to a Chamber definitively shows a business’s stability and permanence. Membership with the Chamber of Commerce allows your business to be listed in its Member Directory, the go-to location for finding credible business of all types in the area.

3. Education
In addition to networking and credibility, Chambers seek to educate. Successfully starting a business is only the beginning – from that point on it is the business owner’s and employees’ responsibility to continue learning and growing to adapt your operations and strategy to an ever-changing world. The Chamber is here to provide education opportunities for those who never stop learning, from those that have something to teach.

4. Involvement
Chambers are unique in that they act as a liaison between the businesses and the residents of the community. One of the primary ways this is facilitated is through involvement opportunities – Member businesses can volunteer to be part of a Chamber committee, sponsor events, and serve on the Chamber’s Board of Directors.

5. Protection
Finally, a Chamber of Commerce is a way through which businesses can protect their interests by banding together. Think of the last obstacle your business faced – wouldn’t it be helpful to find a group of other business owners that have already successfully navigated that obstacle, or that are willing to team up to defeat it? Whether it is a logistic issue, a legislative one, or some other threat to a business’s interests, a Chamber can help bring people together to grow stronger and benefit the business community as a whole.

Your Chamber Membership is more than simply a listing on our website – it’s a commitment to Sturgis! We thank each and every one of our business and affiliate Members for this reason.

February 4th – 10th

Good morning, Members and supporters!

February has officially arrived, and with it were the very first hints of springtime (…ok, it only lasted for a couple days, but still)! Now is the perfect time of year to re-assess our goals as I mentioned in last week’s newsletter, but more specifically, I want to focus on our day-to-day productivity.

There are countless ways to manage your day – whether it involves balancing your home and work life, or trying to be as productive as possible running a business. Below you’ll find my top five tips and recommended tools for increasing daily productivity and balancing everything we have to juggle in life:

Top 5 Tips for Increasing Productivity

1. Project Management
Everyone knows it’s tough to keep track of countless sticky notes and reminders jotted in notebooks. I recommend browsing around for a project management app that works for you – the one I use daily is called “Trello” and is completely free. Project management apps help us organize our thoughts, create follow-up reminders, checklists, and generally just get things done!

2. Social Media Management
It seems like everyone is on every social media platform these days, and it can be overwhelming to keep up with all of them! Consider using a social media management tool to help schedule posts for an entire week at a time, or even an entire month. There are a variety of free and paid options available – we utilize “Buffer” because it’s free for up to ten posts on each platform and incredibly easy to use.

3. Time Blocking
There are a lot of practices we can adopt to be more productive that do not require technology at all, one of which is “time blocking.” Essentially, time blocking is the process of combining similar activities into a group and scheduling a specific recurring time to take care of that entire group. For example, I schedule a 1-hour block of time on Mondays specifically to take care of accounting tasks. This lets you really delve into a subject and complete it in its entirety, without wasting time bouncing between numerous activities.

4. Power Hours
Power Hours are a tried and true technique for completing a task efficiently, without distractions. Set a timer for a specified amount of time and dedicate yourself to one task until the timer goes off – close all other applications to avoid distractions! I like to set a timer for thirty minutes and respond to emails, then close my inbox for awhile after the timer goes off so I am less distracted during my next task. You can also schedule a series of power hours with breaks in between if you have a particularly large project.

5. Breaks and Rewards
Finally, I’ve found it is important to plan breaks and rewards for myself when applicable to maintain motivation and avoid that “burned out” feeling. For example, even if I have a busy day, I will still set a calendar reminder every couple hours to take time to go for a quick walk, make some coffee, or read a non- work-related book for a few minutes. Giving your brain a rest is a healthy practice that results in greater productivity overall. Rewarding yourself for completing a task can have a similar effect and encourage efficiency.


Take some time this week to try out one or two of the above tips, and also be thinking of other ways you can increase your own productivity and streamline your daily operations. If you have your own tips or tools, we’d love to hear about them! Contact us anytime at (605) 347-2556.


January 28th – February 3rd

Hello, all!

As January wraps up, make sure to reflect on your first month of business in the new year. Are you meeting the goals you’ve outlined for yourself so far? If not, now is a great time to adjust and move forward more confidently.

Here at the Chamber, we’re hard at work communicating with Members to lay the groundwork for a great 2019! As I continue to get to know our business community, I feel more and more grateful for the opportunity I’ve been given to support your endeavors. Please remember that my door is always open to new ideas and feedback, as well as requests for assistance.

Our very first Legislative Crackerbarrel of the new year is happening this Saturday, February 2nd. This will be a casual and informational question-and-answer type event, so please mark your calendar – involvement in local politics is becoming more and more imperative, and the Chamber aims to help foster a positive environment for everyone to learn and participate. Please let us know if you have any questions about ways to be more involved, and remember to invite as many young people as possible to start forming our leaders of tomorrow!

Finally, I have a challenge for each of you – take time this week to share an idea or some words of advice with a fellow business owner or community member. It can be as simple as a tip on how to schedule your day to be more productive, or a referral to help grow one another’s businesses. Winter is a great season to try new things and look at your business from a fresh perspective before the busy summer season sets in!

January 21st – 27th

Good afternoon!

This week, I want to briefly reflect on the importance of shopping local. As your area Chamber of Commerce, it is our mission to support local business in all its forms. Each dollar you spend locally impacts not only the business you spend it at, but the entire community.

For example, that boutique down the street may have purchased their cleaning supplies locally, their office supplies, and used a local real estate agent to find their shop space.

Local businesses are also more inclined to support non-profit causes in the community! Part of each dollar you spend might be trickling down to arts organizations, housing programs, and healthcare options for those who need it.

Additionally, local businesses are where the local jobs are. Remember your first job? I do – it was as a lifeguard right here at the Sturgis Community Center! That learning experience is crafted right here in our community for every new generation of the workforce, every year.

In summary, your one dollar spent at the boutique down the street has an impact on our entire local economy and our way of life. In an age of online shopping convenience and two-day delivery, remember that there can be more rewards to spending your hard-earned dollars than simply receiving one product in the mail.

 

January 14th – 20th:

Good morning on another chilly January day!

The Chamber of Commerce is working hard to plan some exciting annual events coming up this season, as well as meeting with Members to get to know you better. As of this week, I have met with or spoken to over fifty Members already! I will continue reaching out to those Members I have yet to meet in the coming weeks.

In this week’s newsletter you’ll find tentative information about our annual Crackerbarrel events, as well as the ever-popular Community Showcase put on in conjunction with the Greater Sturgis Lifecare Foundation. Please review the details below regarding vendor opportunities and sponsorship levels if you’d like to be involved!

Finally, I will be out of the office for a few days to attend my first South Dakota Governor’s Conference on Tourism in Pierre. I’ll be sure to post photos and videos of the activities so you can all see what I’m up to! I’m looking forward to another busy and educational week, and eager to apply this new knowledge to the Chamber to support our community.

January 7th – 13th:

It has been a brisk first week as your new Executive Director! I have had the opportunity to meet several Members and supporters this week already, and I am thrilled to continue making connections to hone our vision and road map for 2019.

The Chamber of Commerce’s mission has always been near to my heart – I grew up in Sturgis, learned what it takes to start a small business and manage non-profit operations through a family-founded organization, and am now ready to pour that knowledge and enthusiasm back into the town I love so much. The community comes first for me, so please contact me if you have any comments, suggestions, or new ideas – my door is always open!

As the year progresses I will be reaching out to Members to better understand your businesses, goals, and how the Chamber can positively make a difference for each of you. In the meantime, we are hosting a Meet & Greet event from 1pm to 3pm on Tuesday, January 8th in our office at 2040 Junction Ave. This event is open to everyone, so please stop by and say hello!

I am looking forward to a busy year, and wishing you all a Happy New Year as well!

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