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Annual Meeting Promotion “Lead Like a Champion” - Columbus Chamber

2014 ACE: Grand Award

Early 2013 marked a pivotal point for the Columbus Chamber. It was one year into a new business model in which the Chamber revamped its offerings to better serve Columbus businesses. As a Chamber founded in 1884, there were nearly 130 years of experiences, attitudes and impressions to change. The Annual Meeting offered an opportunity to celebrate the successes of the “new” Chamber and further establish it as the go-to business connections resource.


Date: January 12, 2015
Organization: Columbus Chamber
Chamber Website: http://www.columbus.org
City: Columbus, OH
Community Peer Group: Metro Cities
Revenue Category: $2,000,001 and up

SYNOPSIS:

Early 2013 marked a pivotal point for the Columbus Chamber. It was one year into a new business model in which the Chamber revamped its offerings to better serve Columbus businesses. As a Chamber founded in 1884, there were nearly 130 years of experiences, attitudes and impressions to change. The Annual Meeting offered an opportunity to celebrate the successes of the “new” Chamber and further establish it as the go-to business connections resource.

Part of the “new” Chamber approach included a fresh attitude toward the Annual Meeting. Previously, this meeting was traditional in nature. It was time for more energy and excitement—making the event a hot ticket in a city with significant event competition. The first step was to recruit a keynote speaker who would be sure to capture the community’s attention. So it was a boon when Urban Meyer, in his first year as The Ohio State University head football coach, agreed to serve this role. It was his first major public appearance.

Building upon Meyer’s success (the team enjoyed a 12-0 season), the theme became “Lead Like a Champion.” His address focused on attracting and retaining top talent. He was introduced with AC/DC’s “Hell’s Bells,” which plays when the team enters the stadium, with the school mascot, Brutus Buckeye, and cheerleaders revving up the crowd. Other speakers emphasized the Chamber’s role as a “Champion for business.” The CEO discussed the Chamber’s “game-changing” transition and urged members to CALL US to put our services to work. Also, the Chamber team wore branded jerseys.

Goals were to increase event attendance; provide increased event net revenue; increase awareness of the “new” Chamber; and increase member engagement/calls.

The advertising budget was zero—all advertising was garnered through a partnership with Columbus CEO Magazine. Invitation printing was provided in-kind. Additional promotional support came through earned media, social media and email.

As a result of the aggressive event promotion, attendance jumped from approximately 1,100 in 2012 to 1400+ in 2013— an increase of 27 percent. In addition, event net profits increased by 32 percent. Ninety-eight percent of those who attended rated the event as being excellent or good. More than 95 percent said they strongly agreed or agreed that the meeting reinforced their understanding of the Chamber’s new mission. In the weeks after the meeting, the Chamber received an overwhelming number of engagement requests. In fact, a new Talent Connections Manager was hired to address demand. In addition, new Chamber membership revenue increased by 78 percent when comparing February 2012 to February 2013. Awareness generated through the meeting directly contributed.

Supporting video links

Michael Dalby, President and CEO, Speech (broken into 4 segments):

Urban Meyer, Keynote

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