Thursday, September 30, 2010

Utilising the Chambers of Commerce in Thailand

The Chambers of Commerce in Thailand represent an interesting marketing and promotional channel for your SME. Whilst some may argue that the annual membership fees are too high, if you cannot earn them back by making a few sales to the other members, you really only have yourself to blame.

Generally, membership to a Chamber of Commerce here in Thailand (using the British, Australian, American and New Zealand Chambers as an example) will provide you with opportunities to approach other members and, using their common membership, pitch your services to them.

The most valuable elements of a chamber membership are:

1. Your listing on their website and printed membership directory - make sure your listing is current and focuses on selling your service.

2. Ability to contribute to their chamber magazine. This is a great opportunity to promote your skills and, indirectly, your business - just come up with an idea, and ask your Chamber.

3. Opportunity to attend chamber events and network at these - meeting people is still the best way for an SME to spread word about their business in Thailand.

4. Access to the chamber member database - download this and manage it correctly. Devise an appropriate phased sales strategy that takes in to account your 'chamber competitors' (those offering the same services as you) and your status on the chamber (if you are a relative newcomer). Write strong introductory emails (noting you are a fellow chamber member) that are focused, concise and where the main goal is to set-up a meeting or encourage an initial expression of interest. Add columns to your database for when you have met people, contacted them, heard from them and ensure you follow-up effectively.

All chambers offer further opportunities to be sponsors, providing yet further benefits. Contact them for the latest information.

Managing your chamber membership is an important part of your Thailand sales and business development strategy. The relatively small membership fee provides opportunities to pitch your services to fellow members and allows you to recoup that fee quickly - if you work at it!

Written by Stuart Blott, General Manager, Sutlet Group

Sutlet Group is a leading provider of business solutions in Thailand, including accounting, visa and work permit management, HR and marketing services.