I recently completed research on a family business that involved really delving into genealogy as well as the business’s history and local history. When I presented my findings to my client, he got VERY emotional, very quiet, and I could feel the depth of his gratitude. I had “introduced” him to aspects of his own family he hadn’t known before. I was helping him honor his family.
We created wonderful marketing materials and attracted media attention with the stories we could tell from the research and the images I found. My client’s customers LOVED him for it, if they didn’t already, and he certainly cemented their loyalty. People who didn’t know him read the news stories, were impressed by the extent to which he was honoring his family during the company’s 100th, and became new customers.
In another client story, before I even got started, I had a wonderful conversation with the (male) CEO of a major financial services firm who was also initiating a 100th anniversary celebration. I was worried that I was going a bit overboard, because we had just met, but I really let him know how much I respected his decision to take the time and spend the money to document and celebrate the business he had inherited from the family of its founder.
I pointed out that he was now part of that history, its steward, even, and part of the local and national history story because of what his business does. I don’t think the importance of his decision had hit him, but it sure did. And I do think a historian’s perspective and passion carried some weight.
My third story involves a bank president who funded an incredibly important historic preservation effort. The building in question had almost burned to the ground, and the loss had caused real pain in the community where it was located – in the heart of the town center. There was all kinds of controversy about whether to tear it down, restore what was left, etc. Eventually, a local realtor purchased the building for his new office, and hired a talented architect who knows old buildings to work his magic.
But the work had to be funded, and the community bank stepped in. The results? You would never know the building hadn’t been there since 1840. I attended the grand opening, and spoke to the bank president. I said, “Wow, this was money well spent, wasn’t it? It really must mean a lot to you to back this kind of project.”
He got very misty-eyed, and just said, quietly, “Yes, it does.”
Do I enjoy making grown men cry? Absolutely! -- because I know how much it means to the kind of men I described above to be respected, appreciated, and part of something meaningful.
These three men are successful, established, and able to be generous. They understand what matters.
They understand that involving history is not only good
business sense, it can be personally and deeply rewarding.
Good for them!
2011 © Bonnie Hurd Smith
History Smiths works with service-oriented businesses to use history — their own and their community's — to achieve customer loyalty, referrals, and high status. We invite you to subscribe (above, right) to our free Ezine, Connections, where we share ideas and examples of businesses embracing history to achieve business goals.