We are visual creatures, and more so today than ever before. When people walk into your business, what do they see? I'm sure you have artwork on your walls, perhaps awards or samples of your work. But if people saw "evidence" of local history, that visual cue would translate into a warm feeling about your business and a sense of your credibility and stature.
History does communicate these subliminal messages to people, so why not take advantage? Here are six simple, low cost ways you can "historize" your business:
• Hang large historical photographs.
These are especially fun if you can find photographs of your building or street 100 years ago, for example. Contact your local historical society to find out what they have. If they are able to provide images, host a "opening" of your historic photograph display. It's a great excuse for a press release to attract media and customer attention, and the good will of your community.
• Borrow collection items from your historical society or museum.
There are many constraints around this idea, including security and preservation issues, but it can be done. I know a community bank that does this very thing, and they constantly rotate the objects on display in their secure display case to keep their customers entertained. The bank has the opportunity to promote the local historical society, and their customers (some of whom have never visited the society) learn about the society's collection, feel encouraged to visit, and appreciate their bank's support of local history. When you do this for the first time, you can host an "opening" to showcase what you are doing and why.
• Display images from your own history.
This can be great fun, especially if you are an older business. Display early ads or publications, newspaper clippings, photographs from events -whatever you have that's entertaining and engaging.
• Showcase student projects.
Contact your public schools to find out when student history projects are underway. Usually, when the projects are complete, the school will host an event for parents and students. Find out if you can display the projects afterward at your business. People will love you, and they will come in to see the students' work. And your local paper will eat up this story.
• Make local history books available in your customer waiting area.
Most businesses have magazines to read, most of which are either outdated or boring. Be different! Show your interest in local history by having history books on hand, preferably ones with lots of pictures.
• Modify customer touch points.
If you cater to tourists, most of whom are probably visiting your town because of its history, take a look at all of your customer touch points to identify where you can add local history. Don't look like a chain restaurant or B&B that could be located anywhere. Add local history touches to really ground people in where they are.
Six simple, low-cost methods to visually convey your business's interest in local history. They will pay off for you!
2010 © 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. Subscribe (above, right) to our free Ezine, Connections, where we share ideas and examples of businesses embracing history to achieve business goals.