It just happened again! Another conversation with a store owner who told me, “Well, what you do to connect businesses with history sounds interesting, but I don’t see how that could apply to me.”
“What do you do?” I asked. Turns out she owns a cigar store in a small town in southern New Hampshire, and happens to attract a large number of women customers.
“Wonderful!” I exclaimed, and here’s what I prescribed for her.
• Find out what your town is doing to celebrate National Women’s History Month (March) – and it’s probably nothing. Contact the historical society and public library; those are the likely places to put on some kind of program. Work with them to create an event. Be part of it, and be present. And/or focus on International Women's Day, which is March 8, especially if you want to show global reach.
• Do some research on famous and successful women in history who were known for being slightly eccentric or “masculine” – women who refused to let themselves be defined by their rigid society. Try especially to find women who shocked people by smoking cigars – or even just by smoking. Celebrate them at the Women’s History Month program and in your store during the month of March!
I thought immediately of George Sand (born Amantine Aurore Lucile Dupin in 1804), the French writer and reformer who dressed like a man, adopted a male pen name, and was known to smoke tobacco in public.
Many of the women who left rigid Eastern society to settle out West smoked tobacco as a way to demonstrate their independence and ruggedness.
Lucy Stone, the suffragist and abolitionist born in 1810, wore “bloomers” when she spoke on stage, a feminine version of trousers named after Amelia Bloomer. At the time, women just did not wear pants, but Stone believed in fashion independence and practicality for women. She was also the first woman in America to keep her last name after she married. Thereafter, other women who did the same were referred to as “Lucy Stoners.”
Today, two women who smoke cigars and who are constantly making history for their boldness are Madonna and Demi Moore.
Do you see where I’m going with this?
Whatever your business is, if you cater to women customers, I KNOW you will impress and attract them if you delve into women’s history and find the connections.
I am reminded of another story about the manager of a cosmetics store I advised. During a National Women’s History Month celebration, she gave a talk on the history of women’s cosmetics -- going all the way back to
ancient times, gave out 10% off postcards, and attracted a completely new audience and dozens of new customers. She also boosted her personal stature by giving a history lecture and demonstrating that she was much more than the manager of a cosmetics store.
Another example is a women’s healthcare facility I know. They are trying to reach out to new markets in the face of stiff competition, and they could easily “own” women’s history in their area and really make women take notice. No one else is doing it.
March is right around the corner. How will your business use National Women’s History Month in your marketing and PR?
You will benefit your business, have fun, AND have a positive impact on your community.
2011 © Bonnie Hurd Smith
Smiths works with service-oriented businesses to use history — their own and
their community's — to achieve customer loyalty, referrals, and high status.
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