History Smiths
Because history matters. Including yours.


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How Can Financial Service Providers Reach Customers

"Where They Live" and Forge Loyal Relationships?

Every business wants to achieve an emotional connection with its customers. It leads to brand loyalty, word-of-mouth referrals, and even multi-generational patronage.

Where are people’s emotions running high today? Primarily, on the economy. Most people have deep and legitimate concerns with issues of financial security. They are thinking about money, retirement, and their home; how they will care for their family’s health, education, and safety. People crave service providers they can trust — community-based companies they know, and not Wall Street firms, abusive national banks, or TV hucksters.

By and large, the professionals who staff community-based companies and who provide the kinds of services customers need when they are vulnerable and in need of good advice, are incredibly caring and eager to help their customers succeed.

Customers need banks, credit unions, financial advisers, attorneys, and insurance agents they can trust as never before.

When locally-owned and staffed companies can say, “We are one of you. We are part of the community. You know us. You can trust us,” it resonates.

At the same time, we are all reexamining the importance of “home,” “neighborhood,” and “community” as so many houses are foreclosed upon and people are forced to downsize or move. We are seeing new emotional bonds formed between residents and their town, and those that already existed become stronger. The potential loss of one’s home is deeply upsetting. Conversely, having the good fortune to be able to stay where we are means we can embrace our community even more strongly and appreciate what it means to us.

Where I am located, in New England, a big part of people’s emotional connection to their community is its history. New Englanders love their history. Their identity is wrapped up in it. It’s who we are. It’s what we do.

Understanding this basic emotional tie between resident and town history is something I think financial and legal service providers should pay attention to and support — and not just as check-writers, but as authentic members of the historical community.

Making Connections
There are all kinds of ways you and your staff can become involved, from volunteering to help manage historical community events, displaying some of your historical society’s artifacts at your place of business, sponsoring history lectures and programs, funding after-school projects or the preservation of an important building — and promoting the heck out of your actions.

If residents of a historical community had to choose between a local bank that acted this way and one that did not, which one do you think they would choose?

You can also research your own company history, and think about how you are connected to your community historically. This research can lead to all kinds of human interest stories which, again, will draw people to you on an emotional level.

My favorite example of this is the Soucy Insurance Agency in Salem, Massachusetts, which recently celebrated its 100th anniversary. The owner, Paul Soucy, commissioned a thorough business and family research study, and then used the information and historical images for a lobby display, company brochure, website, and in news releases. Paul happened to have a number of wonderful stories to tell, including how his company helped hundreds of families during the Great Salem Fire of 1914. As a result of this project, Paul secured incredible loyalty and affection from existing customers, and attracted new ones in droves.

By embracing his company history, his family history, and their connections to local history, Paul set himself apart from other insurance agencies very effectively.

Residents of historical communities have an emotional tie to their history. You want an emotional tie between your business and those residents. The common link is local history.

And by the way, your support of local history means you are helping to preserve the artifacts and the stories for future generations. That is an honorable business goal to have!


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.

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