History Smiths
Because history matters. Including yours.


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Three Ways to Jump-start Your Business's "History Audit,"

and Why You Should Do it Today

Who is this article is for?
It’s for businesses located in historical communities that want to try a new approach to impressing and attracting customers – and no, you don’t need to be involved in cultural tourism.

Certainly, restaurants, attractions, and hotels are good candidates for a history audit, but so are retail stores, banks, law firms, insurance agencies, and other kinds of service providers. “History” includes your own as well as your community’s, so many kinds of businesses can play.

What are the benefits?
Loyal and new customers! People who live in historical communities tend to be well educated and well off, and they do pay attention to which businesses support local history. They are emotionally connected to it.

People who visit historical communities appreciate an authentic, local experience. Many of them/us have had enough of the increasing homogenization of America. By embracing these facts, and embracing your local history, you can take full advantage of current trends.

Frankly, history will add class and stature to your image and that’s not a bad reputation to have.

What is a history audit?
In a nutshell, it’s similar to a “customer touch point audit,” but with a special focus on identifying the opportunities for incorporating history into your branding and marketing -- what you are already doing with history, and what you could be doing.

This is a new approach. You do not often find “history” and “marketing” walking together hand-in-hand to benefit the business sector, but times have changed. Businesses located in historical communities can benefit financially AND as good corporate citizens by reaching “across the aisle” to the historical community and taking advantage of their information and expertise.

What are three things you can do right now?

1: Investigate your own business’s history.
Chances are, you are not a historian and neither are your marketing and PR people. Even if you are a new company, there are still historical questions to ask — including about your business’s context — and it’s ideal if you can work with a credible local historian or reference librarian at your public library. You want to know the answers to such questions as:

• Who founded your company?
• When?
• Why?
• What need was the company fulfilling in your community?
• Who else was involved?
• If you are an older company, how has your business changed over time and why?
• Are you located in a historic building?
• Are you about to celebrate a key anniversary?
• Are there human interest stories you could tease out?
• And be sure to ask for images (old photographs, old company materials).

2: Learn about your community’s history.
If your business is located in a historical community, a published history should be readily available. You could also ask for a crash course from your local historian — perhaps for you and your marketing team. You could visit nearby historic sites, and soak in the flavor and the information.

• What are the historical themes in your community?
• Where does your business connect?
• Are there national themes that connect your business, your community, and the bigger picture?
• Are there historical community events you could support? These attract attention from residents and visitors alike.

3: Incorporate your findings.
Armed with the information you have accumulated, you, the consulting historian, and marketing team can now review every customer touch point in your business for ways to incorporate history — everything from your logo, website, and brochure to your physical plant. What you do could be simple and subtle, or complex depending on your budget and the opportunities you have identified.

• Co-host an event with your historical society or museum to show off what you did, and your business’s historical connection to the community.
• Host an anniversary event for your business.
• Publicize what you did and why — this is a new approach! Be proud!

I think you will find that by thinking differently about history — as part of your business, and not some musty, dusty “thing” that’s “over there” — you will reap many rewards.


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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