History Lesson

If you've got it, flaunt it.
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This story appears in the March 2000 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Even if history wasn't your favorite subject in school, sharing your company's history can make a big difference in its marketing and employee relations, says Joe Bedford, a principal of History Productions Inc., a Miami-based historical consulting firm that helps companies build marketing efforts around their own histories. Bedford suggests some ways companies can help their business-building histories repeat themselves:

Anniversaries: Use anniversaries as the cornerstone of media events, customer-relations campaigns and advertising efforts. In this age of mergers and acquisitions, longevity means a lot.

Archives: While it's easy to stuff old brochures or corporate documents in a folder and forget about them, you could be losing out on an important source of information about your company. Well-organized archives that properly chronicle your company's past can yield information about trends, and they can point out which advertising and marketing campaigns worked--and which didn't. Bedford's firm helped one client create a computer-based, "paperless" archive.

Exhibits: If your company has been around for a while or has become a major employer within your community, host an exhibit at your location or at a local museum. Include photos from years gone by as well as other points that may be of historical interest.

Historical reports: Use your archives to compile summaries or reports for new employees about where your company has been and where it's going. This will shorten the learning curve, give your new employees a clear idea of your company's culture, and even help create enthusiasm for their new jobs.

Bedford cautions his clients to keep their histories in context. "It's important to remember the conditions surrounding your company's history, such as economic factors, political influences and other circumstances of that time," he says. A faltering economy, local or regional trade restrictions, or past competitors are all external factors that impact your history. So record carefully.

Contact Sources

History Productions, (305) 532-5376, http://www.historyproductions.com

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