Historic Boston: Engaging Your Community for Small Business Success Through Transparency
When you are in Boston, you can literally walk the streets and stumble across historical sites. With tourism abound there are many small businesses that work very hard to provide engaging and exciting opportunities for guests all around. Since WriterAccess is located in the North End of Boston, I only have to walk down the street to Old North Church or Paul Revere’s House. Revolutionary ideas are part of our daily life here!
On December 16th, I had the pleasure of volunteering for the Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum’s 2nd Annual Boston Tea Party Reenactment, which took place on the 240th Anniversary of the Tea Party. In essence, the event was to recreate the events leading up to that fateful mission down to Griffin’s Wharf from Old South Meeting House to destroy the tea before the dreaded Tea Tax had to be paid the next day. The goal of the Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum and its partners was to create a fully immersive experience with a parade from the Financial District to the Harbor for over 1,000 people to showcase this event. This endeavor would require a dedicated staff trying to work with sponsors, partners, police and hundreds of volunteers for a massive reenactment of the most important event prefacing the Revolutionary War. What truly fascinated me about this opportunity was the behind-the-scenes engagement with the community and volunteers. What I found was an organization ready to open up to even bigger opportunities because they were open and transparent in all their dealings.
Now you may be wondering how this could relate to marketing a business. At this year’s Inbound Conference in their Bold Talk Series I had the privilege of hearing Marcus Sheridan speak about the power of transparency to build business. Marcus has spoken about his concepts of Transparent Content, Approach & Selling across the country and even has a TED Talk online on the topic of Honest Economy and Marketing. In it he preaches that to become a brand leader you should open up and provide as much information as possible to your customers and volunteers.
If this is your first foray into this concept it may be best to start the discussion by examining your company’s internal mindset about content production. To start the discussion I think you should ask yourself the following:
- Are you afraid transparency will reveal too much to your competition?
- Are you afraid you might confuse potential clients?
- Is your customer service staff delivering solutions to your customers by referring to information that you don’t want openly shared?
All these actions are internal choices and decisions that a company has to make. If you answered yes to any of them you may not be working with a mindset for providing transparent content. The next time you are creating a content asset, try put yourself in the mindset of your target and write for them. Be fearless with an objective to educate and inform your customers or industry peers. Would you write your content any differently? I believe that if you examine your content and find that it truly answers your audience’s questions then you will attract business.
From behind the scenes of the Boston Tea Party Reenactment I found them embracing this mindset and putting it into action. They invited all the volunteers to regular meetings to hear all the logistics behind the operation and made people feel immensely welcome. They were open and transparent as every single person got a copy of all the jobs available, so that each would know their responsibilities. The amount of honest trust the management had with even one-time volunteers was astounding. By the end of this experience I had absolute trust in them to direct me where to go. I knew what my part as a Parade Leader would be, how to accomplish my goals and handle the responsibility of making sure hundreds of people made it through Downtown Boston streets on slippery ice and crowded roads.
If you are going to establish a reputation of honesty in your market place and bring in the right leads to make business succeed, first you have to give them a reason to trust you. Open and transparent communication starting inside will give you the chance to build that relationship with your employees, your interns and volunteers. Ultimately, the first step to creating a brand that people will trust is trusting yourself and opening up!