Lessons learned from an old bank for modern business on the value of relationships
I, Rhonda Negard (Fat Dog Creatives) grew up not far from the small town of Oakwood, TX. While it was never a bustling metropolis, Oakwood did experience success in the pre-WWI thanks to its stop along the railroad, proximity to the Trinity River, and a booming cotton industry.
“Oakwood suffered from the boll weevil and the Great Depression and begin to decline in the early 1930s.”–Texas State Historical Association
Oakwood continued its decline and still teeters on obsolescence. In spite of consistent decline, an old bank and banker makes one nostalgic the simple times with more personal relationships and predictability.
While neighboring cities in Leon Country thrive and grow thanks in part to their locations along Interstate 45 running between two of the largest cities in the US, Houston and Dallas, Oakwood sits between a larger town (with a Walmart, hospital, and movie theater) and I-45. The highway connecting the larger town and I-45 accommodates 18-wheelers and occasional added lanes for passing. Most drivers pass through Oakwood on the way to Palestine or Tyler from Waco or another bigger town West. It’s not a half-way stop; it’s too close to a larger town with more options to stop for gas or food.
How does a smalltown bank in Oakwood thrive?
As technology automates processes formerly performed by multiple people while also facilitating significantly more communication and contacts, do we have exponentially more interactions and relationships?
Texas Country Reporter’s Bob Philips introduces us to a low-tech man and his banking business, running it just as it was ran 100 years ago.
“We just want to keep it the same. We like it that way,” says Roddy Wiley.
“People kind of like the personal touch,” says Leila Coater, who’s been at the bank since 1954.
Social and Media
Using the various social media platforms, our virtual contacts total more than the population of Oakwood. However, can you say you have exponentially more and greater relationships with these contacts?
Doing what makes since for someone who might live in small town America, like Oakwood from a computer, as demonstrated by Robert Nissenbaum, can establish similar bonds as those customers with their banker(s). In his blog he explains we need to stop posting so much and “engage” more on others’ content rather than hoping to get engagement on our own posts.
Don’t hope, expect, or ask for something from others. Contribute, give of yourself first!
“Social at its best is you giving…. People stop following those who are pushing all the time.”–Gary Vanynerchuk
You get what you put into something. Start doing for these businesses what you want, more engagement. Let go of ego and actually read and react to what others’s content. Maybe the businesses return the favor–maybe not. It doesn’t matter. The point is to build a relationship over time…through comment threads or tweet replies. One comment can go a long way.
Be social…on social media–engage and interact.
Visibility, Opportunity, Momentum
“When you add an insightful comment or are visible on others’ content often enough, someone will get curious one day and look at your social media profile or page and scroll through and read your content. We all get the notifications when other look at our profile on LinkedIn. How often do you go back and look at who checked you out?” – Robert Nissenbaum
A dying town held together by threads…of relationships
The old Oakwood bank offers some low-tech lessons for the tech-engulfed businesses of 2018. As humans, and business owners, the answer to growing and maintaining a thriving businesses and sense of self, lies in the hands we place at our keyboards. Speaking with our fingers through social media, we must focus more on relating to one another, building bonds. Sharing our thoughts from a soap box won’t make connections or build those bonds. Genuine, honest conversations does that.
Rhonda has more than 20 years of experience in graphic design and marketing. She has substantial experience in the association, financial services, insurance, healthcare and construction industries. She hold a Master’s degree in Communications from the University of the Incarnate Word and a Bachelor’s degree from Sam Houston State University.