This post, reminded me of a this post I did for BMA earlier this year. Both are great examples of community-empowerment.
In the latter, the city of Seattle did a study and found that callers to city-hall were put on hold an average of 50 seconds. For years the city had fielded complaints about the long wait times, and the stale muzak that the citizens were forced to endure.
The city had an epiphany, and decided that they could do something about the stale muzak, and the distasteful wait times all at once. Seattle dumped muzak and instead began playing songs from local bands. The system, called OnHold(Brilliant!), rotates local bands and artists in the on-hold buffer, letting callers have a very personalized alternative to boring muzak. The best part is that at the end of the call, listeners are given the address for OnHold, where they can go and download a podcast of the music they have heard, or buy the songs individually. A portion of all sales benefit Seattle's art education programs. This is besides the obvious benefit to the local music scene. And a vibrant music scene of course ultimately benefits the city as well.
The first example at the top comes from Portland, Oregon, where Rumblefish has partnered with Umpqua Bank, a regional bank, to create The Discover Local Music Project. This project lets Umpqua sell music from local artists through a specially-created site called the community hub. Rumblefish adds that originally the project was aimed at attracting more young customers, but instead all age groups are interested in hearing and supporting local bands. One of the bands, Rye Hollow, is even doing a mult-city tour based around the locations of the Umpqua branches.
Another community-empowerment move that strengthens the local music scene, which extends to the local economy, and eventually, comes back to Umpqua. Rumblefish reports that the bank has seen a 20% increase in new deposits since beginning this service.
Again, this is what happens when you put the wants and needs of your community of customers on an even or HIGHER level than your own. Satisfying your community's wants and needs is the quickest way to meet your own.