Ten years’ or 200 years’ service, depending on your industry, are achievements in their own right. After all, business survival rates are still averaging around 50 percent in the US/UK at the five-year mark. As such, you’ve achieved a milestone. So, of course you want to stick out your chest and profess your acumen from the rooftops, presumably on the premise and promise that stability and good governance got you this far, and as such are good indicators for the future. Clients should take note, right? They’re in good hands.
But quite often the unspoken client response is “That’s great. But why should I care?” You need to think about this carefully. This is an opportunity, and the good news is, there are others, if you think more ambitiously about your organization’s milestones.
Milestone opportunities abound
Many anniversaries are given the same amount of consideration as the vegetarian option at a Texan barbecue. The full extent will usually be a logo, a party for clients, and not much else. In many instances, the organization is already in its anniversary year before it has even begun to think about how to mark — and market — the occasion. Don’t be that business. Be the alternative.
We believe that anniversaries present genuine opportunity for organizations, and here’s why: Milestones are reassuring. You get kudos and credibility for surviving (and hopefully thriving) in recent years. A milestone says you are stable, consistent, dependable and, to a degree, commercially savvy. This resonates not only with clients but with prospects, staff, potential hires and the wider market in which you operate.
Perhaps equally importantly, a well-planned and -executed campaign around your milestone provides a year-long series of opportunities — both internally and externally — to:
Resurrect and deepen connections with past and present clients
Broaden clients’ knowledge of you by sharing your vision, the breadth of your services, and your wider capabilities (since the business you are now, and might be in the future, can differ vastly from the one they think they know)
Remind everyone of the journey you’ve been on and all that you have achieved — sometimes against the odds
Acknowledge past and current talent in getting you here
Restate your purpose, your values, your agenda and, most importantly, your relevance to employees, prospects and clients going forward (possibly the biggest opportunity of all!)
Maximizing the milestone mindset
Here are our top five tips for maximizing milestones such as anniversaries:
Plan at least 18 months in advance
Be future focused, not just retrospective
Be inclusive — think about your staff, alumni, current and past clients, and prospects
Stay focused on the current needs of your audiences (relevance, relevance, relevance …)
Budget properly and put metrics in place
Whether you appreciate it or not, a milestone allows you to connect in a different way with your audience than standard marketing activities do. Mindset is important here. In this age of inbox inundation, cold-calling and mass messaging, celebrating an anniversary instills a much greater sense of openness and engagement in the minds of your target audience. It’s intuitive.
Make the most of your captive and engaged audience while everyone’s a little more open and supportive. In a recent client campaign, we even managed to capture on film some clients of our client extolling examples of excellence in service, stoic commitment to values and brilliance as experts. As part of a year of celebration, we helped our client recount their achievements, prove their capabilities and set out their ambitions. Marketing gold, I think they call it.