Whether celebrating a centennial, bicentennial or other milestone anniversary, communicating the longevity and continued success of your business or nonprofit to stakeholders and the public-at-large is both an ambitious task and incredible opportunity. After all, how many organizations have the opportunity to talk about what they have accomplished during the past 100 – or even 50 or 25 – years? Your organization’s history and proven track record of success is cause for celebration – and an opportunity to ramp up marketing to cultivate new and strengthen connections among existing audiences. Follow these marketing best practices to make your milestone anniversary your most successful and impactful year yet.
Tout your history
With the advent of social media came the birth of Throwback Thursday (#TBT, #ThrowbackThursday) and Latergrams (#latergram). These built-in opportunities to share moments from a brand’s past aim to re-engage those who were part of the original experience as well as engage new stakeholders in celebrating the past. Seizing these opportunities requires culling through old photos, event collateral, media coverage, ads, posters – you get the idea – and pulling together the ‘best of the best’ to prepare it for social sharing. Beginning this process in advance of one’s milestone anniversary is ideal but it’s never too late to dig through the archives and take advantage of the opportunity to celebrate your history of success.
Remember, great marketing tells a story. By pulling together assets from the past, drawing parallels with the current state of the organization and layering thought leadership on top, companies and causes can tell a dynamic story that celebrates not only the organization’s history, but the evolution that led it to its current state and drives strategic goals for its future.
Plan a central event
For nonprofits, in particular, milestone anniversaries are great fundraising opportunities. For businesses, they are great opportunities to give back to the community – be it through donations of time or donations of funds. While one may opt to host a series of smaller events during their milestone anniversary year to maintain consistent levels of engagement among stakeholders, hosting a capstone event is advised. Depending on one’s industry and the composition of its target audiences, the event can take a variety of forms. Think anything from traditional gala to a crowdfunding competition.
Ramp up marketing
A milestone anniversary presents not only an increased volume of timely and relevant assets for social sharing, but a bevy of news items to disseminate. For example, is your company marking its 25th anniversary by pledging 25-hours of volunteerism to a local nonprofit? Has your cause secured a matching partner to amplify fundraising efforts during its centennial year? Your milestone anniversary is a golden opportunity to strengthen relationships with media and the community, increase your share of voice, and grow your social media communities through engaging content and strategic use of paid marketing opportunities. A milestone anniversary is also a great time to employ a new marketing channel to strengthen stakeholder engagement. When setting the marketing budget for your anniversary year, be strategic in your planning and identify opportunities to maximize the value of the events and celebrations that will mark the occasion.
Leverage the loyalists
Whether longtime customers or community leaders who have long lobbied in support of your organization, bringing the voices of those whom you have impacted into your anniversary marketing mix is a proverbial pot of gold. Why talk about how great you are and how much you have accomplished when you can have clients, volunteers, strategic partners and community leaders spread the good word for you? It’s a more authentic and relatable approach that can yield unlimited returns. Whether you honor some of these individuals with an award, appoint them honorary ambassadors for the anniversary year, tap them to form an advisory board, or enlist them as word-of-mouth (and ‘mouse’) ambassadors to foster a groundswell of support, your most loyal fans and followers are a catalyst for driving the success of your anniversary year. A word of caution – be sensitive to how much time people can invest in supporting your company or cause and ensure that your ask answers that all important question, “What’s in it for me (them)?”
While reaching a landmark anniversary is cause for celebration in and of itself, it is important to develop an anniversary marketing plan that is narrowly focused on seizing these timely and impactful opportunities. Strike a balance between reminiscing about the past and celebrating the future. Engage your most powerful brand ambassadors. Seize the opportunity to bring new marketing channels into the mix. Blend strategy and creativity to make an optimal impact. Now, it’s time to market – and celebrate – your milestone anniversary and plan for a bright and impactful future.