By Brian Bluff
Successful companies have long realized the value of advertising their anniversary.
Every year, firms around the world celebrate their nth anniversary, yet few use it for a marketing advantage. This is a huge mistake.
It doesn’t matter if your company is celebrating its 5th or 50th year in business: big round numbers may look nicer, but you need to take advantage of every anniversary.
You may feel like your anniversary isn’t a big deal. Sure, you shouldn’t take every opportunity to talk about your company online. If your only news is that someone refilled a stapler in the front office or that Larry’s eating tuna salad for lunch, then yes, keep that to yourself.
Anniversaries, though, are the perfect attention-grabbers for your business. First, as mentioned above, they really are legitimately newsworthy. Second, they make your business seem as important and authentic as you know it to be. You’ve got longevity and you know what you’re doing. Third, they offer you an opportunity to offer a unique service or promotion to your customers making these events doubly newsworthy.
For online advertising, the name of the game is boosting engagement — attention and traffic — to your site. This goes double if you’re in any way related to e-commerce. Increasing engagement is paramount, and every legitimate opportunity to do so should be taken advantage of. That’s why you see companies issue so many press releases, create mindless clickbait, and try to start memes on social media. In the frenetic Internet economy, attention = revenue.
Even knowing all of the above, some companies still fail to capitalize on their anniversaries. Here’s a quick guide on making the most of your special day.
Your anniversary is the ultimate unique value proposition — it applies only to you, and your competitors can’t match it. Your print, media, and online advertising should emphasize this.
In this Motel 6 commercial, “Metamorphosis,” (http://bit.ly/motel6vid) a family drives their vehicle through Motel 6’s 50-year history. From Baby Boomers to the neon 80s up to the present day, it does a great job of telling a continuous and engaging story about the brand’s legacy.
A campaign like the one from Motel 6 is a fun and light way to use nostalgia to show a brand’s authenticity and longevity. As everything around us changes, Motel 6’s values have stayed the same: comfortable, inexpensive, there for you.
That spot ran on TV, but you can easily see how it translates to the web. A whole social media campaign can be built around a commercial like Motel 6’s featuring retro-inspired images, trivia, and nostalgia-inducing glances through history. Facebook posts, Twitter entries, and even Instagram photos can and should all serve the theme of your anniversary campaign.
For a more Internet-centric example, we need look no further than Google. The search giant recently turned 15, and it rolled out a cool company interactive timeline [http://www.google.com/about/company/timeline/]. The page serves triple duty by offering an interesting history of the company and its achievements, letting Google brag about its milestones, and also promoting its current services and offerings. The timeline really leverages Google’s Internet talent by taking a mundane feature of most corporate websites and really blowing it out of the water. Of course, the timeline was publicized on all of company’s social channels and the Google homepage.
Finally, consider Facebook and their “Look Back” videos commemorating their 10th anniversary [https://www.facebook.com/lookback]. These videos dominated the Internet. They were viewed more than 200 million times and shared more than 100 million times. Chances are, you either watched yours or saw links to someone else’s. Besides the straight engagement boost, the videos saw major coverage on news, talk shows, and all over the Internet.
You don’t have to be an industry giant like Google or Facebook to get attention for your anniversary, though. Follow your normal protocols for company news. Send your press releases to local news outlets, relevant blogs and websites, and industry publications to which your customers and prospects might subscribe. Be creative! Don’t simply say your company is turning 25. Make some sort of creative collateral, like the examples above, and pitch them as both newsworthy and interesting to industry professionals or the public at large. Failing that, consider running a promotion or sale.
To get customers in the door, whether that means to your website or engaging with your salespeople, get their attention by crafting eye-catching promotions. Your company branding and literature can reflect your anniversary. If you’re a B2C outfit, promotions are easy. Big sales are always an easy way to get customers’ interest, and anniversary sales are a standard tactic.
If you deal primarily in B2B, promotions can still be offered. Think about the usual ways you reach compromise to close business like installation and shipping discounts. By dressing up your negotiation tactics in the name of an anniversary promotion, you’ll be able to get more engagement and interest from your prospects.
Using your anniversary is the perfect way to warm up cold leads or get the attention of new business. Again, increasing engagement will ultimately gain you business. This is a good opportunity to use your email marketing, website, and any social media channels to get the attention back on you. The lure of a promotion is a powerful impetus.
Create a launch plan for your anniversary-related Internet advertising and social media. Obviously, if you commission ambitious projects like Google’s and Facebook’s, or even a well-produced video ad like Motel 6’s, there’s going to be some lead time. Don’t let your anniversary sneak up on you.
As you get closer to the date, consider creating an editorial calendar. Create a schedule of the marketing efforts you’d like to take and coordinate your various departments. This includes marketing and PR, of course, but depending on what you’re planning, you may need buy-in from sales, various managers, and workers on every level.
Prepare beforehand all social media posts, graphics, blog posts, and any other materials you’ll need. Don’t think that you can tackle everything during your anniversary kick-off. Most companies vastly overestimate their ability to create content, and their Internet marketing strategies fizzle accordingly.
Finally, remember that your anniversary lasts all year round. You may want to launch an anniversary marketing plan toward the beginning of the year or on the week of the exact anniversary, but you can definitely emphasize your accomplishment all year round. This is especially true for the big round ones: 10, 25, 50 – use the distinctive ones for all their worth.
To summarize: any anniversary adds value and authenticity to your brand; it’s worth sharing. They’re a natural occasion to boost engagement and bring scads of traffic to your social channels and website. Create an Internet marketing plan that takes advantage of the unique selling points of your company, one that uses as much rich media and storytelling as you can muster. Try promotions and sales pegged to your anniversary, and don’t be afraid of bragging a little bit on social media. And, of course, have fun with whatever strategies you come up with! Your anniversary is all about celebrating you and your company.
Brian Bluff is the president and cofounder of Site-Seeker, Inc., an Internet marketing firm specializing in SEO, SEM, social media and web development, with a strong focus on the B2B manufacturing and distribution arena. Together with his brother and co-founder Eddie Bluff, vice president of key accounts, Brian has grown the company into a successful source of search engine and social media marketing solutions.