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3 Steps to Realizing ROI on Anniversary Celebrations

July 8, 2019 • Sam Grabel

Your company is 97 years old. In just a few years, you’re going to be celebrating its centennial. You’re following our tips for planning an anniversary—starting several years in advance, with plenty of time to design the programming. You’ve started to think of innovative tactics that will excite people and are planning a budget. One obstacle remains, though: justifying the anniversary to your C-suite—those holding the purse strings.

As with all business decisions, you can’t invest just for the sake of investment. How will you measure the impact of the anniversary year? An anniversary celebration shouldn’t take place simply because it’s your 10th, 20th, 50th, 75th or 100th anniversary. Use the anniversary year to help boost business objectives, and watch the buy-in take place right before your eyes.

We advocate that companies Start With the Future and Work Back™. First, identify your business goals for the next year and where you need to improve, and position the anniversary in a way that moves the needle for those objectives—sales, employee engagement, public brand perception, or anything else. We also advise that you approach measuring anniversaries in the same way you would any other business investment: What do you know you need in order to ensure a strong future for the business?

Here are some tips that can help you to go into your anniversary year with an idea of how to justify its value to your leadership, and later translate its value into dollars and cents. 

Step 1: Identify Target Audiences and Desired Outcomes 

If a company is struggling to attract new customers, sales are down and there is no upcoming work in the pipeline, the focus of the anniversary year should probably be external. It’s still important to include your staff, as we will show later, but the focus of the anniversary should be to drive sales and market share and create a backlog of work for the year.

In another scenario, a company that has just undergone a drastic organizational change is struggling to keep its employees engaged. There is huge employee turnover and difficulty attracting new talent. Brand equity, even among employees, is low. In this case, it would be important to focus on internal communications to improve the company’s reputation and solidify its culture, mission and purpose.

According to a 2017 Gallup report on the state of the American workplace, only 33 percent of employees are engaged at work, and 16 percent are disengaged—meaning they are actively miserable. In a rapidly changing business environment, those figures can cause catastrophic losses.

Step 2: Identify how to measure outcomes and set a baseline

Now that you’ve identified your target stakeholders, figure out how to measure influence.For an anniversary campaign that is externally facing, you’ll want to measure sales-related numbers—revenues, new clients, profits, market share, percentage, etc.

For internally facing scenarios, things are a little more complex. How do you measure the impact of an employee appreciation campaign or a giant party? How can you make sure that you’ve increased employee engagement?

According to Gallup’s study, engaged employees have 41 percent lower absenteeism, 10 percent higher customer perception, 17 percent higher productivity, 20 percent higher sales and 21 percent higher profitability. These are all metrics you can track throughout the anniversary year to measure impact.

Employee retention rates are a good place to look, as well. According to a Global Studies poll, 79 percent of people who quit say it’s because they feel unappreciated.

Check to see if you’ve turned any of your employees into brand ambassadors. According to a Nielsen study, 83 percent of people trust recommendations from their friends and family. An engaged group of employees will be more likely to post to social media about a company or its products. Track hashtags, mentions and other social media stats to begin to see the effect of the anniversary.

It’s also worthwhile to track individual business groups, geographic locations and job positions separately for a more holistic view of who the anniversary is affecting and why.

These numbers don’t paint the full picture when viewed within a vacuum. Saying that you had 20 percent of the market share this year sounds great but isn’t really that informative. To say that you grew your market share by 5 percent during the anniversary year requires that you have a baseline from previous years. Begin monitoring your chosen metric before the anniversary starts. That way, you’ll be able to compare it to previous years for the next step.

Step 3: Work Out a Return

Here is where you translate the metrics that you’ve measured in Step 2 into dollars and cents.

For an external campaign, say that you spent $1 million on advertising last year, and $2 million this year, for your anniversary. There should be at least a twofold increase in the metrics that you targeted—revenues, sales, work backlog and market share. The first three are easy enough to compare year to year to see if your investment was worth it. If you generated an extra $500,000 in revenue following the $1 million investment, was it worth it?

With market share, you can compare the percent you grew to the total market valuation. That way, if you took 5 percent greater market share of a market worth $100 million, you can say that your return on investment was $5 million.

For an internally facing anniversary campaign, translating employee engagement metrics into ROI can take some mental gymnastics, but bear with me.

According to the Gallup study, actively disengaged employees cost $483 billion to $605 billion in lost productivity each year. If 16 percent of a workforce of 100 million is disengaged, it means that 16 million people are causing this much loss. If we break that down further, it means that each disengaged employee costs as much as $37,500 in lost productivity. If you are able to engage an additional 1 percent of your workforce of 1,000, you save your company $375,000 in lost productivity. As with the externally facing anniversary, tracking increases in sales and profitability make it easy to provide a year-on-year comparison.

You can actually quantify how much it costs to replace an employee. On average, it costs as much as 150 to 200 percent of the position’s salary. Because you were monitoring metrics for specific locations and positions, you can see how many jobs were retained and know the salaries of those positions. You can say, “We retained five people with salaries of $100,000 per year. We were able to save the company between $750,000 and $1 million by engaging employees this anniversary.”

Finally, you can quantify how the uptick in the social media presence of your newly minted brand ambassadors translated to sales. When asking your employees to post, provide them with specialized links that track web traffic called UTM codes. These codes identify the social media account that a specific post came from. This makes it easy to say, “We generated $1 million in sales from traffic originating with our brand ambassadors. Last year, we only had $250,000 in sales originating from them. Therefore, the return on our investment is $750,000.”

Conclusion

This is not a comprehensive list of ways to translate an anniversary celebration into dollars and cents but rather a look at some of the ways you must get creative to translate returns into real figures. Anniversary celebrations are fun ways to show employee appreciation and kick off a new era for a company. At their most useful, they support desired business goals. Anniversaries are never as easy as snapping your fingers. They require significant investments of time and resources. We hope these tips will help you rationalize and justify those investments.

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