April 8, 2019 • History Factory
More often than not, corporate anniversaries provide clients with a unique opportunity to take stock of where they’ve been and where they are going. Anniversaries are natural crossroads, a bridge between the past and the future that allows Start with the Future and Work Back to reveal its full potential.
We’ve worked on highly integrated corporate anniversaries for clients in just about every industry you can think of, from consumer goods, pharmaceuticals and financial services to retail, technology and business services. Today, corporate anniversaries are viewed almost universally as opportunities to drive growth and achieve key objectives. But things were far different in the early 1980s.
At that time, there was a prevailing attitude among corporations that their anniversaries had to be internal affairs. Most organizations were content simply to throw anniversary-themed parties and manufacture commemorative tchotchkes rather than use their birthdays to meet concrete objectives.
These early programs simply honored the past instead of leveraging it for the benefit of the company. And that bothered me.
As a student of business history, I knew that anniversaries held far more potential. All I had to do was dig through the archives we were curating and I would read, in detail, about how some of America’s most prestigious companies had chosen to celebrate their anniversaries in the past.
Throughout much of the 20th century, corporate anniversaries were about driving results, not giving away free stuff. So we began pushing our clients, ever so gently, to remember the importance of Start with the Future and Work Back.
The strength of our argument began to change when we developed our own set of performance-based metrics. This was in the early 1980s, well before the Internet had taken off, so all we offered were rudimentary metrics, but they were important nonetheless.
In those days, we would measure things like how often an anniversary provided face time for a CEO and his people. We’d look at how many anniversary books were accepted by school libraries, as well as how many people actually showed up to watch a particular corporate anniversary video.
In essence, we created metrics to prove that our integrated programs could provide greater return on investment than a few internal parties and a free paperweight or two.
In time, we proved our case.
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