By Angie Barnett

Is your company nearing an important anniversary or achievement? Whether it’s a 10th year in business, the 10,000th customer served or other measurement that signals your organization’s stability, longevity or success, you can leverage it to share your story.
You’ll need to start your celebration with a plan. Here’s how you can get set up.
• Define your audience(s). You’ll want to consider customers, prospects, employees, volunteers and any other stakeholders in your business.
• Determine your campaign objectives. This year has been the Better Business Bureau’s (BBB) 100th anniversary in Maryland. Not only was a lot of birthday cake served, the organization took the opportunity to tell stories to increase engagement through email and social media, both of which are measureable. At the same time, stories were used to enhance visibility for BBB’s sponsors and accredited businesses and to create excitement leading up to its Centennial Celebration, which was held this fall.
Your business might use its milestone as a way to thank the clients and employees who helped you achieve it or even roll out a new product, service or line of business.
• Brand it. It might be a special logo, tagline, hashtag or all of the above. But your milestone needs its own visual signature.
• Set a budget. Cake aside, you’ll need to decide how much to invest. For an anniversary, you’ll likely launch, and/or end, your campaign with a party. In order to allocate the needed resources, you have to determine who will be involved to turn the plan into action, and how and where you’ll communicate your story.
Your story should be personal. It should be used to deepen a connection with your desired audience. What got you started? Where did you start and how far have you come? What makes your organization special? Consider sharing memories that convey your core values.
When celebrating its 125th anniversary in 2014, Sparks-based McCormick & Co. used the hashtag #flavorstory. Its goal was to collect 1.25 million “flavor stories” from employees, chefs and consumers around the world. For every story, which ranged from letters to recipes and videos, the company donated $1 to the United Way.
McCormick’s campaign to celebrate its milestone using the role flavor plays in life was the perfect recipe for success. By November, its year-long initiative resulted in $1.25 million in donations to feed the hungry.
So, as you approach the next benchmark in the lifecycle of your organization, think of it as an opportunity to enlist your promoters, internally and externally, to make it memorable.

Angie Barnett is president and CEO of the Better Business Bureau of Greater Maryland. She can be reached at 410-347-3990 and [email protected].