December 10, 2020 5 min read
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
People hunger for positivity in a post-pandemic world, especially in the work environment. There are many ways that COVID-19 affected businesses, and their employees, through different forms of tightened budgets. But does that mean happier occasions should be ignored until the smoke clears? Absolutely not. Entrepreneurs can explore many free or low-cost options that can add a sense of festivity to commemorate corporate milestones. In some cases, these options can double as cheerful PR initiatives.
Milestones worth celebrating
There are many corporate occasions that are still worth celebrating and most notable of these include…
Growth (M&A, IPO, etc)
For many companies, the go-to way of celebrating would be through events such as staff retreats or team member dinners at an expensive restaurant. Since finances are tight, many of the old standbys may be out of the question. Travel/gathering restrictions and remote working arrangements make team dinners difficult, if not impossible.
Low-cost alternatives can still go a long way in terms of boosting morale for team members, and demonstrating appreciation towards clients and supporters who deserve it. When done strategically, they ultimately serve as gifts that keep on giving.
Exciting user-based campaigns
There are many ways to publicize corporate accomplishments and the longest lasting benefits come from anniversary-related campaigns. That’s because the celebrations can go on for an entire year.
Some ideas that are quick to execute include updating the website/logo/marketing and advertising materials during the anniversary year to bring more attention to the milestone.
To shine light on employees, clients, and other people who played a role in the event, a series of social media updates, blog posts or videos can be produced in their honor. This is actually something being done by Rakuten Viber, one of the world’s leading apps for free and easy communication.
To mark its decade anniversary, the aide announced the launch of its “Heroes of Viber” campaign, complete with a 14-episode mini docuseries chronicling stories of how people’s lives were changed by using the app. The company is sharing compelling narratives by 14 of its users from Russia, Algeria, Iraq, Bulgaria, Greece, Serbia, Ukraine, Nepal, Sri Lanka and the Philippines. Viewers see how individuals used Viber to help their community navigate through the pandemic; to falling in love; to helping parents see their premature babies and much more.
Other companies can easily replicate this technique by featuring people (internal or external) who similarly made magic happen by using the product.
It may not be practical to send everyone that played a role in the milestone electronic gadgets or bottles of wine, but they can be given new branded gifts that are similar to those found at trade shows.
One can also get additional inspiration from treats given in traditional wedding anniversaries. For example, a decent paper gift would be a framed certificate of appreciation. A decent wooden gift would be a decorative/functional piece for the desk. Branded trophies can be given in plastic, glass or metal. Branded tins of cookies, or small fruit baskets would make great food rewards that the recipients can pass on if they choose not to consume.
If parcels aren’t possible, one must not discount the power of handwritten notes of appreciation. Whether in the form of letters or thank you cards, employees, customers, shareholders and clients would all appreciate the gesture. Since this is one of the most affordable options, it will be worth the while to put extra effort into choosing the best stationery and writing the most meaningful messages. Doing so would melt hearts and entice recipients to share photos of their note on their social networks, which will help with company visibility and branding efforts.
If handwritten notes are not an option, personal emails would also be sufficient, so long as they don’t have any agenda other than simply expressing gratitude. This was recently done by the credit card company Discover, after it received a prestigious award for customer service. The company sent emails to all its customers letting them know of the honor and thanking them for their support in making it possible.
Related: 7 Virtual Team-Building Ideas to Keep Your Staff Connected
Throw in a freebie
If the previously mentioned ideas aren’t possible to honor team members, freebies can serve as a great alternative. People even appreciate an inexpensive gesture, which is evident from the excitement that surrounds Ben & Jerry’s annual “Free Cone Day,” which has been one of their ways to demonstrate customer appreciation since 1979.
Tech and service companies can give their top supporters special offers for free service/upgrades, and team members can get an extra day of time off. Collectively speaking, that will indirectly cost the company a sizable amount. But at least money won’t come out-of-pocket right off the bat.
No matter how testing the times may be, milestones should always be used as an opportunity to thank everyone who made that success possible. This form of positive reinforcement will encourage them to join in celebrating triumphs while offering a dose of positivity truly needed in these trying times.