Business Milestones Build Confidence of Future Growth
True Influence is about to celebrate our 10th anniversary, and we want to tell our customers, potential customers and team members how proud we are of our accomplishments and business milestones in that first decade.
We’re doing great, and we couldn’t have done it without you.
I’ll give you a few more details on our success story a little later. In this post, I want to focus the importance of noting milestones in the life of your company to building your brand, both in the market and within your team.
Prospects and customers see growth and prolonged stability as a sign that you’re a partner they can count on moving forward. Likewise, employees want to know their hard work is building a successful, stable company that values their contributions.
Note that in both cases, your audience ultimately cares about how the milestone you’ve reached translates into a benefit for them. Not to be cynical, but that’s the essence of marketing, particularly B2B marketing. How you craft your messaging will determine if you come off as a great company with which to build a relationship, or if you are just bragging. And nobody likes bragging.
“Virtue marketing” has been on the decline for a while now, exactly because it often seems self-serving and a little disingenuous. The same caveat is true for marketing your own success story – you want to clearly express pride in the accomplishment, but you also want to give credit to the customers and team members who helped get you there. And most importantly, you want to stress that you see your most recent milestone as a step toward an even brighter future.
Our Success Story
As promised, here’s a little more information about True Influence’s 10th anniversary milestone.
When True Influence opened for business a decade years ago, our initial product offerings were in traditional demand generation services, and we continue to serve that market with a variety of lead-generation products. Along the way, we were among the first companies to invest in developing Intent signal monitoring technology, which we now offer as a data service through our InsightBASE account acceleration platform, launched in January 2016. Intent data also powers our demand gen services, such as BehaviorLEADS and ContentLEADS, resulting in conversion rates for our clients that beat industry standards by 50 percent or more.
Investment in our customers’ success has resulted in 10 years of consistent growth and profitability. We’ve shown year-over-year growth in employee number count, overall market penetration and customer base — including industry leaders such as Dell, SAP, Gartner and Spectrum. We’re also recognized as a thought leader in Intent Data and Account-Based Marketing (ABM), presenting at numerous trade shows, including the SiriusDecisions Summit (our CRO Ken Stout recently bragged just a little about our experience at the most recent conference).
We attribute our success to our team of smart, dedicated and experienced professionals, from our customer success specialists to our technologists who constantly hone our data intelligence technologies and explore new and innovative platforms to help grow customers’ businesses.
We also could not have reached this milestone without input from our customers, who help guide our product and company growth through highly collaborative relationships.
In the coming years, we will continue our success story by staying committed to the principals that have brought us this far – innovation that’s driven by the real-world needs of our customers and proven by their success.
We’re just getting started.
See what I did there?
In telling you the story of how we got to our 10th anniversary, I stayed focused on the success of our customers, which ultimately is the real measure of any business. We firmly believe this, and in expressing pride in our accomplishments, I wanted to credit our customers for their essential contribution.
I also wanted to clearly the express the benefits of being our customer – a 50 percent hike in conversion rates is going to grab attention, regardless of the overall context of your messaging.
Citing some our leading clients establishes our credibility and re-enforces the idea that we are a highly client-centric business. And I closed by re-enforcing the message that our historic growth illustrates how we are going to continue growing and improving in the future. Because the future is what customers care about.
The Art of the “Humble Brag”
The techniques I am describing are often described as “humble brag” by commentators. I’m not necessarily crazy about that term – it’s not bragging if you’re telling the truth, after all – but the general wisdom of giving credit where credit is due is essential when crafting messaging around an important company milestone.
Brain Hart, founder of Flackable, offers some pointers on how to humble brag in an interesting column at Inc.com.
Act like you’ve been there before: This advice is most relevant for announcing an award or other short-term accomplishment (after all, you can only have one 10th anniversary). But it’s solid advice – don’t act surprised by your success. Communicate that you are grateful for the recognition, but also make it clear that you attribute to your overall commitment to a plan that’s working.
Thank your customers: Hart describes this as sharing the credit, but in B2B, this really means recognizing your customers. Obviously, you want to note the contributions of your team members and key partners, when appropriate, but be customer-obsessed in your messaging.
Build an advocacy that’s excited about your achievements: This is a huge benefit of marketing your company’s milestones to your existing customer base (a little more on that later).
Look forward: I’m adding this one to Hart’s list, because I think it’s vital to emphasize that you aren’t resting on your laurels. You’re using the success you’ve enjoyed to create better products and services.
Don’t Cheat: This ultimately is what went wrong with virtue marketing – customers could see through the pretense and recognize that a company was simply trying to build its brand. For milestones, don’t rush to promote a single-quarter jump in sales that can easily be attributed to overall market trends. As this post by Noya Lizor points out, this really amounts to nothing more than click bait, and your audience – particularly well-informed B2B decision-makers – won’t buy it. Stick to promoting significant milestones, such as anniversaries, a new location, the hire of your 500th employee, a recognized industry award, or your first $10 million revenue year. All these events show real growth and build credibility with customers and prospects.
How to Get Your Message Across
I most often talk about transactional marketing in this blog, but in the case of marketing around milestones, we’re clearly talking about building brand awareness and exposure.
Run email campaigns announcing your milestone to most, if not all, of your total addressable market. Remember, your current success is among the best ways to build credibility with prospects. Also be sure to submit press releases to leading trade press sites and to discuss the milestone on your social media accounts. In fact, social media is one of the better channels for building advocacy among current customers and leading voices in your market.
A little more on advocacy. In addition to your broader promotional efforts, highly personalized campaigns to existing customers, particularly those that you’ve identified as being advocates for your brand, are a great investment, particularly for truly significant milestones. You can offer a discount on a product or service to say “thanks,” or you can simply offer a whitepaper or special invite-only webinar to discuss the fine details of your most recent accomplishment. You want your advocates to feel deeply invested in your success, and you want to give them real information to share when they talk with their peers.
Be Sure to Celebrate Internally
I’ve spent a lot time in this post talking about how company milestones can be used to engage customers and prospects, but they are every bit as important for engaging your internal team. High-quality professionals want more than just a paycheck – they want to know that their efforts are helping the business grow, and they want to be confident that they will participate in that growth.
Be sure to recognize the whole team with a party or other team-building event; point out specific individuals who have made exceptional contributions to reaching the milestone. Do a little reminiscing about the good old days, but be sure that the focus of your message is always on where you are headed as a company. Build on the positive energy and enthusiasm by stressing to the team that your success is proof that you can realize your next target milestone.
Keep on Making Those Business Milestones
A company’s 10th anniversary is a big deal – after all, about half of all companies fail in the first 12 months. We are extremely proud of our accomplishments in our first 10 years at True Influence, and we plan on letting our customers, prospects and team members know just how proud we are in the coming months.
And with every celebratory message, we are going to build trust and confidence that we are just getting started. There are many more milestones to come.