Milestones as Money-Makers
Milestones give order to our lives. They are the framework on which we can define the moments that define us as individuals – birthdays, first jobs, weddings, and anniversaries. Equivalently for corporations and organizations, milestones can define organizational history and provide opportunities to stake out a vision for the future.
As a Pittsburgh-based firm, we are fortunate to have the unique opportunity to join the city in celebrating a significant milestone in its history, the Pittsburgh 250. The city and the region are taking the time to reflect on our proud past and dream for the future. Make no mistake about it; however, Pittsburgh 250 is also a time to make money. The region is already reaping the benefits of the celebration. The state is subsidizing the revitalization of Point State Park for the occasion. Events scheduled throughout the year are sure to spark up the city’s 2008 revenue stream. And visitors to the region will bring new business to local companies.
Both businesses and non-profit organizations can learn something from the region’s anniversary efforts. Breaking out the confetti and celebrating those milestones are a great way to increase revenue, raise awareness, and gain more visibility. But milestones need not be limited to anniversaries. A milestone can be any noteworthy event or development in the life cycle of an organization. Milestones can be acquisitions, the launch of a new program or product line, a move to a new location – anything that will define the history of a company or organization.
All milestones provide opportunities to raise money, awareness, and exposure. However, to reap the benefits of a milestone takes strategic fundraising, marketing, and planning. Pittsburgh 250 is a great example of how to capitalize on a milestone through strategic planning and marketing. The Pittsburgh 250 logo is recognizable across the region. In addition to Pittsburgh 250, examples can be taken from corporations and nonprofits and may be easier to learn from and, perhaps, replicate as your organization approaches its milestones.
The Lego Group, makers of the Legos that generations of children have used to build their dream houses and cars, is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. There is an entire page on the Lego website devoted to the history of the Lego, as well as an advertisement for over 100 new products. The Google search engine recently paid homage to this milestone by designing the multi-colored Google logo to appear to be built with Lego bricks . With one Lego logo, the company reached the millions of people who access the search engine every day, capitalizing on technology to revitalize a classic toy. In a time where video games and mp3 players top a child’s wish list, Lego is using its anniversary to gain some much needed exposure, broaden its audience, and tap into new markets.
Special Olympics will celebrate their 40th anniversary in 2008, and is celebrating with special events and fundraisers at many of its local chapters. Local chapter web pages proudly display the 40th anniversary logo which features the slogan, “Dream it. Dare it. Do it.” Special events are being hosted across the country with large corporate sponsors and celebrity influence . It is a great opportunity to show donors the faces and stories of the many athletes that they influence.
Pittsburgh 250, Lego, and Special Olympics all use some common marketing tools and strategies. They have all developed a unique logo scheme that incorporates both their company logo and an anniversary theme. They have distributed the logo widely and through new methods such as websites or Google. They have hosted events or created products to commemorate their respective milestones. And they have used new technologies to excite new donor pools or markets. All of these efforts enlist new supporters or capitalize on previously untapped markets.
While milestones are a natural time to reflect on the past and plan for the future, they also provide a logical reason to engage established markets and reach out to new ones. Using innovative marketing tools and new technologies, any business or organization can make the most of their milestone. So, go ahead – it’s ok to wish your company a happy birthday!
 Cendrowicz, L. (2008). Lego Celebrates 40 Years of Building. Time Magazine. Retrieved February 15, 2008 from the World Wide Web: http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,1707379,00.html
 Snyder, D. 2008 Marks 40th Anniversary of Special Olympics Movement. Retrieved February 19, 2008 from the World Wide Web: http://www.soill.org/news.php?newsID=252
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