Events or Anniversaries: Whats Your Business?

By Andrew J. Birol, President, Birol Growth Consulting, Inc.

Think back for a minute. Where were you when JFK died? Which summer do you recall as your happiest? The first stands out alone while the second is a choice among options. Now think about your family or your faith and look at your calendar. Observe what you have scheduled and you will notice that just like your memories of past activities, you can group every upcoming activity or appointment into two categories: events or anniversaries:

  1. Events: These are one-time occurrences — a weekend trip, the birth of a child, or one of the seven sacraments (marriage, baptism).
  2. Anniversaries: These are recurring activities that follow an event, such as a birthday, wedding anniversary, or the celebration of Passover.

What can events and anniversaries teach us about selling to customers and growing our businesses? Quite a lot. Regardless of what you sell, every business can be broken down into events and anniversaries. You know you are in:

  1. An event-driven business when your customers buy only after a random occurrence in their world provokes them to commit to taking action. Examples include the window replacement, building construction, and trial lawyer businesses. In this business, you must build awareness among the masses who might need your products or services some day. Be accessible to anyone who needs you today.
  2. An anniversary-driven businesswhen your customers buy around a predictable, recurring date. The magazine, insurance, and any service contract businesses are good examples. Here, the sale goes to the company who knows which customers will buy on a given date, why, and how.

Deciding whether your business is event-driven or anniversary-driven should be easy (Click Here for my free help in deciding). Acting on your knowledge can be exciting, profitable, and fun. Here are some quick steps you can take to grow your event or anniversary business.

To grow your event-driven business:

  1. Define the event that drives your sale and educate your entire marketplace to look for it. For example, if you are a:
    • Manufacturer with strong R & D, remind your customers about new product development.
    • Real estate appraiser, remind your prospects about buying or selling their buildings.
  2. Articulate the consequence of the event on your customer’s business. For example, if you are:
    • In the windshield replacement business, describe how hard it is to see oncoming cars around cracks.
    • In the machine repair business, explain how an unbalanced engine will increase the number of rejected parts.
  3. Link your solution to the consequence of the event. Tell customers how you will eliminate their pain or assure their opportunity. If you are:
    • A trial lawyer, tell any injured or damaged owner that you can get restitution from a partner who cheated him or her.
    • A reseller of telecom or servers, tell growing companies that you can assure they receive and process all the new calls and orders they are getting.

To grow your anniversary-driven business:

  1. Know the exact date, where, and how the decision-maker will recommit. For example:
    • If you are selling building maintenance contracts, know when the contract expires, if the decision is made by corporate or at the location, and by bid or negotiation.
    • If you are selling to specialty retailers, understand when their customers commit, which department buys your products, and what it takes to displace the current provider of their holiday line.
  2. Know the clients expectations, sequence for reengagement or disengagement, and trigger events that lead up to the repurchase. For example:
    • To take business away from another on-demand courier service, understand what their response times are, if they will try a new vendor out on “problem routes” before giving you their “milk runs,” and which problems (missed deliveries, rude drivers, or no back-up trucks) will get their vendor replaced.
    • To replace another direct marketing agency as agency of record, understand how much cost, time, and quality matter, which parts of the production cycle are causing the current firm to slip, and which actions such as mediocre, creative, missing mailings, or approval dates trigger an agency review.
  3. Understand the buyer’s experience since the last anniversary and how his or her expectations have changed.
    • If you are providing brokered health care services, understand how rising health care premiums or employee problems processing medical claims have recently changed your customer’s expectations.
    • If you are selling web-hosting services through yearly contracts, determine how your clients Internet business has changed and what they now expect in the way of search engine, click-through, and hosting rates.

Final sales and marketing tips for both businesses:

If your customers are event driven:

  • Work to capture and communicate with 100 percent of your prospects who might need you one day. Pounce on anyone who signals interest. Track your success with every prospect whose event date you knew. Why did you lose or win each one?

If your customers are anniversary-driven:

  • Be extra responsive to customer satisfaction or dissatisfaction around their commitment date as their short-term memories are strongest. Don’t sell to them during the rest of the year; instead, confirm if and how their expectations are being met. Understand your competitors mistakes and their customers’ reactions to them.

The fact that most businesses are either anniversary or event-driven is obvious, and knowing which business you are in is just a start. But how well does your company conform to one or the other? Think of how well we respond to signals for anniversary and event-driven activities. From renting a tuxedo for a friend’s wedding to renewing our driver’s licenses, we are all ingrained in how to handle these respective events and anniversaries. Last, ask yourself this question: how well have you ingrained your customers in doing business with you? Taking full advantage of all the tricks in your trade will maximize your results, investment, and returns.

Articles by Birol Growth Consulting are © copyrighted and all rights are reserved. However, articles may be reprinted with prior written consent if attribution is included as follows:

© Copyrighted by Andrew J. Birol, President of Birol Growth Consulting, who helps owners grow their businesses by growing their Best and Highest Use ®. Andy can be reached at  (412) 973-2080, by email at, or on the web at

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