Mark your calendar! Whether it's your bank's 1st or 100th birthday, anniversaries offer a ready-made opportunity to promote your institution and spotlight its contribution to the community.

Author:Marlin, Brenda
Position:Anniversary Celebrations
 
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It's time to celebrate! Pop the cork and raise a toast to the passage of another year. Yes, an anniversary is the perfect excuse for a bank to toot its horn and tell the world--well, at least the local community--that the institution has been around for years. While some believe that the 50th or 100th anniversary is the ideal time to throw a party, others think that every 5th or 10th anniversary is just as appropriate to celebrate. Either way, planning is vital to ensure that your event creates opportunities for deepening both customer and community relationships.

With all the bank mergers and acquisitions these days, it's hard to believe that there are any banks left that have a history dating back 100, let alone 200 years, but it isn't as farfetched as you think. Many still exist and take great pride in their heritage. Most individuals would shy away from telling their age; however, it seems just the opposite for banks. Like a fine wine, the older it is, the better.

Below are some thoughts and ideas about anniversary planning from three bank marketers who were involved with significant birthday celebrations at different-sized institutions.

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History Connections

Beth Eckel, CFMP

Senior Vice President of Marketing

The Washington Trust Co.

Westerly, R.I.

Asset Size: $2.4 Billion

Founded in 1800, The Washington Trust Co. celebrated its 200th anniversary in 2000. The bank says it has the oldest community bank charter in the nation. To put this time span into proper perspective, the financial institution was founded only one year after George Washington died.

Considering that the bank's name and age, the institution's managers wanted to connect with the financial institution's rich history for the 200th anniversary.

Holding an event of this magnitude for one day would simply not do it justice, so the bank decided to leverage key birthdays and extend the celebration for six months, beginning Feb. 22 with George Washington's birthday and continuing to Aug. 22, the anniversary of the bank's charter. The tie-in with George Washington became the event's unifying theme. The celebration kicked off with "George Washington" riding into town on a beautiful horse, wearing authentic period military clothing.

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To get the most mileage for the kick-off, the bank planned Washington's arrival around the time of a school holiday. Prior to the school's closing, the bank contacted the media and the schools to let them know that George Washington was coining to town. Their efforts paid off. Despite cold weather on kick-off day, the streets of Westerly were lined with people waiting to greet...

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