Drawing up an annual report can be time-consuming and laborious, but if you do it right it can have myriad benefits. In the past an annual report was prepared for shareholders, investors and non-profit companies, and its purpose was purely an informative financial statement. These days, however, more and more companies are wising up to the benefits of using an annual report as a marketing tool.
If you’re going to spend time and effort producing a document, why not ensure it actually returns something to your organisation? Aside from giving a financial overview of the past year, an annual report can be used creatively, to showcase the highpoints of the past 12 months. It can be a powerful way to underline a company’s identity, voice and brand, and reinforce a connection between you and your audience.
So how can you best use your annual report as a marketing tool?
How to present your report
The first thing to consider is how you are presenting your report. While previously an annual report was simply a printed booklet that was sent to shareholders and investors, going digital opens up a whole new realm of possibility. Remember that you want your annual report to convey insight about your brand identity and culture, so see it as a chance to display your creativity, personality and innovation.
One company who excelled at this was The Football Federation of Victoria, who designed their annual report to look like a sports newspaper. The attractive and unusual layout of this report means it’s something people will actually read, and it also allowed the company to inject a bit of humour into the document – something lacking in most annual reports! Further, the report contained lots of reusable content for social media, increased brand awareness and demonstrated that the company is made up of imaginative thinkers.
What to include in your report
Whichever way you present it, your report should also be an opportunity to celebrate your successes and accomplishments. Use it as a chance to show off: what went well for you this year, and why will next year be even better? An African safari park organisation used their report to highlight all the animals they helped, which was a smart idea; if people can see where their support and money is going and what you achieved from it, they’ll be much more inclined to keep backing you.
With that in mind, including a section in your report where you acknowledge and thank people who have supported you that year (whether that’s volunteers, members, donors etc.), you’ll be showing that your company cares about these people and values their contributions. If your report contains gratitude, vision and passion, people will see those values as representative of your company as a whole.
“If your report contains gratitude, vision and passion, people will see those values as representative of your company as a whole.”
There are many ways you can achieve these objects by going digital. Incorporating videos and graphics within your report is one way to get these points across in an engaging way. For their 2016 annual report, MailChimp used a fun infographic to showcase their yearly statistics. By using an attractive digital format and combining key financial figures with light-hearted statistics, such as the amount of coffee consumed, MailChimp is an excellent example of how you can maximise your marketing through your annual report.
By taking the time to put together a visually appealing digital report that’s more than a mere financial statement, you can tell a story about your organisation and reinforce your company vision and aims. Not only can a unique digital report affirm that your company is worth supporting, but it can also show that you’re dynamic, successful and productive. Good marketing isn’t just about who you are, but what you’ve done, and your annual report is a solid way to demonstrate your achievements.