Do Reward Programs Really Work? – I’m a Believer.

by: Nichole Gunn February 10, 2015

When I first started in the Incentive industry, I had just landed my first real job right out of college. I was ecstatic, finally making a little money (and, let’s face it, as a young lady in my early 20s, I thought I was loaded), I was beginning to work alongside all of these experienced professionals and, most importantly, I was doing what I love – marketing. But I didn’t really know anything about incentives. And, truth be told, I kind of thought it was a hoax. I can remember sitting in my first company training session and thinking, “Come on, do reward programs really work? Are we seriously rewarding people for doing their jobs?” My second thought went something like, “Can I really market a ‘product’ I think may be a sham?”

Sadly, I worked for a company for over two years that never really took the time to explain to me the psychology behind incentives. But when you’re making money and economic times are tough, what do you do? Well, in 2008, I was lucky enough to meet Steve Damerow, CEO of The ISI Group (Incentive Solutions, Loyaltyworks, and Travel Solutions) and he was more than happy to explain to me how it actually works.

Sitting with me in a small meeting room, Steve pretty much summed up reward programs like this: “Nichole, if I promised you a pair of new Jimmy Choo pumps, would you put in a little extra effort to surpass your goal by at least 2%?” The question got me thinking. The truth is - I sure would! I would work a little later and bug a few more people to exceed the goal. I would find a way to make it happen. The answer was an astounding YES. As the fog over my eyes lifted, Steve smiled, knowing he had me hooked and simply said: “Nichole, those Jimmy Choo pumps are to you what a new big screen TV, a family vacation, or tickets to an upcoming concert is to someone else.” I was confounded. And he further drove home his point by asking, “If you were offered cash, would your work as hard?” That really got me thinking. “Hmmm…I like cash. The truth is, I want the cash. I like the idea of being able to apply that cash to gas, bills, and my mortgage (this goes completely against the psychology of incentives, spending my money on bills vs. trophy value items).” Ultimately, the question for me was - would I go the extra mile for a little cash like I would for the tangible item? OMG! I wouldn’t. I need the tangible. From that moment on, I was a believer and it was a good thing, too, as he offered me a job.

For the last eight years, I have been fortunate enough to work with Incentive Solutions and I have seen incentives transform the cultures in many companies, drive sales teams to close, and I’ve watched incentives help companies increase their market share through brand awareness. As it turns out, people like the tangible rewards. They will go the extra mile to get them.

Essentially, what I have come to believe is that reward programs are not a sham. Incentives work, and I am happy to be a part of an industry that can drive such great results and stimulate economic growth.

Nichole Gunn
Director of Marketing and Communications at Incentive Solutions

Incentive Solutions

2299 Perimeter Park Drive
Suite 150
Atlanta, GA 30341
Incentive Solutions


About Nichole Gunn

Nichole Gunn is the VP of Marketing at Incentive Solutions, an Atlanta-based incentive company that delivers advanced, agile B2B customer loyalty and channel sales incentives programs.