Having worked in the incentive industry for over a decade now, I’ve seen a lot of reward programs launched and referred to a lot of different ways. It’s surprising how often I watch companies make the initial incentive program investment, then shy away from promoting it and ensuring its success. When I was younger and eager to land new accounts, I never really second-guessed this mentality. I mean, the client is always right, right? Then, a few years ago, the unthinkable happened – which changed my views on incentive program communication and its value.
I was sitting in a crowded meeting room, having just finished a simple lunch from Jason’s Deli. As we joked and laughed, my boss Steve Damerow, CEO of Atlanta based incentive management firm, Loyaltyworks, began getting the meeting back on track – focusing on program launch. At this time a few very important questions were posed, including: “How will you be communicating the launch of your next incentive program?” and “What does your ongoing communication plan look like?” I’ll never forget the smiles from two of the ladies as they laughed and gave the response, “This is going to be our best keep secret.” I could feel the immediate shift in the room – the awkwardness growing. Then, one of the gentlemen spoke up and said that they only needed the program because their biggest competitor had one and it was stealing from their market share. Which, btw, shouldn’t that have been an eye opener that you may want to create a more successful program to steal that share back and increase it?
As the tension mounted, Steve stood quietly, after taking a few moments (what seemed like an eternity) and finally said “That’s the wrong way to look at your incentive program. We partner with companies that want to build successful programs and help their businesses and their channel partners businesses grow. I’m sorry, but we are not the incentive provider for you.” As he turned and exited the meeting room, I sat there stunned, but also wildly impressed. He did it. We just turned down a bad account. From that moment forward, I have focused driving communication so that fruitful partnerships for all parties involved are established.
So, let’s talk a little about the perks of communicating your incentive reward program.
- Six-month vamp up time vs. 1-2 year. Just because you launch an incentive program doesn’t mean people will know about it for quite some time. You have to tell people about your products and services, right? Well, your reward program is no different. Let people know that you have kicked off a reward program, the promotions that apply and all the perks (rewards) that wait.
- Increased sales and customer loyalty. Studies show that incentive programs can increase sales 30-45% from loyal customers. How? It’s simple. When the right rewards are in store, and the goal easy to identify, your products will be shown first and pushed the hardest.
- Increased market share. But, what if your competitor already has a popular reward program? Well, honestly, you must make your reward program better and more rewarding. With advanced incentive technologies, you can take your program to the next level. Instead of just a reward mechanism, you now have a real marketing tool. You can set up training and survey portals; you can set up and track goals. Use this to your advantage – and communicate the simplicity of it
If your sales chain is aware that you have a reward program and they understand what they need to do to earn rewards, and that it is worth their time, they will participate. Why wouldn’t they push the product that results in a sale and a shiny reward at the end of the day? That’s a no brainer.
So, I don’t want to beat a dead horse. The bottom line is – if people don’t know your program exists they can’t participate and thus help you reach your goals. These goals, btw, are exactly why you or “the powers that be” launched an incentive reward program.
I’ll leave you with this. When my boss throws in a reward for reaching a specific goal, I know that goal is priority number 1.
Director of Marketing & Creative Services
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