- Announce program with flashy four-color printed brochure – or if you live in the 2000’s an html email with a link to a website that is just as flashy.
- Follow up with monthly mailings – or if you live in the 2000’s a monthly html email that is just as flashy (and may include flash – still!) FYI – lot’s of people have their email set to “text only” so all that work you’re doing on the flash/html emails – no one but the client and the designer are seeing it.
- Monthly statements via email – I don’t think anyone does printed and mailed statements any more.
- Maybe, just maybe, a couple of “random” emails to the participants reminding them to redeem and earn fabulous points!
That’s pretty much the norm. A few forward thinking companies are doing a bit more… but I emphasize the word “bit.”
I’ve long held that you’ll get more bang for your incentive buck if you put more money into communication and connections to participants and less into the actual award value and points earned. I’m not suggesting you do away with awards but take about 5% of the money you were going to spend on the awards line item in your budget and give it to communications. Your program will be better, the participants will understand the program better, they will keep the program more firmly in the center of their mind and everyone will be happier (‘cept the incentive supplier, wink.)
But I2I – Where Should I Spend That Extra Money?
Thought you’d never ask. Here’s an idea…
First - think of the process your participants go through to earn the points. I mean actually write down the steps necessary to earn points. Take a sales incentive program…
- Indentify target account/person
- Connect with target account/person
- Present to target account/person
- Follow up with target account/person
- Answer objections, etc. with target account/person
- Get deal done!
Now, normal programs reward the person at the end of the process. Then… and only then… do they present the participant with …
“Congratulations… You’ve Earned 100,000,000 points – go redeem for some slippers in our fabulous catalog of awards!”
I’ve also gone on record that the behaviors need to be rewarded – not the outcomes – so the first thing is to redeploy the points you were giving in a lump sum when the deal closes (in this example) AND then include a communication element in the process so it looks more like this…
- Communicate they could earn 50,000 points if they indentify target account/person when they get into your CRM/Sales Contact management system – right there on their screen – pop-up, button, whatever – communicate they can earn points BEFORE they do the behavior.
- Communicate they could earn 20,000 points if they connect with target account/person via an email to the participant on Monday when they come in to work and are setting up their weekly call list.
- Communicate they could earn 100,000 points when they present to target account/person immediately after the initial contact meeting is held (you can probably see it on their calendar) to get them moving toward scheduling the presentation.
- 5, 6, Etc.. etc… etc… You get the idea.
The point is this… Use your communication money to inject the program into the participant's normal process regularly – and highlight what they could earn.
Why do I say this?
This is why…
"The Neuromarketing takeaway from this research is that exposing customers to point values at the time of purchase can amplify the effectiveness of the loyalty program. Want to encourage sampling of a new product, or drive upgrades? Or get a customer to visit you instead of your competitor? Try something along the lines of, '100 extra Rewards Points with every purchase!' "
That quote is from a post on the Neuromarking blog where they discussed the implications of a study (Irrelevant Information and Mediated Intertemporal Choice by van Osselaer, Alba, and Manchanda) that focues on “irrelevant information” and how that influences customer behavior.
To pull another quote from the post:
"Choices were influenced by points even when consumers were provided with other truly discriminating information (e.g., price) and the irrelevance of the loyalty points was readily discernable. This implies that irrelevant information can influence choice when other, easily justifiable bases for decisions are available and, therefore, that irrelevant information can function as more than a tie-breaker."
What this means to me is that each employee, sales person, distributor and dealer has a choice to make each day relating to your product, service, incentive program. Presenting the choice along with a reference to the program and the awards will INCREASE the likelihood they will do the behavior.
Injecting your program communication money into the process of the program will ensure the participants see the message each time they need to make a choice – increasing the effectiveness of the program.
Or … you could just sent the monthly mailer out. They look nice next to the four credit card offers, the “val pak” and the note from your realtor “friend” about the house they just sold up the street.
Take some money from awards – put it into intelligent and relevant communications and do your program and your company a favor.