In our previous blog, we offered some advice on how to choose the right incentive program for your organization. This included determining your goals and your audience.
But if you are thinking about implementing an incentive program, whatever you decide on—whether it’s a sales incentive program for your highest performers, a customer incentive program that targets your Middle 60% of customers, or something else—one common element that remains essential no matter the program type is... drumroll please...
Marketing is such an important and pervasive aspect of everything that we do, it can be easy to overlook. In life, we’re always marketing ourselves through our clothing, our social media profiles, even our Christmas cards, all of which help us to communicate our personality, our values, and our goals to the rest of the world.
While programs definitely are not people, they do have personalities, values, and goals that need to be communicated to their audiences in order for them to be successful.
We’re not alone in this notion. According to an American Express report, marketing communications is the critical factor when it comes to building a successful incentive program. This is because these communications serve a number of key functions:
1) They announce the program.
First impressions can mean the difference between success and failure, whether you’re applying for a job or vying for the engagement of your audience.
Announcing your program for the first time in a way that gets your audience excited to be a part of it is going to be critical to its initial success. This means offering a simple but dynamic message that communicates what the program is, who it’s for, and why it’s valuable.
Additional tip: try to convey the program as the formation of a unique community, to give it a cohesive, select feel. For instance, creating a program name, unique to your company that portrays company culture, branding, messaging, and internal references/verbiage creates the sense of exclusivity you need for any program.
2) They inform the audience.
Maybe you’ve spent weeks, or even months preparing your program and getting it ready to be unveiled to your audience.
But just because you’re intimately familiar with the ins and outs of its rules and rewards structures, doesn’t mean your audience will intuitively grasp its nuances or even its key points. Simple, straightforward communications that reinforce the logistics of how participants earn rewards will be vital to the program’s ongoing success.
Additional tip: Make sure you provide frequent status updates or e-statements that let your participants know how well they are doing, as well as how far they have to go to achieve their goals.
3) They generate excitement.
“A group trip to Hawaii” sounds great; “a fabulous island getaway replete with golden beaches, dolphins frolicking just offshore, and a zip-line adventure that’s capped off with an exclusive Hawaiian pig roast and luau” sounds much better.
Whatever your program is, there should be something fun, unique, and exciting about it. It’s up to you to figure out what this special element is and to express it to your audience. If your marketing communications do this well, it should make you want to be a part of the program.
Additional tip: Use social media outlets like Twitter and Snapchat to invigorate your program with amusing and/or casual posts that remind your audience what they’re working towards (think pictures of merchandise or destinations accompanied by phrases like “this time next month, you could be...”).
These types of consistent communications are one of the most reliable methods of ensuring program success. But to pull it all together, it will also be important to secure backing from your organization as a whole.
In other words, how well is your general marketing strategy being integrated into the corporate culture at large?
Many organizations have come to recognize that marketing is too important to simply be relegated to one group or department; instead, they have begun to take a more holistic approach that connects marketing to business strategy and brand purpose.
In fact, surveys from Harvard Business Review indicate that marketing’s influence over strategy development has increased by more than 20% in recent years. This points to an overall shift in corporate culture, one that has started to acknowledge the tremendous impact marketing can have on day-to-day business.
So, what does this mean for the marketing of incentive programs?
If you have a corporate culture that supports marketing initiatives and values marketing as an effective means of securing both market share and mindshare, then your incentive program marketing will reflect this “buy-in”.
This will enable your programs to serve not just as isolated campaigns, but as brand ambassadors, extensions of your organizational culture that program participants—be they employees, salespeople, customers, or channel partners—can all relate to and connect with. Now that’s good business.
Looking for more better, more effective ways to market your incentive programs? Check out our success story about marketing automation here.
Or, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or 888.220.4780 to learn more.