In the past clients who bought incentive programs typically paid for atoms.

What that means is they paid for printed communications pieces, reports, merchandise and other awards.

The budget was straight forward. $100 cost on the TV – they paid $150 to the provider to cover all the work that went into the program and delivering that TV.

That was the industry.

Then technology began to seep into the equation. Technology costs money. But the industry still relied on the merchandise and the award to cover the costs of the effort including technology. Until it couldn’t.  Low-cost vendors entered the market. Amazon became the price anchor for everything. In other words the margins on atoms are evaporating.

We didn’t see it then… but looking back… we were watching the value shift from the atoms in a program to the bits in the program.

But here’s what I’m seeing now…

The value is shifting from bits to “cells.”

The Brain is the New Nexus of Value

Bits are cheap… and getting cheaper (ie: tech). Now ideas carry all the real value. Our brain cells are the nexus of value.

We did a great job of marking up an atom. TV costs $100 – mark it up and sell it for $150.

We figured out how to mark up bits – technology costs amortized and management time tracked – mark that up and sell it to the client.

Brain cells? Who knows?

The value of the right idea at the right time for the right reason is and can be unpriceable.

How do you put a dollar amount on that?

That is where we are today.

I spend all day thinking – and creating. Left and Right brain firing on all 12 cylinders.

What is the price of that?

What is the value?

90% of the time the value far exceeds what the client pays for.

But that is where incentive programs are today.

We’re transitioning from paying for bits and atoms to paying for brain cells.

It is getting to be real tough business. But a much more fun one!