Multi-tasking is (was?) the badge of the productive.

So many folks I have worked with, and for, have assumed “activity” was the operative input for productivity. The reality is very different. I know I have tried to multi-task for years. And with a lot of effort, I have been able to do it.

Unfortunately, the work product from those multi-tasking binges wasn’t the top-level work I was capable of. Don’t get me wrong. I believe I have superpowers of productivity even when multi-tasking but I do know deep down, the outputs are only acceptable, even when they exceeded delivery expectations. I knew they were still wanting and I could have done better.

If I focused.

And so can you. And so can your audiences in your incentive and marketing programs.

If you let your participants focus!

Too Many Promotions – Not Enough Focus

Many marketing managers/directors will load up an incentive platform with multiple ways to earn points, dollars, reputation, access to top performer incentive trips, etc. In some programs, I’ve seen upwards of 10 different promotions – focused on different brands in different verticals with different structures, different payout ratios, different requirements, etc. – all running at the same time. 

There is NO WAY a participant in your program will pay any attention to anything after the first couple of promotions. In fact, most participants will focus on the one or two promotions that give them the best reward bang for the least effort. Therefore, if you offer too many promotions you are guaranteeing only the least valuable promotion to your brand will be the ones that will get any attention.

MIT Professor has 4-Word Rule for His Classroom

A recent article on Fast Company discussed the rule one former MIT professor had for his classroom called the “rule of engagement.”

That rule:

No laptops. No cellphones.

I urge you to read the whole article but the gist of it is this (from the article:)

“…we humans only have one language processor. And if your language processor is engaged … you’re distracted. And, worse yet, you distract all of the people around you. Studies have shown that.”

Research from the 50s by psychologist Donald Broadbent showed this “distractedness” by giving the experiment subjects headphones but sending two different messages at the same time, one to each ear. Afterward, the subjects were tested on their ability to retain the information. The conclusion?

We can only listen to one voice at a time.

While this research, and article, focus on how we listen and process information, I also believe that too many “goals” or objectives cause humans to default to the easiest and least ambiguous of those goals.

So if you want your incentive or marketing plan to work – reduce the number of “asks” and increase the clarity of what you want.

CAVEAT: This doesn’t mean running one promotion forever. That’s just as bad.

You need to look at your big goals as the culmination of smaller ones and then design incentive promotions that reward accomplishments on those smaller goals.

You will get your message across easier; you will get your audiences to focus on one thing at a time, and you will build their behavior memory vs. just confusing them with tons of promotions.

Try it.

Stop asking your participants to chase squirrels. Reward them for the small steps that lead to capturing bigger prey!