Some incentive programs allow participants to use cash to augment their award point earnings to redeem for trips and merchandise when they don’t have enough points for the full value of the reward.



Some “professionals” would say it is a good way to allow people at 90% of goal to get the award they want. That is a true statement. But you don’t run incentive programs to let people get discounted merchandise and trips. That’s not an incentive. That’s a coupon.

If you offer the buy-in at 90% of the award value then why not 89%?… or 88% or 79% – 78% -77%? Where is that magical number for when you allow buy-ups?

That magical line is 100%. Period.

Discounts and Coupons and Deals – Oh My!

At the end of the day buy-ins are simply disguised discount programs for program participants and a duplicitous way for an incentive supplier to increase their profit without having to help you, the client, achieve your goals for the program.

If a participant has been saving money for a $3,000 trip to Disney and they have $2,000 in the bank how much over that extra $1,000 needed do you think that person will work? The answer is zero. They will say – “Hey – I just got a $3,000 Disney trip for $2,000! Go me!”

When you offer buy-ins people will typically work only as hard as needed to get to the level where the buy-in amount feels like they are getting a great “deal”.

Incentive programs have specific reasons for existing and creating a coupon contingent on hitting some percentage of a goal is not one of them.

If you just want to issue coupons there are better ways to do that. If you want to run an incentive program do that.

Don’t let “professionals” interested in driving up redemption sell you a program that will hurt your ongoing business success.

Bonus Bonus Bonus

Touch here to register for an upcoming webinar September 17th on program design missteps. 

Webinar panelists will include myself and Kurt Nelson, PHD – President and Founder, Lantern Group, co-Founder, Behavioral Grooves and Tim Houlihan, Chief Behavioral Strategist at BehaviorAlchemy and co-Founder, Behavioral Grooves.

7 Deadly Sins