Most incentive programs are designed to allow participants to earn a “branded currency” redeemable for awards such as electronics, home goods, trips. Nothing wrong with that.

Until you read how the programs are promoted.

“Go shopping with your points!”

“Peruse the catalog and redeem today!”

It’s no wonder people have a negative opinion of incentive programs. They are positioned as another way to “spend” money (albeit not US-branded currency – but company branded currency.) People read those statements and their brains immediately jump into transaction mode and start to ask – “Why don’t they just send me cash if they want me to shop.”

That’s A Good Question

Positioning incentive programs as simply another way to shop isn’t what incentive programs are about.

Incentive programs are about achieving a goal. EARNING an award. It’s not about shopping for merchandise or travel. It’s about deciding up front what a participant wants to redeem for. What is the goal? What do they need to do to get that award?

No one wakes up and says “I want to earn points.”

They do get up and say “I want to earn Suzy the uber-cool chemistry set.”

When participants are asked to pick their desired redemption choice before they earn the points, it changes their entire relationship to the program. They are now working toward something they established as a goal. They aren’t simply spending a different currency. They aren’t shopping any more but tracking their effort toward a specific thing that will bring them joy.

Very few programs require participants to choose their redemption options up front and track their progress. We used to. We’ve gotten lazy.

Ask your participants up front what they want – what they desire.

Then ask them to calculate what they need to do in the program to earn that award. They will do it. And they will be happy when they redeem.

Do that and they won’t be shopping any more. They will be working toward an award.

Trust me. It’s different.

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