This is my first post of the new year, and I must admit that I’m finding it a bit of a challenge to get started again following the holidays. After all the social and professional excitement that accompanies the completion of another year, January is a time when it can be easy to lose focus. And yet, it’s important to remember that this is a critical period in the life of most businesses. A slow start to the plan year can be very difficult to overcome, and can lead to less-than-desired overall results.
To help overcome this January inertia, I historically have found it helpful to use this time to step back from the day-to-day and look at the larger picture. One of the ways to do that is to evaluate current activities and programs to make sure that strategy and tactics are in sync with each other. Here is an example of how to do that in the context of recognition and incentive programs.
The key strategic consideration in the design of a channel sales or customer incentive program is “what is the key desired outcome or end-state?” Is it simply to grow the top line, or to gain market share or to increase brand awareness – or some combination thereof? You may feel that you know this about your existing channel sales or customer incentive program. But it is important to revisit your strategic objective on a periodic basis (say, annually?) to make sure that what once was important still is.
Once you have verified the strategic objective of your program, it is imperative that your tactics are supportive of it – and employ best practices. Take communications, for example. Let’s say that that increased market share is the primary strategic objective of your channel sales or customer incentive program. You should then use all of the available communication tools – email statements, program web site messages, etc. – to educate your participant on the unique benefits of your brand versus your competition.
Here at QIC, we have developed a systematic framework for understanding both the strategic and tactical considerations of recognition and incentive programs. Whether you have a program in operation, or plan to start one in 2014, we invite you to contact us if you would like help in evaluating these critical success factors.