Guest Column - January/February 2008

Motivation in Focus

Creating an Effective Incentive Program

By Terry Markwart

icture this…You've found a great motivational tool that crosses all barriers. It appeals to everyone. It has a high perceived value. For all of these reasons and more, cameras make the perfect incentive.

What's more, they can immediately capture the moment of recognition and the experience that companies are trying to achieve. This is about recognition, after all. What better way to recognize your top performers than to take a picture of them at the awards ceremony?

Cameras are being used in all kinds of innovative programs. Sales awards, years of service, corporate gifts, spirit awards, safety awards—these are just some of the internal programs where creative incentive buyers are using cameras to motivate. Of course, there are also many consumer promotions where cameras can be used to motivate consumers to buy, such as bank promotions and consumer goods programs where customers save coupons, receipts, bottle tops or some other token to get a reward.

But before you can choose which items to include in your incentive program, you need to know the basics.

Getting started

If you have never put together an incentive program, you should talk to a professional. They are experts. This is what they do. So, take advantage of their expertise.

You can find a list of professionals who can help advise you on all the ins and outs of incentive program development through the Incentive Marketing Association (IMA) and the Incentive Manufacturers and Representatives Alliance (IMRA). For more information, visit these organizations' Web sites at and

The professionals you connect with can make sure your program fits your needs and your budget. They will ask you to define what you want to accomplish, and then will develop a plan to make it happen.

Next, you need to make sure your program includes branded merchandise. You need this program to work effectively, so it has to have the best look and feel you can afford. Remember, this is an investment in your organization. Do not go cheap on this one. If done correctly, your investment will pay you back many times over.

How does it pay back? In daily returns such as the way your call center staff answers the phone, the smiles on your employees' faces, your sales staff's positive attitude and everyone's passion to do their jobs right and do what it take to get things done.

Everything your employees, your sales force and your channel partners do has your company's name written on it. If it is not done right—and without desire or passion—it will show. On the other hand, if the motivation is done correctly, that shows too, and your customers will tell you.

We hear it all the time.