Feature Article - January/February 2020

A Home for Incentive & Engagement Solutions

A Closeup Look at the IESP

By Deborah L. Vence

Mark Herbert, an IESP member and president and CEO of Incentive Solutions, a company that provides customer loyalty, travel and online incentive programs, noted that one of the trends in the B2B incentive space is the move for more personalization within our customers' incentive programs.

"Each participant wants to feel that the sponsor of the program is speaking directly to them and engaging with them on a personal level. This has required the need for greater data analytics in order to segment participants into narrower and narrower bands, so that messaging and calls to action can be more targeted," Herbert said. "There is also the need to be able to communicate with each participant depending on their particular preferences. With four generations in the workplace today, each group likes to communicate differently. Chatting, texting, e-mail and mail are different communications methods that each generation responds to differently."

He added that the need "for greater personalization is also coinciding with the need for more automation. The systems that the members of the IESP have created need to continually adapt to our customers' needs and create efficiencies where manual processes used to be required.

IESP members bring a broad array of experiences with incentive program planning for organizations of all sizes.

"With emergent technologies and digitalization, access to data is a competitive differentiator. For companies running a channel incentive program, supplying their partners with relevant data that enables their success and incentivizes them to share their data with you is an increasingly important part of channel partnerships.

"Another hot topic with our customers," he added, "is how to measure the return on the investment of any results-based program. With the increasing demand from the C-suite on leveraging spend on the most effective tools, incentive program sponsors are having to justify the budgets spent on these types of programs. The IESP works to show the measurable ROI for these types of programs through the sharing of successful programs and the results that they have obtained. Each of the programs that were awarded the IMA Circle of Excellence Award this year shows a great ROI that was achieved through the use of a reward or incentive program."

IESP member Lincoln Smith, IP, executive vice president, sales and marketing at HMI Performance Incentives Inc., a company that specializes in rewards fulfillment and group travel for B2B sales, loyalty and special promotion programs, said that "Most organizations are looking for strategies that help with several business goals at once. New technologies and processes come to the forefront every day, making the need to differentiate and innovate even more vital for companies at every level of the channel.

"For instance, a client of ours needed to provide a better user experience for their customers," Smith said. "They turned to us with their problem, and we offered them our mobile invoice reader, Snap2Claim. This new technology allows contractors to scan their invoices and earn reward points based on purchases. The contractor spent less time manually filling out forms, and our client gained valuable and actionable data points to help them market and segment further down the road. The innovation was a massive success, increasing claims processing 44% year-over-year and generating a 90% increase in revenue year-over-year."

In addition, "e-commerce, while often seen as a back-burner project for many companies, has surfaced as a real differentiator for those who have made it a priority. E-tailers (i.e., Amazon Business) have taken advantage of this and started to provide pressure on pricing, forcing channel partners to find new and creative ways to shift focus to more value-added services," he said. "Segmentation has become essential, allowing us to establish profitable customer profiles to market and create targeted offerings for clients."