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Still Going Strong

Education, Certification Among Top Distinctions of IMA

The Incentive Marketing Association (IMA) continues to be a valuable resource, connecting members from companies across the marketplace to help create a more unified voice and growth for the incentive industry. But, what really makes the organization stand out is its education and certification.

"Whether it's a white paper from the Incentive Engagement Solution Providers (IESP), an Incentive Gift Card Council (IGCC) webinar on preventing fraud or the great cross-industry content at the IMA Summit, the information we provide for our members helps them stand out as leaders," said John Hornbogen, IMA president, and vice president of business development, RPG Card Services.

"The IESP is truly at the forefront of the incentive business," he said. "They take today's information and emerging trends and look ahead to help all of us in the incentive business and our customers anticipate change and identify the key ideas to help businesses thrive."

What's New?

Some new developments have taken place within the IMA recently, including a makeover of its certification program content.

"As part of our commitment as educational leaders, we are currently revamping the certification program content to ensure it addresses the needs of our industry now and in the future," Hornbogen said.

He explained that the IMA has a committee of industry experts reviewing the current curriculum. They are removing information that is no longer relevant, and identifying new information to be added in order to ensure that the IMA is up-to-date with the latest guidance and resources.

In addition, Hornbogen said a new website would be coming out for the IMA and the Strategic Industry Groups (SIGs), designed to strengthen the IMA's brand cohesiveness, while making it easier for members and customers to find key information and resources. The websites will have a more modern, cohesive look and feel, and more data lookup functionality.

Some new developments have taken place within the IMA recently, including a makeover of its certification program content.

"For example, we are adding a more user-friendly and robust IMRA Representative lookup that will be more valuable to customers and IMRA members," he said.

All IMA SIGs/Chapters have a website that is off of the main IMA site. Last year, the focus was on bringing all parts of the organization together under one cohesive brand. And this year, the focus is on technology enhancements and improving the user experience.

In other news, with the annual IMA Summit being a big venue each year for education and networking, "this year's results demonstrate the value of IMA business relationships with 48 percent of Summit attendees having said they made four to six new business contacts," Hornbogen noted.

"Over 30 percent said they made more than six new contacts, and every person that responded indicated they made at least one new contact," he said. "The IMA has good cross-pollination. The education helps us all get involved in and understand more aspects of the industry. Having the education lets us all compete, but play well in the same sandbox."

For example, Hornbogen's company recently responded to an RFP that involves providing merchandise and gift cards.

"I have the best merchandise connections through the IMA/Incentive Manufacturers and Representatives Alliance (IMRA) to be able to offer the customer a streamlined approach to the program they need," he said.

In addition, the IMA expanded its educational reach earlier in the year when the IMA was accepted to the International Organization of Standards (ISO) Technical Advisory Group (TAG260) regarding establishing human capital standards worldwide.

"This important work presents a potential opportunity for growth in incentive, reward and recognition programs," noted Anne Jetter, IMA secretary and membership task force chair, and director, merchant relations and channel sales, GiftCertificates.com.

What's more, Hornbogen said, "Reward and recognition is vital around the world, and we're pleased to see international engagement increasing. IMA Europe continues to grow and has a very active network of members from many countries across Europe. We are also actively exploring opportunities with our Canadian colleagues."

IMA Benefits

The IMA offers many benefits for its members--both personal and professional. The organization helps to promote the use of incentives and recognition, and is relied upon for access to expert resources for incentive programs.

"It's great to have people you can work with, share thoughts and opinions with, and they help you become a better person, a better employee," Hornbogen said. "Life is short. I always say you should work with people you like, and the IMA is a great relationship platform. I get to know and build relationships across the industry and business follows relationships."

For Billie Reise, IMA marketing task force chair, and vice president, administration, Incentive Concepts, she said the incentive industry, itself, is confusing, so it's important for her to be able to help customers through the process.

"If a customer wants gift cards and merchandise, I can refer them to the best sources for gift cards. Through IMA, you get to know the star companies, so you can be comfortable making referrals," Reise said.

In addition, other SIG presidents offered their thoughts on the IMA's benefits, such as Robert Ward, CPIM, president, Incentive Travel Council, and director of sales at Ovation Rewards, AccorHotels, who noted that benefits include the ability to work across borders, both literally and figuratively.

"Whether it is with buyers in Europe or working with and understanding other SIGS, like the IGCC, and how we can add to their profit centers as well as how they can add to ours," Ward said.

Not only that, "IESP's work helps all IMA members and our customers to develop programs that truly enhance performance," added Brant Dolan, CPIM, president Incentive & Engagement Solution Providers, and director, west region business development, Quality Incentive Company. "We take all of the new information, studies, trends and best practices, and provide that deeper understanding based on design thinking, generational differences and more."

Chris Harrison, president, Incentive Manufacturers & Representatives Alliance, and national sales manager, KleerWest, believes that for a new company that is interested in becoming more involved in the corporate gifts and incentives industry, "there is no better way for them to learn what is necessary to be successful than by being a part of the IMA. Though all of the SIGs have a different focus, we all share the same goal of increasing the use of incentives to help businesses."

He said the IMA is a great resource for anyone looking to learn more about recognition and incentives. "There are many experts in various fields and all are willing to help steer a potential new supplier or customer to where they will best be served," Harrison added.

At events such as IMEX, the IMA brings together all parts of the organization.

"Through the IMA's coordination we have one effort that has multiple IMA members from different SIGs involved," said Jim Atten, president, Incentive Gift Card Council (IGCC), and vice president sales, Shell Gift Card.

"This is a great example of the power of bringing together a variety of IMA specialties, travel, merchandise, gift cards and reaching an incentive audience with a unified voice," he said. "We are excited to be a part of the effort."

Future Outlook

Looking toward the future of the incentive industry, there are some opportunities for growth.

"The incentive industry is already at $90 billion [according to an Incentive Federation Marketplace Estimate Research Study in 2016], and when you look at issues businesses are wrestling with today, we see opportunities for continued growth," Hornbogen said.

The IMA helps to promote the use of incentives and recognition, and is relied upon for access to expert resources for incentive programs.

Studies show that 57 percent of customer loyalty program members are inactive [Gallup's State of the American Workplace report-2017] and 51 percent of the U.S. workforce is increasingly disengaged [Accenture Customer Loyalty in Retail Trends Challenges and Benchmarks-2017].

"Businesses," he said, "need our help. The IMA and its members are the best resources to provide the education, insights and reward and recognition programs to help create not only successful programs, but improved business results."

This fall, the IMA is working on its new strategic plan. And, one of the main goals is to continue increasing outreach and letting businesses know the IMA is the total solution.

"We have created an Industry Experts Bureau that we're launching this fall. The experts' bureau will serve as a resource for people within the industry who are looking for speakers and authors on specific topics, and for the public and media," Hornbogen explained.

IMA industry experts will share their knowledge by developing and presenting educational programs and writing articles on a wide range of topics across the incentive industry.

"The IMA and our SIGs have been strengthening our relationships with related industry organizations. Through education and collaboration we are increasing understanding of ways to participate in the incentive industry," he said. "We're also providing the research, information on trends and actionable insights to educate businesses on the valuable role of well-designed programs.

"We're continuing to build and increase the unity across the SIGs. We have a lot of common goals, and we're looking at more ways to bring members together around those common goals," Hornbogen added. "This requires us to think differently and our 2018 Summit theme, A Journey Well Beyond, is designed to help us envision innovations that change how we collaborate, how we work together and the value we offer to members and our customers."

Circle of Excellence

The 2017 Circle of Excellence winners were honored on July 25 during the annual IMA Summit in Orlando, Fla., with five IMA member companies and their incentive partners receiving awards for outstanding successful customer and employee incentive programs designed to help drive business.

The winners are: Power2Motivate with PFU (EMEA); HMI Performance Incentives with Eaton; Incentive Solutions with Ferguson, a Wolseley Company; Solterbeck with Optus; Solterbeck with Westpac; and Lyoness Management Americas.

The 2017 winners each received new one-of-a-kind awards, created by award ceremony sponsor, Pelucida Glass, a glass manufacturing studio and factory based in the Finger Lakes region of Upstate New York.

"This year's winners clearly showcase the importance of having all of the right elements," said Mike Landry, CPIM, Circle of Excellence chair and vice president of special markets for Tumi, a high-end luggage manufacturer.

"It's about having clear goals, knowing your audience and having the right types of rewards and incentives," he said. "This can be everything from gift cards and merchandise to travel experiences that create an emotional connection for employees. It's also about using the right technology to make it easier to manage multiple reward programs nationally and globally."

The incentive industry is already at $90 billion [according to an Incentive Federation Marketplace Estimate Research Study in 2016].

HMI Performance Incentives was a winner in the Dealer/Distributor Incentive Award category with a program they managed with Eaton.

"One of the testimonials they provided clearly demonstrates that the program created an important connection: 'This is the first vendor promotion that was fueled by sales that I have not only participated in, but felt was worth my time trying to sell to the customer and upload onto the site. This was a great experience, and I would love to participate again in any of the Eaton promotions.'

"Businesses today," Landry said, "are looking for every advantage, whether it's creating a highly engaged workforce, improving customer loyalty or increasing sales. These Circle of Excellence winners have shown a panel of industry leaders that they have the expertise to help businesses meet and exceed their business goals."

He added, "The winners are recognized for use of best practices, creativity, development of strategies, execution and measurable results, in some cases not just for the program, but how it contributed to the overall success of the organization. When businesses are looking for new ideas for successful strategies, these winners provide the real world success stories we can all learn from."


Power2Motivate with PFU (EMEA) — Consumer Offer/ Branding Program/Customer Loyalty Award and Sales Incentive Award

PFU, a Fujitsu company, wanted to redefine its approach to rewarding channel partners across the EMEA region, particularly resellers. Previous programs had used reactive rewards, were not country- or reseller-specific, relied primarily on cash and rebates, and were difficult to communicate. With the help of Power2Motivate, PFU set out to foster reseller loyalty, build mindshare, increase sales and engage 60 percent of resellers in its new Imaging Rewards Program. As a result, PFU met its engagement goals and saw a 39 percent increase in sales. The new Imaging Rewards Program offers locally sourced, culturally relevant rewards. Resellers are rewarded Imaging Points for registering sales through an automated sales logging tool. The points can be spent on rewards offered in a localized Rewards Gallery with access to a Global Concierge for additional options.


HMI Performance Incentives with Eaton — Dealer/Distributor Incentive Award (tie)

Eaton wanted to grow sales of its core products, which are sold through a network of manufacturer representative companies and electrical distribution partners. Eaton partnered with HMI Performance Incentives to develop a short term promotion: "Get In. Get Away."

Participants in the promotion were rewarded on their performance over the program earning period. An electronic promotional kit was provided to manufacturers' reps to help them connect with distributors and encourage their counter sales staff to enroll. Inside sales/counter people were awarded an electronic spin-to-win code to claim their rewards on the website portal every two weeks. Representatives benefitted by receiving the same prizes won by each person they enrolled throughout the campaign. The program exceeded expectations with 97 percent of participants saying that they found Eaton products very valuable and 87 percent indicating that they found the program rewarding.


Incentive Solutions with Ferguson, A Wolseley Company — Dealer Distributor Incentive Award (tie)

"For 2016, Ferguson worked with Incentive Solutions to refresh its Ferguson PRO Plus long-term loyalty program for their professional trade contractors. The program encourages online ordering for smaller customers, which reduces service costs and increases self-sufficiency, while freeing up the sales team to focus on larger customers."

In addition to the core program point offerings, customers could earn extra points by participating in anniversary campaigns and completing surveys. A sports-themed campaign using a former pro football player coincided with the kickoff of the NFL preseason and featured daily football trivia. All products on Ferguson Online qualify for points, which are awarded monthly and never expire. Points are redeemable for a wide array of merchandise, event tickets, trip rewards and more. Points also can be donated to select charitable organizations. As a result, Ferguson met its goals with 77 percent participating and increases across all metrics.


Solterbeck with Optus — Employee Incentive Program Award

Businesses today are looking for every advantage, whether it's creating a highly engaged workforce, improving customer loyalty or increasing sales.

Optus has taken the idea of a "rewarding experience" for employees to a whole new place. With the help of Solterbeck, Optus reinvented its Pacesetters Employee Incentive and Rewards Program to create an emotional connection with employees through working together on community service projects. With more than 9,000 employees throughout Australia, Optus used destination meetings around the world to provide travel experiences for its top performers.

"However, it was the community service projects that employees found most rewarding. The projects involve work such as building homes in a small community and hearing personally from the families that they were helping. For 2016, Optus worked to create an emotional connection with employees through promotion of the service project they would be undertaking in Vietnam. The emotional connection was highly successful with more than twice as many employees qualifying for the 2016 program than for the previous program, and 90 percent of the Pacesetters rating the program as excellent or very good."


Solterbeck with Westpac — Employee Recognition Award

With 40,000 employees and contractors and five employee recognition programs, refreshing and making it possible to recognize across programs was a big task. With Solterbeck's help, Westpac set out to achieve five new goals with its program revamp: to be able to recognize anyone, anywhere; to allow non-recognition-program members to participate; to create a concierge reward service; to use Westpac gift cards; and to provide new communication mediums.

Careful planning and a detailed SWOT analysis of each of the five recognition programs identified opportunities to create a company-wide framework for recognition and engagement while retaining the unique brand of each program. Technology played a major role in providing the ability to recognize across programs. A new "Recognize Now" option allows the user to acknowledge anyone, regardless of which of the five programs they are in. As a result, all five goals were met for 2016.


Lyoness Management Americas — Social Responsibility Award

Lyoness Management Americas embeds social and environmental responsibility into all aspects of its work. Employees and customers alike are invited to get involved in its Child & Family Foundation (C&FF). Fees from merchants using the loyalty program along with a percentage of every purchase made at participating merchants automatically goes to support C&FF education and aid projects around the world. In 2016, C&FF helped children in Alberta, Canada. The community had been ravaged by a wildfire and the school closed.

"C&FF provided care packages, school kits and started an afterschool program. Lyoness' environmental responsibility starts with its office, which is a LEED-certified building and with company leaders, including the CEO, who set the tone by biking or walking to work daily. Green practices are encouraged through company training and employees are invited to get involved in activities such as the annual world clean up day or shutting down computers and printers after work hours and on weekends to reduce energy use."



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