How to Deliver Channel Incentive Communications That Add Value

By: Tim Gass
person reading communications on a tablet

People are bombarded with information in the digital age. And they’re getting it from more sources than ever before. It’s critical to be strategic in the way communications are distributed, or your audience won’t pay any attention. Delivering an incentive communications campaign efficiently and effectively with messaging and graphics that truly resonate—that’s delivering communications that add value.

You’re making a significant investment in engagement with your incentive program. All the program strategy, technology, awards and everything else that plays a role in incentives mean nothing if no one knows what their objectives are.

It’s not about whether you can afford to include communications in your incentive program. It’s about whether you can afford not to. *Spoiler alert: You can't.

Related: The number-one reason channel incentive programs fail to meet objectives lies with cuts and reduction in communication. Find out more about these channel incentive best practices you shouldn’t overlook.

How Communications Play a Role in Incentive Motivation

The more you can put communications in front of participants, the more they’ll act on them. Segmenting your audience and personalizing the experience for participants enables you to communicate frequently on their individual performance and status. The more aware participants are of where they stand, the clearer their objectives will be and the better they’ll perform as a result.

Motivation isn’t one-size-fits-all. Understanding what inspires people and catering to those motivators with strategic engagement tactics is how you’re going to get the most out of an incentive program.

Research Before Strategy

Before talking tactics, it’s necessary to put the work in and do some initial research development before moving in on communication strategy execution. Be able to speak to your audience about program objectives, KPIs and value proposition before you brainstorm how to communicate. What will your participants get out of the program? Where are they currently seeing messaging, and how can you build on that? These are the kinds of questions to ask as you start planning out your incentive program communications.

Developing a Channel Incentive Communication Plan

Now that you have your objectives identified, there are three major steps to consider when creating a communication plan for your program that will help you get the results you’re looking for.

1. Segmentation – Understand who you’re talking to and what roles they hold. Don’t treat sales management the same as sales staff, for example. This is where personalization can also be powerful. Get away from generic blanket statements and give people information that is their own from the channels that they will most likely respond to.

2. Cross-media approach – Using a one-channel approach is dead. Every communication plan needs to include a mix of elements that get the message in the right place at the right time for the right people. If you don’t, you might miss a critical segment of your audience. Look at using channels like text messaging, video, social media, email, print and environmentals. When we say social media, that doesn’t have to mean Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Try using an internal social platform such as Salesforce Chatter, Yammer or an intranet to create discussion amongst participants. No one responds to messaging in the same way, so if you take a cross-media approach, the message is spread across different channels, and everyone is receiving communications in the way that they prefer.

Aligning with the brand is important when thinking about the media you’ll use. Independent sales reps will be connecting the relationship with your brand back to you and your products, so it’s crucial to ensure your message stands out from the crowd of competitors. Be entertaining and engaging while maintaining your company voice.

3. Frequency – On average, people need to hear a message up to seven times before they actually act on it. How do you fight the current clutter? It’s about communicating enough times for your program’s earning structure while incorporating the first two steps. If you’re communicating to participants and the message relates to their role, you’re letting them know about their current status within the incentive program and hitting them at times that work for them. That’s how you ensure they’re paying attention to your message.

Related: Effective communications are often the most overlooked piece of the incentive puzzle. Learn how to give your incentive personality and start a buzz with a creative incentive program communications plan.

Communications are a crucial element of any successful channel incentive solution. Check out the story of how ITA Group built an incredible incentive program for one client that rocketed to triple-digit ROI growth in the first year—and continues to grow, even years later.

Tim Gass
Tim Gass

Tim is a strategic, multidisciplinary creative director with over 10 years experience. While at ITA Group, he has developed and managed communication campaigns supporting engagement and incentive programs for several Fortune 500 companies. When he’s not helping ITA Group clients develop creative digital and print communications, you can find him enjoying live music with his wife, Erin or rooting for the Chicago Bears with their dog, Buckley.