Keys to Incentive Program Design

The design of an incentive program can make or break program success. Whether an internal program or a channel program, designing a program is an art and a science. From rules structures and audience identification to the communications plan that keeps everyone informed, engaged and motivated, your incentive program design will benefit from a comprehensive plan.

Below are aspects of program design you’ll want to consider as you put together an effective incentive solution – whether the reward is travel, merchandise, gift cards or points. Check out the other downloads in this section for more details, best practices, and specific consideration for channel programs.

  • Specify the objectives. In measurable terms, with primary and secondary objectives.
  • Determine who and what is important. Which internal teams or divisions, or external dealers, agents or distributors are critical?
  • Determine WIIFM. What makes them tick? What puts you first? What garners attention?
  • Structure the program. Open-end? Closed-end? Minimum thresholds? Incremental bonuses? Rules should be clear and easy to follow.
  • Determine the award system. Points? Gift Card? Co-op marketing dollars? Merchandise? Travel?
  • Develop a tracking system. How will you validate? Recognize? Update? Motivate?
  • Develop your budget. Administration? Communications? Awards? Measurement?
  • Decide who will run the program. In-house? Partners? Dealer or partner administrators?
  • Write the rules. Clarity? Simplicity? Achievability? Trackability? On goal?
  • Establish a communications plan. Adoption? Engagement? Motivation? Progress?
  • Consider the role of training. Does the team know what they need to know?
  • Launch and track the program. Launch, support, communicate and monitor.
  • Conclude the program. Generate reports, and insights form them.
  • Show your appreciation. Presentation is as important as the award itself.
  • Evaluate and change. Measure to prove what worked and improve what didn’t. Return on Investment models range from the simple to the complex. Start by understanding what’s meaningful to your leadership.