Straight To The Point: The Misfire of Popular Choice

September 7, 2021

Quite often a client will ask, “Hey, we’re designing a promotion. What rewards are hot today, and what can we be confident our people will want?”

There are certainly guideposts that can help us make confident recommendations – redemption reports, consumer trend analyses, and a keen understanding of the audience in question, can help ensure we are providing high value reward options that inspire program interest.

Of course, there’s also the Golden Rule to help paint the lanes for forward progress. Coupled with proper research, we can recommend popular items to fit your criteria. A cool cooler, anything hot from Apple, or maybe if they’re really that good, something they can drive, or someplace they can fly.

But hold the shipping label for a minute, and consider this:

The way you want to be treated may well be different than the way they want to be treated.

Enter the Platinum Rule: Treat others the way they would have you treat them.

Delivering on the Platinum Rule requires a little more insight, and data that we may not always have on each individual in your program.

I’ll get to the point; there’s a way to eliminate that guesswork. Give the recipient the choice, rather than forcing popular choice on them.

Give them points.

With points, you give them the best and most comprehensive set of reward options possible, and you let them choose what they want as a reward for what they did. It sets up a direct relationship between the action they took and the results that matter to them personally.

Program participants have told us as much.

The Incentive Research Foundation (IRF) recently surveyed 1,500 respondents on their preference for reward choices, gauging interest in everything from paid time off, to company logoed merchandise. Interestingly, 9 of top 10 reward preferences in this study can be provided through points. (And in case you’re wondering, no, they don’t really want plaques or logoed shirts. Those ranked last.)

So what is appealing about points? For starters. …

  • Points are both currency and choice.
  • Points keep every program modern.
  • Points keep every program relevant.
  • Points are still personal. (Hint: It’s all in the delivery!)
  • Points can ensure the award is commensurate with the achievement or effort.
  • Points eliminate the confusion of the prize, if you’re participating in multiple campaigns.
  • Points reward, and recognize, but also drive loyalty (that’s right – they accrue).

Maybe most important, points eliminate the occasional misfire that personal relationships, and well-collected data, can create. Here’s why.

My boss may know that I’m an avid flyfisherman, and my spouse/partner is too. Or I may have mentioned that on a survey someplace. I win a contest and my boss says, “I know you fish, so you must want a fly rod!” I don’t. I fish, I have them. What I probably do want is the option of choosing something that will enhance my flyfishing experiences. Give me points, and I’ll pick a nice picnic set from the Rewards Mall that I can use riverside with my spouse or fishing partner on our next outing.  And every time we sit there, we’ll remember that my company provided that experience.

You can’t fault my invented boss in this invented scenario; with good intention, s/he followed the Golden Rule. But the Platinum Rule might have been points, with a nice note declaring appreciation for my efforts.

At Next Level Performance, we’ve been designing award-winning incentives, recognition, travel and experiences for 45 years. We’d love to design your next program of choice.

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