A Fairy Tale about Channel Programmes; And Why Yours is not Working

Posted on: 15th March 2016

Once upon a time there was a Marketing Manager, who joined forces one day with the Sales Director and together, they devised a plan to boost sales and increase customer loyalty - they recieved sign off from Finance and bought LOTS of bulk gift vouchers direct from the retailer at a fairly reasonable discount. They set about making the necessary communications of their “do this, get that” promotion and now… they waited. 

The Marketing Manager thought that the Special Customers chosen to be in the promotion know what products to sell in order to receive gift vouchers and they will do exactly what they needed to do in order to win plenty of gift vouchers…

Or so he thought?

Customer A is a happy go lucky, kind of guy. He has great rapport with his own customers and is very savvy when it comes to sales. Customer A really likes the brand of gift voucher purchased! He can’t wait to earn as many as possible and has an idea of what he can purchase with them already. Customer A sells lots of product and earns lots of vouchers.

Customer B goes to work every day, works very hard and has done so for the last 35 years. He enjoys the job he does and always wants to give the best possible service he can. Customer B doesn’t like shopping. When Customer B finally finishes work on a Friday, he likes to watch the tv and spend time with his kids all weekend. Customer B gives any vouchers he may earn through the promotion to his wife to spend as he isn’t bothered about what they are spent on and assumes she can make some use of them.

Customer C has only just started working for his firm. He’s still at apprentice level, but hopes to become a full time, qualified tradesman within the next 6 months. He feels confident but still likes to double check his choices with older, more experienced colleagues at work in order to provide the best possible service. Customer C HATES making mistakes. He wants everyone else at his branch to think he is capable and knowledgeable; therefore he still makes choices based on his colleagues recommendation. Sometimes, Customer C is advised by his colleagues to buy the product with the gift voucher promotion. Sometimes they suggest something else. Customer C wants to impress his colleagues, so will almost always take their word for it. Customer C is not engaged with the gift voucher programme.

Customer D has also just started working for her branch. She is from the industry, but has never had experience with this brand before. She is super keen to get going and start making waves. Customer D is soaking up lots of information and becoming familiar with the various promotions their manufacturers use to incentivise sales of their products. Customer D really wants to earn lots of gift vouchers, but keeps getting confused as to which products are included in the promotion and no matter how many times she asks for training, her manager doesn't seem to have the time to offer it. Customer D really wishes she had all the information - she just needs a bit of help!

Customer E is a long-serving employee. Customer E has been around the block, she knows a lot of people in the industry. She also knows a thing or two about how to get the most from any incentive the manufacturers dangle in front of her. She’s had some pretty horrendous experiences with a few of them however and the one’s she hates the most are the blooming gift vouchers! One year, she really went to town and tried everything she could to sell as much as she could - she wanted to buy her son the latest iPad with gift vouchers at Christmas and knew how much his little face would light up on Christmas day! She had savings for Christmas gifts, but by November, knew she would soon be posted MORE than enough vouchers to purchase the iPad, so spent that extra money on better gifts for the rest of her family online. The day came when the vouchers arrived, and Customer E skipped off to the retailer to purchase an iPad. Unfortunately, when she went to the till, the cashier would not accept her vouchers and there was no manager on shift for Customer E to query! Customer E began to panic but decided to drive 10 miles out of town to another branch of the same retailer to spend her vouchers on the iPad. Customer E was really disappointed she'd had to make an extra effort to spend her vouchers and therefore, never wanted to bother with a scheme like it again!

Now; because all fairy tales must finish with a happy ending, we at incentivesmart want to become the Fairy Godmother, to guide the Marketing Manager into saving the Channel Programme before it’s too late! With a flick of our magic wand, we must first show the Marketing Manager the error of his ways and then suggest the antidote to break the spell and turn the Channel Programme from bad… to good!


CASH ISNT KING. After spending so much of the budget on the gift vouchers, with no prediction of success and the Marketing Manager may well not have enough vouchers or run out too soon! Making customers wait for their rewards whilst more are ordered is never good as this can ruin the effect of recognition. Gift vouchers also hold a monetary value, which can be deemed as cold.


Customer A would be very disappointed in this situation and would resent having to delay purchasing the items he so very wanted.

Customer B’s wife won’t mind a delay, but may not be able to tell her friends about the extra gift vouchers being used to purchase the new dresser she bought for the dining room. Therefore, the recognition for her husband’s hard work gets forgotten and Customer B is no more inspired to keep purchasing products as desired.

Customer E is not at all excited about the announcement of the gift voucher rewards. Customer E will not be taking part after her previous experience and will in actual fact make even further effort to use alternative products than the ones that are currently on promotion.


incentivesmart want to help the Marketing Manager quickly, before it’s too late! incentivesmart suggest to swap the gift vouchers and invest in a points banking platform. Whilst perhaps being an initially more expensive option, the technology can be used all year round and can be updated at regular intervals, keeping customers engaged and incentivised!

By offering points per sale, customers can save points and spend them via an online reward shop, brimming with luxury items, nice to haves, experiences and holidays! These items have a much higher emotional connection for the customer and will really reward them for the fabulous work that they’ve done. This will also stop the Marketing Manager having to allocate such a large reward budget in one go as invoices can be sent weekly for points redeemed throughout the lifecycle of the programme.


COMMUNICATIONS AND TRAINING ARE KEY. By expecting to just dangle a carrot of incentive in front of his customers, the Marketing Manager is assuming everyone eligible knows everything they need to know in order to produce the highest amount of sales effectiveness possible. Only one email has been sent at the start of the promotion, stating the rules; and this may not have been clear enough in explanation for some of the newer members of staff at branch.

Customer C might have been swayed into making his own decisions should he have been communicated to regularly via email and felt confident enough to choose products linked to the incentive programme as well as being tempted. Customer C is also just about to pass his apprenticeship - incentivesmart could send a specially branded brochure with a wish list that can be filled in with future goal rewards such as Flights to New York or a smartwatch. This way Customer C would be excited about his future employment, linked to the programme. As a new member of staff it is so important to harness this enthusiasm so the Marketing Manager can track his progress!

Customer D could be kept up to date on product spec with knowledge quizzes and e-flyers sent by us here at incentivesmart! This way she will have been able to keep learning more and more about incentivised products and not only will that result in better knowledge of the programme, but she will also be able to give much better customer service too, fostering a brilliant brand advocate. 

Customer B could be influenced into more involvement with the programme by being regularly communicated to and experiencing more of an element of fun via the use of quizzes and gamification.


BRAND = BOND. By having no continuation of brand at point of reward, the recognition of desired behaviour can be somewhat lost. By using gift vouchers too, the Marketing Manager may potentially be distracting the customer’s attention from the task in hand.

incentivesmart can provide an entirely branded experience for the user via an online platform. From point of sale, to being rewarded points, regular communications and then finally at point of redemption (using a fully branded platform to complete these tasks) it truly brings home the bond between our clients and their customers. 

Customer A, B, C, D and especially E will feel entrusted in a programme which feels solid and stable. Particularly when they receive regular and relevant communications as well as having a support team available via email and phone. Customer E’s scenario couldn’t escalate to the point it did with the gift vouchers, because of the quick and professional help available to her from the Support Team at incentivesmart. She would be able to order her iPad from the reward shop and our support team would oversee this all the way to point of delivery. 

And so it was, that the Fairy incentivesmart Godmother, did wave their wand and the Channel Programme was transformed! Customers were regularly updated, felt empowered with regular product knowledge quizzes and appreciated the choice of reward on offer from the platform. If there was ever a problem, help was quickly at hand to resolve the issue. The Marketing Manager and Sales Director watched in awe as the Sales Figures soared and the customer grew loyal to their products. They thanked incentivesmart for their all their help and promised never to forget: CASH ISN’T KING, COMMUNICATIONS AND TRAINING ARE KEY and BRAND = BOND. 

The End.

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