Creative Launches – Using the Right Collateral Mix for Incentive Programs

How do you work out what collateral will really make your channel partners tick when designing an incentive program for your business? It’s imperative to nail the mix of collateral, engagers, and communications to create a lasting customer journey for every participant – this will be an experience both the customer and your brand share, and ideally, it won’t be a short one!

This might sound like a daunting task, but we’ve laid out below some important tips for each step in your program’s lifespan. We’ve got you covered, from pre-launch where you’ll need to create a buzz, all the way through ongoing communications to create as many relevant touchpoints as possible!

One of the best things about working at 212F Group is seeing the never-ending creativity that our Account Managers bring to clients’ B2B incentive and loyalty programs.

We asked the team across Australia and New Zealand for their thoughts on what are some of the best ways we ensure we deliver the right mix of collateral for every stage of a incentive and loyalty program.

Our Program Communications Philosophy

For the past 26 years, we have believed that program collateral is driven by the principle that communication is not a one-time activity. With how important your incentive program is, to just ‘launch and leave’ feels like a mistake. Instead, we believe that clear communication strategies, with strategy-led communication plans, are the best possible plan – provided that they are relevant to your channel partners and their reasons for engaging.

Knowing that information is easily available, we have to be careful of overloading the customers with communication, exhausting loyalty program participants, and causing confusion. As such, all of the communication strategies we develop is crystal clear in:

  • it’s messaging
  • the mode of delivery
  • the frequency of delivery
  • how we measure its success

For an incentive and loyalty program, a strong brand anchors all communications. Factors such as theme, tone of voice, and creatives all put your brand at the centre and explain what it means for program participants to engage in the program.

Defining the incentive brand is only the beginning. We then spend much of the program development phase planning engagement touchpoints for the program. It is important to keep these personalised and dynamic, keeping up with the most successful participants and encouraging underperforming ones.

Once you have outlined the appropriate mix of incentive program collateral at every stage, you’ll find that your strategically developed communication plan is really doing a lot of the work for you.

Always Be Prepared – Pre-Launch Planning

So, now that you understand our philosophy on incentive program collateral communications, it’s onto the planning stage! It is important to allow time before the launch to onboard internal stakeholders and gain their buy-in for the program roll-out. This can provide a more engaging experience for customers.

We work closely with head office employees, sales staff, field teams, and more across the business in the pre-launch phase. We provide how-to guides, program infographics, videos, onboarding training sessions, and tangible assets in both digital and print format. Ensuring that the team is fully across the program collateral is essential to its success.

The collateral serves several purposes, both inside and outside of the program. It can be used by stakeholders as a sales tool to further develop strong relationships with their customers, and the sales teams can also assist with influencing customers with their plans for how to make the most of the program.

Anticipation of the program launch is key – ensure that you leave time before launch to allows you to tease the program launch with pre-launch activities to create awareness. Whether you choose a physical or virtual teaser, the aim is to have your channel partners excited for what’s coming.

We Have Lift-off! Launching your Incentive Program and Collateral

Now that you’re ready to launch your program, it’s time to deliver your key messaging. The launch collateral will now set the tone for the program and answer that important question: ‘What’s in it for me?’

Some of the ways we’ve answered this in the past including a launch event or launch kits with items such as:

  • branded gifts
  • launch brochures
  • promotional materials
  • video guides (booklets)
  • gift boxes (smash cakes)

Don’t Stop Now! Post-Launch Incentives to Drive Your Channel Partners

Though the launch may seem like the end of your efforts, it is only the beginning. This is when communication focus turns to activating and registering program participants, followed by an introduction to the program.

Encouraging your base to take advantage of the program early is important to its success. Offers such as program sign-up incentives, early-bird points, personalised communications, like emails, phone calls, and face-to-face visits from internal stakeholders will showcase the rewards available and motivate participation.
Your program should surprise and delight the customer base – those are just some of the ways we’d recommend, but we can always work with you to find a tailored way to fuel your customer base.

The Talk That Keeps Us Connected: Ongoing Communications

Regular personalised communication will ensure continued engagement once you have set the foundation of your loyalty program. These should be informative but are mostly to inspire action from your channel partners. It might include:

  • submitting a sales claim
  • checking performance status
  • redeeming a well-deserved reward
  • reading about a tactical promotion
  • logging in to view program information, news, and updates

Usually, we’ll recommend delivering this information via incentive program collateral such as a newsletter and an EDM points statement, in addition to a targeted SMS text messaging campaign. Mixing personal messaging and general program information is a strong way to ensure the success of your communication plan.

Celebration campaigns are a great way to promote the program’s continued success and prompt less active participants to get in the game. We really enjoy celebrating participant wins and showcasing them through creative engagement touchpoints, such as:

  • thank-you EDM campaigns
  • testimonials
  • vox pops
  • ad-hoc ‘We love you’ points
  • photos
  • comments in newsletters, on websites, etc.

Don’t forget to use social media – growing the community by encouraging participants to interact and celebrating wins will get other members into the action!

A Journey To Remember: The Customer Experience

We believe delivering the right incentive program collateral mix at every stage of a communication plan is vital for reaching success. When we’re in the program development phase – even if we’re working to tight timelines – we strive to create a memorable ‘member journey’ for our customers and their loyalty program participants.

Ultimately, effective communication establishes trust and drives loyalty. It’s important that communications strategies don’t just manage and distribute information – they encourage program engagement at pre-launch, launch, post-launch and long after. Finding the balance of incentive program collateral and communication channels will give your program the best possible chance for success.

This article was originally published in Engage Issue 3 – to get your hands on content like this and more – sign up today!

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