A strong communication plan is the key to a successful channel incentive program

People get bombarded with communication all day. Message fatigue is a thing and needs to be factored into the communication strategy of any channel incentive program.

For your audience to pay attention to your program, you need to give people good reason to participate. Your messages need to be informative, motivating and delivered in a way that cuts through the noise of the day, to really resonate with your audience.

The need to know

One of the big reasons why channel incentive programs fail is a lack of communication. It’s just that simple.

Fortunately, it’s also pretty simple to get it right.  

The flow of program information and chatter needs to start well before you launch. How will anyone know what’s coming and how to participate if you don’t tell them? They need to know the criteria to succeed and the resources available to them to do so. 

Ongoing communications should encourage the behaviour you’re looking for; in this case, increased sales performance, and highlight the rewards people stand to earn from participating.

To get participants engaged and really working towards earning, they have to see the reward, want it, know how to get it and think about it all the time. That’s the job of hard-working communications.

This is one area where you don’t want to skimp on budget.

The need to tap emotions

According to Paula Godar, CPIM Maritz, Inc., in a research paper titled, The Importance of Communications in Performance Improvement Programs, incentive program communications are effective because they tap into emotions. 

“The right hemisphere of the brain processes all creativity, humour, non-verbal ideas and emotional expression. Art, music, creative copy, photographs and video stir the emotions – and emotions are a strong force in driving behaviour.”

More specifically, good communication works to: 

  • Create interest and excitement about achieving the program goals
  • Develop that interest by explaining the program goals
  • Dramatise the opportunities for awards
  • Give the program a strong identity 
  • Break through the ‘clutter’ and draw attention to objectives 
  • Acknowledge and address the whole family to generate even more excitement and commitment to the program


It’s emotions that drive program participation and success.

How to develop a channel incentive program communication plan

Consider these basics to get started on an effective communication plan.

  • Know your audience. To deliver the right message in the right way, you need to understand who you’re talking to. Segment your audience by lifestyle, lifecycle, or interests. Use any characteristic that will guide you to the right tone, message and delivery channel to get noticed. 

  • Develop a hard-working theme. Here again, you need to know your audience. Define a simple, strong message supported by a solid creative concept and use it consistently across all your communications.

  • Launch with a difference. Budget will be a factor in just how big you can go with a launch. And these days social distancing requirements will dictate the nature of your launch event, but get creative with technology and aim to engage. 

  • Inform and educate with functional communications. Your mission here is to tell people exactly how your channel incentive program works and what they need to do to get started. The first big benchmark of success is participant registration numbers. Make the process easy and explain it clearly. Send periodic updates on personal progress to goals, sales tips and product information, for example. Keep communication channels open. 

  • Drive performance with motivational messages. Fun, upbeat messages keep program momentum going and personal motivation high. Use multiple communication channels for the occasional element of surprise. Consider text messages, video clips, email, social media posts, or whatever works for your audience. 

Getting your communications right

Effective communications are often the most overlooked aspect of channel incentive program planning. Yet, communication drives the engagement that’s critical to success.  

With so many channels available, you can easily deliver precisely timed and personally targeted messages to fully engage your participants and drive program success. 

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