My Best Promotion
Large-scale incentive programs can be a challenge. The bigger a group of people gets, the more its wants, needs, likes and dislikes can vary. It can make finding the right items to motivate them tough, though by no means impossible.
Paul Kiewiet, MAS, executive director of MiPPA and industry speaker, blogger and business coach, Grand Rapids, Mich., gave an example of how to make an incentive program that covers a big, broad demographic work. Below, Kiewiet details the thought process behind one of his most successful promotions, a sales incentive promotion for appliance manufacturer Whirlpool.
Promo Marketing: Could you briefly describe a promotion of yours that you consider one of your best?
Paul Kiewiet: The "KitchenAid Shoe Incentive Program" was my most successful promotion on several levels. My client wanted to provide incentives to retail appliance salespeople to get them to sell its brand of major appliances. By doing in-depth field research of the target market, I discovered a wide diversity among the target audience in social and economic status. After a great deal of agonizing over what would provide a strong incentive for both struggling and affluent sales people, I came up with the idea of using shoes—from running shoes and utilitarian shoes to high-end department store brands as the incentive idea. We supported the promotion with several promotional products campaigns using shoe horns, shoe shine kits and mirrors.
PM: What kinds of items did you use in the promotion, and why?
PK: The footwear selected included men's, women's and children's styles, including specialty shoes, sports shoes and fashion choices to appeal to a broad range of people. We chose shoe-related promotional products and vanity products to promote the promotion.
PM: What, if anything, made this a profitable promotion for you? Why?
PK: The volume of the promotion and the excitement that it generated in the field and inside the client company was amazing. … Pressure [from] the sales force and the trade demanded that the client make this an annual promotion event, offering repeat sales for us.
PM: Did you run into any problems with the promotion, and if so, how did you overcome them?
PK: Before there was Zappo's, we provided return labels with every pair of footwear that was fulfilled and made it easy for people to exchange shoes if the fit or style wasn't what they wanted. Many people worried that dissatisfied recipients could have a negative impact on the program. By being proactive about this objection, it never became a factor. Fewer than 1 percent of the premiums needed to be exchanged.
PM: Any other advice or insight you'd like to give related to this promotion?
PK: This promotion highlights the importance of understanding the recipient and offering value that relates to their lifestyle and aspirations. The creativity was eight parts courage and two parts differentiation. Dare to be different. Always be relevant!
Want to be considered for a future edition of My Best Promotion? Contact Michael Cornnell at firstname.lastname@example.org or (215) 238-5449 for a list of questions and other details.