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It may be time to re-evaluate your rewards.


If you’re a brand manager, chances are you’ve either run a promotion with a reward element in the past few months or you’re planning an upcoming campaign – whether that’s a giveaway to launch a new product, a competition to boost sales or a product trial to drive traffic to your physical or online store.

And while you want your promotion to make a big splash, what do you do if it barely generates a ripple? One area to assess is your reward choice. You may have a great campaign idea, but if the reward doesn’t resonate with your target market, your promotion can fail to attract any interest – or worse, it can irritate and alienate your customers.

Here are five rewards-centred questions to ask yourself when analysing a past promotion – or when planning your next one.

1. How relevant is your reward?

The promotional reward you’re offering should not only appeal to your target market, it should also have a relevant conceptual link to your brand. For example, if you’re a brand manager for a movie theatre chain, to entice customers into the theatre, you may want to run a competition where they can win an overseas holiday. To create the link between your brand and the holiday, your choice of destination should be as relevant as possible. So, depending on the creative angle of your competition, you’d likely choose a location like Hollywood, the home of US movies, rather than a visit to, say, the Grand Canyon, as spectacular as it may be.

2. How meaningful is your reward?

You also want to ensure that your reward makes an emotional impact. Remember that decision-making is both rational and emotional, and you want to ensure that your reward appeals on both these levels. How do you do this? Using the example above, you’ve already created relevancy by sending your competition winner on a once-in-a-lifetime trip to Hollywood. To make sure that it’s an experience they’ll never forget, you could include a guided film studio tour to give them a behind-the-scenes look at the industry, and gift them with signed memorabilia to take home with them.

3. Have you scoped out the competition?

Have a look at what your competitors are doing – what sort of promotions are they running, what platforms are they using and what types of rewards are they offering? You may find that your competitors are having success with your target market on platforms where you don’t have a presence. It’s worth doing a competitor analysis to identify possible areas and opportunities for you to move into.

4. Are you using digital rewards?

Technology, particularly mobile technology, is changing the way people interact with brands and promotions, and it’s also changing the rewards landscape. Your target audience is probably already used to interacting with brand promotions via their cellphones – and to being rewarded in the same way. So, if you aren’t already using digital rewards in your brand promotions, consider adding them to the mix.

Here’s a look at two of the options available to you:

  • Digital vouchers are a versatile option that can be sent easily and instantly to a recipient’s cellphone via email or SMS – and can be redeemed just as easily in-store. Good news is that they’re accepted at a growing number of retailers, including fashion outlets, pharmacies and restaurants.
  • Online shopping cards are equally as versatile and can be redeemed at a range of online retailers as well as some informal trading outlets like markets and festivals via mobile payment apps like SnapScan and Zapper.

5. Are your rewards exclusive?

Take a critical look at your promotion and rewards choice – have you taken a shotgun approach, or have you used customer data to find out what your customer segments really want? Your customers want to feel like individuals, they want to feel important and valued, and one way to do that is by providing a personalised and exclusive experience.

How? Let’s say you’re a brand manager for an online beauty store and you’d like to encourage trial of a new product. You could give a ‘first look’ to a select group of high-value customers who’ve purchased similar products before by sending them samples before the product goes on sale. Then follow this up with a digital discount voucher to encourage purchase. This not only ticks the exclusivity box, it also shows these customers that you value them and know the types of products they like – and this ultimately helps to build loyalty.

If you find that your promotion ideas are solid, but your rewards have been letting you down, you’re already on the road to recovery. With the right rewards, you can win back your customers and even gain new ones. The key takeout? Don’t make rewards an afterthought – do your research and offer the right mix of rewards to entice your target market to engage with your promotions.


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