With the Black Friday/Cyber Monday craziness behind us, it's time to start having a hard look at how we're all going to meet our 2016 objectives. For most of us, the broader goal is to grow our sales and improve our bottom lines. Strategically, I always like to look at how we can do more with either less or existing resources. For many manufacturers offering incentives to their sales channel, there are further points of leverage to be had in those campaigns.
Here's a quick stat a lot of people don't consider: the average consumer rebate or SPIFF campaign now has around eight touch points built right into it. That means eight post-sale points of contact with the most important people in your business: the ones who buy and sell your products. If you think about the evolution of channel incentives over the last hundred years or so, it has been something like this:
Transactional: Rebate is offered to drive a single sale to each consumer. SPIFF is offered to drive a spike in sales of a single product.
Connective: Rebate process and experience are improved to consider lifetime value of a customer (CLV). SPIFF offered to also incent training and keep brand top of mind with retail sales associate.
Social: Rebate process further refined to consider not only CLV, but also what customer will influence in today's connected world. SPIFF programs further refined as competition for RSA mindshare and retail floor space heightens.
Designing new programs from the mindset of this third plateau and its emphasis on social consideration is where brands can begin to find new points of leverage. Engagement is such a hot business buzzword, but what does it mean? Engagement is about connectivity and that's what we're looking to do achieve. Your campaigns should build connectivity between your brand, your consumers and your resellers. Here are a few tactics some of my company's clients have used to gain market share, grow sales and build advocacy with consumers.
Teach Your Channel Well
Salespeople have a reputation for being coin-operated, meaning that they are always going to sell the products that make them the most money personally. Whether this reputation is deserved or not, it only tells part of the story. Prior to starting our company, we surveyed around two thousand North American retail sales associates (RSAs). We learned that while compensation is a major consideration, RSAs will always favor the brand that they know best. With this in mind, one client began rewarding RSAs for taking online training offered through their SPIFF portal. The result was that a considerable number of “B” salespeople in the channel became “A” salespeople, delivering a 1.5% lift in sales at retail.
Providing ongoing training and tips each time your RSAs log in to claim their SPIFFs keeps them equipped to bring their “A” game to the sales floor.
Survey Consumers, Refine Your Spend
In the old world of paper, mail-in rebate campaigns it wasn't viable to build surveys into your rebate process. After all: who could possibly have time to open all those envelopes and compile all that data? Through processing millions of online claims, we have learned that consumers are very likely to participate in a short survey during the rebate redemption process. The key here is a disciplined approach; limit yourself to no more than three questions.
Last year we helped a new client by adding several simple survey questions to their rebate redemption process. They had been spending huge amounts on print advertising and had the very common challenge of wondering whether it was hitting the mark. So they asked claimants “Where Did You Hear About This Rebate Program?” The results were the complete inverse of where they were allocating their marketing resources. Overwhelmingly the consumers had learned of the program on the brand's own website! Second place was in-store displays, then word of mouth with magazine ads coming in a distant fourth place.
Noteworthy is that in the above case study around 98% of the consumers who took the survey also opted in to the brand's email marketing. Consider the power of this for remarketing opportunities in the tire business.
Get To Know The Players, Turn Good Will Into Advocacy
The way people buy has become an ever more complex mix of buyer, seller, sales rep, influencers, advocates, detractors, reviews, physical store, websites, pickup centers and whatever comes next. The Internet has given consumers the ability to do serious research and gather vast social proof before making a major purchase, and that's exactly what they're doing. In fact, over 85% of consumers consider social proof to be the leading factor that influences their buying decision for purchases over $100. So how do you track all these players and factors that can make or break your sales?
Let's get back to your campaign's eight touch points for a moment. Each of these is a chance to reassure your consumer that they have made the right choice in buying your brand. This reassurance doesn't come in the form of soothing words, of course. It happens by delivering an experience that is congruent with the quality of the items they just bought from you. It means letting them know every step of the way that you appreciate their business and that you are deserving of their trust. You do this by offering a redemption process that is simple, pays out quickly and gives them easy access to help should they have any questions.
During the online redemption process, why not offer claimants an opportunity to leave a positive online review for you and/or your retail partner? Based on the results of your survey, you can funnel the people who had a great experience right into this next phase of your campaign.
Offering a rebate is a fantastic way to get a deal done on the sales floor, or perhaps get someone to consider your brand for the first time. When it comes to building a customer and advocate for life however, these points of engagement are where the real gold lies.
A lifelong technology entrepreneur, Jason Atkins is the founder and CEO of 360incentives. 360incentives is the world's first integrated incentive software platform, allowing brands to run spiffs, rebates, co-op/MDF, and sell-through allowances all processed and paid with 100% audit and powerful analytics to predict what to do next.
For more information, visit: http://www.360incentives.com.