With destinations around the world slowly opening up again, The Collective by BCD M&E are starting to see the demand for incentives return. After the past two years, clients are keen to drive business forward using this proven strategy to motivate and reward employees. While the focus will always be on the glamourous destination dangled as the carrot to excite top achievers, let’s not forget the other key to any successful incentive: a powerful communication strategy.
During the pandemic, attendees’ behavior and mindset changed. Hybrid working became the norm and we are increasingly more digitally savvy. Blanket emails and intranet announcements aren’t going to cut through the digital noise to stand out with an audience. Careful consideration has to be given to creating a personalized communication campaign to engage the audience and drive significant ROI.
Incentives are exciting; they’re designed to change behaviors and push performance. We therefore must make our communications bigger and bolder to capture attention from start to finish to ensure our messages hit home.
3 CONSIDERATIONS for planning your event communications strategy
Put your audience at the heart
The better you know your audience, the better you can communicate with them. Always analyze previous campaigns to understand what worked and what didn’t. Do we know their preferred communications channels and frequency of messaging? What’s the appropriate tone of voice and what types of media work best – for instance, are they more visually or data-driven?
All of this helps you tailor the communications campaign to them. Personalization throughout is part of this; only show them what’s relevant and interesting to them in terms of performance and results with messaging targeted to where they are specifically in the program. A good campaign will be multi-layered and omnichannel – there is no “one size fits all” approach if engagement is to remain high.
Don’t forget the “what” & the “how”
While it may be that headline-grabbing glossy destination that sells an incentive, you need to sustain engagement over the full campaign period. This is about driving results and to do that, participants need to know what is expected of them and how they are performing, if they are to smash that target.
To do this, include a strong and creative reporting element in your communications. Use personalized performance reports and whatever your measurement criteria or structure, make sure participants are updated regularly with easy access to their results. Consider visualizing progress online with fun, eye-catching animations that are themed to the reward rather than just listing facts and figures.
Creativity is key
As we said at the start, you have to grab people’s attention in a busy digital world. Bulging inboxes and screen fatigue has become all too common whilst working from home. The Collective’s design studio excels at developing campaign themes with a strong visual creative identity. This makes communications stand out and ensures they are easily recognized amongst the day-to-day clutter. And don’t restrict how you communicate – go where your audience is and think about how they consume information. That may mean using podcasts, blogs, imagery, and video as well as social media and internal platforms.
Whilst I’m a strong advocate for telling stories through great film and digital content if you have the budget, consider physical elements to enhance the campaign. Especially if you can send items to home addresses, this can be a great way to involve partners and family. It can also help bring the destination to life; the culture, cuisine, and landscape, so they can visualize themselves enjoying that reward. Recipe kits, fragrances, or locally crafted items can be incorporated to bring a real flavor, literally, of the destination to your audience.
These are just some of the building blocks to consider for your strategy and of course, there is still a lot of basic information to be layered into your core communications. This will include all the COVID safety elements that have now become part of any travel experience. However, first and foremost comms needs to be about engaging and exciting people to what’s on offer to them.
We all hope incentives are back to stay on the agenda, after a difficult absence. So, let’s take this opportunity to be bold, bright and really put the attendee at the heart of our incentive communications strategy.