You Get What You Reward

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Dr. Bob Nelson’s principle of recognition “you get what you reward” means that in order to succeed you need to be clear about what you want and how you are going to reward it. In the world of advocate marketing, Dr. Nelson’s quote couldn’t be more true. But, if you’re charged with getting your company’s best customers to advocate your products/services, which reward system is the best for driving participation? Just how do you build an appropriate reward structure that will motivate customers as brand advocates and help you achieve your marketing objectives?

According to Gabe Zichermann, author of The Gamification Revolution, reward systems that use the Status, Access, Power & Stuff (SAPS) model have proven to be effective. When you get the right mix, these reward categories go a long way toward motivating your advocates to participate in your company’s advocacy program – in the long term. After all, you don’t want a high churn rate in your brand advocate community. Let’s take a closer look at each category and some suggestions on how to use them:

Status: The acquisition of a higher social status is a powerful psychological driver. Give your advocates symbols that clearly signify and quantify their status in comparison others. In gamification, badges are the primary status symbols – indicating skills and achievement. Be sure to give your badges meaningful descriptions so advocates understand what they will achieve when they advocate for you.

Access: Everyone likes to be treated like a VIP. Give your advocates exclusive access that the broader customer community doesn’t get (or gets before everyone else). Consider using the content unlocking approach. As your advocates earn access rewards, give them the ability to view premium content.

Power: Give your advocates the ability to do things that other advocates can’t do. E.g. consider giving your advocates the ability to participate in a special user group where they get the opportunity to influence your product roadmap.

Stuff: Give your advocates tangible rewards that they find valuable. However, be careful with just giving electronic gadgets or branded accessories as rewards – as this may set a permanent expectation. You may find that your advocates will come to expect something tangible every time they advocate your brand.

The key to using SAPS is to find the right balance between intrinsic and extrinsic rewards. Intrinsic rewards are more motivating than extrinsic rewards, as they appeal at a more subconscious and emotional level. Understanding why your customers love your products and services will help you discover how to intrinsically reward your advocates. Extrinsic rewards aren’t very easy either; iPads and coffee mugs have their place, but for long-term success try adding more meaningful rewards as well.

Remember, you get what you reward. So, if you want your best customers to advocate on your behalf, be sure to create a reward system that will motivate them to participate in your advocacy program. The SAPS model, when used as a well-balanced mix between intrinsic and extrinsic rewards, is a great place to start.

To learn more about incentive systems and customer advocacy programs please contact us


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