Archives for December 2013

Channel Conduit: What 28 Million People Learned About Giving Gifts from this Video

I love Westjet. We have a couple of clients and developers based in Toronto, and Westjet is always our favorite carrier that flies there. Why? Take a look at this must-watch holiday video about gift-giving that Westjet put together, and maybe you’ll understand:

When Santa asked people what they wanted for Christmas, what did they say? Big-screen TVs, cameras, toys, etc.

Why didn’t they say cash?  Because when Santa asks, it’s magic, and if there is magic involved, why not ask for something you normally couldn’t afford or wouldn’t splurge on? You’re not spending your own family’s money—apparently this is goodwill currency & equity you’ve built up all year from being “good”. You and your family have earned it. Live it up!

Gift Giving


Can you imagine Santa giving out cash? Where is the joy, the fun in that? What type of experience would the receiver of the cash have had while everyone else was opening their gifts?

Happy Holidays, Channel-Movers!  When rewarding your channel partners for being “good” all year, make sure you don’t flop by giving them cash. Give them something that builds loyalty and goodwill toward your brand.

Move the Channel,


PS Thanks for sharing this video with me Anthony 


Two Days with Channel Innovators

In today’s global and telecommuting marketplace, conducting in-person meetings or “workshops” with a vendor partner is rare. Due to varying locations, busy schedules, and more travel expense restrictions, the face-to-face time usually suffers. Because of this, the development of a global channel loyalty program will often consist of many video and web conferences, but only a couple of in-person meetings.   In many cases, those in-person meetings turn out to be one-way presentations rather than creative collaborations.

That is why I am a fan of extended “workshop” meetings, where partners are able to meet face-to-face to develop their business. Without this type of meeting, a client can miss out on two key components of a successful partnership.

In-Person Meetings

1.)    Meeting the team:

Without a workshop, the client would not have the chance to meet the entire team responsible for executing their channel loyalty strategy. Because of the extended time, all of the important components of the team can be personally introduced, including operations, customer service, program management, development, marketing, communications, and global specialists. In addition, time spent with the executive management can serve as a reflection of the organization’s overall strategy and success.

2.)    Knowing the team:

When you are launching an innovative global program, what is more important than trusting your vendor partner and having confidence in the team responsible for your initiative?

For better or worse, these two critical components can only truly be achieved through the old fashioned method of getting on a plane and heading to your partner’s headquarters. I am convinced that this should be a requisite when it comes to any strategically complex channel incentive program.  The investment and impact is too significant to approach it any other way. Don’t get me wrong, I am a huge believer in virtual meetings, and I know they are an efficient way of getting many things accomplished.  But when it comes to initiatives that require great understanding between the client and vendor partner, there is no substitute for an “all in” session.

Finally, speaking from experience, it’s also not just the client who benefits from such an engagement. In-person meetings are also tremendous opportunities for the vendor partner to learn what real challenges and opportunities are facing their client and the rest of the industry. The ability to build and learn from new relationships with other passionate, driven channel marketing leaders, can aid long-term goals and even create friendships. As someone who is passionate about the channel, I know this has been true for me.

Move the Channel,

The Economics Of Seinfeld: What’s the right Gift to give; cash?

Elaine’s Birthday Seinfeld – “Cash!?!?, What are you my Uncle?”


“Several Shades of Grey” – The Potential Dark Side of Channel Incentive Programs Part I

shades of greyAt this year’s Incentive Leadership Forum in Punta Cana, HMI/MMI included a prominent academic team of researchers from leading universities in the fields of channel performance and loyalty engineering. Almost all of the world-class companies that participated in the Forum agreed that research is the lifeblood of a successful reward and recognition program and the key to revealing the changing landscape and behaviors of the channel.

One of the best sessions of the event was called “Several Shades of Grey: The Potential Dark Side of Programs.” We learned a lesson in behavior when Dr. Ko de Ruyter of Maastricht University asked the audience who had read the popular book “50 Shades of Grey”. Let’s just say this small audience’s response didn’t quite align with the global statistics of this wildly popular book. But the session did provide some buzz to the Forum, and Dr. Ko de Ruyter certainly had everyone’s attention.

The witty play on the popular book’s title was appropriate as the workshop focused on how to avoid the “darkest” aspects of loyalty program behavior.   Earlier this year, Gartner shined a light on these negative traits in a report that they published. However, unlike Gartner’s report, which focused on the criminal challenges of programs, the forum focused on strategic challenges that could actually be controlled by program architects.

Jan (Ya-wn) Pelser of Maastricht University shared some studies relating to the topic, “What Motivates Your Audience? Gratitude vs. Indebtedness.” The question is when you reward your channel does your incentive program show gratitude and appreciation?  Or does it make the participant after receiving an award feel like they owe you something?  One amazing point I took from this session was that even though gratitude would seem to obviously be a more motivating influence, nonetheless a significant number of program designs actually lean toward indebtedness.  Jan shared some of his fascinating case studies that showed that, while both strategies can be initially effective, gratitude ultimately yields much higher rewards when it comes to long-term loyalty. On the darker side, indebtedness, in many cases, provides an inferior preliminary lift, and can also even have negative effects in the long term. While you might sway a partner’s business today, with an approach based on indebtedness you are risking pushing your partner away in the future.

Finally, although the session focused on how to show more gratitude in your program’s rule design and strategy, another opportunity to express gratitude could be found in the awards themselves. Studies have shown that participants are much more likely to feel indebted when they receive cash rewards. On the other hand, when they redeem for a “trip of a lifetime” or “concert tickets to see their favorite band,” they felt much appreciated and on the gratitude-end of the continuum. Over the course of the studies, participants were much more engaged and enthusiastic when they had gratitude toward the reward. You may have heard me reference this phenomenon before, as something I like to call ROE (Return on Experience).

Many people think that long-term loyalty is hard to measure—and usually they’re right. But the incredibly smart people who develop loyalty laboratories have proven that, in fact, there are concrete ways to achieve measureable results. This has been something of a revelation for me.

In part II of “Several Shades” I’ll share how Dr. Debbie Keeling from Loughborouch University tackled “Complacency in Relationships – Can You Beat it?”

Contact me if you would like to hear more about these studies, or would like to be introduced to these amazing resources and wonderful people.
Move the Channel,

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