Channel Incentive Programs: Are You Implementing Soft Benefits?

Hotel and airline rewards programs undoubtedly have their issues. For one, their currency is so diluted these days that it takes over a year to earn a single reward. With that being said, there are certain things that they are doing well. For starters, they do a terrific job of offering “soft benefits” to their customers. These are the little extra bonuses that keep us talking and always keep us coming back.

fisrt class

These soft benefits come in the form of First-Class upgrades, complementary luggage allowances, priority boarding privileges, free access to their VIP lounge, or maybe even a chance to fly the plane! Okay, so they aren’t exactly letting us fly the plane…yet, but you get my point.

I mean think about it–what keeps you engaged with your preferred airline carrier or hotel chain of choice? Great prices, sure, but what else? It’s the soft benefits! We are always encouraging our clients to

incorporate these soft benefits into their channel incentive programs, and the strategy is continuing to pay gigantic dividends.

So what are some examples of these benefits as they pertain to channel incentives? Let’s take a look at a few that can have a huge perceived value to your potential program participants:

  • Platinum Customer Service
  • Invitation to a Leadership Roundtable
  • Participation in Beta product builds & testing
  • Partner locator privileges
  • Hotline to the CEO or CTO
  • Penthouse Upgrade at a Partner Conference
  • Dinner with the CEO
  • Priority-status for low availability Rewards like a Rolling Stones concert in London!

fine diningBy integrating soft benefits into your channel incentive program you can distinguish your business from the competition and deliver a personal touch that leads to deeper, stronger relationships with your partners. Not all soft benefits are published or explicit, but even these can still act as qualifiers for which partner deserves the reward. One way to ensure this is to create Partner Tiers (Platinum, Gold, Silver) for your program, which can help you easily determine which partners qualify for which soft benefits. Regardless of the method, it’s important to have a system in place that selects the partners who especially deserve the high-value rewards. By establishing this system as a prime component of your channel incentive program, you will be able to acknowledge these exceptional partners with minimum hassle.


Here is a good tool or checklist to compare your current soft benefits:

Enter your name and email address to download Move the Channel Guide and RIMES Chart

Name: Email:

Mobile Up! Top 5 reasons why it’s time for Channel Marketing Mobile Apps

The iPhone 4#1:  Everyone has a smartphone today.  Almost all of your channel partners, channel partner sales, and their sales engineers—basically EVERYONE you want to engage—have a smartphone.  According to a report by NBC News last week, 56% of US adults are using smartphones, up from 35% two years ago.  What’s more, when we segment high-earning professionals like our channel partner’s sales and sales engineers, that number goes even higher.

#2:  Access to your Audience:  Much of our audience is in the field—right where we want them to be. Because of this, Mobile allows us unprecedented access to our partners. In fact, most don’t even need to come back to the office to check their emails anymore. That probably also means they aren’t going back to the office to browse what’s new on your partner portal, either.

#3:  Communication:  Your partner program lives where your audience lives, and nowadays that life is mobile, on their smartphone. Your channel marketing logo ( can now sit next door to their Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn apps, like one big happy community. Making your channel program mobile enables your audience to quickly access key information that can help them sell more, determine what to sell, and close more frequently.  In addition to giving them access to these tools, we can also push communications and text messages to them, which comes in handy with promotions and channel reward programs.

#4:  Motivate and Engage:  We’re all familiar with the maxim “out of site, is out of mind.”  With a channel program app, we’re never out of sight. Talk about mindshare! Also, a mobile app means we don’t have to wait for the participant to come to us; now we can come to them.  For example, we can now push notifications about incentive promotions for certain products, offer leaderboard updates, let participants know their percent to goal, and send them an alert when they have enough points to redeem for that family vacation on their program Wish List!

#5: Capture Key Insight:  With mobile apps you can also capture key data that is critical to your business.  One challenge of a channel go-to-market strategy is that you lose a little bit of direct access to the end-user. But now, you can reward your channel partners for uploading pictures of the solution or the competitive product that needs replaced. Do people still talk about conversions as a KPI?  You can also have a claims process on the app so helps ensure you are giving credit to the right sales person or SE at the right partner.


The biggest question in terms of going mobile: Where do I get started?  To develop a simple iPhone or Android App starts at around $45,000 and goes up from there. If you are working on a partner platform it is a much smaller investment for Mobile Apps features.  For example we will soon be offering a “Starter App” for our client’s channel incentive reward program that starts at around $10,000.

Looking for some mobile ideas? Shoot me an email with any questions.

Do you have a Mobile App for your Channel Marketing & Channel Incentive Program?


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