Two-Way Street

PR, social media, events and incentives – Collaboration & communication ideas for demanding businesses from The Castle Group's Mark O'Toole

Posts Tagged ‘incentive’

Fargo = Fail

Posted by thecastlegroup on December 15, 2010

Castle co-founder Wendy Spivak has been building large-scale, successful incentive programs for companies and their sales forces for two decades. But she’s never planned an incentive to Fargo. Read below for her thoughts on a company that recently has traveled to Fargo — in December.

I just read an article about a sales incentive program that failed.  And I felt very conflicted—impressed by the publicity it garnered and by the way the sales team made the best of it, but on the other hand….IT FAILED TO ACHIEVE ITS GOALS.

Here’s what happened: a candy company created a sales incentive program to motivate its sales team to achieve certain goals.  If they achieved those goals, they would win a company-paid trip to Hawaii.  If not, they were going to Fargo, North Dakota.  Definitely clever.  BUT, they didn’t achieve, and they went to North Dakota.  The article includes images of the employees bundled up and freezing.  They made the best of it—wearing company-logo’d hats, they had a lot of winter team-building activities planned, and they handed out care packages of the company’s candy to the locals.

I LIKE the ingenuity, the opportunity to market and team-build, and create a memorable experience.

But again, THEY DID NOT MEET THEIR GOALS.  So while there was some goodwill and esprit de corps and even a little marketing, the incentive did not have the intended impact on the bottom line.

At Castle, we plan, manage and market sales incentive programs for many leading national and international organizations, across a number of industries.  And we always start with the GOAL in mind—not where do you want to go, what will make people happy, but “what numbers are you trying to achieve,” and then we figure out how to hit those numbers.  Maybe in the case of this candy company, there were some key elements overlooked.  Perhaps they didn’t fully market the program during its life span, to keep momentum and enthusiasm high, and ensure people’s eyes were on the prize (the good prize, not the consolation prize).  Maybe the numbers were unrealistic.  Maybe the program didn’t have time to “bake.”  But something went wrong.

So I remain conflicted.  As a professional in this industry, I appreciate the creativity involved, and as an employer, I appreciate the employee experience the company created.  But as a businessperson who takes my clients’ goals and ROI very seriously, I don’t think that’s enough to make this more than an interesting story about failure.

What do you think? Is a reward for a job kind of well done worthwhile? How do incentivize your teams?

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Posted by thecastlegroup on May 13, 2009

We are a communications firm, so we love the media. But let’s face it, online, offline, in print or on the airwaves, we are bombarded with dire reports: “Swine flu is creating a panic! We’re in a recession!” If this wasn’t enough, we keep hearing about the endangered local media, most notably, the imminent demise of The Boston Globe and how that is going to forever change the way we run our business and service our clients. Since we’re in the business of making sure messages are accurately conveyed, this month, we’re using this space to do some “fact-checking” of our own.
Myth #1: If The Globe shuts down, Boston PR firms are in trouble.
If The Boston Globe were to shut down–which thankfully seems less likely today–it will indeed be a sad day for the entire region. We grew up reading it, we love opening it each morning, it is an important institution and we have great friends at The Globe. As citizens and communications professionals, we want Boston to be a vibrant, two-paper city.
We hope and trust that The Globe will emerge from this difficult time refocused and refinanced, but regional media relations and press coverage is just one element of the work we do for our clients: social media, vertical marketing, brand management, enrollment marketing, national and international public relations, relationship marketing and event marketing are equally, if not more, important to what we do every day at Castle; our success stems from a deep understanding of trends and cycles, as well as our ability to anticipate change and maximize opportunities for our clients in emerging communications channels.
Myth #2: Business people are not traveling.
Contrary to the common misconception, we are finding that corporations are not significantly cutting back on their corporate event agendas: they are responding positively to President Obama’s very public call for continued support of corporate events and business travel. What we do see, and what we support, is a trend away from extravagance and toward greater attention on corporate events as efficient vehicles for brand enhancement, strategic messaging and for incenting sales channels. This has always been our focus at Castle, and what has differentiated our approach from the beginning.
When we say that we are not “party planners,” but rather a marketing and messaging company, we mean that our objective is designing and delivering multi-tiered corporate events, which effectively and efficiently position the brand and support strategic marketing objectives. In the past few months we have managed events in Boston, as well as in Italy, Costa Rica, Napa, Portugal and yes, Mexico (without incident). With clear messaging, specific goals and responsible budgeting, there is still no better way to directly reach your audience. Incentive travel programs, done properly, help companies achieve ROI and are measurable, quantifiable motivators for success.    

We hope that the worst has passed, but if it hasn’t, if recessionary factors linger longer, we remain committed to working hard everyday to bring tangible, measurable value to our clients.

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