Award-Winning Case Studies: Incentive's 2019 Motivation Masters

These successful employee, channel sales, consumer and recognition programs demonstrate the effectiveness of a powerful motivation program.

Accepting their just rewards: Jesse Wolfersberger of Maritz Motivation Solutions, Cheryl Maschal of Frontier Communications, Pali Chhabra of Brightspot, Melissa Hernandez of Petco, Rhonda Sucharda of MotivAction, John Michel of ITA Group and Ed Emch of Bridgestone
Accepting their just rewards: Jesse Wolfersberger of Maritz Motivation Solutions, Cheryl Maschal of Frontier Communications, Pali Chhabra of Brightspot, Melissa Hernandez of Petco, Rhonda Sucharda of MotivAction, John Michel of ITA Group and Ed Emch of Bridgestone Photo Credit:Ketara Gadahn / Studio Alani

Incentive’s annual Motivation Masters awards (now in their 10th year) celebrate outstanding reward and recognition programs, and this year’s winners were particularly impressive. The awards honor superior work in four categories: sales, channel sales, recognition and loyalty. In addition, a Grand Motivation Master award applauds outstanding overall achievement. Following are the 2019 winner.

The winners were announced in March at an awards ceremony held during Incentive LiveNorthstar Meetings Group's incentive, loyalty and motivation event at the Fairmont Chicago Millennium Park.

For all those who would like a chance to have their own programs spotlighted in 2020, applications are now open for next year's Motivation Masters Awards. Go here for details and application process for the 2020 Motivation Masters contest. Here are the 2019 winners.

Grand Motivation Master

Maritz Motivation Solutions and HSBC

In ways large and small, artificial intelligence has been playing an increasingly important part in our lives. But while many steps are being made to incorporate machine learning into incentives, there has been a paucity of case studies describing best practices.

That is what makes HSBC's credit card customer loyalty program, this year's Grand Motivation Master winner, so exciting: It uses the full capabilities of Maritz Motivation Solutions' innovative data tools while offering examples of how machine learning can target messaging and rewards to better motivate participants. 

When HSBC sought to encourage members of its loyalty program to spend their points on rewards, the challenge was to cut through their customers' email clutter to draw attention to the program. To solve the problem, HSBC turned to Maritz Motivation Solutions, which had been developing AI capabilities through its recently launched Decisions Sciences division.

"As soon as we mentioned 'we've been kicking around machine learning,' HSBC said, 'We were looking to innovate with machine learning, too,'" says Maritz' chief data officer, Jesse Wolfersberger.

Read the full profile of the program here. And see more about the winning program in this video:

Sales Category

Brightspot Incentives & Events and Frontier Communications for the Red Zone Referral Program

Looking to motivate salepeople in a new way, leaders of telecommunications firm Frontier Communications decided to use a football theme for their incentive program. Their goal for the season: increase sales referrals and close more leads.

Frontier partnered with Brightspot Incentives & Events, which previously had run small programs for the company. The new program was on a much grander scale, covering Frontier's approximately 28,000 technicians in 270 locations throughout the U.S. Together, the two companies laid out a plan designed to motivate employees to upsell existing customers or find new customers while on service calls, and to encourage the salespeople to turn those referrals into sales.

"They don't really have a central hub or a central office and could be dispatched from anywhere, so engagement and communication were the two keys that we wanted to make sure we got right," says Pali Chhabra, marketing program manager at Brightspot.

Read the full profile of the program here.

Channel Sales Category

ITA Group and Bridgestone Americas Commercial Division 

ITA Group created the Milestone channel sales program for Bridgestone Americas Commercial Division with one goal in mind: to provide a consolidated incentive program that would drive incremental tire sales and gain market share. Milestone's target audience was the independent commercial sales rep, aiming to facilitate more sales of Bridgestone, Firestone, Bandag and Dayton tires. The program's creative strategies and impressive results earned it this year's Motivation Master award in the Channel Sales category.

The program used a robust communication campaign to maximize engagement, an effort that was so successful, it generated a 48 percent open rate across online channels. The mixed-media strategy kept the independent sales reps in the loop and engaged with all the happenings in their markets, and reminded them of special earning opportunities along the way. 

The award offerings were vast: Sales reps could redeem perks from a catalog of more than 10,000 items. Those who sold Dayton semi-truck tires or Bandag retread tires netted additional perks, and the top 30 reps were treated to a trip to Las Vegas. 

Read the full profile of the program here.


Loyalty Category

Hawk Incentives and VCA Animal Hospitals

A person's pet can inspire a high level of devotion, not just in the care they give the animal but the food and products they buy for it. That presented both an opportunity and a challenge for VCA Animal Hospitals, which offers long-term wellness plans for dog and cat owners via their pet-protection plan, VCA CareClub.

To better understand the impact of the tailored plan, VCA surveyed CareClub members and implemented the feedback in the form of a rewards program, in collaboration with Hawk Incentives. The success of the program earned it this year's Motivation Master award in the Loyalty Category.

CareClub members making purchases at VCA Animal Hospitals or via VCA Home Delivery within the U.S. earned 10 reward points for every dollar spent on qualifying products. At 2,000 points ($200 spent), members received a $20 VCA Mastercard, provided by Hawk, which could be used toward products or services at VCA Hospitals.

Read the full profile of the program here.

Recognition Category

Petco Animal Supplies and MotivAction 

When San Diego-based Petco Animal Supplies hired MotivAction to implement a companywide recognition and reward program, it had several goals in mind: to modernize technology, create efficiencies, recognize and influence behavior, reward top performers with unique experiences and increase the market penetration of key products. Together, the two companies devised the enterprisewide program, MyPetcoRecognition, the success of which earned it this year's Motivation Master award in the Recognition Category.

Petco and MotivAction's initiative uses the world's first ISO-certified enterprise-engagement software. The winning program included peer-to-peer and manager-to-peer recognition; a social message center to promote "desired" behavior; a nomination section for peers to acknowledge each other's efforts, and a contest center to drive sales goals and award top performers. 

The platform kept tabs on many metrics, such as program engagement by region and area; in its first 18 months, it generated 240,094 recognitions, and Petco saw a 35 percent growth in sales of its key products. A new travel reward program -- the Petco Guest Experience Circle -- sent 55 winners to the Westin Denver Downtown, where a "Run Through the Warehouse" allowed participants to nab an average of $2,117 worth of goodies each from brands like Yeti, North Face and Brookstone. 

Read the full profile of the program here