3 Non-Traditional Ways to Keep Your Participants Engaged

by | Jul 17, 2018 | Blog

Traditions are an important part of life.

Growing up, my cousins and I would all go to the same beach town every summer vacation. We’d cruise around on our bikes, play games out in the yard, and spend entire days at the beach.

As a one-off experience this might’ve accounted for a blip in my childhood memory, but as a tradition repeated year after year, it became something that’s fondly and forever cemented in my mind.

But as the years went by, my cousins and I all grew up and started to want to do our own things.

Our magical vacation spot began to seem smaller, losing a bit of its charm as the ice cream shop and pizza place we all would go to suddenly closed down one year. Over time we became aware that any number of factors can infiltrate their way into a tradition and cause it to lose its luster, threatening the relationships that are bound by it.

So, what did we do?

As the impact of this important tradition diminished, we started to look for new ways to keep in touch, posting in group texts, creating a fantasy football league, and meeting up for dinner or a game night whenever the out-of-towners were back visiting.

These new strategies have helped keep our relationships strong by providing us with opportunities to stay committed and connected to one another.

Traditional Engagement

How does this idea of traditions relate to incentives?

Well, in a traditional points program, common engagement practices might include personalized marketing campaigns, targeted emails, or branded program messaging and communications.

They could also involve a promotion, games of chance, or what we like to call “soft benefits.”

But there are times when these more traditional tactics don’t fulfill organizational needs, or might need to be supplemented by other, outside-the-box strategies in order to help your program stay fresh and relevant.

As an example, it could be the case that you’ve been running a points program for a few years in a row.

As you re-up your program this year, you might be wondering if the same old tricks will continue to inspire your participants. You could stick with what’s worked, but maybe you don’t want to take that chance.

Or perhaps you’re expanding your program to a new market or adding a new wrinkle to the existing structure.

Maybe you’re unsure if what you’ve done in the past will translate to this new initiative, and you’d like to know what other solutions are at your disposal.

Whatever the case may be, there are a number of alternative, non-traditional strategies that can help you raise engagement levels in your incentive program. Let’s take a look at a few:

1) Individual Branch Activities

Let’s say you’re a manufacturer with products that can be found at multiple merchandise locations. You’ll want to reward sales personnel at these stores for selling your products.

To supplement this traditional approach, one innovative engagement tool that could be employed is to set up unique portals for individual branch locations and develop a system that rewards members at each branch for specific, targeted behaviors.

For example, you could award points to individual branch members for maintaining—and documenting—a fully stocked display of your specific SKUs, ensuring that sales personnel are promoting your products and keeping your organization top-of-mind.

2) Social Media

From your boss to your grandmother, it seems everyone’s using social media nowadays. In fact, the average person spends close to 2 hours a day on social media, and this number jumps to nearly 9 HOURS per day for teenagers.

With people devoting this much of their daily mind share to social, it makes sense for companies to try and convert this social media engagement into brand engagement, particularly when it comes to their incentive programs.

While some organizations might be savvier than others when it comes to social media use, providing your program or promotion with even a limited social presence can work wonders for overall engagement.

Some easy and straightforward best practices for leveraging social media in incentive programs include:

  • Creating a unique account for the program itself. This will help foster a sense of exclusivity and make the program more buzz worthy.
  • Provide separate messaging via this account. With consistent updates, participants can be made privy to special deals and offers that will reinforce the privilege of being a part of the program.
  • Design additional point-earning opportunities through social media campaigns. Not only will this serve as an added means of engagement, it will also build excitement for the program in general.

3) DIY Promotions

Again, let’s pretend you’re a manufacturer, one who has disengaged or under performing channel partners, customers, and end-users who seem uninspired to reach, much less exceed the goals you’ve envisioned for them.

What do you do?

Whether this group is part of your incentive program or not, there are ways to reach them beyond the traditional points-program approach.

For example, you could set up a DIY promotion that’s specifically targeted to this group, one like our Promo2Go! product that’s customizable and easy to deliver.

Unlike a typical short-term promotion, which might focus on something like an end-of-the-year sales push, this type of DIY solution allows clients to employ a turn-key promotion when and how they want.

It can be completely customized based on their organizational needs and is delivered at their discretion.

It also gives participating customers and end-users a boost of motivation to engage with the distributor’s products, without demanding a long-term commitment.


There’s nothing wrong with traditional engagement strategies, any more than there is with traditions in general. But as I’ve learned, clinging to the past can often get in the way of building new opportunities in the present.

And while my cousins and I may not go the small beach town of our childhoods anymore, we’re probably more connected today than we ever have been. Go figure.








Photo by Carl Winterbourne on Unsplash

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