by Leo Jakobson | November 12, 2012
The finalists of Incentive's fourth annual Motivation Masters Awards excelled in creating the best, most effective, and creative incentive and engagement programs of the year, showcasing what truly great incentives look like. Category winners and the Grand Motivation Master will be announced in the January/ February 2013 issue of Incentive.

Engagement and Recognition
COMPANY: Assurant
DATES: January 2011 to Present

New York-based Assurant is a provider of specialty insurance products in the U.S. and internationally. Last year, following a company-wide employee engagement survey that showed a need for improved recognition, Assurant decided to act. Working with Anderson Performance Improvement, it launched the Assurant Commitment to Excellence (ACE) Recognition program, designed to reinforce a "One Assurant" commitment, boost employee morale, and increase employee engagement, performance, and retention through a flexible points-based program. 

The program also includes e-cards as peer recognition tools, ACE Awards, and scratch-and-win cards that award variable points.

RESULTS: Since the debut of ACE, Assurant has seen satisfaction survey scores grow by 6 percent. More than 7,000 e-cards have been sent, and points have been awarded more than 7,500 times. A full 70 percent of employees participated from the beginning - more than double the initial expectations.

COMPANY: Meridian Credit Union
DATES: January 2010 to Present 
As the largest credit union in Ontario, Canada, with some $8 billion in assets, Meridian firmly believes that  having engaged employees leads to engaged credit union members, ultimately driving profit and sustainable growth. In order to increase its 1,200 employees' engagement and reinforce an internal branding campaign, Meridian worked with San Francisco-based Achievers to create the [email protected] reward and recognition program.

The points-based program allows employees to recognize behaviors that match the company's brand promise and values, either with non-monetary thank-you notes or with points that can be redeemed from a catalog that includes brand-name merchandise, gift cards, individual travel and experiential awards, Groupon coupons, and charitable donations. The platform is also used for sales incentive awards, employee referrals, and service anniversaries.

RESULTS: Since the launch, the engagement score relative to recognition has increased from 3.96 to 4.13 on a five-point scale, with five as the highest, and the number of employees who rated the company's recognition efforts a five out of five rose from 44 to 51 percent.

Channel Sales Incentive Programs

COMPANY: DuluxGroup
DATES: July 1, 2010 to May 31, 2011

Australian building products manufacturer DuluxGroup came to Melbourne-based incentive firm 212F Pty Ltd with a tough assignment: create a channel sales program that will increase sales at all four of DuluxGroup's brands at Danks, the country's leading hardware and garden retailer, even though Australia's hardware industry has experienced poor growth and declining revenues for the past five years.

With a limited budget for an 11-month program that was actually smaller than the budgets for some previous one-month promotions, 212F created the DuluxGroup Danks All Stars program, in which the 35 top-achieving store owners were taken on a trip to Singapore and cruise through Asia. An aggressive launch, featuring everything from teaser mailings of a toy cruise ship to individual visits from DuluxGroup managers, was paired with an easy-to-use web-based program with leader-board rankings promotions and trip information. More than 400 of the 600 Danks stores participated.

RESULTS: The program delivered double-digit sales growth, and increased market share in each of DuluxGroup's four brands in Danks' stores, despite declining results in Australia's broader independent hardware channel during that time.

COMPANY: Kimberly-Clark Professional
DATES: January 2011 to Present

Kimberly-Clark Professional turned to St. Louis-based Maritz Motivation Solutions to create a channel sales and loyalty program  for its 8,000 distributor sales representatives (DSRs) who resell its commercial washroom, industrial wiping, and safety products - consumables with quick turnarounds and repurchase periods. The program was meant to engage with and retain the channel partners' loyalty; deliver and sustain high-margin growth; and move away from cash special-payment incentives for fast sales, among other things.

The result is the web-based KCPzone, also available via mobile devices, which is a one-stop-shop for DSRs seeking marketing materials to use with their own customers, product information and training tools, and information about promotions. Rewards include KCPzone-branded stored-value gift cards and points earned for sales. Gamification tools, ranging from the traditional leaderboard to virtual "badges" earned for learning activities, can be redeemed for gift cards.

RESULTS: Within five months, sales claims from DSRs doubled and they brought in new end-user clients that generated millions of dollars in net volume for Kimberly-Clark Professional, despite the turbulent economy. Other results include a 231-percent increase in participating DSRs during 2011 and a 115-percent increase in 2012 through August 15; a 40-percent increase in DSR sales claims for five consecutive quarters; and 157-percent growth in new business from 2011 to 2012; and a triple-digit ROI.

COMPANY: Multibillion-dollar, multinational corporation
DATES: May 2011 to Present

An information technology products and services division of a multibillion-dollar, multinational corporation with some 6,000 employees, which does business with a substantial percentage of the Fortune 100 turned to Lewsiville, TX-based Parago to create a global sales incentive program for its channel reseller partners.

The goal was to create a consistent, company-branded program to motivate and reward resellers in dozens of countries across 10 languages. A central management platform with standardized incentive awards and communications, and the ability to fold in educational modules, was required. It also had to be flexible enough to support separate aims and program targets in different countries, as wells as differing legal requirements. Extensive back-end management was required.

RESULTS: The points-based program offers participating channel companies' sales reps and sales engineers country-by-country catalogs with merchandise and experiential rewards. When sales are made by eligible but not enrolled companies, they are automatically notified of the program and invited to join. The program has garnered rave reviews and participating channel partners have seen their revenues grow by substantial double digits in its first six months.

Sales Incentives 

COMPANY: Huntington National Bank
DATES: May 2, 2011 to Oct. 31, 2011

When Columbus, OH-based Huntington National Bank wanted to create an incentive program to open more business accounts and sell more credit products, it turned to New Brunswick, NJ-based Dittman Incentive Marketing, which created the Journey to the World Series program.

With a predominantly male target audience and a May-to-October  program period coinciding with baseball season, Dittman created a baseball-themed program with the goal of generating $500,000 in treasury revenues in line with the goals of the $57-billion regional financial institution's Optimizing Customer Relationships program. Salespeople were divided into competing regional teams seeking to hit the most "home runs" (opening commercial accounts and selling certain credit products, etc.), with each "run" winning redeemable points. The most "runs" would win the "world series championship" and a $2,000 gift card.

RESULTS: The program more than doubled the original goal of 20 home runs with a total of 42, and generated $1.2 million in revenue, meeting 110 percent of the goal, for a 12-to-1 ROI.

DATES: Jan. 28 to April 21, 2012

M&T Bank, a Fortune 1000 financial firm based in Buffalo, NY, wanted to find out how much of the annual company-wide sales goal set for its 250 financial advisors could be jammed into a single 10-week period if employees were motivated by an aggressive, non-cash incentive program. M&T turned to Minneapolis-based MotivAction to create the Super Silvers 21 program, which consisted of a two-week launch and information period, a five-week qualification and earning period, and a three-week redemption period.

In previous years, only 20 to 25 percent of M&T Bank's financial advisors met their individual annual sales goal during the year. To build and maintain momentum during the short program window, MotivAction used game mechanics to build excitement, creating a two-tier award program and requiring participants to reach sales thresholds to get any award.

RESULTS: The M&T Super Silvers 21 program achieved nearly 200 percent of the program goal and met 95 percent of the sales goal for the entire year during the five-week qualification and earning period. That meant $2.85 million of incremental revenue and an ROI of 19 to 1. More than half of M&T's financial advisors met or exceeded their sales goals, almost doubling previous years' results.

DATES: May 23 to 27, 2011

Pharmaceutical firm Nycomed US was looking for a European incentive trip that would "wow" 26 of its president's club achievers who met or exceeded their sales goals, all on a relatively tight budget. The firm, which has since been purchased by Swiss multinational company Takeda Pharmaceutical Co., asked Willow Grove, PA-based Harith Productions to create the Embrace the Emerald Isle program, making the five-day trip as environmentally friendly and sustainable as possible, and immersing winners in the culture and history of Dublin.

RESULTS: The trip included locavore dining, and there were signs of reduced carbon footprints in a variety of ways, from QR codes replacing printed documents to selecting restaurants within walking distance. A local TV personality/celebrity chef was brought in for a cooking experience that focused on farm-to-fork cuisine. Irish music and dance were incorporated at every turn. Historic venues were used, and personal, bespoke touches were found throughout the event to create a sales incentive trip that truly exceeded expectations of even the veteran president's club attendees.