Attention, Please!

By Malcolm Fleschner

A key concept in today’s marketing field is top of mind. The idea is to cut through the flood of informational clutter we’re all assaulted with and deliver a message that’s received, recognized and retained by the target audience. For sales managers running incentive programs, top of mind means making sure salespeople are constantly aware of what they’re competing for and exactly what they need to accomplish to win.

One instructive example of a successful campaign comes from Packard Bell NEC, the global computer maker. In an effort to build better relationships with retail salespeople and improve the salespeople’s knowledge of company products, Packard Bell NEC turned to the B. Little & Company agency to develop an appropriate promotions vehicle.

Understanding that a large segment of retail salespeople hail from the Generation X demographic, B. Little developed a strategy keying on pop cultural content likely to interest this particular audience.

The company sent three different mailings of Home Delivery CD-ROMs featuring music videos, movie trailers and animation all interspersed with important messages about Packard Bell NEC products to thousands of recipients’ homes. Additionally, the CDs were packaged to look like take-out or delivery food containers, the first with a pizza box theme, the second resembling a fried chicken bucket and the third in the shape of a Chinese take-out box.

So what was the response? According to follow-up research the promotion genuinely interested the retail salespeople, with 95% saying they’d like to receive more CDs and 64% saying they had viewed the CDs up to four times with an average time span of 20 minutes per session. Perhaps most importantly, nearly all felt the mailings helped them do their jobs better, with 70% saying they felt the discs had improved their perception of Packard Bell NEC products.

Though not a sales incentive promotion per se, the Home Delivery program offers pointed insights for sales organizations eager to grab and hold onto their salespeople’s attention when communicating the benefits of an incentive program.

1. Know your audience
Whether or not your salespeople take an interest in your message will depend as much on who they are as on what you have to say. Take into account the delivery vehicle most likely to get through to your target audience before making your pitch.

2. Give ’em the WIFM
Just because it’s important to the company for your salespeople to digest your communications doesn’t make it important to them. By mixing company information with music and movie content, Packard Bell NEC actually made it fun for the salespeople to find out about company products.

3. Mix it up
By altering each communications vehicle, first using the pizza box, then the chicken bucket and finally the Chinese take-out boxes, Packard Bell NEC created an air of enthusiasm and anticipation around their promotion. Sure it took some planning and creativity, but the dividends in increased interest more than offset the extra legwork that went into building the program.