Prizes to pay

Everything seems to be incentivised these days. Either there is a free gift, a fantastic offer or points to be earned in some way or the other. It seems that most marketing managers have forgotten that the consumer at times just wants to get out there and just do it. He doesn’t need to be rewarded or coaxed with a carrot. We are breeding consumers that expect these ‘free prizes’ by default. I remember reading Seth Godin’s view on how offering free prizes form a vicious cycle.

I am perplexed and amused that one of this year’s digital trends seems to be creating an incentive paradigm that supposedly engages and traps consumers making them come back for more across digital platforms. Sometimes these incentive when forced, rob what could be a good idea and turn it into something cheap. In the day and age of co-creation and cloud sourcing, people often forget that one of the key promises that the internet offers is the ability to belong. To be part of something bigger. In fact I recently picked up an issue of Wired magazine that had this interesting article of a rocket being crowd sourced. You really don’t need to incentivise some things that are for the greater good or that are very emotional at the core.

The flip side of this is since everyone is on this band wagon you now need to think of more creative ways to incentivise everything. An interesting and amusing idea cropped up over the last week. Intranets by their very nature are quite boring. They are functional and people rarely design them with aesthetics in mind. In the day and age of Farmville and social gaming perhaps it is high time to take a fresh new look at a very old concept.

What if for example your appraisal or KRA system that you patiently wait for till a certain month of the year was a never ending point system? For performance on certain projects and activities around the office you earned points. A leader-board mechanism then would show you where in the curve you actually were. It would make the entire work experience cut-throat for one. There is such a thing as too much transparency in the system. But yet it just might be what we are searching for.