Do you put as much thought into the incentive as you do into your mailing list, your creative content, and your message? Does the value of the incentive match how much the response is worth to you

Here at PMI, located in the San Francisco Bay Area, we know all about how important incentives can be. They’re critical to getting people to respond to your marketing offer, and not every incentive will motivate every buyer. The two have to be properly matched. 

Which is why it’s good to ask yourself regularly if your business is matching its incentives to its audience. And to know about the correct incentive, you should go back down to the basics of what an incentive is. We really like how the Incentive Marketing Association defines it: “a structured plan to get people to do what you want them to do.” 

People like being rewarded for stuff they were already going to do in the first place. They also like being rewarded for doing something in general. 

What type of incentives should you offer?

For many marketers an incentive is something low cost, that won’t affect sales or waste money. For higher value products, the incentives can become much more creative. Some examples of incentives would be: 

  • Loyalty Programs: You see these a lot when it comes to restaurants and cafe chains. The more food or drinks you buy, the more rewards you get and those can be redeemed for a gift card or free items in the future. 
  • Free Samples: If you buy Item A, then you get five free samples of Item B. 
  • Bonus Product with Purchase: If you buy Item A, then you get Item B (or another Item A) for 50% off or something along those lines. 
  • Sweepstakes Entry: Complete XYZ and you get one free entry to win a cruise to the Bahamas. (For this one you need to be able to show you’re not bluffing so a testimonial would be great to add in here.)
  • Free Upgrade with a Purchase: A good example of this is a tire place. They always have all sorts of deals such as offering a free tire package upgrade when a customer buys four regular tires at full price.

Incentives pull people in. They make people want to stay. According to a survey done in 2017 by Citi, 86% of customers said they were more loyal to companies that offer some sort of loyalty program.

Do incentives have to cost you a lot of money?

The answer is not necessarily. Just because your incentive has a high dollar value doesn’t mean that it’s the right incentive for your company. 

For example, you might not want to give away free iPods to a tech-savvy audience that most likely already has one — or three. Instead, you might want to offer something more unusual, such as a digital picture frame that attaches to a key ring. 

An incentive doesn’t need to cost a lot to be highly motivating. People like doing things that make them feel like they are helping others and doing good. 

One marketer used the “hook” during its Christmastime promotion of allowing respondents to help select the charity to receive its end-of-year donation. Others have given away free saplings to environmentally conscious prospects around Earth Day. The point is to match the incentive to your specific audience. One size doesn’t fit all. 

If you need help with coming up with incentive ideas, we can help here at PMI. Despite being located in the San Francisco Bay Area, we have the capability to help customers across the United States. Talk to us about getting the right match for your next campaign and watch the customers roll in. 


Have you ever been offered a deal to do something, but the incentive was pointless? If you’re a business owner nodding “yes” to this, you could be doing the same thing to your audience. Are you matching your incentives to your customers?

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