Which rewards are the most effective? S.A.P.S

One of the biggest mistakes that people make when designing fan engagement programs is to assume that cash (in the form of discounts) and/or stuff is the ultimate reward. Time and time again, evidence shows that tangible rewards have serious deficits in an incentive scheme.


Limitations include:

They Can Turn Users Off: If your rewards don’t look good to your fans in the first few minutes, you’re liable to lose more user interest than if you had never included rewards in the first place. They Are Expensive: Obviously, discounts and physical rewards cost money – even if they’re donated, administration and fulfilment rarely happen for free. Or They Are Too Cheap: Fans respond to cheap rewards just like they respond to cheap stuff in the real world: with limited interest. The odd 5% discount or freebie cap isn’t a panacea It Rarely Motivates Better Than Chance: Unless you are offering large sums of money or value in a sweepstakes or competition, small dollar rewards tend not to motivate better than virtual items.


So what are the right rewards? and how do you build a schedule of rewards that optimize engagement and truly motivate your fans. The answer is SAPS – short for Status, Access, Power and Stuff


It’s what Fans really want, in that order. Some more elaboration on the SAPS idea:


Status Rewards – is that best described as that immeasurable feeling when you turn left rather than right as you enter a plane. I know a somewhat inane example. But a sense of being special, important, and recognition is an extremely powerful motivator especially when this recognition is genuinely earned and not simply purchased. Status is often displayed using totems – the black cards, members ties, club badges. The concept of Tiers is linked to a motivation of building status.


It is a mistake to think about Status being purely linked to Season Ticket Purchase. That may afford you special status but building a membership program that offers fans a route to earn status is critically important. Tenure, attendance, engagement, subscription can all be used to grow your status within a program.


Status, of course, is only valuable when linked with the benefits that come with such status (these are covered in Access, Power and Stuff). Offering a way for your fans to display their status is however important.


Status is also an emotional play and therefore can be linked to emotional rewards – “your name on the flag” “your name on the training kit for this season” “mosaic of names in players tunnel” “names etched on the goals posts”. I call these EMOTIs – emotional rewards that reference the bond between the Fan (in this case the member) and the Team.


Access Rewards – status and access often go hand in hand. As your status within the program grows it should open-up access to the best opportunities and new ways for your members to interact with the Team. Access can be interpreted in several ways:

  1. Physical Access to spaces – members lounges, club suites, parking spaces

  2. Priority Access – to high demand assets including tickets, on-sales, fast-track entrances, experiences, upgrades, authentic collectables

  3. Content Access – curated access to digital content ONLY available to members – news, interviews, training, “fly on wall” documentary

For example, an access reward might give your high-status members a 24-hour head start in booking play-off tickets or selecting the experiences that they want for the season. Conversely, you might give “achievers” a 5-minute post game analysis from the Coach or being the first to know about a new signing.


Power Rewards - specifically entitle members to “get involved”. Their reward is to have some influence over the Team – this can range from low key decisions such as “picking a message for the captain’s armband”, or choosing the “team entrance song”, through to more substantial items such as “choosing the latest signings squad number”, “choosing the new away kit colour or design”. Power can be delivered in the form of a “voting right” or “involvement in a fan forum”. Some teams even enable members to vote on core Club decisions and hiring and firing decisions.


Stuff Rewards - the last/least in the model. I’m not saying that the stuff is not important – it’s like the stocking fillers at Christmas. It may not be your big present, the one that get you super-excited, but represents the smaller gifts that keep you excited and reminded that Christmas is coming. The Stuff Rewards should flow through-out the year and fill the void between the big motivators above. Stuff rewards are made up of a regular stream of discounts, vouchers, low value by authentic collectibles, digital content, NFTs, experiences. They are the back ground to the program and keep the member regularly engaged. The mistake however that many programs make is that they focus on the Stuff before the other motivators above.


For a detailed list of rewards by broken down by each category just contact me on the chat.

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