Strategy Rescues Recognition ROI

Recognition without strategic planning and implementation may diminish the return on your investment in strengthening connections with the people that matter most to your business.

One of the most powerful ways to connect hearts and minds of every person your business touches is through recognition. However, to be effective and efficient, recognition has to be meaningful. And to be meaningful, it has to be thoughtfully planned.

If you’re rolling your eyes and thinking that your annual holiday gift suffices, I can tell you that this short-sighted approach does not efficiently and effectively produce long-term engagement. The best way to illustrate this point is to share a client’s actual experience.

The Story

Colorful shopping bags standing in row

A colleague who was visiting one of his clients noticed a flurry of activity in a conference room full of holiday gift bags on the floor and table and snaking out the door through the hallway. The chaotic scene prompted my colleague to suggest that the people involved meet me as a resource who could guide them to a better method of planning and implementing their recognition efforts.

In my first meeting with this mid-market firm in the construction industry, I learned about their company culture and values, which emphasized expressing appreciation for occasions such as: an employee’s job well done; client project launch; welcome a new hire, acknowledge a client receiving an honor and more. Marketing was responsible for thinking through and curating an array of recognition items, from simple cards to gifts.

Clearly, the company had the right idea—continued connection is the key to staying top of mind. But my follow-up questions spurred some chin-scratching and made the team realize that they needed to adopt a better approach. Questions included:

  • How do you track recognition moments?
  • How are you sourcing products?
  • How are you managing packaging and shipping?
  • What is not getting done when you are working on recognition activities?

Recognizing a Recognition Rut

Like many growing companies, this company became stuck in a recognition rut:

  • Surpurfluous recognition duties limited internal resources’ ability to perform their primary responsibilities and contribute to the company’s growth.
  • The current arrangement was wrought with inefficiencies like sourcing one-off products over the Internet from unvetted resources, late product delivery, and inefficient space to set-up their packaging and presentation assembly.
  • Lack of a plan.

The team shared they were opening a new office in a new market that was totally unfamiliar with the company. They were proud of the fun gift they had chosen to send after first meetings. When I asked about the longer-term plan to stay in touch, there was silence.

Moving Forward with Strategic Recognition

The discussion that ensued opened eyes to how a strategic plan would amp up results and a program partner would create efficiencies. We talked about a plan that considered:

  • identifying specific recognition moments;
  • budgeting by tiering clients and assigning appropriate recognition tactics; creating a matrix to define their “ideal” client and the potential lifetime value to the company;
  • curating a collection of products, cards, etc. that aligned with the company’s brand and values;
  • developing a variety of meaningful messages and presentation strategies for recognition moments; and
  • creating a portal where employees select and order recognition products that meet their needs (works 95% of the time; when it doesn’t custom alternatives are created).

Keeping it Real

As a recognition partner, we are focused on making sure the company has all of the tools they need,  staying on top of changing recognition trends, and suggesting new ideas. Our eyes are on the ball so the Marketing team can focus on other aspects of their work.

To ensure that the program remains meaningful, at the end of each year we review recognition moments, tools used, and responses received. This insight used to continually refine, refresh and infuse their strategy and implementation to meet their business objectives.

If you think you might be stuck in a recognition rut that isn’t the most efficient use of your internal resources or are looking for a more strategic approach to recognizing employees and clients like you mean it, we can help. Lets start the conversation. Call 952-933-8365 or email