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15 Minutes With...Paul Gordon, Vice President of Sales, Rymax Marketing Services

Q: Tell us a bit about Rymax’s history and its philosophy regarding ‘Loyalty Marketing.’
A: Rymax has been in this arena for over 18 years. We entered the space with a very distinct business strategy that incorporated key differentiating factors, such as providing rewards with high brand equity; offering rewards that are the latest and greatest, and not closeouts; creating a unique experience for clients via an analysis of their demographic and psychographic needs; delivering measurable analysis and the ability to create programs that are nimble to change; and controlling all aspects of our business without out-sourcing – this is critical in customer service.

Q: What’s the connection between Recognition and Loyalty?
A: This is a great question, because the two terms are often used together, yet have two very different strategies. “Recognition” can be for a singular act or could be a one time occurrence. “Loyalty” is a much more complex initiative that’s used to initiate trial, retain the end-user, increase usage and extend the brand experience. The “Reward” should also be very specific to the end-user, and we always encourage choice.

Q: Briefly describe your first encounter with the term ‘Engagement’
A: Definitely in my marketing courses during my university years, and with greater detail via Harvard Business School executive courses. In my career, engagement has been a key cornerstone for launching tertiary brands and new brands. On an employee level, engagement also needs a well-thought-out communication strategy to inform, engage, reinforce and keep current.

Q: How are Motivation and Engagement related?
A: If you don’t have the right motivation for the end-user, you can’t engage them. Our success with global Fortune 500 companies is in offering the right brands, exclusive brands – unique product bundles that resonate with the participants. We urge an online component that can also be used as a corporate social media site, and we push to get buy-in from all levels of management.

Q: How can Rewards be used to engage customers and channel partners?
A: The right rewards can! Segmentation and concentration is our business objective. We do our homework and work very closely with our clients. The days of “get a toaster” are gone. With 53% of the workforce comprised of Millennials, people want rewards that are branded, relevant and recommended by their peers.

Q: How do generational differences affect the type of Rewards and Program you use?
A: It’s important that a reward program realizes that not every generation is motivated by the same incentives. What works for one employee isn’t the same for every employee across the board, which can be challenging. However, we make sure to cater to every generation by taking a deeper look into what each one is striving to attain. For example, Gen X and Y are naturally motivated by electronics and luxury goods, whereas Baby Boomers might opt for kitchenware or something not as high tech. Recognizing and catering to these differences is a crucial part of any successful rewards program.

Q: Have you been able to directly tie performance improvement and/or increased profitability to the programs you offer?
A: All programs should be self liquidating if done correctly. Simply, the lift that you receive from a successful program should cover the cost of the program. We make it very easy to work with Rymax, since the number one obstacle with new clients is risk aversion. We outline very specific costs and parameters for the program, and we conduct quarterly business reviews with all of our clients.

Q: How has the Rewards & Recognition market changed in the last 5 years?
A: The participant has access to information and is smarter today in terms of assessing the reward and its value, as well as its perceived worth in a program. Smart phones have changed the game, and that’s why we’ve taken a commanding lead in this arena. Our exclusive brands like Michael Kors, Beats by Dr Dre, Rachel Ray and Klipsch allow us to design rewards and recognition programs that aren’t “your father’s program” anymore. It’s a complicated science that understands trends and the audience like never before.

Paul Gordon is Vice President of Sales at Rymax Marketing Services, a full-service loyalty marketing provider and leader in rewards and incentives. For more information, visit www.rymaxinc.com

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