When I moved to Chicago, I wasn't expecting to be working in the incentives industry. I had never even HEARD of the incentives industry prior to my employment. It was my assumption that I would be in a large high-rise downtown slaving away for Leo Burnett or Digitas. God had other plans I reckon.

A large portion of what I do at Hinda is social media/community building. I've built it from the ground up there and am proud of the continually changing work of art that it is right now. One of the main components of our digital efforts and community building is blogging. The blog is set up to not only humanize our company but also prove our credibility of knowledge in the industry. Being how I had never heard of the industry prior to employment, I had my work cut out for me.

For the first several months, each blog was a miniature research paper for me. It took loads of reading industry blogs, article after article from Incentive Magazine, and reading countless whitepapers. At first glance, my advertising background didn't seem to align with my current line of employment. After a while, I learned otherwise.

Incentives aren't just about selling merchandise (like branded logos, pens, DVD players for highest performers etc). The most successful companies and people in the industry know how to motivate people. The goal of many incentive programs is to help people achieve goals, to take part in certain behaviors to ultimately help the company reach its overall goals. There are many different types of incentives but each are used in ways to help drive and modify behaviors.

Isn't that what marketing and advertising is?

We use different components in each (ad and incentives) but the main goal is the same: modifying behavior. We have to learn which types of things motivate people to take certain actions. In most advertising, we are trying to influence consumers to take part in certain behaviors. More often than not, we want those consumers to buy a certain product or service. Incentive programs do touch in on that space in the form of loyalty programs (you know...like credit card rewards programs and the like). However, many of them drive employees and workers to achieve more in their jobs, to modify their behaviors to achieve certain rewards.

Both industries are heavily dependent on knowing how to influence people. What drives them to do certain things, to take part in certain actions. Without my time in the incentives business, I wouldn't have had this multi-faceted view of marketing. It's a learning experience that will help me a lot in the future.

How have you used traditional advertising and marketing to influence people?