Designing and communicating incentives – Reader participation invited!

Three months ago, I wrote about the need to understand the power of incentives. What I forgot to mention that all bets are off if you don’t know how to communicate those incentives to the right people.

Here is a recent request to participate in a survey. The target audience is people who are maintaining their own websites/blogs – basically knowledge workers.

As you can see, the participant has no idea what the incentive is but knows that he or she has to invest 30 minutes of time giving all sorts of information that will benefit the company that is conducting the survey. May be some people will fall for it and spend those precious 30 minutes. I talked to ten people and eight of them said they will pass this “opportunity” and the two of them said they want to participate. Probing further, I found that the two wanted to participate because they were curious to know what the company wanted to know.

Now, the key thing to remember is that the eight that don’t want to participate won’t tell the survey creator that they are not participating. They just move on.

What can we learn from this? Create the right incentives and communicate them if you want to use incentives to motivate people to act in a certain way. Otherwise, just make a request without an incentive. The results probably may be almost the same.

Here’s a call for reader participation:


What could have been a good incentive for the company to offer to get more participants for this survey? Why?

What’s in it for you?

Please post your responses in the comments (no registration necessary). If I get at least ten responses in the next few days, I will offer to send a signed copy of my book “Beyond Code“(foreword by my hero Tom Peters) to the best response as judged by one of my mentors.