Motive Force: How Can the Motivation Industry Grow If Most Firms Have No Idea It Exists?

By Bennett, Margaret | Marketing, April 19, 1990 | Go to article overview

Motive Force: How Can the Motivation Industry Grow If Most Firms Have No Idea It Exists?


Bennett, Margaret, Marketing


MOTIVE FORCE

How can the motivation industry grow if most firms have no idea it exists? Margaret Bennett finds that the answer lies in the sector motivating itself to look beyond increasing rivalry into the future The motivation industry spends its time telling companies how to get the best out of their workforce. Ironically, new research from Milton Keynes based Page and Moy Marketing reveals that the motivation industry remains a long way from getting the best out of itself.

Motivation companies play their cards close to their chest. Even the most high-profile action day outfit cuts short conversations encroaching on details of any particular scheme in case rival companies get wind of their ideas.

The result is low awareness from clients of what incentive and motivation is -- or can be -- all about. Presentations not only have to explain exactly what a motivation company can bring to play, but also have to detail motivation's basic premise.

But first, the company must get to the presentation stage.

Meanwhile, most potential clients have grasped the elementary concept that, by offering someone that little bit extra -- usually cash above and beyond wage and bonus -- their employees work even harder. Companies who go in for do-it-yourself schemes remain unaware of the business' subtleties.

John Fisher, deputy managing director at Page and Moy Marketing, says motivation as a growing industry has a major problem in that market leaders simply don't talk to each other.

"They are not yet confident enough to form an association, be open, show case histories and tell their secrets--for good or bad. Direct marketing is a good example of a tiny industry which has grasped the nettle and got together for its own benefit. The more awareness of the technique in general, the bigger the pot for everyone."

The industry could also be hanging on to its "mystique".

Fisher explains that, rather like insurance brokering, the more philosophical and arcane motivation is made to appear, the more people are expected to come to the experts for help.

But if potential clients don't understand motivation they are unlikely to invest time and money in finding out -- unless the motivation industry gets to grips with convincing them that they are missing out.

"It needs a company to break the spell and write a handbook on motivation, which will explain it fully and give examples of what has been done for some clients and how it might work for others. Which means telling everyone what we are doing," says Fisher.

Page and Moy has made an initial move with research which, while short of earth-shaking revelations, does throw light on what client companies practise rather than the generalised preachings of the motivation industry.

Page and Moy sister company Central Marketing Services, the market research division within Barclay's Central Retail Services, spoke to people responsible for motivation -- generally marketing managers, directors or sales personnel -- in 300 companies throughout the UK. Two hundred companies were from Page and Moy's database, which immediately presumes some awareness of motivation. One hundred companies were from Kompass and Dun and Bradstreet trade directories.

Almost 75% said they would not contact an outside company for advice about motivation. If they did, motivation companies and sales promotion agencies would be their first port of call.

Fisher adds that sales promotion agencies may take on the work "because they are hungry for business" but often call in a motivation company for the actual goods. The same applies to financial institutions which claim, according to the research, to do most motivation in-house. Small companies opt for their own methods perhaps because of small budgets. And while there is a higher awareness of motivation companies in the south, northern companies spend more on motivation even if 77% take care of the work in-house. …

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