Why incentives can backfire and how to really motivate people for success

extrinsic and intrinsic motivation

Image from http://www.life-magazin.com/2011/03/28/intrinsic-motivation-in-class-room/

We all know that it is wrong to get a child to do something by bribing them with sugar filled goodies. The reason it is wrong goes beyond tooth damage! The error of this approach relates to the theory of intrinsic and extrinsic motivation in psychology. Sweets are an extrinsic reward and are not ideal because in order for the child to carry out the same desired activity in future, they will be motivated by a desire for sweets (which might not be possible or appropriate) – rather than the inherent positive qualities of the activity.

A joint study by Booth School of Business, University of Chicago and Korea University Business School has shed further light on the pitfalls of extrinsic motivators. They carried out a number of experiments which all yielded similar results. In each experiment they tested the impact of intrinsic and extrinsic motivators/goals on how a group experienced a particular activity (these activities included use of a gym, origami, dental flossing and yoga).

The results showed that a focus on extrinsic goals prior to an activity, as opposed to an intrinsic enjoyment of the activity itself, boosted the intention of individuals to carry out the activity. However, the focus on extrinsic goals also resulted in the participants enjoying the activity less and reporting that the activity was more of a strain.

Whereas those who focused on the activity at hand performed better and gained more enjoyment from the activity and were found more likely to take part in the activity in the future.

How to apply intrinsic and extrinsic motivation psychology to your business

So, to cut a long story short, extrinsic goals damage our motivation and mean that we are less likely to achieve those goals.

Video marketing and social networking are notorious examples of businesses dipping their toes in but failing to see plans through. Why is this? Intimidatingly large goals have to take responsibility for the failure of so many social networking and video marketing strategies. The scope can be overwhelming which can rip the process of any fun factor and enjoyment, resulting in projects being abandoned incomplete.

How can you use the psychology of intrinsic and extrinsic motivation to help you achieve your video marketing goals?

The trick is enjoying the process. If you can find a way to enjoy the tasks at hand then you are more likely to reach the finishing line. The first step if you are to enjoy any of the necessary tasks is to break things down and approach one thing at a time. If you have the luxury of staff, share the tasks amongst your team – taking advantage of personnel who have particular skills, and more importantly, particular personal interests.

Even if you do not have a team there are a range of elements to a video marketing strategy which can roughly be broken down into the following areas:

* research: the process of researching what you will need to make your video a reality, who your audience is and how you will reach them.
* script writing: deciding what you want your video to say, who will say it/how it will be said.
* story boarding: the visual blueprint for your video production.
* video production: the process of recording all of the footage you need for creating your video.
* post-production: editing your video, adding graphics and voice over.
* distribution plans: the process of identifying how you are going to get your video to your audience.
* social media: distributing your video content on social networking sites and effectively engaging your audience by having conversations with them
* Monitoring and evaluation: assessing the impact of your video and feeding this information into future strategies.

Each, if taken individually, can be enjoyable and creative activities. You might even do them just because you feel like it…

External rewards (AKA bribery!) can back fire. If you enjoy the process for its own innate rewards you are far more likely to reach the finishing line. Whether we are talking about learning a language, going on a diet or your professional commitment to a video marketing strategy, break the process down into bite size chunks and approach one hurdle at a time. You might just find yourself smiling along the way.

MWP are a video strategy, production and marketing company with a focus on delivering measurable results.

§ If you would like to learn more or just have an informal discussion over a coffee, then just send us a note. We'd love to hear from you...

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