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Q&A With New IMA President: Outreach a Priority

Ted Moravec, the new President of the Incentive Marketing Association and also Executive Vice President of Elite Creations, a leading master fulfillment company, says it’s critical to increase industry awareness. 
RRN: What will be your biggest priorities for IMA during your term as President?
Moravec: My No. 1 priority is to assure that the activities undertaken by the Incentive Marketing Association (IMA) align with our mission of advocating for the use of incentives and recognition to improve business performance. By doing so, we draw a straight line between the mission and delivering member value. One of the primary ways IMA accomplishes this is through our corporate outreach efforts. The outreach increases awareness and drives interest in our website, which is a helpful resource for program design and sourcing of products and services by IMA members. The value communicated in our outreach is reinforced by our commitment to education, certification and our Circle of Excellence Awards program, which demonstrates the benefits of utilizing best practices and industry experts. 
RRN: What do you think of the state of the incentive industry today—do you think it’s a mature industry or do you think there are lots of new opportunities?
Moravec: This is a very complicated question. At a conceptual level we’ve never been in better shape. All research available shows that corporate America understands the importance of recognition and incentives in improving business performance. We  see the overwhelming majority of large companies using some form of recognition and incentives, as well as a majority of small and mid-sized companies. I think we can declare victory in our collective efforts to communicate the value of incentives. The challenge is putting that understanding into action.
This creates countless opportunities to improve program design, to provide cost-effective platforms for smaller companies and to establish standards of practice. Like most aspects of today’s economy there is a tremendous amount of disruption taking place in the incentive space. There are great opportunities for those who can innovate and can deliver performance improvement in a cost-effective manner that ranges from program design to administration and throughout the various product and service supply chains.
RRN: Rick Low of Citizen Watch recently said in an interview that our industry’s biggest challenge is that we’re still a best-kept secret—that many businesspeople still don’t know this field exists. Do you agree? 
Moravec: I think that Rick is correct in his assessment that Corporate America doesn’t know that resources such as the IMA exist to support their efforts to improve business performance. That is why the IMA has its corporate outreach as the center of its activities.
RRN: Related to this question, do you think that our own industry, let alone U.S. businesses in general, are aware of all of the research on best practices in program design and the rewards experience?  
Moravec: As an industry, we’ve been continually trying to educate ourselves and U. S. businesses about the research on reward and recognition best practices. I’m optimistic that the growing level of cooperation within our industry and the recognition by business of the value have now intersected, resulting in a greater demand for the information. Our challenge is to make sure we communicate its availability. Again, this directly ties back into the efforts the IMA is making through its corporate outreach.
RRN: Do you believe that ISO standards that now require 2 million ISO-certified companies to have formal Enterprise Engagement strategies can provide an opportunity to educate the marketplace on the proper use of rewards?
Moravec: The IMA is proud to be part of the industry efforts to have engagement strategies included in ISO certification and in the ANSI (American National Standards Institute) efforts. Rewards are and will continue to be a driver of employee engagement, and research increasingly shows the vital role recognition plays in creating engagement. 
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