Ever wonder why even the best people on your marketing team at some point lose their enthusiasm? Short answer: because the brain is wired to do that. Psychologists say that much of what we do consists of responses conditioned by past behavior. Reward an act, the act (or behavior) is repeated. Discourage or ignore the same act, and the motive to continue it goes away. Here's another thing psychologists tell us: The quicker behavior is rewarded, the more likely it is to be repeated.

So what does this have to do with managing your marketing team? Everything. If you want optimum results — defined as X number of quality leads in Y time frame — it takes focus, creativity, and leadership. And if you think those three qualities have nothing to do with money, well you're wrong. People work to make money but they stay, and contribute at high levels, because their efforts are publicly recognized and rewarded.

That's why having the proper pay plan is vital to keeping your staff motivated. But face it, even the best plans can get stale. And when they are stale, complacency sets in. The remedy for that is a plan that recognizes and rewards employees as soon as they do something fantastic. Set this in place and it will greatly increase the performance of your marketing team.

Enemy: Rejection

Your marketing team is up against the same kind of rejection that salespeople face. It's just as daunting and its effects just as corrosive to the spirit. Ignore that it's there and it will sooner or later take its toll on even the most positive and resilient employees. Use a bonus pay plan to counteract its effects, creating an atmosphere of enthused determination.

The first step is to provide as much positive reinforcement as possible. "Catch them doing something right!" advises Kenneth Blanchard, the acclaimed author of The One Minute Manager. We as managers, supervisors, and owners tend to view employees in terms of what they're not doing right. We grow blind to what it is that they are doing that furthers the efforts of our organization. Imagine for a moment the situation as seen through the eyes (and processed in the brain) of your employee. Taking his or her efforts for granted is as good as saying that those efforts have no consequence or that they never happened at all. The net result is poor morale and high turnover. On the other hand, create an upbeat culture that affirms and encourages and you have something crucial to success. Do that by taking a moment every day to recognize, by name, everyone who works for you. Don't be afraid to issue compliments. They only backfire when you don't mean them.

Once the proper atmosphere and environment have been established, you have room to be creative. My suggestion is to implement a system of unique daily bonuses. For one thing, they help make work fun. For another, they shatter the monotony of the workday routine by introducing the element of the unpredictable. Team bonuses can be great because they inspire co-workers to help with training, coaching, and encouragement. In some cases just buying pizza for the marketing team at the end of their shift can light the fire that will push your group closer to its goals.

Bragging Rights

Don't forget, though, that the team is made up of individuals and that each individual needs his or her contribution recognized and rewarded. It's basic psychology. How to do that? With individual bonuses. Make these successful by tying them to a specific goal or target established at the beginning of each shift. Let people know what the target is and that there may be a reward for hitting it. The reward doesn't have to be huge. To keep things interesting, you may even use games such as prize wheels, grab bags, and dice to tantalize and entice your marketers to shoot for higher standards. Say, for instance, the goal today is for a canvasser or telemarketer to book three qualified appointments in the course of his or her shift, and if they do they become eligible to "roll the dice." If the die lands on the number they choose, they win a $50 or $100 bonus. This gives members of your marketing team an opportunity to earn more money and to gain bragging rights and a little celebrity.

Remember, when it comes to bonuses, cash is king. Giving employees the opportunity to finish their shift with cash in hand is a tremendous resource that companies have but rarely use. For many marketers, living paycheck to paycheck is reality. Offer cash bonuses and you'll be shocked at the result. They are one more way for you, your company, and your staff to thrive in 2011.

—Sales and marketing consultant Tony Hoty has been a home improvement company salesperson and owner. Visit his website http://www.tonyhoty.com/ or reach him at tony@tonyhoty.com or 888.447.3969.