The Power of Positive Reinforcement

Years ago I ran a Massachusetts company’s in-house marketing agency.

Management operated like the benevolent overseer on a Southern plantation. Staffers were treated like slaves picking cotton.

Only those at the highest levels enjoyed bonuses, trips, paid time off, or even meager benefits.

I disagreed with this approach, but was limited to the changes I could make.

Still, I needed to encourage my team to voluntarily extend themselves.

Beyond asking about family and showing basic kindness, I was challenged to make them want to work a little harder.

My solution; a 59-cent box of gold stars.

It seems those stars my first grade teacher gave out to hard-working students still worked.

When one of my assistants did a particularly good job I’d put a star on some note paper, summarize what was being recognized, date and sign it, and leave it on her desk.

The first time I got laughter. The second time it was tears.

Because nobody had ever recognized either of them in their years working there.

Word spread quickly, and two things happened:

  • Folks began clamoring for a spot on my team; and
  • Most staffers began feeding us ideas to improve our process

The message wasn’t lost on me, and I rewarded the best suggestions, regardless of their source.

One success led to another, and over a four year period the company’s revenues quintupled.

Much of it derived from actionable ideas from non-marketing types who wanted a gold star for being creative.

This year I tested the idea’s longevity on support staff at a client’s office. Each time I’d arrive they’d found new ways to improve my efforts, and proudly hung their gold stars for all to see.

Odds are excellent there are co-workers or assistants in your circle who feel under-appreciated.

My studies prove conclusively that rewarding good behavior or creativity with a ½” foil gold star is a powerful way to say “THANK YOU!”.

Sure, money or a trip to Hawaii is better, but how many people can earn that within your available budget?

But on Amazon, for under $3, a simple solution to employee motivation awaits you. Employees will be happier, work harder, and be more on-board with your company’s philosophies and interests.

I know…it sounds silly…but it works.

With that said, I wish you a week of profitable marketing.


Learn to motivate staff and customers at