To deliver the critical wow factor that draws consumers into loyalty programs and keeps them there, marketers must get inside customers' heads.

Delivering dreams is what inspires wow. But remember, dreaming isn't the only thing that goes on in customers' minds. So, to construct an effective rewards catalog, you'll need to apply a little "brain surgery" to answer the question of balance between the human brain's two hemispheres.

The left brain governs logical, sequential, rational, analytical, and objective thinking. The right brain governs intuitive, holistic, subjective, creative, and "big-picture" thinking. The hemispheres of your brain work together—ideally, in balance—to define the personality of the unique human being you are.

With those thoughts literally "in mind," let's examine five key areas of balance.

1. The Functional vs. the Aspirational

The left brain values the functional. Rewards that fulfill needs will help you pass the "value-detector" test consumers apply to every new program: Wow—that's a deal.

The right brain values the aspirational. Rewards that fulfill dreams will help you pass the "splurge-detector" test: Wow—I couldn't get that anywhere else. They must really appreciate me.

Consider the following chart, which displays a continuum of rising value perceptions:

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Fred Thompson is partner and retail practice lead at LoyaltyOne Consulting, a consulting firm that specializes in loyalty programs, relationship marketing, and customer analytics. He is responsible for defining and refining the organization's expertise in the retail category.