So we’ve looked at the problem of moving from inertia to engagement. We’ve outlined a communications framework to help. Now we’re going to look at influencing behaviours. You may have read my blog on the Excitement of ESG I briefly looked at the slow process of adoption – this is another marketing staple – the Diffusion of Innovation by Everett Roger. Basically showing that a new idea or behaviour is not mainstream immediately, but follows a path of growth overtime:
As we’re looking at moving inertia to engagement – we want to look at the recommendations of how to influence behaviours: What are the key things to include in communications focusing on awareness and interest to attract those early adopters? Roger’s model gives five key factors:
How is engaging with my pension better than watching TV, playing on my phone, exercising. You need to show the difference their engagement makes. Depending on the segment of your audience this could be a cost of delay message, an ESG message or even free money from your employer message. Ultimately you need their time and they need to be compelled to spend it on their pension.
How can engaging with my pension align with my values as well as my needs? Understanding what’s important to your members will help you target and frame these messages.
How difficult is it to engage with and understand my pension? Simple and consistent communications are so important for the early majority, but all that can be undone with a weak member experience. If you have an online account – don’t make members print and sign forms to make an additional contribution. When you’re trying to increase engagement – remove the barriers.
This is tricky in pensions, but there are ways to demonstrate the impact of increased saving on take home pay as well as share real life stories from members that have made active decisions. Whilst this doesn’t quite offer a ‘try before you buy’ – it does give a real insight.
Can you prove the difference engagement can make? Once they are sure it’s a good move the laggards will follow.
I know it’s easy to sit from afar and spout pure theory on a process without the confines of targets to hit and shrinking budgets. But applying these tried and tested principles to your communications will help you achieve your goals. If you’d like to chat through how, just give me a call.
What’s just as important is the overall communication strategy that will wrap around this. You must get to know your members – research is vital. Along with continual monitoring of results – this will help you to refine and evolve your approach.
It needs a consistent approach! Think:
All examples of successful behavioural change campaigns (mostly reinforced with legislation – a good old carrot and stick approach!), that were based on consistent, national, multi-channel messaging. Even so, none of them embedded into part of everyday lives overnight. And messages adapted overtime, based on learnings – let’s look at clunk click every trip as an example:
1965: It becomes compulsory to fit seat belts in the front of cars built in Europe.
1970: “Clunk Click” TV commercials, start – wearing rates very low.
1983: Front seat belt regulations for drivers and passengers come into force.
1989: Wearing rear seat belts become compulsory for children under 14.
1991: It becomes compulsory for adults to belt up in the back.
Up to this point there was adoption of seatbelt wearing, but not saturation. The advertising message was adapted in 1993 to show the danger of not wearing a seatbelt in the back as attitudinal surveys showed people were more likely to wear a seatbelt to save someone else, than to protect themselves!
There has been ongoing adapting of the targeting and messaging to reach those least likely to wear a seatbelt. From Peter Pan to Pizza… yet still it’s estimated around 14% of the population don’t wear seatbelts all of the time!
Decades of national advertising and consistent, targeted messaging, that adapts to behaviours and actions…yet nearly 50 years on around 350 people die each year (and many more injured), because they don’t wear a seatbelt!
So, how can we, as an industry create the consistency to build engagement in pensions when we’re all approaching the problem from a different angle? Do we need a national pensions campaign? Is the pension dashboard the catalyst that we’ve all been waiting for, or will COP26 steal its thunder?
Anyway, the point is – we will not create change overnight. We will not get everyone engaged. But we can still make a lot of improvements.
Of course, it’s possible to increase engagement at a scheme level, but the overarching change in attitudes and behaviours towards pension saving and engaging with it will take a lot longer to impact…
As we build messages on a scheme-by-scheme basis and look at behavioural nudges it is possible to build wider momentum by sharing learnings of successes. Creating a bank of effective strategies will build strong foundations for ongoing positive change.
Marketing is all about influencing behaviours and thoughts… and for some time using a few behavioural science theories has been part and parcel of developing effective messaging. So here’s some key ones to think about:
The purist definition of engagement focuses on the use of strategically created content to add value and develop meaningful interactions overtime. If we’re serious about increasing engagement and influencing behaviours here’s some critical steps:
This is what must happen to prevent generations of under-resourced retirees. We need seismic shift in attitudes and behaviours…something the whole industry must work together to achieve.