Behavioural science, communications and pensions…how do we get attention?

HomeBlogBehavioural science, communications and pensions…how do we get attention?

Sex sells. But why? And how can that ever be relevant to pensions?

We want to communicate about pensions better, to make our messages heard we need to understand what works and why – I’m talking behavioural science. I’ve been reading #hooked by Patrick Fagan… you can totally judge this man as an ex-Cambridge Analytica employee. But he blends psychology and communications and gives some easy rules to apply to your communications that will make our brains like them!

It always freaks me out and fascinates me in equal measure just how predictable our behaviour is. I studied sociology at A’level, but my tutor also taught psychology and I’ve been intrigued ever since. Our brains work consistently in certain ways – it’s just how we are wired. And there are a number of traits that make us, well, predictable.

He delves into the inconsistent or weak link we humans have between attitude and behaviour – that’s the bit where what we say and think doesn’t match up to what we do (and one of the issues around trying to drive action from ESG messaging). The book gives real, practical examples and tips on how to make sure your message is front of mind when it counts.

Sales and marketing teams across the globe work with the AIDA framework (here’s a copy from Hubspot).

This book takes that back to cognitive, affective, conative… learn, feel, do or attention, thinking, acting. And argues this is how we have evolved and survived.

Here’s the top tips from #hooked on getting that all important attention in a world where there’s too much noise (and my attempt to make them pension relevant).

When it comes to getting attention – the learn, or cognitive stage of the process there are 4 main ways to stand out:

Primal – tapping into the primal pension desire

Our primal instincts are naturally attuned to faces, food and, er… the other f (sex). It’s how we’ve avoided hungry tigers, found scarce food and successfully pro-created! It’s how M&S increased sales by 8.4% with their ‘food pornography’ campaign.

For pensions…what about ‘a fund pornography campaign’?

It’s not just size that matters (accumulation), it’s what you do with it (ESG).

Affective – get affective by evoking emotion

It’s innate in us to pay attention to things that need our care, like a baby, or our alertness, like a life threatening spider. It’s really not very British to talk about a love of money, but a love of making a better tomorrow or protecting the future for those innocent looking babies – that’s something that we’ll get on board with. Fear and money don’t work so well together.

For pensions…what about ‘a making promises to the next generation campaign’?

Every pound saved can be used to make the world a better place.

Self-relevant – personalisation is key

When something speaks to us directly we pay attention. IKEA’s campaign to loyalty club members that included a personalised weather forecast for the forthcoming weekend saw a 7.5% uplift in sales compared to the control group (who didn’t get a personalised message). This is more than just inserting a name, although we’re obviously trained from a young age to recognise it, that’s the minimum.

For pensions…what about ‘a peer review campaign’?

You’ve got 30% more saved than most people your age.

Surprising – stand out in the crowd

We pay attention to exceptions, things that stand out and are different. When Heineken turned beer cans into kegs and put them on the same shelf as all the other beer cans it resulted in $300m increase in revenue. How can we translate to pensions? They’re complex, distant and intangible – the whole time you’re saving!

For pensions…what about ‘a feed me well campaign’?

A tree is delivered to each member as they start their pension – a constant reminder that their pension will grow over time, needs feeding and can make the world greener!

OK, so the last one was stretching it a bit. But without packaging and a point of sale this is a bit tricky… but not unachievable.

In a world where we are saturated by up to 10,000 messages every day what we need is something that will pass our attention wall. Less than a hundred will do this.

I bet the ones that do tick one of these boxes!

Test it for yourself. I have…

Keep an eye for the other areas of thinking and action in future blogs.

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