News & Insights


Communicating when your audience isn’t listeningby Paul Cheal

© AdobeStock /momius 

The latest ME Bank Financial Comfort Report has reinforced that the majority of Australian households are feeling financial discomfort.

It is a troubling indicator, that after 27 years of uninterrupted economic growth, Australian households are feeling strapped for cash and are increasingly dipping into savings to get by.

Last month, I presented at the AIST Member Experience Ideas Exchange  on how Super Funds need to tailor their communication in this environment where many members are feeling worse off and are switching off.

I framed this discussion on creating effective communications within three core concepts:
  • Be innovative: give your audience, your members, something new or different.
  • Be inspiring: Engage members by being memorable, passionate, inspiring and authentic.
  • Be integrated: Consider all touch points you have with members and then use a range of channels to maximise and personalise your interaction with the member.
As my colleague Guy McKanna wrote in our last blog post – Put the R back in PR – when it comes to corporate communications it is important we are consumer-centric and tap into what drives us individually in terms of hopes, dreams, desires and wants.

This is especially important for Superannuation funds where a key issue remains member engagement.

For the vast majority of individuals, superannuation is in the distant future, it is vague and many don’t necessarily see the benefit of being engaged today for an outcome two, three or four decades away. From a communications perspective, the key challenge with Superannuation is that it seems so big and difficult that it gets placed in the too hard basket and left for another day.

And the problem for us as communicators is that research shows, if we bombard people with messages on issues that are too large to surmount, they will inadvertently or subconsciously down play, tune out or shut down and will not be receptive to what we are saying.

I compare the issue of engagement in Superannuation to the hot topic of recent times – climate change. At one end of the spectrum there are those that are passionate about the harm global warming is doing to the planet; at the other end of the spectrum there are climate deniers. Somewhere in between is the vast (silent) majority who broadly ignore or shut out the issue as they think it is too big an issue that “I can’t do anything about”.

Superannuation in many ways is quite similar. People don’t think engagement in the issue today will make a difference so they just switch off and ignore. However, findings in the recently released interim report into Superannuation by the Productivity Commission showed that engagement and choice does matter.

So, it is important that communications cut through this disengagement because the reality is if, as the ME research showed, members are experiencing financial discomfort, if they are struggling with financial literacy, if they are less trusting; then they need to educate themselves so they are better equipped to manage the long term concept of super (and investing).

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