It’s a truism that consumers tend to make health and physical fitness resolutions at the beginning of the year. But did you know that many of them also make financial resolutions? After more than a month of holiday spending, consumers are eager for ways to save and are open to new resources to learn how to. In fact, the first quarter of the year typically sees peak consumer interest around savings and retirement planning. For credit unions hoping to attract new account-holders and engage existing members in 2018, the timing of these New Year’s resolutions makes January the perfect month for engaging in a content marketing campaign around savings and retirement planning. And when it comes to content marketing for credit unions, there’s nothing more effective than financial education. Why? Let’s take a look.
Consumers Struggle to Save—and Financial Institutions Can Help
Currently, more than 50 percent of Americans have less than $1000 in their savings accounts. And nearly half of all Americans live paycheck-to-paycheck, carrying credit card debt, car loans, and student loans that leave them tapped out at the end of the month. Consumers know they should be setting aside money for the unexpected, but they don’t know where to start.
A National Foundation for Credit Counseling 2017 survey showed that 80 percent of Americans feel they would benefit from professional advice about basic financial issues. Consumers are displaying a strong need for financial education—and credit unions are in the perfect position to provide it. Empowered with quality financial education, consumers can take control of their finances, make more informed decisions, and, eventually, realize their financial potential.
Consumers Aren’t Financially Prepared for Retirement
Longer lifespans and increasing choice and control over financial services are also making retirement planning more complicated than ever before. In today’s workplace, many employees are offered the ability to participate in a 401k savings plan, in which they need to be able to contribute to the plan and make their own investment decisions over time. But many workers don’t understand what 401k plans are, or how and where to begin.
A lack of knowledge about retirement planning and programs has led to a generation of retirees that just does not have enough saved. According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, the average annual spending by retirement-age adults is roughly $47,000, but less than half of adults 55 and older surveyed have more than $50,000 saved.Adding to this problem is that fact that younger people are often unaware of the need to save for retirement, let alone how much to save or various strategies for doing so. Without financial education, this gap in consumer knowledge can be expected to worsen over time.
A Complex Consumer Financial Landscape
Compounding the issues of savings and retirement planning, consumers today also face a bewildering array of financial options. Countless financial products vie for consumers’ assets and attention: banks, credit unions, brokerage firms, insurance firms, credit card companies, mortgage companies, online payment apps, financial planners, and more. In this complex landscape, consumers feel overwhelmed, lacking both the knowledge and time to research and select the best options.
Financial Education as a Content Marketing Tool
While today’s financial landscape is a fraught one for consumers, the good news is that with a foundation of even basic financial literacy, consumers are suddenly empowered to make much more informed choices about saving, retirement planning, investing, borrowing, and more. And as trusted institutions with track records in their communities, credit unions are in the perfect position to provide this much-needed financial education for consumers. To do so, institutions should leverage the best practices of content marketing and integrate financial education into their marketing strategy.
At its most essential, content marketing is the practice of creating and distributing valuable content for the purpose of both educating and helping your target consumers. Because content marketing is so helpful and valuable to consumers, it works to establish trust and credibility in your brand over time—and this is especially true of content marketing programs that are educational. In fact, one study found that consumers who engage in online learning programs are 29 times more likely to buy a product from the program sponsor, while 94 percent said they now have a more positive impression of the sponsor’s brand.
When creating content for your blogs, videos, articles, and emails, then, education should be a top priority. Where are the knowledge gaps in your own consumer base? What topics are your consumers desperate to learn about? From a series of blog posts on retirement savings to a “Mortgage 101” video, content marketing that offers concrete educational value will satisfy your consumers while increasing their likelihood of coming to you for answers—and products.
For credit unions, financial education represents a golden opportunity. By moving away from “salesy” marketing and product pushes and toward helping consumers develop financial skills, teaching them how to execute savings strategies, and inspiring them to make financial security a priority, financial institutions are not only helping create a stronger and healthier consumer population—they’re also building their own brands and attracting new, and more educated, account-holders. The final result is a powerful win that can’t be ignored.
To learn more about how to create a strategic annual marketing plan that’s built around financial education, download The Ultimate Guide to Financial Marketing Success in 2018 here.