Good Communications Guide


Chapter 1

Running a Great Campaign

In many ways, effective communication begins with mutual respect, communication that inspires, encourages others to do their best.
Zig Ziglar
American Author, Salesman and Motivational Speaker



What makes a campaign great?

Back in the 1980s, Reebok was selling more shoes than Nike. At the time, the Nike product catered almost exclusively for marathon runners. With an objective to surpass the sales of their main competitor, Reebok, Nike’s marketing department created the "Just Do It.” campaign.

Image Credit: brandchannel

Why did it work? "Just Do It." was short and sweet, yet encapsulated everything people felt when they were exercising. People still feel that feeling today. Don’t want to run five miles? Just Do It. Don’t want to walk up four flights of stairs? Just Do It. It's a slogan we can all relate to the drive to push ourselves beyond our limits.

So what does Nike’s Just Do It campaign teach us about how to make a great pensions communication campaign?

When deciding the best way to promote pensions or get people saving you could ask yourself what problem are you solving. Like Nike, we need to think about our pension campaigns if we are to change behaviours. We need to think about our product, our objectives and what we want to happen.

We need to help people see that saving for life after work will make them feel good. It’s something they can tick off that priority list, leaving them to focus on more immediate issues. That is the core issue in all of our messaging. We need to connect with them on an emotional level, so it is very hard to ignore. We also want people to take more ownership of their financial future – through saving. There are many ways to save, but research shows us that people have other priorities for their savings such as a holiday, deposit, a mortgage or just simply getting by.

One size does not fit all

To be better at engaging people when it comes to savings we also need to recognise that they are all individuals, with different priorities, different ages, incomes, debts and resources – the list goes on. We will cover this in more detail in ‘Understanding the customer’. First of all, it’s vital to look at what we mean by effective communications.

There are many definitions for communication effectiveness; all have their part to play. Here are nine characteristics of effective communication to use when planning your campaign.

Campaign planning essentials:

  • What are you selling?
  • What do we want people to do with it?
  • Who are we selling it to?
  • Why do they need it or why should they want it?
  • How do we make it simple?


9 Characteristics of Effective Communication

Understanding the person on the receiving end

Take time to consider the customer’s existing knowledge, ability, age, preferences or interest.

  • What do you know from the data you already have?
  • Can we look at cohorts and trends and find areas we know that will spark interest?
  • How can we make the communication more personal?
  • Have we spent enough time thinking about the message and how it is going to land?
  • Are we going to test it out on others first?
  • Who should the message come from?
  • How do we know the message was received correctly?
  • How can we improve understanding next time?

Mutual interest and feedback

Your message needs to be of interest to the customer receiving it. Understanding their context and what’s important to them will help you create the emotional connection to help your communication achieve its specific goal. Listening to feedback, good, bad or indifferent is essential.

  • Do we know what our members are thinking?
  • What do we want them to think?
  • What are they feeling and how do we want that to change?
  • What do we want different people to do?

Specific objectives

You must have a specific communication goal(s).

  • What do we really want the target customer to do?


A message is only useful at the right time. Give a message at the wrong time, and you'll lose them.

  • When do you want to engage people?
  • How do your communications fit with other communications that might be landing at the same time?
  • Is there an optimum time, like New Year, salary rises, flex options or a birthday which you can use?
  • Is there a bad time to engage them, such as Christmas, when saving might not be a priority?


The message should be concise. Irrelevant and unnecessary facts confuse people. Excluding irrelevant facts, which cloud the important message, is critical.

  • How many times have you seen the call to seek independent advice?
  • Is your need to repeat it creating more noise and preventing your message from being heard?
  • Are we adding in something just because we have nowhere else to put it?
  • Are we putting too much into key documents?


Effective communication transmits a complete message. One that the receiver can understand in full. Beware – we should not sacrifice completeness to attain conciseness.

  • How do we help your members understand why they should act on your message?
  • Have we explained why in a concise and relevant way?
  • How have we helped members relate to the reason why and was it effective?


Persuasiveness helps to develop a positive attitude from the customer towards the message.

  • Have we considered how the tone of our message might be received – positively or negatively?
  • How can we help people feel good about saving?
  • Can we make them feel good about taking back some control of their finances?

Appropriate language

Use appropriate language. Don't be ambiguous or use complex words, technical jargon, or poetry! Spin and exaggerated information irritates the receiver, makes the communication ineffective and could lead to disastrous consequences.

  • Are we taking the time to draft, edit and review?
  • Can you confidently say your communication is accurate and correct?
  • Are we clear that what we are saying is clearly understood?

Appropriate media

Selecting right media or mix of media is essential.

  • What channels are people using and why?
  • How much time do they have to use it and when do they like to use it?
  • What has been more efficient in the past?


Survey Findings

In our survey we asked why people are not keen to think about pensions. Not surprisingly, communicating pensions is frustrating. Our message is simply not getting through.




Get notified when we update the Good Communications Guide.