Tackling Student Debt One Ounce at a Time
With student loan debt reaching $1.5 trillion in the U.S., many politicians and businesses have offered up suggestions on how to cure this affliction. Saving proactively with a 529 college savings plan is one solution that already exists. The problem is, nearly 70% of the country doesn’t even know this option exists. With the holidays fast approaching, we wanted to figure out a way to both boost awareness and position 529s as a great holiday gift.
To help us increase awareness of 529 plans during the 2019 holiday season, we were guided by two unique insights: 1) According to Money.com, the average millennial spends $495 on holiday gifts per child; and 2) If that $495 was invested annually in a 529 account from birth, a child could have more than $14,400 waiting for him or her upon high school graduation. In addition to that, we were inspired by words once spoken by Benjamin Franklin: “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” With this quote and these insights guiding us, we set out to create a custom-made media kit that we could send to a hundred influencers, gift-guide curators and media contacts across the country.
Inside the media kit was an actual, physical one-ounce bottle of prevention. Inside the bottle was a rolled-up 529 gift card (the “prevention”), courtesy of our friends at GiftOfCollege.com. Along with the bottle was a booklet insert that shared information including what a 529 college savings plan is, how much you could save by investing in education with a 529 plan, and how they could get their own “Ounce of Prevention” and become involved in our campaign.
The booklet led people to a campaign microsite where they could find helpful information like why it makes sense to save with one, how much money could be saved by choosing to invest in a child’s education, links to contributing partners’ websites for more information, a contest to win one of four $500 529 gift cards from GiftofCollege.com, and testimonials from real parents.
We sent out 100 media kits in total. We identified social media influencers (both paid and organic) who had strong followings of our target audience: millennial-aged parents of young children. We also sent out kits to a number of selected media outlets across the nation, focusing on those that have large audiences both in and out of the financial world, while also utilizing existing relationships we’ve built during the campaign. And with media outreach already connecting us to our existing audience, we sent kits to gift-guide curators in an effort to grow our audience, positioning 529s as the holiday gift of 2019.
In total, the Ounce of Prevention efforts resulted in a potential audience of more than seven million people. Nine unpaid influencers shared content on their social channels and websites, resulting in 1.4 million potential impressions, while three paid influencers shared content across all their social channels, resulting in 31,094 actual impressions.
In terms of media attention, we were mentioned in many articles, including a 2,000-word+ article on RealSimple.com, which was also shared on their Facebook page. This resulted in an estimated 1.8 million impressions from their website and an estimated 3.8 million impressions from their Facebook page. We also secured a podcast opportunity with KSL to talk about 529 gifting, and 529 gifting was included in a CNBC article about cash being the most-wanted present.