Money Makeover is what a content marketing project should be.
It is a big win for all three partners — the audience, the client, and the publisher. It entered its sixth year in 2022 and is the brainchild of City Press’ personal finance editor.
The programme was devised to help the growing number of people who wrote to her about getting a handle on their money so they could pay off debt and save for the lifestyle they wanted. It needed to be practical, instructive, and create an emotional connection so audiences could benefit as much as the participants.
So, Money Makeover was created.
The six-month financial boot camp for six readers paired each with a financial adviser. The criteria to enter are stringent, and that is the first filter in the quest to get committed participants. Over one month, we select a shortlist of readers who would like to take part; then, we meet with our sponsor, a financial institution that has been on board since the second edition, to select six participants who undergo a credit check.
The six participants are then paired with a financial adviser, and the journey begins.
Over a six-month period, the six participants and their advisers follow the plans devised for each, and the process is overseen by the editor, who also documents their journeys. It is structured like a competition and there are incentive prizes along the way to keep participants on track. In addition, the overall winner — based on a strict rubric — takes away enough money to make a real difference to their savings plans.
Sharing their stories
The stories of these six people are told across formats and platforms, led by City Press’ flagship Sunday edition. There are dedicated social media pages, a microsite, Facebook Live events on a variety of topics, as well as a weekly newsletter that goes out. Throughout the campaign, the participants deliver video diaries that allow them to tell fellow readers about their trials and triumphs.
Over the years, the process of finding participants has gotten easier as not only do readers know and love Money Makeover, they know what it takes to enter and win.
The first Money Makeover was run over a year with four participants. We learned a few lessons from it — chief among them was that people who are properly advised and guided could turn around their finances in six months or less. We also learned to find a sponsor who understood the incredible value a project like this brings across their value chain and to leverage it.
One of the most important aspects of this years-long project is that we always loop back to find out how previous participants are doing. We start each new year’s call-to-action phase with a series of money journeys, drawing on the ongoing stories of those who have taken part in previous years.
For example, Howard, winner of the second Money Makeover, was a budding landlord and is now a fully established one with multiple properties. Samke, the winner in 2018, took what she’d learned and paid it forward to her whole network, while last year’s winner, Nocawe, was ready to fulfil her goal of starting a poultry farm.
The financial institution sponsor gets value well beyond the competition, which ends with a live event to announce the winner. It has made use of previous winners to be ambassadors for its brand, and it builds rapport with readers who see it as a helping hand in their financial journey.
Looking for candidates
The numbers for this entire campaign, which includes approximately 175 executions during its 10-month run, are impressive. As an example, this year’s initial online article calling for entries attracted more than 11,000 unique browsers — the guaranteed views for a sponsored article is 5,000, and the average time spent on the microsite is more than 12 minutes.