In my previous article, we discussed the importance of re-evaluating reverse mortgage marketing to “seniors” by dividing the current demographic into two groups: members of the post-World War II generation and baby boomers. This understanding informs our approach to marketing and sales, ensuring that we see and hear our customers fully. In turn, this allows us to forge stronger, more meaningful connections and provide solutions that truly resonate with their needs.
Effectively communicating with boomers requires relying on several different principles and strategies, but the primary requirement underlying them all is establishing your credibility. In the eyes of potential customers and partners, that is the single most important factor that determines how you get more business, but different groups see credibility in different ways.
Letting customers conclude you have authority
We cannot conjure credibility or authority out of nothing, or force it from a non-credible source. A person can manipulate themselves into short-term credibility, but nothing more. What I am sharing are strategies that connect the dots for your customers so they can reveal what already exists.
In some of these examples, you will notice a “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon” type of association between the strategy and “credibility,” which is on purpose. It’s rarely the case that a person says or does something that immediately checks a “credibility” box in a customer’s mind, we just aren’t wired that way. We are wired to associate something like an important job title or career longevity with competency, which in turn is associated with authority, which then leads to credibility.
How long have you been originating? How long has your company been in business? The reverse mortgage space hasn’t been around that long, so a decade in the industry is plenty of experience to qualify one as “credible.” I used “decade” for a reason, and you should too if you can.
Saying “ten years” doesn’t carry the same weight. Twelve years is an excellent amount of experience, but “over a decade” is a much better phrase to communicate your longevity. If you don’t have too many years of experience, that’s okay. If your company does, however, that’s good. You can borrow a bit of that credibility from it.
The credibility flow
The same goes in the opposite direction. Do you have several years of experience in the industry but are now with a newer, up-and-coming lender? That’s excellent. You are helping bring credibility to the organization.
Currently, there is a direct correlation between the “newness” of a product and its mass appeal in the market, but this isn’t the case with “boomers.” The longer you or your company has been in the business (or any related field), the better.
Another instant credibility factor is a spot on any leading list. Is your company one of the top reverse mortgage lenders in the nation? What about the state? Or the region? How about inside your county? Are you one of the top/best originators in any of the above lists? If you haven’t been awarded a place on a “top” list, that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t.
Do some digging of your own and see if your numbers, service, positive reviews, etc., put you at the top of a list. If you find yourself there, highlight it. Boomers tend to translate a spot near the top of a list as indicating leadership, which is associated with credibility and authority.
Education is key
Now, what if you aren’t on the top of any list and haven’t been around for a significant amount of time? That certainly does not disqualify you from being a “credible” reverse mortgage LO. There are several things you can do to establish credibility, and it primarily comes down to education.
Becoming an educator is the number one, most effective and reliable way to become a credible authority figure for boomers, and there are virtually limitless ways to become an “educator” these days. And remember: you need not go “all in” on any one thing. If you have never really positioned yourself as an educator, I encourage you to try a little bit of everything until you find what works best for you. Here are a few to consider.
Become an author
Writing a book is still the most effective way to establish yourself as an expert (read: credibility and authority) in any given field. Dan Hultquist was one of my first mentors in this industry, and his book, Understanding Reverse, has served as the book for both customers and originators seeking to understand reverse mortgages for nearly a decade.
Dan’s credibility and authority are such that referencing my time working with him is enough to establish some credibility of my own. If you can’t write enough for a book, distill your message and expertise into 8-10 pages and publish an e-book available to download for free on your website. Embed the download link in your email signature and on regular Facebook and LinkedIn posts. Convert your e-book to a printer-friendly format to distribute at face-to-face events.
Become a presenter/speaker
When it comes to presenting, you have a lot of options. First, consider the medium of presentation — either online or in-person. If you don’t have much experience and are concerned with finding an audience and/or potential technical issues, look for guest-speaking opportunities.
There are a host of local business meetings taking place all around you every week. They are always looking for someone to fill a guest speaker slot, and try not to limit yourself to the obvious. Teachers and colleges have in-service days throughout the year and invite outside speakers all the time, and teacher pay and retirement plans aren’t that great. What are the odds there are teachers (or their parents) who could benefit from a reverse mortgage?
Consider creating a 30-minute “lunch n’ learn” presentation to give regularly. Swing by financial advisors’ offices with a few pizzas (or class it up a bit, if you like) and educate your potential referral partners as they eat. Use your social media platforms to promote a 30-minute presentation at a local coffee shop.
Many people believe the barrier to entry to presenting is far higher than it is. A few years ago, I created a learning pathway specifically for LOs wanting to teach and present. The most difficult part of creating the course was selecting the strategies to teach because there are just so many ways to begin and excel.
Become an online/media expert
I know many LOs who are fantastic in small-group situations, but the moment they are called to speak to more than a handful of people, they start to panic. Use the internet to build an online presence while also gaining confidence in your speaking and presentation skills to a live audience.
Another idea, if you don’t feel you have the time to record YouTube videos, is online, live videos. Give frequent, recurring presentations on Facebook Live that you promote throughout the week with text posts or short videos. This strategy is a great choice for anyone hesitant about presenting to large audiences in person.
If you are averse to all things “internet,” you should consider going old school with AM radio. Local AM talk shows are still very much a thing in most parts of this country and almost entirely supported by a boomer audience. Turning a one or two-time appearance into a monthly, or bi-monthly guest spot would work wonders for establishing credibility.
Become a CE instructor
For several years, I ran a CE school and created courses for LOs to teach real estate agents and financial planners in twenty-six states. The ins and outs of this topic are enough for a series of articles, but the following are the big takeaways. First, you need to be licensed, and your course approved, in the state you want to teach. The requirements for CE instructors vary wildly from state to state.
All states are different, but generally speaking, a CE course is a three-hour commitment. If you have never given a presentation or spoken to a group of people for more than a few minutes, a three-hour class is a major leap. As such, I tend to view CE Instructor as something one steps into after gaining experience with guest spots, lunch and learns, and other solo presentations. In my experience, this is second only to being an author as the best way to establish credibility and authority.
Now, shake it up
Sticking to any one of these recommendations is a surefire way to establish credibility, but strategically doing a bit of all will help you stand out. If you were to weave CE into any of these (which could lead to a bump in engagement due to increased activity), you could easily attain the most credibility and authority in your market.
In my next article, I will discuss what boomers base their financial decisions on, how those decisions are made, and ultimately who makes those decisions. The answers to these questions might just surprise you.
This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Reverse Mortgage Daily and its owners.