" The difference between seminars that work and those that don’t is subtle but can potentially save you thousands of dollars. "
Conducting seminars on reverse mortgages can prove to be an invaluable lead-generation tool. It generates buzz about your business, positions your company as an established thought leader in the community, and, most importantly, brings business in the door. However, in order for seminars to be effective, they must be conducted properly. It's easy to fall prey to the seminar-gone-wrong: it may be perfectly planned, but attendance is low. Or, you get a great turn-out, but the execution falls fails. Perhaps the venue is off, or, as is often the case,the audience feels conned into a sales pitch rather than an actual learning experience.
The difference between seminars that work and those that don't is subtle, but can potentially save you thousands of dollars. Step back and put yourself in the shoes of your target audience. What motivates them, what annoys them, and what will downright turn them off? Being honest about what your audience truly needs to learn from a reverse mortgage seminar and coaching that information dynamic, educational manner will result in significant returns on your investment.
A successful seminar addresses the following:
It's apparent that your audience will not fall for a sales-oriented "pitch" on reverse mortgages as the panacea for all seniors. Mortgage and insurance agents are notorious for taking the "sales" approach that tells only one side of the story... and seniors can smell it a mile away! Your strategy should be anchored by an honest presentation of the facts, keeping in mind how those facts will map back to your marketing and sales goals. Presenting an educational seminar is your opportunity to build trust with your senior audience and cut objections off at the pass. Although this is an educational forum, this is your time to start the selling process in the most efficient manner possible. Imagine that you spent two hours sitting in the living rooms of 20 seniors simultaneously versus two hours spent in each living room individually. Plan your seminar in such a way that your individual appointments cover some loose ends and questions and avoid the need for a full in-home presentation. This will give you the time to build on the trust you've garnered and allow you to take the application at your own pace.
The first impression people get of your seminar will be your mailer: the marketing piece that fills the seats. Do you want to convey that this will be a shady sales seminar in a hotel room, a sales pitch, or an educational seminar presented by a knowledgeable professional? Pay close attention to the layout of the piece; your choice of color, graphics, fonts, and most importantly, content will either persuade or dissuade people from attending. Avoid negative words such as 'seminar,' 'workshop,' or 'symposium.' Keep it simple and state your intent clearly. Use words such as 'educational' throughout to reinforce that this will be a valuable learning experience. Hot-button words like 'community meeting,' 'truth,' 'Medicaid/Medi-Cal,' and 'mortgage payments' will resonate with your senior audience. Don't avoid using the word 'reverse mortgage' Some try to hide it, but seniors are downright curious about our service so be up front. Also, to get more bang for your buck, utilize multiple dates on your card for the same venue. This reduces your printing costs. You can mail the card up to three to four times 10 days before each seminar. For simplicity's sake, schedule all seminars to start at the same time. Late mornings and early afternoons work best for seniors. Avoid Mondays and Friday as most seniors have several errands these days. Here's a sample invitation card you can use: Download Sample Invitation
Free publicity? You bet! But how do you get your press release published in the newspaper? Keep it short and sweet. Don't fall for the long-winded press release template you may purchase from a marketing company. We've tried them and they seldom get published. Why? Because no busy editor wants to read a novel on your event. To get your press release published, call the newspaper and ask for the business editor. Let him or her know you have a community meeting that will educate seniors on the advantages and disadvantages of reverse mortgages. This is key. It will show that you are not a pushy salesperson but offering something of value. Offer to email the information (they love this so they can cut and paste) and note their email address. Find out what day the press releases will be published and in what section of the paper. Send an email of your press release at least 10 days prior to your event to allow time for approval and placement. Remember, it's crucial to target the appropriate person such as the business editor. An email to the general mailbox will most likely be overlooked. Your published press release will build credibility and increase the number of prospects who actually call and reserve.
Download Sample Press Releases (Word Doc: 32kb)
How will you get your attendees to RSVP for your event? Who will answer the phone during business hours? We suggest you do not list your cell phone number and try to juggle reservations while in the field. Your dedicated office number with the friendly voice of your appointment setter is your best choice. If you are doing a seminar outside your local calling area, a toll-free number can increase your response. Some seniors may call after business hours so using an answering service may be worth the investment as well. When your attendees call to RSVP, thank them for calling and get their name, address, and phone number. The day before the seminar, call each attendee and remind them of their reservation and confirm that they know how to get to your venue. Take these reservation sheets with you to your seminar.
Download Reservation Sheet (Word Doc: 48kb)
Setting the stage for your educational seminar takes planning. You want your attendees relaxed and in a good mood. Make sure the chairs are set up theatre style (no tables to sit at) and the lighting is bright but not too harsh. If you are using a Power Point presentation, make sure your screen is not washed out with the house lights. Food is another consideration, a nice touch if your budget allows. Purchase reusable signs with the name of your seminar. You can attach directional arrows if necessary. Place one sign outside and the other inside pointing to your meeting room.
Be prepared for early arrivals. Most seniors arrive not only on time but early! They don't mind this, but be prepared. Make them feel comfortable; the first slide of your Power Point should contain the seminar title welcoming them. This lets them know they are in the right place. To fill the quiet space, some music for atmosphere is essential. You can use your portable mp3 player and an inexpensive set of computer speakers. Avoid your favorite AC/DC album and play music that makes them feel nostalgic and happy. Good selections include: Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra, Benny Goodwin, etc. Don't try to host a seminar alone. Get a greeter/host to welcome attendees and check their names off of the reservation sheet. Add those you did not call to reserve so you can follow up later. Your host should hand out folders with notes, information, and your contact information. Provide extra ball point pens for those who want to take notes.
Ideal Seminar Room Layout - Coming Soon
Dress professionally, like an advisor your senior audience can trust. Men should wear slacks, long sleeved shirt, and a tie (a sport coat is optional). Women should wear a business suit and modest length dress. Avoid bright, obnoxious colors. Blue is extremely pleasing to the eye and engenders trust from your audience. Start on time. Nothing is more offensive to those who arrived early than to wait for those who did not. Keep your word to begin promptly within 2-3 minutes of your published time. We all love to follow a glowing introduction, but do not introduce yourself. It is bad form to brag about yourself, but acceptable if someone else does it for you. Have your host do the honors. They should mention the location of the exits, restrooms, your qualifications, and thank the audience for attending. They should also ask that all questions be held until the end of the session as your next point may answer their inquiry. When you begin do not ask your audience to repeat back to you "good morning" or anything in particular. In addition, don't thank them for coming. That is your host's job. Rather, begin immediately with a heart-warming story or experience you've had in working with a reverse mortgage client. This will catch their attention and warm up your audience. As you move through your presentation do not read your slides, but rather summarize them. Refer to short notes if necessary so you don't have to take your attention away from the audience. Animate your voice and use moderate gestures to make your points. Most importantly, project confidence and a positive attitude. Don't stand fixed in one spot, but move deliberately short distances across the floor with measured strides. Also be sure not to block your audience's view of your slides. It is strongly recommended you rehearse your presentation at home. Practice in front of your spouse, children, or family pet. Look into a mirror as you speak to check your mannerisms and facial expressions. Practice will give you increased confidence for the big day. Don't skip this!
Giving a wonderful seminar is good, but getting qualified leads is better! Be sure each of your attendees receives an evaluation form. Mention the form throughout the seminar. Many may ask how much money they qualify for. The evaluation form entitles them to a "free no-obligation quote." At the end of the seminar, before the Q&A, ask them to fill this out. Ask them to leave it with your host before leaving. If your host will be helping you with the appointments, include them in the question answering to build their credibility. Your host should position themselves at the door to gather evaluations as people leave. Most of your serious prospects will stay for this entire post-session time. Your host should indicate the end of the session, mentioning that they will be contacting them in a few days to get their feedback and answer any additional questions. Download Sample Evaluation Sheet
Two to three days after the seminar, call each attendee and thank them for coming. Ask them what they thought of the seminar. Your goal is to get the appointment. Tell your prospect "we can go over the different programs you may qualify for." Even if they marked no interest, be sure to ask if they would like a complimentary consultation. Follow each lead to its final conclusion, which in the best case scenario, ends with an appointment and ultimately a sale! Download Follow Up Scripts
Download All Resources (Includes all files from previous sections and NEW PowerPoint Presentation with new 2014 HECM Product, Distribution Limits, 2 Tiered FHA Insurance & Update Product Changes)
Watch Public Training Workshop (This presentation was recorded in 2011 and does not reflect current HECM rules and regulations. It is intended to provide ideas as how to possible structure and present the HECM to a public audience)