BLOG VIEW: The housing market today is akin to the gold rush of the mid-1800s, with many prospective home buyers – and not necessarily enough inventory.
Offers are made on homes within hours of the listing going live – and home buyers are even forgoing essential home inspections to make offers more valuable.
Despite this rush, a mortgage lender’s role has not changed. Lenders must be serious about the responsibility to educate clients on repairing or preparing their credit to qualify for a loan, sharing valuable insight as a trusted resource for those looking to purchase a home.
Whether a potential client is a first-time buyer or someone looking to upgrade from their current home, lenders need to connect and continue to build their business. Leveraging experience is the best way to make the connection.
However, referrals can only go so far. And, relying exclusively on marketing via print mailers or reaching out to those going the “for sale by owner” route is not effective.
Enter educational seminars. Hosting free public seminars allows a lender to apply its expertise to an audience of financially qualified folks, while establishing professional credibility and asserting a compelling value proposition to an audience of potential clients.
Educational seminars provide practical information and demonstrate what an additional one-on-one, in-person meeting can provide throughout the lending process.
These events can be scheduled when lending executives have time – and when the pipeline of new business has capacity – making seminars a uniquely flexible way to forge new connections.
What follows are a few foolproof ways to host a successful educational seminar and turn attendees into clients.
Pick the Right Venue
The choice of venue speaks to attendees before a lender even meets them. Hosting a seminar at the office might seem cost-effective and convenient, but it can send the wrong message. Lenders should emphasize that this is an educational event, not a sales pitch; therefore, they should also avoid hotels and business centers.
Lenders can convey credibility by selecting venues associated with education and civic engagement. Libraries, community centers, small colleges, town halls or chambers of commerce are good examples. Access and convenience are key – including location, parking and event timing.
Promote the Event
The more attendees, the more potential clients. A lender should know its audience and engage in smart, strategic and targeted marketing for the event. Even the best presentation will fall on deaf ears if the message is not fit for prospective borrowers.
Creating effective marketing messaging is an art. The smallest details (word choice, font size and imagery) can impact the efficacy of a lender’s message.
Proactive and successful seminar marketing requires ample time and energy, from managing registrations to promoting your event. Some mortgage lenders choose to outsource marketing, event-planning and logistics to a professional partner who strategically deploys marketing resources and executes the event plan. These partners give back the precious commodity of time, sometimes offering extensive coaching and presentation training.
Speak with passion and purpose. Demonstrate your passion and knowledge for repairing or preparing prospective clients’ credit to qualify for a loan, and provide attendees with meaningful value in exchange for their time and attention.
Attendees want to work with people they like, and nothing gets through more effectively than exhibiting a genuine passion for the topic. Perhaps the lender is a VA or FHA expert. If so, it should share that knowledge and perhaps include a handy tip sheet providing a checklist or FAQs.
Additionally, lenders should share personal details and anecdotes. The more personal the information, the more the audience will positively respond to authenticity.
Educate, Don’t Sell
A sales-focused message quickly turns off an audience and squanders credibility. Lenders should share slides including updated loan rates or comparisons of rates, but resist the urge to ask the audience to work with them to “lock in the lowest rate.” Instead, lenders should explain how and why rates fluctuate. Keep the seminar educational and informative.
A lender should sell its expertise by proving its ability to provide attendees with valuable insigh – helping them understand the best mortgage terms possible.
Speak TO the Audience, Not AT Them
The attendees are craving clarity and simplicity. Avoid acronyms and industry jargon. They are there to learn, so oblige them by teaching, not telling. Help attendees understand how a loan is structured, what PMI is and how/when/who has to pay it and what can make them more attractive to a lender.
A great analogy goes a long way when explaining complex concepts. Presenters should practice their delivery until they are smooth and confident; they should avoid “reading” a presentation to the audience.
Open Strong, Finish Strong
The idea is to grab the audience’s attention immediately. A bland introduction and predictable pleasantries can have the audience tuning out. On the other hand, an invigorating and intriguing introduction – perhaps with something that surprises the audience or delivers something unexpected – can get them sitting up and leaning in. The presenter has only a few seconds to make a first impression – so they should make the most of it.
When presenters close, they should finish on a high note. They should give attendees a compelling value proposition as to why they would benefit from a complimentary follow-up meeting. There are many loan officers trying to get a borrower’s business. Attendees need a concrete reason why they should to take the next step with the presenting lender.
Pro tip: Never end a seminar with a Q&A session. This allows one attendee to dictate the last thing everyone will hear, and the air will go out of the presentation like a deflating balloon.
If a lender has done everything right, its attendees will leave inspired and primed for a follow-up meeting. The first step is creating and distributing attractive take-home materials: a copy of the presentation, the presenter’s business card and an FAQ sheet. Also include a current rate sheet and any helpful industry information new to attendees.
Attendees will want to schedule a follow-up appointment, provided the lenders did a stellar job providing value during the presentation. Therefore, a lender should make sure it has calendar space available following the event so it can strike while the iron is hot.
As a lead-generation strategy, hosting workshops is a practical and effective way for a mortgage lender to build and grow its business.
If one puts on a great event, one not only provides helpful information to attendees, but one also forges connections with individuals and families who recognize the value of expertise – hopefully becoming new and loyal clients.
Mike Ashley is CEO at White Glove Workshops, a digital marketing company that specializes in planning, managing and promoting educational seminars for professionals in a variety of industries, including finance, insurance, healthcare, real estate and more.