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The rise and fall of the broker

National Mortgage Professional
Oct 16, 2008

Forward on reverse: Insights for marketing to maturityAtare E. Agbamureverse mortgage, origination, marketing, hucksterism My office phone rang the other day. I picked up the receiver and hung up almost immediately in disgust. The caller was a computer, delivering the pre-recorded message of a mortgage industry trainer. Why did I react the way I did to this "caller"? The eardrum-splitting, rapid-fire sales pitch was only part of it. The other was that like most second-half consumers (age 40-plus), I have become less tolerant of mindless hucksterism. I began this series in September to share insights I gained while researching and writing my upcoming book, a guide to marketing and originating reverse mortgages. In Part I ("Unlearn 20th century marketing," The Mortgage Press, September 2005), we concluded that in order to learn how to market to maturity, we must first unlearn the 20th century marketing paradigm, or worldview, which is built around hucksterism. According to my friend and mentor, David B. Wolfe, co-author of the pioneering marketing book "Ageless Marketing," hucksterism is "the aggressive, pushing approach in marketing which seeks to conquer and overwhelm and manipulate consumers." Wolfe asserts that in the 21st century, the marketer has to be a healer, helping consumers "process their lives." In Part II, ("A different kind of customer," The Mortgage Press, October 2005), we argued that the reverse mortgage customer is a "different kind of customer." It is not enough to know a customer's age, home equity position, income, address, zip code or other data that can be fed into a computer. We must negotiate our way into the hearts and minds of the new lords of the marketplace. The two-by-four approach to marketing is for those who are stuck in a youth-dominated marketplace and culture of a bygone era. Marketing is about influencing human behavior so that they can take actions consistent with the marketer's suggestion. In our case, it is to take out a reverse mortgage or to understand their value. In this installment, we continue the "different kind of customer" theme. What makes the mature customer different? To answer this question, we need to put on lenses crafted by David Wolfe from strands of developmental psychology and modern brain science. I can hear you saying, "Atare, this is getting too nerdy for me." I say, "Wait a minuteyour patience will be rewarded with uncommon understanding." An understanding that will give you a real competitive advantage as you create marketing communications to connect with mature consumers in a 21st century marketplace dominated by maturity. As Mr. Wolfe is fond of saying, "Almost everything we know about marketing, we learned and developed when youth ruled the marketplace." This is no longer the case ... this is strategic insight. Now, let's get on with some foundational material first. It turns out that the human life circle and the four seasons have a lot in common. To understand a customer, we must know the season of life the customer is passing through. From this knowledge, we will be able to design marketing communications that will resonate or connect with that customer. It is common sense, but most of us in this industry think that all we need to know about a customer is their name, age, zip code, e-mail address, phone number and home equity position. Then, we go on bombarding them with mindless calls (or e-mails or junk mails) similar to the one I received from the computer and call it "marketing." How can you "market" to consumers when you cannot even get their attention because of your approach? How can you persuade customers by offending them? Have we learned anything from the Do-Not-Call phenomenon of recent years? How can you open a lock without first studying the combination? Here are the four seasons into which a customer's life circle is divided, according to Wolfe: •From birth to age 22+ = Spring •From age 18+ to 40+ = Summer •From age 38+ to 60+ = Fall •From age 58+ and over = Winter At each season of the human life circle, there are essential human development goals we must accomplish. The push to achieve these developmental aims is wired into our DNA over millions of years of evolution, similar to our need for food, sleep or sex. We have to have them.To comprehend human behavior systematically, we must grasp these human advancement ends. In Part IV, we will examine the human progress intentions of the spring and summer years of the human life circle. Think reverse. Move forward! Atare E. Agbamu, CRMS is president of ThinkReverse LLC, a reverse mortgage training and consulting firm based in the Twin Cities and is a consultant with Credo Mortgage. Atare is regarded as an emerging authority on reverse mortgages and is frequently consulted by financial professionals and families across America. His reverse mortgage interviews have been Webcast on MortgageMag Live! He can be reached by phone at (651) 389-1105 or e-mail [email protected]
Published
Oct 16, 2008
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