One of the best ways to use social media is to add value to your target audience in a classy, non-threatening way. Endless status updates about miniscule details of your life or sending out mass invites to non-first-time homebuyers about your first-time homebuyer workshops is not classy. In fact, it can be annoying. Your social media contacts will quickly tune you out and “hide” your status updates—effectively cutting off your ability to communicate important messages that may be relevant to them. Remember the story of the man who cried “wolf” too many times?
On the other hand, there are tasteful ways to harness the power of social media to market your events and services.
Step 1: Establish your target audience
One of the greatest tools of social media is the ability to group your contacts and friends into categories. For example, you could create groups for your Facebook friends such as:
For example, assume you want to conduct a workshop for Realtors. You could send an event invite to your Facebook friends in the “Realtor” category. If you want to conduct a client appreciation event or networking mixer for all your contacts, you could send out an invitation to all your “Local” Facebook friends. You can place your friends in more than one category. For example, all the Realtors who are local to your marketplace can be placed in both the “Local” and “Realtor” categories. LinkedIn also allows you to filter your contacts by geographic location.
Step 2: Pick a hot topic that is important to your target audience
Assume that you want to earn more referrals from financial advisors. Your target referral is someone with credit scores over 700 and a 50 percent LTV. What are the issues that are important to financial advisors right now? What are the strategies that are important to their clients with credit scores over 700 and a 50 percent LTV on their home mortgage?
One hot topic that a lot of financial advisors could use some help with right now is Roth IRA conversion opportunities. You see, there are some unique tax benefits this year (2010) for high net worth clients to convert a lot of their retirement savings into Roth IRAs (the limits on conversions are lifted in 2010). Most people aren’t aware of these opportunities. The exciting thing is that low mortgage rates present a unique opportunity for you to team up with financial advisors in order to help their clients use a mortgage today to pay the taxes on the conversion. This will save the clients tens of thousands of dollars (if not hundreds of thousands of dollars) when compared with not converting and paying hefty taxes later when they need retirement income.
For example, assume a client in a 25 percent tax bracket has a retirement account worth $200,000. This is down from a peak of $300,000 when the market was higher. If they convert these funds into a Roth IRA in 2010, they will be subject to approximately $50,000 in taxes. They can pay half the taxes on their 2010 tax returns, and half the taxes on their 2011 tax returns. You can bump up their mortgage by $50,000 in order to pay the tax bill. For example, if their current mortgage is $200,000, you could refinance it into a $250,000 mortgage and pull $50,000 of cash out to pay the taxes. This way, they will have the full $200,000 from the conversion left in their new Roth IRA.
When the financial market recovers and the retirement account grows back to $300,000, the clients can withdraw the entire amount without paying a dime’s worth of taxes! In this example, you were able to help the client save literally over $25,000 in taxes, plus the opportunity cost of $50,000 that they were able to reinvest due to your strategy of using a mortgage to pay today’s tax bill on the conversion.
The bigger the retirement account, the bigger the savings from the conversion (and the bigger mortgage balance needed to pay the taxes today). In other words, clients with higher balance retirement accounts save the most money. And what types of clients have high balances in their retirement accounts? Clients who are likely to have credit scores over 700 and a 50 percent LTV on their home mortgage!
In short, this presents a tremendous opportunity in 2010 to conduct a joint workshop with a financial advisor who is knowledgeable in this area for everyone who has a retirement account. You could invite your social media contacts and the financial advisor could invite their contacts.
Step 3: Develop an effective marketing strategy
You could consider inviting the media (newspapers, radio, TV) and splitting the costs of the event if you are conducting an event with a referral partner—such as a joint workshop with a financial advisor for people with retirement accounts (as outlined above) or a first-time homebuyer workshop with a Realtor.
If you are conducting a workshop for potential referral partners, such as a seminar for financial advisors or a seminar for Realtors, you could collect everyone’s business card at the event and then you could add these individuals as social media contacts. You could also team up with your local trade associations and have them post a link to the event on their Web sites and social media pages. Oftentimes, trade associations like CPA/financial planner groups or Realtor groups have their own Facebook “Fan Pages” or group pages on various social media sites. It’s a smart idea to tap into these resources when available.
A few successful people I know frequently conduct client appreciation events at unique locations across town—such as museums and local hot spots. Part of the event is networking and fun (wine and cheese tasting, for example) and part of the event is a short market update (45 min. discussion or so) on topics of interest to clients and the target audience. You could team up with referral partners such as CPAs, financial advisors and Realtors, and organize events like this to generate some more business for both you and the referral partner. You could also get local establishments to sponsor or support the event (such as a wine distributor supplying the wine for the wine tasting). Your commission on one mortgage origination should more than cover your costs.
Step 4: Implement!
It’s one thing to read articles like this and say, “Wow that’s a good idea.” It’s another thing to actually take some action and make it happen. If you don’t take any action, you won’t make any money. CMPS certification equips you with unique knowledge, training, tools, PowerPoint slides and marketing resources to help you implement these ideas and more to make your events a smashing success!
Gibran Nicholas is the founder and chairman of the CMPS Institute, which administers the Certified Mortgage Planning Specialist (CMPS) designation. The CMPS Institute has enrolled more than 5,500 members since its founding in 2005. Gibran is also the chairman of Published Daily, a customizable online magazine, newsletter and marketing service that helps professionals transform their clients and prospects into a referral-generating sales force. He may be reached at (888) 608-9800, ext. 101 or e-mail [email protected]