Few mortgage originators are likely to have noticed that the Local Community Radio Act of 2011 enabled a major expansion of non-commercial low-power FM radio stations, those with a radius of 3 to 7 miles. However, if your best approach to lead generation is educating consumers, hosting a weekly local low-power radio show might be a very effective way to underline your credentials as a trusted financial advisor in your community. And pairing your broadcasts with Internet radio could allow you to expand your reach, especially when you support that reach with a Facebook page and other social media.
Getting yourself a weekly spot on a tiny non-commercial community radio station will not be difficult – but is it worth the trouble? There are some definite questions you’d better ask yourself before you even bother.
First of all, are you sure that you have enough to say? Describing a few do’s and don’ts about applying for a loan will not get you through your first program. Most people who apply for mortgage loans already start with the Internet, where they’ve come across plenty of Mortgage 101 tutorials. Do you have a lot more to say about (as well as to) real estate agents, builders, appraisers, landscape gardeners, and other possible referral sources you hope to gain for yourself? How successful have you already been at showcasing yourself before a mass audience? If your main claim to fame is that you are a whiz at getting loans closed quickly and reliably, a radio show may be a waste of time. Stick to Little League sponsorship and ads that pull for you.
Veteran mortgage professional Hans Bruhner is taking a serious look right now at Internet radio as a lead-generation tool. Branch manager for First Priority Financial in Sebastopol, California, he has long written his “Ask The Loan Man” column in a local newspaper and reinforces that brand with his personal website (AskTheLoanMan.com) where he posts videos discussing various mortgage-related topics.
“Internet radio seems like a good way for me to get my message out there in another way,” Hans told me. “I always wanted to do podcasting but this is simpler. If you are constantly consuming information and putting it out there with your spin on it this is an easier way to present it for your audience.” Hans said he has a lot of confidence in podcasts and online videos because he got good instruction from them when he was building his own backyard patio.
A good place to start experimenting with Internet radio is spreaker.com, where you can create an account immediately and start recording half-hour programs for free. You can practice there and add background music to record a professional-sounding introduction. You can hold off actual broadcasting until you are satisfied that your voice is coming across as confident, professional and appealing. Once you pick a time slot and start broadcasting live, spreaker enables you to send automatic e-mail alerts to your followers on Facebook. Spreaker posts listener stats on your individual homepage so you can track your audience-building success. You also can e-mail recorded shows as podcasts.
If you catch a serious Internet radio bug, you may decide to switch from spreaker to BlogTalkRadio, which allows you to host a live call-in Internet broadcast via compute and phone. You can host up to five callers at a time if you want to host a round-table discussion on, say, proving a borrower’s ability to pay or the most effective ways for borrowers to use FHA 203k loans. As with spreaker, shows are archived as podcasts, with half-hour shows for free and longer shows requiring a subscription fee. BlogTalkRadio is widely lauded as the leading Web-based talk-show platform. Currently mortgage mainstays like David Lykken have successful lending radio shows through BlogTalkRadio.
Low-power FM and Internet radio can be useful tools for mortgage originators to differentiate themselves from competitors by showcasing their superior expertise – provided, of course that their expertise is genuinely superior. But lax preparation and thin show content will be disastrously counterproductive. The barrier to entry into successfully marketing yourself on radio is careful preparation. “If you just want to regurgitate a bunch of second-hand information, stay home,” said First Priority’s Bruhner.
About The Author
Since 1996, when he wrote “NetSuccess: How Real Estate Agents Use the Internet,” Scott Kersnar has been chronicling the development of technology in real estate finance. He is a past editor of Mortgage Technology magazine.