Reverse Mortgage Industry Weighs New Take on Marketing, Messaging

Reverse mortgage lenders and industry participants are working toward developing a product marketing plan and putting to rest some of the negative perceptions that have long plagued reverse mortgages.

Spearheaded by a panel of marketing professionals from some of the largest reverse mortgage lenders, the initiative grew from a brainstorm of marketing ideas begun during a National Reverse Mortgage Lenders Association conference in 2012.

At this year’s west coast regional conference hosted by NRMLA, the panel met to share findings including a survey of national public relations and advertising agencies.   


 “A lot of the work is about getting an outsider’s perspective looking in,” says Jean Noble, director of marketing for Urban Financial Group. “This is a collective effort between executives at the larger companies as well as the market.” 

While a full survey has yet to yield full results, the marketing panel shared some preliminary feedback from a dozen respondents. 

Among them: “The world has changed in the past decade, but reverse mortgage advertising has not,” the panel shared. “Have created ‘buyer’s paralysis with an explanation that is too complicated,” was another. 

“The idea of this campaign is for it to complement [existing] messages,” said Mary Smith, director of marketing for Liberty Home Equity Solutions. 

“The demographic has changed, so we all have to adjust our thinking,” Noble said. “we have to understand where our capabilities are. Maybe we can’t reach everyone by traditional means but have to look at niche marketing segments such as online.”

Additional questions posed to the agencies included a question of how lenders can improve messaging and whether the term “reverse mortgage” needs refreshing, to which only one agency recommended a name change. 

As to how reverse mortgage lenders can improve their messaging, the panel shared several suggestions. 

“Stress the positive values and aspirations of customers,” Smith shared based on the feedback. “Don’t sell numbers, sell emotions. Tell customer stories.”

Written by Elizabeth Ecker

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  • 10 years in this business and the negative attitude of this program has never been worse. Reverse mortgages are known to be a last resort option. Almost every borrower says everyone they talk to tells them not to do a reverse mortgage. So they stop talking to people about it. Once the financial assessment goes into effect the folks who need this as a last resort option will no longer qualify. It will be interesting where this will leave the industry. Probably not in a good place. We know how well Metlife is doing in the industry right now.

  • The underlying concept is good but its application seems doomed. When one member emphasis a complementary and another has a “rather than” approach, it seems there is strong division among the members of the committee.

    Testimonials is but another way to emphasize the ruinous messages of the past. Oh yeah and “let the house pay you” (LOL).

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