Longtime reverse mortgage industry professional Bruce Simmons of American Liberty Mortgage in the Denver area has long used radio as both an educational and marketing tool for prospective reverse mortgage clients.
Having endured many of the same business challenges in 2023 as other industry participants, Simmons recently sat down with RMD and described how a recent shift in his focus on radio has been beneficial.
“My biggest source of leads and closed loans last year — and so far this year — has been radio,” Simmons said in an interview this week. “I do a radio show and I advertise on an oldies station, and [that’s even after] scaling back a little bit.”
Simmons focused primarily on a talk radio station for about six years, consistently serving in the same time slot. In early 2023, Simmons made the decision to scale back his presence on the talk station but decided to allocate more time to an “oldies” station.
“[The talk station] did not produce nearly the benefit that the new one I just started at the beginning of 2023 did,” Simmons said, referring to the oldies station. “I get calls on that every week, and I think I’ve closed two loans so far this year from leads [on the oldies station].”
At the time of the interview, Simmons had just met a client who was in the process of getting his Home Equity Conversion Mortgage (HECM) counseling certificate. Simmons credits the targeted nature of the oldies station — inherently designed to serve older listeners — along with the frequency of his ads playing in tandem with oldies music.
“They hear it on the radio over and over, because they run the ads four to six times a day,” Simmons said. “I also still have my radio show on the weekend, and now my web guy is taking the radio show with AI and doing a lot more with that, trying to repurpose the content from the radio show into [social media] posts.”
Because of the generally broad reach of radio, many of the inbound inquiries Simmons receives come from people who do not qualify for a reverse mortgage, he explained.
“As far as generating calls and leads, the oldies station has been fantastic,” he said. “A lot of them don’t qualify; they may hear the ad and want to call and find out. But they’re 53 years old and the LTVs (loan-to-value ratios) don’t even work. But still, there’s a lot of people that do qualify with it.”
He primarily made the pivot to the oldies station in January 2023 after attempting to do the talk and oldies stations simultaneously. When that scenario became too expensive, focusing more on the oldies station proved to be a fruitful endeavor, he explained.
Due to a beneficial sponsorship, however, he’s not totally gone from the talk radio space.
“I sponsor a talk station with one guy who’s popular here in Denver, and when he recommends someone [it carries a lot of weight],” Simmons said. “I’ve done a couple reverse mortgages for this host’s parents, so he’s an excellent spokesperson. But I got rid of my own show on the AM station completely.”
Finding a focus
Simmons tried to maintain a heavier presence on both the talk and oldies stations for a while, but he made a decision to focus more on the latter based on inquiries that converted into closed loans.
“What I noticed is that when I was doing both the talk and oldies stations — because I’d ask people where they heard about me — all the calls I was getting came from the oldies station,” he explained. “Every now and again I would get one or two from the talk station, so that’s when I decided to refocus and save myself some money.”
While the radio arrangements have always been profitable for him, Simmons said he has noticed a better return on investment since making the pivot to the oldies station. But Simmons is also thankful for his employer.
“Luckily, I work for a company where the owner splits the costs with me,” he said. “That makes it much more palatable, because it’s not a cheap form of advertising.”