Chris Prior is business development manager at Bridgewater Equity Release
One of the main obstacles impeding the equity release market from growing at a quicker rate and preventing older homeowners from realising the full financial potential of their homes is a lack of consumer understanding about the products and how they can benefit from them.
While some responsibility for addressing this comprehension shortfall lies with trade bodies, providers and various other sector stakeholders, advisers must accept some accountability in educating potential customers of the opportunities that equity release can provide.
How advisers choose to spread the message is their own decision, but in these austere times we find ourselves in, marketing budgets have been practically pared out of existence.
Yet while advertising in local and regional newspapers may not be the cost-efficient method it once was, advisers can still secure valuable exposure in the press by polishing up their public relations skills.
Journalists are always looking for news stories and features, and while they will stop short of giving your business a free plug for the sake of it, there are ways that intermediaries can get a name check for their firm and what they do if they are creative about it.
Understanding exactly what reporters want can be confusing to the uninitiated, which is one of the reasons why our latest sales aid concentrates on how to go about garnering column inches.
Getting off on the right foot with journalists and building mutually beneficial relationships is vital in ensuring your contributions see the light of day and the guide not only gives advisers tips on how they should approach the press initially, but also provides a list of dos and don’ts for fostering long-term partnerships.
A particularly popular type of article is that which includes a case study.
After all, it’s all very well explaining how equity release can ease the burden on older homeowners, but unless readers can see an example of this unfolding they may not be able to comprehend the tangible benefits.
If you are considering trying to secure some local press coverage, it may be worth sounding out some of your clients as to whether they would be happy to go on the record supporting your cause and singing the praises of equity release in general.
Articles don’t necessarily have to be about equity release or what your company does either.
Even getting your name in the press for something else such as a donation to charity or some other work undertaken in the community all helps adds to the perception of your business as a conscientious organisation that cares about local people.
Journalists and the press in general are sometimes viewed with suspicion by those that haven’t dealt with them before, but they are just as keen to cover positive local developments as they are bad news.
Establishing a reciprocal relationship with a reporter on your local paper could have long-term benefits for both parties.
With the equity release sector seemingly receiving more coverage than ever lately – due in part to the trade body overhaul and the pressing issues of long-term care funding and pension income shortfall – advisers can capitalise on this interest by taking their story to the press.
Dwindling incomes in retirement are a hot topic and explaining to your target audience how they can supplement this through equity release could be the key to securing an enhanced level of business.