L.A. Land profile: Kal Wayman, "Not your mother's mortgage broker"
Who remembers Kal Wayman from the early days of this blog? Uncle Billy, you remember Kal, right? That's him pictured, partying recently at the Playboy Mansion in Holmby Hills.
Here's the back story: in May 2007, I wrote a snarky post about Kal, an Atlanta mortgage broker and party promoter who came to my attention because he used a babes-in-bikinis video on YouTube to promote his mortgage business.
After I climbed on my high horse and labeled the video "disturbing," a surprising thing happened: Dozens of Kal's mortgage clients came on the blog to comment in his defense. I learned that he had lots of clients who were remarkably loyal to him. This little chapter taught me a valuable lesson -- often a blog post is just the beginning of the story; the readers write the ending.
But that's the back story. The reason for this post is that Kal was in L.A. recently to party with Hef at the Mansion. No, I didn't go. But I did have lunch with him and one of his L.A. clients, and was so impressed with his marketing skills, and enthusiasm, that I thought he might spice up a dull day on the blog (falling prices, no sign of a bottom, falling prices, no sign of a bottom, etc). So I invited Kal to share his ideas and insights on marketing and building a mortgage business that targets younger borrowers.
Here's a teaser, with more below: Kal says one of his most successful marketing efforts was very old-fashioned: he printed 20,000 matchbooks advertising his business, and delivered them to the hottest bars and nightclubs in Atlanta. The word of mouth continued long after the matches were gone, he says. "As a matter of fact, I was at SkyBar in Los Angeles last year," Kal told me, "and two girls screamed out, 'Hey Kal, where's your matches??' "
Here's more from Kal on how he went about building a personal brand in Atlanta:
I have done all kinds of advertising -- television, radio, print and online. When it comes down to the most effective forms I've used, it is out-of-the-box guerrilla tactics. ... For example, I had a phone number called "Kal's Party Line" -- You would call it to find out where the party was, and at the end it would say, 'If you need a mortgage or refinance, call Kal." At its peak, it would receive 4,000 calls a week.
I created matchbooks and gave them out to bars in Atlanta. One side had my face and the other side said, "Got Mortgage? Call Kal!" I spread 20,000 of them around bars in the city of Atlanta. I still go out and find them ... People come up to me and say, 'Hey, you're the Matchbook Mortgage Guy!' As a matter of fact, I was at SkyBar in Los Angeles last year and two girls screamed out, 'Hey Kal, where's your matches??' "
I use MySpace as a huge medium for my advertising as well. ... I have my infamous commercial on there, and my MySpace friends know me as "Got Mortgage Kal." You already know about the commercial on YouTube -- I still receive calls from as far away as Canada and Great Britain.
I'm also the main mortgage broker for FSBO.com ... You know why? Because I met the president out at an event, I did his mortgage, and now we're friends. A good example of how going to restaurants, bars and clubs can really get you business if you do it tastefully.
People always ask me how many people have called you for a mortgage after they pick up your matchbooks? Or has your YouTube commercial brought you business? Or was the Party line ever responsible for someone doing a refinance through you? Do you really get clients by going out to clubs? My answer is, yes, of course. ... Tens of thousands of people know me from my antics and they always think of me as "that mortgage guy." The first thing they think of when they think of buying a house or refinancing is, 'Oh yeah, I'll call that Kal guy!" Especially in this declining market, my business has increased substantially.
My tactics may have been out of the ordinary, or weird, or controversial to some -- but people know who I am and what I do. It's kind of like the movie "Troy," where the little kid tells Brad Pitt he would never risk his life against the barbarian, and Brad Pitt says, "That's why no one will ever remember your name."
I've gotten the same type of publicity that a several hundred-thousand-dollar advertising budget would produce. I do it at a fraction of the cost and have fun at the same time. I never feel like I am working. I am just a loan doctor on call, when people who have heard about me need my help.
My niche is people from age 24 to 38. They are usually fun, social people. A lot of them are first-time home buyers that want to use a friend they can relate to, as opposed to a banker in a suit. I can wear a suit with the best of them but I can show up to a closing in jeans and a t-shirt, and my clients are much more comfortable. ... Although I deal with younger adults, the majority of them have relatively high incomes. There is a huge group of movers and shakers out there that financial professionals do not focus on. ... My motto has always been 'Not your mother's mortgage broker, but probably your daughter's."
Kal Wayman works for Atlanta-based Amerisave, a direct lender licensed in all 50 states. How does he end up with clients in Los Angeles? In this case, the client found Kal through www.mtgprofessor.com, the site run by Jack Guttentag, which designates Amerisave as an official "upfront mortgage lender."
The designation is given to lenders that -- in Guttentag's judgment -- disclose fees up front and guarantee them, and allow borrowers to price their specific loan on the Internet.
Photo Credit: Kal Wayman