Kristi Howard, marketing manager for Assurance Financial in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, shares her secrets on how originators can be successful in 2016.
What’s your objective?
There are many factors that go into creating a marketing plan, Howard says. The first order of business is deciding what your objectives are. If your goals are to augment customer outreach or to improve long-term customer retention, then you might include email marketing among your marketing strategies. Or, perhaps you are looking to target a specific audience, such as millennials. In that case, mobile technology and social media would likely be in your marketing arsenal.
“Other goals might be creating more awareness and recognition of both the company and of the individual loan officer, closing more loans, converting prospects to applicants and maintaining contact with both prospects and applicants,” Howard told MPA. “There are a variety of reasons to advertise and market yourself. We recommend weighing and considering all of them, then focusing on the most important ones.”
Really know your clients
In addition to using their company’s loan origination system (LOS), Howard says it’s critical that loan officers update and maintain their own databases. “There is so much more that you can do by maintaining your own database and having information other than the closing date, the borrower’s anniversary or their birthdate,” she says. Rather than simply sending the typical messages to customers such as “Happy Holidays” or “Buying season is starting,” there are other reasons loan officers can reach out to their contacts, according to Howard. She advises that, “today, consumers aren’t looking for loan officers to just sell to them; they want you to build a relationship with them.”
“By keeping track of what your referral sources and prospective clients like, you can easily send them a magnet with the schedule of their favorite sports team or invite them to an event at their favorite restaurant. That certainly makes an impact that they will want to reciprocate.”
All the Right Tools
After determining an overall plan, having a well-equipped toolbox with the latest technology is essential to carrying out a successful marketing strategy, according to Howard. Some of the most important are:
Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software designed specifically for the mortgage industry is key, she says. When Assurance Financial shopped for CRM software, the company looked for a system that was specific to the mortgage industry, Howard says. The CRM software “already had a huge library of different tools – like emails and direct mail campaigns – that spoke the right language,” Howard says. Using a mortgage-specific CRM tool rather than using generic software and converting the messages to the mortgage business reduces time and costs, and increases efficiency, she notes.
Mobile device apps are also an increasingly valuable tool in the marketing kit. “We have a mobile app that allows borrowers and Realtors to calculate mortgage financing scenarios,” Howard says. “Having something like that at their fingertips is really handy for our clients. They like the convenience.”
Co-branding with referral sources – A bigger plus might be that the mobile app allows loan officers to co-brand with real estate agents and other referral sources. “Loan officers can share a co-branded version of the app with their Realtors to send out to their customers,” Howard says. “The customer then has access to both the loan officer’s and Realtor’s contact information at their fingertips. It’s another way of helping out real estate agents and strengthening relationships with them.”
Interacting through social media – Assurance Financial uses Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn for marketing, although not necessarily to tout its mortgage products. “It goes beyond simply letting borrowers know what kind of loans we provide,” Howard says. “We want potential clients to interact with us. We want to show that we are just like them, that we are family people and live in the same community and care about the same things that they care about.”
Assurance posts photos of borrowers at their closings on social media, with the company’s branding in the photo, Howard says. “It is subtle, but it shows that we are excited for them during this big moment in their life. Their concerns are our concerns.”
Support from management – Howard says Assurance also supports its LOs by offering assistance with their advertising and marketing. “For example, Assurance will run billboard, bus bench, and print ads as well as participate in community outreach opportunities that advertise the loan officer’s photo, name and phone number rather than the company’s alone. While loan officers at other companies incur this expense on their own, our company defers some of these costs in an effort to encourage and support them with their marketing initiatives. We feel it’s necessary to give our LOs all of the tools they need to maximize their production. I think this is a big differentiator.”
Ultimately, it is the extra, subtle things Assurance does that make a difference in its marketing to borrowers and referral sources, she says. “Going the extra mile with those personal touches helps our clients remember Assurance and our loan officers when it’s time for their next mortgage transaction, or when they’re asked by friends or relatives for a referral. That’s when our marketing efforts really pay off.”
Having a well thought out marketing strategy – along with the right tools – makes it easier for loan officers and branch managers to generate more production with far less effort. There are plenty of tools that mortgage loan officers and branch managers have at their disposal, but developing a good marketing strategy is a key component to success. This strategy need not be difficult to execute.