By Kim Goldstone, director of marketing for Mortgage Returns
With a new year upon us, it’s not uncommon to focus on doing things better, more efficiently and with more impact than in prior years. This is true for marketing. Whether you are a marketing director, a branch manager or a loan originator, there are things you can do right now to take your marketing to a higher and more meaningful level.
1. Know your audience
Knowing your audience is rule #1, whether you’re considering a single piece of marketing collateral or an entire campaign. More often than not, marketing dollars are a precious resource that must be spent wisely to maximize impact and get you a solid return on your investment. Consider your audience in a thoughtful way before going into design and copywriting.
Are you targeting millennials? Consider fresh colors and design elements that a younger audience will relate to. Research what their concerns are, and address the questions they may have about the product you are selling. Present your message in a way that will eliminate their concerns and address any potential questions or hesitations. Offer an interactive element, such as a URL, to redirect them to a site where they can find additional information or reach you for one-on-one help. Consider eliminating the cold, corporate-designed pieces of generic handshakes and businessmen sitting around tables, and use graphics that show a younger, more diversified borrower. Show borrowers in a real-life situation to make your piece stand out and evoke more emotion.
You have mere seconds to entice someone with a piece of direct mail before it potentially ends up in the trash. Anything that catches your customer’s attention and makes them pause to read your collateral is a success. If you include that interactive element and they actually take it into the house and save it? You’ve won the battle.
2. Engage and educate, don’t sell
People are generally tired of being ‘sold.’ Today, consumers want to be engaged, educated and empowered. They seek information and relationships with trusted advisors. Give your customers a reason to want to work with you by positioning yourself as a SME (subject-matter expert) in the home lending arena.
Avoid old-school flashy call-out banners and statements of desperation or urgency in your direct mail. Instead, dedicate that space to a statement that will engage your customer or educate them. For example, if you are doing a refinance direct mail piece, get rid of the starburst that screams ‘Call Me Today!’ and replace it with a crisp, sleek box that offers a statistic of how many people you refinanced in 2014 and how much money you saved your clients every month last year.
Let the consumer generate the idea in their mind that you are a person who saves their clients money and not someone who relies on sales gimmicks. If you are a loan originator, elevate your personal brand by being an educator, and empower your customer with information and scenarios to consider whenever possible.
3. Get automated
The more customers and prospects in your database, the harder it can be to effectively stay at the top of their lists when it comes time for a refinance or to purchase a new home. Not even the most ambitious loan officer would be able to manage his or her relationships with hand-written notes and cookie-cutter mass marketing. The pros have a secret – and that is to use a CRM that contains fresh, relevant and compliant email and direct mail options for you to send to your clients based on varying factors or triggers.
Most CRMs today have dashboards that will tell you which clients you should focus on based on their rate as it compares to today’s rates, clients who you have flagged for follow-up or any other client that you have set up to trigger in certain scenarios. If your goal is to go after any FHA loan
you have done in the past four years and attempt to do a FHA
Streamline refinance based on the new lower FHA mortgage insurance premiums that became effective January 26, you can do an advanced search of those customers and send them an automated campaign letting them know about this new rate and how to contact you. A good CRM and automated marketing partner will monitor what’s going on in the lending world and will most likely have this campaign already developed for you.
4. Get social
You would be hard-pressed to find a loan originator today who is not at least on LinkedIn or Facebook. However, simply setting up a profile or two does not equate to being engaged in social media, nor does it set you apart from the millions of others who have done the same thing.
Real engagement involves spending time exploring and understanding how to use social media as a tool for establishing yourself as a SME. While many loan originators have Twitter accounts, the reality is that most people are not looking for tweets on current rates or saving opportunities. Focus on social outlets that are appropriate for the business of lending.
For example, if you log into LinkedIn and go to your profile, there is an area just under your photograph and basic information that is called ‘Posts.’ If you have nothing there, then you’re not doing enough to establish yourself in the worldwide web of experts. Take whatever angle of focus you can think of and get your thoughts out there, whether it’s ‘Top 10 Reasons You Should Consider a Refinance’ or your own personal ‘Why Work With Me’ mission statement. Be thoughtful and intentional about what you write, and then publish it. Once it’s published, share it with your connections.
Join some groups that are relevant to the lending industry, or even groups that are relevant to your interests outside the office. You can establish yourself as an expert and get a whole new doorway into prospects by sharing your expertise within groups of people that may know you simply for your love of fly fishing.
5. Diversify your mediums
An investment advisor would tell you not put all of your investment dollars into a single basket, but instead to reduce your risk and maximize your returns by investing in different areas that will react differently to the same event. This is exactly the case in marketing. Diversification of your marketing portfolio is one of the smartest things you can do for yourself, because while you may have one single message, different people react to and engage with various mediums in different ways.
For example, rather than spending $30,000 a month on direct mail only, spend half that, and spend the other $15,000 on a combination of Facebook advertising (which you can set your price at using cost-per-click), one month of banner advertising on a local news site, sponsor in a local race or community event, and then donate $500 of it to a charity and send out a press release about it. People like people who give back to the communities they live and work in – and to return to the diversification point, this plan reaches people who actually read bulk mail, young parents posting their child’s pictures to Facebook, the group who reads local news online – and you’ve established yourself as someone who cares about the community around you.
These five tips are merely things you should consider as you evaluate how you spend your marketing dollars in the upcoming year. Each of these topics could be delved into on a much deeper level, but the goal is to get you thinking about what you are putting out there, how it is being perceived, how efficient your marketing is, whether you are truly engaged on social media and what mediums you are using to get your message out to the world.
Spending just a little extra time on being thoughtful of your audience, crafting your brand, maximizing your reach and diversifying your marketing efforts can go an incredibly long way and yield you much higher results. Be smarter and more intentional this year and every year after, and you should have no issue remaining fresh and relevant – and watching your success grow to whatever level you ultimately want to achieve.