The future of lender-based marketing

by Kimberly Greene06 Mar 2019

In a lot of ways, traditional marketing is dying.

So says Ernie Graham, CEO of HomeBot, an interactive financial dashboard designed to help homeowners save money and build wealth with their home.

As marketing becomes more sophisticated in its ability to target audiences, traditional methods are becoming irrelevant in the daily lives of consumers. Using technology to improve marketing strategies was a topic during one of the sessions at the 2019 CMLA Mortgage Expo. The more lenders and originators fail to recognize what isn’t resonating with consumers anymore, the more opportunities are lost.

“We’re all getting hit with all of these different ads. We’re starting to tune out to these blasts. We don’t see those things anymore. We certainly don’t respond as much to those things. And I think en masse, all of us, as consumers, and all of our clients, who are consumers, are starting to shift towards what I call tools of empowerment.”

These tools of empowerment are vehicles that make the consumer smarter. That includes access to data and information that will allow consumers to make better decisions surrounding the management of the large financial asset that is their home. Providing tools doesn’t always lead to a commission check, Graham said, and sometimes it’s even better when it doesn’t. Empowering consumers is the first part of the marketing strategy, and part two is setting them up for a high touch experience.

“In our business, there’s high tech in order to get the high touch, but then you get the high touch to create the high trust, and trust is this thing that we all want to achieve and develop with our customer databases; not just get them to remember our name, but we’re trying to develop trust,” Graham said. “I think that we’re shooting ourselves in the foot right now in terms of a lot of the ways that we use technology. . . . you close on a deal with somebody and they think really kindly of you with a lot of trust, and then what do we do? We blast them with spam for the next three years,” Graham said.

When state-of-the-art CRMs and other platforms can integrate with databases and POS systems, the possibilities for reaching clients seem endless. When it comes to devising a marketing outreach strategy, however, quality trumps quality, said Joe Puthur, president of Mortgage Coach.

“There has been a shift in that understanding from the audience. The audience, it’s not about their age or their income. They are highly and acutely aware of what is marketing and what is value. And that shift for our industry hasn’t quite happened,” Puthur said.

Some things get easier as a business grows, such as getting more referrals. Other things get harder, such as personalizing messages to hundreds upon hundreds, even thousands, of clients. When sending marketing content, question the purpose of that communication, whether it’s to inform your audience or to keep a brand top of mind. Brand awareness and recognition helps in a crowded marketplace, but all the branding in the world won’t help convert a consumer who doesn’t think the person behind that brand can do anything for them.

“We’ve all been coached that if you can just get people to remember your name, that will be good enough to get repeat and referral business. If you can just get them to remember your name. And then, with the new technology that allows you to pepper and just carpet bomb your database with content with your face plastered on it. That worked for a while, several years ago. But today, it would be akin to using a new iPhone X as a doorstop,” Graham said. “It’s not the highest and best use of technology. And more importantly, getting people to just remember your name isn’t good enough anymore. Having your name associated with value is how you get people to remember you.”

Value comes from genuine and authentic one-on-one interactions and providing empowerment tools that consumers love. Technology allows originators and lenders to get to the consumers, but it’s not what creates the trust from a consumer. Consumers want to know that someone is responding to the goals in their lives, where they want to be, and how a home purchase can help them achieve that.

Machines can compile data, but it can’t hear intonations in a person’s voice, read body language, and respond to unasked questions by reading between the lines (yet). By going deep with clients and storing all of the learned information into a database or CRM, at some point, all of those data points provide touchpoints to communicate with clients and provide them with better tailored content, whatever the medium.