Industry experts and originators discussed the best ways to leverage marketing at the Originator Excellence Workshop, hosted by AIME.
Adam Smith and Kevin O’Laughlin, originators based in Colorado and Pennsylvania, respectively, agreed that one of the benefits of using technology is that it’s an easy way to connect to both clients and consumers. Sharing interesting content and allowing people to see what’s behind the veil is an easy marketing tool that works to build a brand and build a relationship.
Smith said that letting people know who you are, what you do, and how you operate is probably one of the most crucial things and also attracts people who are like-minded. The feedback that he’s gotten from his 5000+ followers on social media are that they feel connected to him even though it’s virtual.
“Some people have said they knew me because they’ve watched my video. We’ve never met, but they do know me. How I look, what I wear, where I work, what my office looks like, what the inside of my car looks like, how I speak, my tone, my inflection, my sense of humor, my use of sarcasm, those kinds of things. So it’s a natural gravitation, and I can attract realtor partners and clients in that same manner,” he said.
More originators are looking that ways social media can generate leads, and it can, but Steve Polston says that originators need to see more of the value in it. Polston is the founder and CEO of Nexgen HBM, which has developed HomeScount, a real estate and lending platform that introduces lenders to homebuyers in the beginning stages of the home buying process.
“It’s not about just generating a lead,” he said. “It’s about capturing the lead, capturing their mindspace in that gap between transactions. What are you going to do if they start [the process] in January and they don’t decide to move until August? How are you going to stay relevant as a loan officer?”
Its much easier to stay top of mind over many months with a quick text or connection on social media—without it seeming desperate or annoying.
Jesse Decker, customer success leader at Cloudvirga, agreed with Polston in that it’s more than generating leads and marketing for an originator. Good technology gets all players within a transaction into a room with the same technology in order to collaborate and move things along faster, Decker said, improving processes and relationships on the side that the buyers don’t get to see.
But also, she said, originators need to use it to their advantage now in order to cement those relationships and get ahead of the big players in the market. Once they catch up, they will have many more tools at their disposal.
“It strikes me that there’s so much new innovation happening, there are things not related to social media that big companies have yet to take advantage of, but they will at some point,” Decker said. “They’re getting to the point where they will use the data they have in their systems to pull as much of this pipe into their LOA,” she said, and using personal connections allow originators to stay ahead that data-driven method. “It doesn’t do it for you, but the more you can have that seamless process, the faster it’s going to go and the happier your customers are going to be and the more time you have to get to 200 or 500 loans a year.”
Staying top of mind through social media is of course something that every single originator can do starting this very second.
O’Laughlin said that he puts all of his energy into creating a ‘wow’ experience, and using video email platform BombBomb is a big part of that. As soon as he gets off the phone with a new referral, or a member of his team makes initial contact, they shoot a personal video for the client, expressing their excitement about helping them through the process. He texts that video to the borrower, copying the agent, and then after that, he sends videos throughout the process. They aren’t all personalized, but apart from starting the experience with a bang, the other goal is to eliminate the time he spends on the phone.
“The goal of BombBomb and using that in process is to cut phone traffic down. I want them to know what’s happening next without getting a phone call. How do you deliver that awesome experience for that client, that realtor, without picking up the phone.”
He’s also intent on making fun and creative videos that involve other team members. He said that most of his competitors have “zero personality” so he wants to show who is create organic content that borrowers actually want to watch.
“Everyone is so boring in this business,” O’Laughlin said. “We try to make it fun.”
Using technology to forge connections, such as sharing video and apps can be a great way to build rapport, but Decker said that a lot of people—herself included—are maxed out on apps, and aren’t willing to download (and pay for) yet another app that’s going to use space and battery on their mobile device.
“As a consumer, I don’t really want to download a bunch of apps,” she said. “.So just be careful with that. Sometimes there’s app fatigue. It’s another thing to have to commit to. So ways that you can leverage technology on the channel they’re already in without spending a lot of money on an app, that is really important.”
If using technology is going to save time in the long run and allow originators to go out and secure more business, then it doesn’t make sense to spend time on getting partners to adopt technology. It’s pretty easy to identify who will and who won’t, so don’t waste time on the ones that aren’t going to get on board, Decker said. Focus on the ones that are willing to be pulled in, and find platforms that will allow them to be a part of the process.
The way to effectively use technology is to meet the customer experience expectations, rather than solely meeting business needs. Smith said that first and foremost, originators need to figure out what their audience wants to see and hear, not what they themselves want to see and hear.
There are some to-dos and don’t-dos, but ultimately, some things will work despite them breaking the norms and other things won’t work even though everything was done “right.” Experimentation, Smith said, is part of the process.
“I’m a big believer in taking imperfect action. Start doing shit. Don’t overthink it, don’t analyze it to death. Start doing it and you’ll get better as you go.”