Do not rely on email campaigns to bring in business.
So says Dana Meadows, who has built her brand on events and relationships with realtors, which bring in about 90 percent of her referrals.
“You constantly have to stay in front of referral partners,” she said. “If you’re not top of mind, they’re not going to remember to call you, so you have to make sure that you’re constantly in front of them. Don’t rely on email campaigns; those are thrown in the trash just as quickly as if it was in the mailbox. You’ve got to be out and be present and stay in front of people.”
Dana Meadows cut her teeth during the refi boom. She started in the industry as a part-time assistant, but soon ended up getting licensed and taking over a broker shop as the owner’s partner fell ill. She was able to foster relationships there, and went to Wells Fargo right before the market crashed. Meadows realized that her passion was helping people get into homes as opposed to reworking the mortgage that they already had, and spent most of her time at Wells Fargo doing renovation lending.
“It was a niche market when people were only buying foreclosures and short sales, so properties that people had gone in and torn up or taken things out of because they were mad that they were losing their home. I took advantage of market and helped my buyers get into homes that were foreclosed on, and you couldn’t get traditional financing,” Meadows said.
Now, her traditional business has grown so much is that she now refers specialty products to two originators who serve as extensions of her team. She also carves out time to pull together events for her partners, making them educational, unique to her market, and with somewhat of a personal touch. She does participate in other activities such as co-branding, and providing food and beverages for partner open houses, but the events are really her standouts.
Instead of the events being in a lecture format, Meadows structures them more as interview-style conversations with experts, and people respond very positively to that presentation.
“They don’t feel like they’re sitting and being talked to; they’re involved in, and they really, really enjoy that,” Meadows said. “They can get information and know how to have those conversations, and then the people that they’re talking to, whether they’re a buyer or a seller, feel like they’re the true experts.”
Depending on the scale of the event, it doesn’t necessarily come cheap. But, she says, the money is better spent there than it is on something like an online lead source because events get her exposure and gives her credibility as an expert.
In the seven years that she’s been at Movement Mortgage, Meadows went from closing around $10 million a year to closing more than $76 million. There are a number of reasons for that, including the recent expansion of her team to include a client concierge who can adopt some responsibilities from Meadows and also handle any overflow from the two assistants who work on files. Meadow is also very big on social media—although she doesn’t do any of it herself.
“I actually don’t care much for social media outside of looking at pictures of people’s cute kids,” Meadows said.
Still, she knows that she worked so hard to build her brand that it would be stupid not to promote it. So she now outsources her social media, with someone in another part of the country taking charge of her Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram accounts. In fact, it’s one of the places where she’s happy to spend money; in a year and a half, her social media following has grown from 150 followers to 2,400 followers.
Meadows was introduced to her social media manager through her business coach, who started working with her a couple of years ago. Meadows said that she started actively resisted coaching for years, even though Movement has an internal coaching program. The lead coach there finally wore her down, and she says that it’s been a game changer.
“I viewed coaching as an accountability partner, and I didn’t feel like I needed someone to hold me accountable. And what I discovered is there are different types of coaching. You can have that accountability if you need it, but you can also have someone that you toss around ideas, and that person helps make your ideas better.”
Meadows and her team are constantly tweaking things, but she’s found great success in hosting a lot of events and educational opportunities for her agents, along with any other kind of support that she can to prevent them from having to spend money on things that she can cover for them.
It really helps them out, she said, and when she helps them grow, she grows as well.