The art of upfunneling

In the race to the consumer, are you coming in first?

The art of upfunneling

There are so many ways for a consumer to get any kind of information and companies are constantly reworking their strategies for reaching that consumer first.

The mortgage industry is no exception; from guerilla marketing techniques to multi-million dollar advertising campaigns, everyone's focused on ways to reach borrowers, sometimes even before they even decide to buy a home.

At Mastermind 2019, a top producer panel discussed this new model of reaching the borrower and how technology has flipped the script on the old way of doing business, where the realtor was the gatekeeper and mortgage originators had to hope that the borrower somehow made it over to them. Today, mortgage originators have the power to build trust with the borrower and control the transaction, putting the power in their hands rather than waiting for a lead to funnel down through other partners that may be waiting.

Josh Mettle of Fairway Independent Mortgage is a master of loan products for medical professionals. He says that his team really starts working with borrowers once they land in that net that’s been cast out for them, through short video content shared on social media. The point is simply to raise the question: ‘Have you ever heard of a medical professional home loan?’

"I’m just trying to get in their stream of consciousness well before they’re ready to buy," Mettle said. "As long as you can get to the demographic you want to get to, you can start planting some seeds and sooner or later, they’re going to raise their hand and say, 'I’d like some more information.'"

Some originators have started to notice similar themes in the types of questions their borrowers ask or the types of hurdles they're trying to overcome in the mortgage, and make a short video or do a FAQ in a newsletter addressing these issues. It’s an easy win when it comes to content creation.

Mike Stoddart, president and CEO at LeaderOne Financial, wondered if originators can upfunnel that one level further: rather than waiting for the lead or waiting for the opportunity to present itself, originators might think about ways they can take control and create the interest for the lead. If a family has a baby, for example, might they be interested in looking at homes in a different district for elementary school? Figure out what borrowers might need before they do, and approach them with it.

Stoddart said that originators could start working their way up that traditional sales funnel by making those connections first. If those connections are deep enough from the beginning of the originator’s relationship with the borrower, that will go a long way to retaining them for the long haul.

Danny Horanyi, head of non-agency lending at Caliber Home Loans, said that there’s almost a value curve that has come from the increased and unrestricted flow of information.

“At some point, getting the information is massively valuable to an individual consumer because they’re the sucker in the room if they don’t have at least some information. But at some point when they get too much information, suddenly insight becomes massively valuable, because they don’t know what to do with the information that they have,” he said. “They’re at risk of making a terrible decision with the information if they got taken down the wrong path. So the insight is value side of it, and the connection is the relationship side of it.”

Figuring out how to claw your way up the funnel can be a difficult task, but Horanyi offered overwhelmed originators an easy visual: rather than thinking of the funnel in an up-and-down manner, think of it more as an infinity loop, he said.

"In that top piece is where we spend all of our time and money. It’s very expensive to meet new people, and it’s very expensive to convert them into a relationship, that second phase. But if we do a really good job, they don’t go back to phase one, they funnel back into phase two, which means that all of a sudden you have this growing database of tribe members without having to spend any more money."

The more originators can do that, the more they can bring people into their tribe, and make them evangelists for their business.