Mortgage market slumps – is this the solution to boost business?

Pundit advises on how best to stand out from the crowd

Mortgage market slumps – is this the solution to boost business?

Amid a sluggish housing market with a backdrop of inflation, marketing has gained heightened importance as brokers struggle to differentiate themselves in the industry. Now, one marketing expert offers advice on how to go about it.

Natalie Mullen (pictured), mortgage and banking market leader at Verisk Marketing Solutions, recommends that marketers should “…work smart with data; really get your house in order from a data perspective,” she told Mortgage Professional America. “We know a lot about our customers, we know some things about our prospective customers, leads, or past customers. But how can we get better at connecting all the dots so that we have a holistic understanding of who this person is and what they care about?” she asked rhetorically. “It is critical for marketers to find those opportunities to engage with them, and be that much smarter about how, when, and why we do that.”  

As it relates to marketing budgets, Mullen advises to “…avoid wasting a bunch of money putting campaigns and outreach towards consumers about a product that’s not the right fit. It will be most cost-effective to double down for the people who you know are in market with specific messages about the products they’re after.”

Marketing should be tailored to ongoing market shifts, she added: “As the economy and housing market are leaving consumers strained, marketers recognize the shift towards cash-out projects that allow them to have money for short-term versus longer-term investments such as traditional refinancing plans,” she said. “People’s main priorities remain keeping food on the table and a roof over their head.”

Read more: Brokers on how to stand out from the crowd 

Mullen urged those heading up marketing efforts to remember a fundamental premise: “We’re all consumers, and all of our marketers are consumers, as well. We all make the same decisions as the people we want to reach through marketing.”

A measure of empathy and a dose of understanding should be part of the mix: “It’s not just consumer behavior that is constantly changing,” Mullen noted. “If you pull out a little bit more to a bird’s eye view, it’s their lives that are changing. They’re buying houses or they’re having kids. Some may have demonstrated an affinity for Hondas at one point in their lives, for example. But maybe they’re making more money now and their credit is better, so their vehicle preference might be changing, as well.”  

Bottom line: Know your customer, Mullen advised: “The one constant that does remain is that the more you know your consumer, the better you can reach them at those inflection points in their lives,” she says. “As a marketer, you should be evolving and adapting with them so you can provide a better experience for that consumer and a better perception of your brand, because it’s those personalized experiences which create loyalty.”  

Distinguishing oneself from the pack during a changing landscape has become a top priority as originations, following a record-setting, two-year streak of abundant refinancing, take a hit. At one panel discussion at the recent Fuse conference – an annual gathering of Association of Independent Mortgage Expert members – brokers spoke of the importance of setting oneself apart in an increasingly challenging market. It’s a personal form of marketing oneself, panelists agreed.

It could start with one’s trademark look. Impeccably dressed in a tailored bright blue suit, Porch Point Mortgage president and CEO Darius James said his fashion choices helped set him apart from the crowd. Personal branding – “a nice flashy suit,” in his words – comes down to the first impression in the way he dresses. He strode among the crowd with a confident gait at Paris hotel and casino with his equally resplendently dressed wife and trusty assistant at his side.

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Mike Cox noted his identity is rooted in education – particularly given his role as vice president of education for AIME. He’s also not ashamed to describe himself as a nerd – with eye-catching brand awareness that has all but made his Mortgage Nerds a household name in some parts. Cox has been in the wholesale channel for more than a year, and is broker owner of Mortgage Nerds after years in the retail channel at GSF Corp.

While acknowledging the power of his own branding, Cox stressed aligned dynamics have to be reflected in a company’s mission statement – “not what is your selling proposition,” he said. “For our company, we spent money and time trying to figure out why we do what we do. Our mission statement is to make the mortgage experience the best part of buying a home. It all comes together with vision,” he noted, adding that his borrowers are able to count on his firm’s guidance and expertise. “Everything flows from your vision, your values,” he said. Absent such a credo, one cannot stand, he suggested: “You cannot build a longstanding business without them.”