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   ARTICLE   |   From Scotsman Guide Residential Edition   |   June 2004

Customer Solution Marketing

One of the best and most efficient forms of marketing I have found is what I call “Customer Solution Marketing” or “CSM.” Many of the marketing “systems” we employ are simply a matter of finding a problem for a customer and solving it in such a way that a new marketing method is created. Usually this costs almost NO MONEY and has a RADICAL impact on your bottom line. These solutions will help you to work smarter and to leverage the customer relationship, bringing in additional business and additional brand awareness.

If I were to tell you that you could increase your business 10, 20, even 50% or more with these techniques at NO COST, I would not be exaggerating at all. The best way to show you how this works is with examples. So, let’s start with Realtors®. Ask any Realtor® what they hate about mortgage people and first on the list is never knowing what is going on with a deal. Many years ago, as a loan officer, I always called my Realtors® back and updated them, which solved their problem and gave me a great reason to sell them each week on me. (But, your brokers should be doing that anyway.) Then I asked, “How can I leverage this even higher?” So, I initiated a weekly facsimile update system. We designed a basic sheet that leaves space for the listing agent and selling agent to be filled in, as well as the property address, which is how most Realtors® know the deal. (Remember, you need to speak their language, not ours!) It has our logo and contact information prominently displayed on the page. It also has space on the form for a brief synopsis of the deal to be added.

It is crucial, however, to conduct training on what is acceptable to say and not say, and you must always have enough information to answer their questions without going into details. Don’t worry; it isn’t hard. If you do not have an assistant, you can do it yourself. In other words, on every deal that has a Realtor® involved, a fax is sent to that Realtor® from the loan officer (LO), with the LO's name and number on it, in addition to basic information about the loan. Why a fax? Because more than just the Realtor® involved sees the fax. I cannot tell you how many new agents I picked up over the years by sending a simple fax that costs essentially nothing, solves their problem and gets my name in front of numerous Realtors® in a positive way. (“How come my broker doesn’t do that?” they will ask.) In fact, this not only allows me to get my name in the back of the office so the receptionist can’t screen my fax, but it also enables me to market myself to agents/offices on every deal. This is true customer solution marketing that will even save you from frantic calls from Realtors® wanting to know what is going on – a complete win-win situation! In fact, this works on your consumers, affinity groups and anyone who is a customer. It takes a small amount of effort and expense up-front, but you will reap rewards for years to come.

The second complaint from customers in our industry is that their costs come in too high at closing. We solved this problem by creating a “satisfaction guarantee” that pledges to keep their costs within 5%. For instance, if I quote $3000, I will come in no higher than $3150 or I will have to credit them the difference. (We rarely ever need to credit back.) We now use the satisfaction guarantee to close the customer when they are shopping us against “XYZ Mortgage.” We take their problem, come up with a solution that we then turn into a marketing dynamo and sell it. It is simple. It took me one hour to complete the form and one sales session on how to sell it, and our employees have been selling that guarantee for seven years! Again, a little up-front work but HUGE long-term rewards. According to my calculations, this guarantee increases our closing percentage by 5-10%! What an impact to your bottom line – for FREE!

You can do it too. If you are a broker: define your customers, pinpoint their concerns and then create a solution that solves their problem while giving you a new marketing edge. Don’t just think about your loans-in-process, think about affinity groups – builders, Realtors®, previous customers and even pre-qualified buyers that have not come in yet. If you can create solutions for any of these people, you will have the basics of a new marketing system, BUT it takes discipline. If you do not schedule some time away from the office with a pad of paper and a pen to do some power thinking, you will never solve these problems or get the powerful results you desire. I block off time every week, but you should set aside at least a half day once a month so that you can go somewhere quiet and contemplate the following questions:

  • Who are my customers?
  • What problems do they consistently have?
  • How can I solve their problems and turn them into a marketing method?

Then brainstorm. You know your customers better than you think, and you can find solutions that can generate you more income with less effort. Marketing in the 21st century will depend on thinking outside the box and bringing solutions to everyone with whom you come into contact. It is fun and profitable if you do it in earnest. So, happy problem solving! And happy marketing!


 


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