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   ARTICLE   |   From Scotsman Guide Residential Edition   |   November 2007

4 Ways to Enthrall Real Estate Agents

The right marketing plan often will draw the best referral sources

Real estate agents often view marketing materials from mortgage brokers as simply the same stuff printed on different paper. In order to rise above the crowd, your marketing efforts must stand out. Without that, you’ll never be able to attract agents’ attention and referral business.

To give your marketing materials an edge that shows how you differ from other mortgage professionals, follow these steps:

  • Find your niche.
  • Use a “one bite” strategy.
  • Employ side-by-side comparisons.
  • Market like an infomercial.

Changing your marketing plan and materials doesn’t have to be an exhausting process. By approaching your marketing as an opportunity to exhibit your strengths, you can take the things you already do well and refine them into a plan that brings real estate agents to you.

Find your niche

The concept of niche lending is certainly not new, but brokers often fear embracing their own niches. Naturally, you may have concerns: Maybe you’ll lose business, maybe agents will view you as a “one-trick pony,” or maybe you’re putting yourself in a position where you can’t compete.

But there are benefits to niche marketing. Instead of only identifying one particular area of business, niche marketing lets you focus on things you do really well. You can put all your time, energy and finances into promoting the services that deliver the most for your marketing dollar.

To find your niche, think about the problems you solve for agents. Do you have a favorite or uncommon loan program? What compliments do you receive from satisfied clients? What are you passionate about in your business? In what areas do you shine within the mortgage industry?

Another approach to finding a niche is to survey agents to find the problem areas of their businesses. Then let them know how you can help.

Using a niche in your marketing materials allows you to expose your skills, knowledge and expertise. The best part is that you save yourself from having to advertise or cold call. When your marketing materials reflect your niche, you provide real estate agents a valuable tool that saves them time when searching for a broker.

Use a “one bite” strategy

Because developing a marketing strategy can be a major undertaking, it’s important to take it one step at a time. Your plan should revolve around three essential components of promoting your business:

  • Lead generation
  • Client acquisition
  • Client retention

The first part of your marketing plan is to generate more leads for your niche program. With lead generation, focus on making as many contacts as possible, exploring your niche and establishing yourself as an expert in that area. Not only does this practice allow agents to recognize your skills, but it will also help you find agents who are a good fit.

Your niche program will appeal to a variety of agents, so don’t limit your potential by focusing on a select few. Narrowing your focus to a handful of agents that work within that niche can result in a small lead pool. Remember that lead generation is the first step in building a relationship with agents. As such, it requires time and repeated contacts.

Once you’ve identified agents as potential leads, it’s time to turn those leads into clients. Although lead generation is all about quantity, client acquisition is all about quality. It’s better to have a few real estate agents that are thrilled with your service than a large number who think you deliver mediocre service.

With your lead-generation program, you’ll pique the interest of agents that have problems in your niche. But to convert those leads into clients, you need to dazzle with outstanding service. When you deliver exceptional service, you make agents look good to their clients. Agents should send you referrals because it’s the best way to assure their clients’ satisfaction — not because they feel obliged.

The majority of your marketing budget should be focused on retaining your agents’ business. The old 80/20 rule applies: 80 percent of your business income comes from 20 percent of your clients. In other words, client retention means that 20 percent of your agents are thrilled with your work and bring you 80 percent of your income.

Employ comparisons

To real estate agents, there’s little difference between mortgage brokers; and your marketing efforts may only fuel that fire. Even if you think you’re comparing yourself to other brokers, chances are you are focusing on your similarities, not your differences.

Your comparisons become much more effective when you show off positive differences by proving your service. For instance, instead of saying you close loans early, offer quantitative proof: “For three years, we have closed 99 percent of our loans at least five days before escrow.”

Agents often complain about brokers’ poor communication, late loan documents, lack of accountability and lack of reciprocity of leads or referrals. These could be other places to start marketing.

Market like an infomercial

Another way to get agents’ attention is to take a page from television infomercials. What makes infomercials work? They start out with outrageous claims but still draw viewers with personal stories to corroborate those claims. By providing social proof, infomercials put a face on their claims and back up what might have first seemed impossible.

You can provide the same impact by using testimonials to show how you deliver on your promise of service. Testimonials do not have to be lengthy or even over the top. They can be simple statements that provide the quantitative punch to your marketing efforts.

The ideal marketing plan doesn’t require a huge budget or extreme changes in your efforts. Instead, focus on the skills and strengths you already possess. Doing so will help form relationships with real estate agents and lead to increased referral business.


 


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