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   ARTICLE   |   From Scotsman Guide Residential Edition   |   December 2007

Start Small and Build Up

Effective marketing strategies help spread the word about your small-balance commercial services

When you make the decision to include small-balance commercial loans as part of your mortgage services, you need to spread the word about your new specialty. To do this effectively, you must have a basic marketing plan.

Your marketing plan for gaining clients and referrals should start with a grass-roots effort — carry out some basics steps first and then conduct canvassing activities in your own community. From there, you can move to mass-marketing efforts.

The key is to let people know why you should be their new source for small-balance commercial loans.

Start with the basics

The first few steps in your grass-roots-marketing approach are fairly easy. You should:

  • Order business cards that specify your expertise in small-balance commercial loans;

  • Create signage and fliers that promote commercial lending and distribute them in your area; and

  • Change your voice message on your office phone and cell phone to indicate that you broker small-balance commercial loans.

Next, speak about your services with people you know. Start building a referral network through your family and friends.

In addition, look at loan applications for past clients and place follow-up calls with your self-employed borrowers. They may be considering buying business property or might need a refinance.

Many business-owners acquire their initial loan through a bank, but banks are often unable to refinance these loans. This is where you can help.

Find the gold in your backyard

When you’ve completed the basic marketing steps, you should begin canvassing your community. Your local business district is a great place to start mining for potential customers.

You can start out on foot. Leave your business cards and fliers at the offices or locations of potential borrowers. Automotive-repair shops, barber shops and hair salons are always wonderful places to leave your material.

Other targets for your marketing materials should be high-traffic areas such as shopping centers, malls, libraries, universities and community centers.

You also should pick up the phone and call small businesses and commercial-property owners, especially apartment-building and multifamily-building owners. Let them know that you could have the resources to refinance their existing properties and that you have sources to fund their future commercial purchases.

Records of building-ownership can be found via your local courthouse or on the Internet.

Lawyers, accountants and real estate agents also are excellent resources for referrals. Seek them out and begin building long-term relationships with them.

Reach the masses

Now you’re ready to send out your message — that you do commercial loans — to the multitude. There are several ways to reach people through mass marketing:

1. E-mail blasts: These are cheap and effective. Start by creating a database of e-mail addresses from friends, family and business-owners with whom you’ve come in contact. Send a message once a month with the details of how you can fund their commercial properties. 

There are a few rules to remember:

  • Keep your message short and to the point.
  • Make your subject line related to the content in the e-mail.
  • Write short paragraphs, and use bullet points for important information.
  • Use capitals sparingly. Capping the first letter is fine, but try not to capitalize the entire word.

2. Direct mail: You can use direct mail to generate new customers and to reinforce company loyalty with your existing clients. Your mail piece will tell your potential new client who you are, where you’re located, how to contact you and what your business offers.

You can purchase lists of addresses from list-brokers or from your chamber of commerce. Someone at your local post office can help you establish a direct-mail campaign within a selected ZIP code and determine the number pieces you must send to get started.

3. Radio ads: Contact the sales and marketing department of your local radio station for pricing on their advertisements. Many radio stations offer sponsorship packages that coincide with a segment of their regular radio programming, such as the weather, traffic or sports reports.

When you buy a sponsorship package your ad will gain exposure by being played with regularity and near these popular segments. A 30-second clip will be more than enough to get your name and phone number to thousands of potential clients.

The key to success with radio ads is frequency — the more your ad is heard, the more likely your chance of getting a response. You may want to with specialists who produce radio ads if you’re not familiar with radio-marketing techniques.

•  •  •

To make your transition to small-balance commercial work, you must have clients to serve — and in order to have prospective clients, you must start marketing. But spreading your message about commercial loans can be simple: Begin your marketing with basic steps at a grass-roots level, and when you’re ready, go beyond.

Ultimately, remember that the service you give your clients is the greatest marketing tool you’ll ever use. Your effort and ability to go the extra mile for your clients often will give you clients for life.


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