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   ARTICLE   |   From Scotsman Guide Residential Edition   |   September 2010

Master the 6 Channels of Marketing

Tap the strengths and know the weaknesses of today's promotional tools

Master the 6 Channels of Marketing

Marketing seems to be all about electronic media. Mortgage brokers should embrace Twitter, Facebook and similar outlets if they want to be seen as contemporary and relevant.

At the same time, however, you should recall that traditional media and ways of doing business continue to play vital roles in loan origination.

One way to embrace the digital age and maintain established traditions involves defining six channels of marketing and understanding the strengths and weaknesses of each. Often, these channels are used in unison. As your prospects proceed from one channel to the next, your likelihood of closing loans successfully should increase.

Here's a look at all six channels and their primary plusses and minuses.

•  •  •

Channel 1: Global, digital media

This channel includes Google Buzz, Twitter and Foursquare, as well as status updates to your Facebook account.

A Facebook status update is like a public e-mail message you post using your personal or business account. It differs from content on a Facebook page, which is like a Web site where you can post information of importance to your clients and mortgage prospects.

There are Facebook personal pages and company pages. Personal pages most often are for connecting with friends, and company pages are for connecting with prospects. Generally, you'd be wise to keep your sales materials on your company page because people who use personal updates to sell things often are shunned. A company, however, can legitimately use updates to its Facebook page to let prospects know special offers or sell products.

This channel can be powerful, and your communications can reach a global audience instantly. That potential, however, comes with danger. Google indexes Twitter posts (i.e., tweets), so if you write anything you regret, it can haunt you. Another risk of this channel -- it can consume your day.

Here's what this channel does well:

  • Connect people quickly. Twitter and Facebook do this the fastest.
  • Identify early technology adopters. Anyone using Twitter in 2008 is one of them.
  • Monitor news. Waiting for the nightly news is archaic compared to getting it instantly on Twitter or elsewhere.
  • Provide brand defense. If you want to know what people are saying about you, your company or your competition, then search and monitor Twitter. If you receive negative media attention or face another bad situation, this channel allows you to respond quickly.
  • Cascade ideas. If you're looking for blog or newsletter material, a few minutes on Facebook or Twitter can provide plenty of topic ideas.

Here's what this channel doesn't do well:

  • Sell things. Pitching products on Twitter or through personal Facebook status updates is a sure way to become an outcast.
  • Make you more efficient. Many technology solutions help you use time efficiently. This channel does not. It consumes time and demands discipline. If you don't limit yourself, you could meet your demise.

Channel 2: Traditional media

This channel includes old-school media such as billboard, newspaper, television and radio advertisements, as well as your Web site, online videos, blogs and Facebook pages themselves. It also includes your LinkedIn profile, which crosses into the third channel.

Here's what the second channel does well:

  • Branding. Nothing brands as well as big media. You can establish your brand with your Web site, but consistent advertising in traditional media outlets can yield bigger results.
  • Deliver visual messages. This channel relies on appearances. Your logos, color schemes and design matter.
  • Broadcast widely. This channel is perhaps the best way to reach many people. For example, everyone won't read a freeway billboard, but many people will notice it and remember it.
  • Prospect. Blogs and Facebook pages can quickly collect dozens of followers, aka clients in-waiting.

Here's what this channel doesn't do well:

  • Sell. Billboards don't sell. They intrigue. The same goes for other elements in this channel. Selling is what you do.
  • Convert. Web sites, Facebook pages, LinkedIn and other professional networking sites are engagement tools. But digital media will only get you so far. They rarely turn prospects into clients by themselves.
  • Conserve money. Advertisements cost money. Web pages, blogs, Facebook and other online avenues require Web-hosting services, domain registration and Internet access, all of which also come at a cost, plus require your time. 

Channel 3: Targeted digital media

This channel includes e-mail, direct messages on Twitter, recipient-specific Facebook messages, instant messaging, texting and much more. 

The main distinction between this channel and the first is that this one reaches a specific audience, often one person at a time.

Here's what this channel does well:

  • Communicate information. E-mails, text messages and instant messages deliver data faster and more efficiently than phone calls or short letters. They allow you to skip the preamble and ask for or deliver raw information effectively.
  • Advertise. E-mail advertising can work well, especially preceded by a Channel 1 icebreaker. But don't spam. Develop prospect e-mail lists for regular updates and deliver worthwhile content.

Here's what this channel doesn't do well:

  • Develop relationships. It's difficult to develop a relationship through digital-only communication.
  • Communicate emotion. Misread e-mails and text messages can lead to misunderstandings and hurt feelings. Do not rely on this channel to convey subtleties.
  • Preserve free time. If you allow it, people will expect you to be connected at all times. Set boundaries, or this channel can consume your life.

Channel 4: Targeted print media

This channel includes newsletters, postcards and other material directed at specific recipients. It delivers traditional touch points to your database and can be powerful when used properly.

Here's what this channel does well:

  • Remind people about you. Your clients only will remember you if you make them. This channel provides that reminder at a reasonable cost.
  • Deepen relationships. You can create a powerful bond with clients by writing your own material and personalizing your messages. Generic messages can work against you, though.
  • Make the phone ring. This channel lays the foundation of database marketing.

Here's what this channel doesn't do well:

  • Reach people outside your database. Although this channel can lead to referrals, other channels are much better at prospecting to wider audiences.

Channel 5: The phone

Telephone marketing still represents the most-effective, cheapest and highest-returning activity in the mortgage business. There is a direct correlation between phone contact and closed loans. The more people you call, the more business you will have.

Here's what this channel does well:

  • Sell. Sales typically requires a personal connection.
  • Communicate emotion. Phone calls allow you to express yourself intimately through tone of voice and more.
  • Turn customers into clients. The personal nature of phone calls can be the difference for prospects when choosing a mortgage broker. Your outgoing voice mail plays into this; make sure people feel good about you after they leave a message.

Here's what this channel doesn't do well:

  • Save time: Even a short call often takes at least two minutes. The average call can take much longer.
  • Communicate data: Calls require writing down names and contact information. You can save time by e-mailing this info.

Channel 6: Face-to-face contact

It's unlikely you'd marry someone you never met. Many people, if not most, won't take out a mortgage without meeting their mortgage broker, either.

Here's what this channel does well:

  • Nearly everything. It's excellent for prospecting and a wonderful sales tool. Nothing closes a deal like a handshake. This channel also is great for data transmission.

Here's what this channel doesn't do well:

  • Hide selfishness. If you don't put clients' interests first, don't meet them.
  • Advertise widely. You're only one person. Use a combination of the other channels to spread your message to a wider audience.
  • Make you seem hip. In-person meetings just aren't as trendy as Twitter. They might, however, help you reach your goals.

Working in unison

As you apply the six channels, consider how they work together.

For example, tweet about a blog post -- with a link to the blog and your e-mail address -- and respond to reader comments. Reply to e-mails and ask for phone numbers from prospects who show increased interest. Call to discuss loan options, set up a meeting and finalize the deal.

Your likelihood of closing a loan increases with each step prospects take through the process. Although all six marketing channels have the potential to work alone, they work best when used together.

Mastering these channels helps you fine-tune your marketing efforts and achieve success.


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