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   ARTICLE   |   From Scotsman Guide Residential Edition   |   September 2010

Spin a Marketing Web

Take your efforts online to understand prospects and earn new business

In addition to stricter underwriting, changing guidelines and vanishing warehouse lines, mortgage brokers also must contend with major changes in marketing tactics. Implementing the same marketing strategy you did in boom times won't work in today's dwarfed market. Instead, you must think beyond direct mail, telemarketing and lead aggregators -- which rarely provide the results they once did -- and embrace online marketing methods.

Brokers who adjust their marketing plan appropriately can increase their client load, fund more loans and improve their return on investment. To do this, you must understand where and how mortgage seekers spend time online, advertise strategically, develop a picture of prospects' personal credit situations, and meet their mortgage needs.

Find them

Online marketing channels continue to grow, as does the amount of consumer information available. Brokers who embrace online advertisements and social-networking sites can reach consumers with personalized messages consistently and inexpensively.

Some of the online channels your prospects may be using include:

  • Local newspaper or television-station Web sites;
  • Social-networking sites, such as Facebook and Twitter;
  • Search engines;
  • Financial-information Web sites; and
  • Real estate sites.

There's really no limit to where consumers spend time online, so you must decide who you want to reach. Many tools can help you hone in on origination opportunities. These include systems that identify target markets based on their overall economic and credit health, home values, and consumer credit profiles.

After you decide which geographic areas to focus on, the trick is to know when consumers are in the market for a new loan and which marketing channels they prefer. When you know these things, you can fine-tune your message and compel consumer responses.

Know your prospects

In many cases, consumers give mortgage brokers their business for one simple reason: They believe the broker knows them. One way to get prospects to feel this way about you is to gather enough information to market to them individually.

For example, when prospects reply to an online ad you placed in a specific city's newspaper, you know a couple of things:

  1. They are interested in the real estate market in a certain area
  2. They are wondering about financing options in that area

You can find out more information by fine-tuning your advertising. For example, when prospects reply to an ad placed on a Web page that returns results for houses in a certain price range in a certain city, you learn more about what they're shopping for and what they think they can afford.

Such early intelligence can drive your messaging and help you establish relationships. Online marketing that uses keywords on search engines can take your data-gathering to an even higher level. For example, you can begin to establish tentative consumer profiles for people who contact you through ads that appear on search-result pages for "riverfront homes [your city]" or "cheap condos [your city]." Advertisements on social-networking sites can work similarly.

"Knowing where your target consumers spend time online is the first step toward learning about them."

A great way to increase the information you know about prospects who click your online ads is to direct them to interactive landing pages that capture key data points. The more you know, the more specific your follow-up and future marketing materials can be. Make sure you ask for prospects' e-mail addresses and get their permission to send them messages.

Knowing where your target consumers spend time online is the first step toward learning about them. When you combine that with information about their specific Web searches and data they provide through interactive landing pages, you're on your way to developing relevant marketing messages and building lasting relationships.

Meet consumer needs

One of the best ways to provide consumers with beneficial mortgage solutions is to create a picture of each prospect's personal credit situation. To do this, you should find out if they have equity in a home and their credit score.

From there, you can bolster the impact of your messaging via the following three steps.

  1. Acquire more information about prospects' personal credit situations. If you don't know the answers already, you should attempt to discover specifics about prospects' age and income along with information about any property they own.
  2. Develop marketing messages specific to personal credit situations. You'll want to speak to first-time homebuyers differently than you do to owners of multiple homes. Prospects looking to refinance should receive a much different message than those looking to buy. Young singles and couples often will react positively to different words and imagery than people with families or retirees.
  3. Stay in front of your prospects consistently. Don't quit if you fail to get a response right away. Send relevant content at regular intervals. This is where e-mail comes in. It represents an ideal and inexpensive way to reach people with targeted messaging in a timely manner.

•  •  •

Personalized marketing that begins online represents one of the best ways to adjust to today's changing market. Brokers who use it to get to know prospects' needs and follow up with custom messages that offer individual solutions can discover a new way to do the same thing they've always done -- provide personal service and profitable mortgage solutions.


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