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   ARTICLE   |   From Scotsman Guide Residential Edition   |   February 2014

Honing in on the Right Advertising Strategy

How to get the most bang for your buck in the Internet age

As technology advances at a break-neck pace, mortgage professionals have ever-expanding options to promote their businesses. The question they should be asking: Are they getting enough bang for their buck?

There’s no doubt that the face of advertising is changing in the Internet age. It’s crucial to get the most out of your advertising dollars. Mortgage professionals should be aware of what works best to get potential clients’ eyes on their business at a reasonable cost. Sometimes traditional advertising works; sometimes social media and new technologies are less expensive and more effective. There is no cookie-cutter approach. What works for the business down the street might not work for your business. Mortgage professionals should pay attention to all forms of advertising available, and then closely analyze which is the best for them. It takes some work, but it is well worth it.

Defining "bang"

"Bang for the buck" translates into added exposure for your business and more contacts that lead to new business. That’s what defines a successful return on your advertising investment. For mortgage companies, that’s reaching more homebuyers and convincing them that you have the right financing solution for them. Is your advertising budget gaining you brand awareness and new customers? Are you seeing a steady pipeline of demand from your marketing efforts?

The good news in the Internet age is that lower-cost online options are becoming a viable alternative to pricier traditional advertising. Gone are the days of elaborate and expensive Mad Men–esque advertising campaigns. Website traffic and social media are replacing giant billboards and flashy magazine spreads. Although there’s still value in traditional advertising methods, many online options are free or inexpensive. Because millions of consumers now look to the Internet for solutions, online advertising allows your company to reach a large audience at a lesser cost.

An added advantage to online advertising is that it’s easy to track return on investment. On many sites, you can see how many hits your ad is getting. Social media, particularly Facebook, tracks the number of viewers and their relative interest in your brand. This instant tracking gives quicker feedback on a company’s advertising strategy than traditional TV or radio spots, signage or print media.

If you’re advertising online, it is crucial to set up a user-friendly website for your business. Clients are searching the Internet for information on your services. Having an accessible website makes this easy for them. Customers will have a concrete destination to "land," using Google and other search engines, or by clicking on a link to an advertisement.

On the Web page, your clients should be able to find all the relevant information about your business and industry. When you have a website, it’s a simple matter to update your home page with promotions and developments, such as new interest rates or industry information about the housing market. Plugging in free tools, such as loan calculators, on your website also gives customers a more valuable and interactive experience.

Options

Before advertising on an Internet site, mortgage professionals first should figure out how many people they want to reach, and who they are. Is the goal to find new customers or give former and current clients new information? Are you trying to reach a broad, unspecific group or a small, specific group of consumers?

There are numerous options. Mobile advertising is exploding. Potential customers are spending more and more time searching the Internet on their smartphones or other mobile devices. The good news is that you won’t have to seek multiple solutions to reach these people. Facebook and other networks include robust mobile advertising capabilities in their platforms.

When you have a professional Facebook page or a Twitter account, you can get the word out quickly when new developments crop up in your business. Maintaining these accounts is the only cost to your business. Mortgage professionals also can tap the viral nature of these large online communities, where connections can be made rapidly.

These are effective and low-cost ways to establish a landing site for ads. Other online tools for advertising include e-mail marketing and blogging. E-mail marketing involves compiling and maintaining a client mailing list. A business can send out any content in the e-mail, including promotions, news and tips. Blogging is another excellent form of advertising. It positions the blogger as an expert in the industry. Readers will look to you as an expert, earning their trust as future customers.

Alternatives

While online advertising is on the rise, it isn’t the only method to get the word out. Another economical option is to create partnerships with complementary businesses. By building business relationships and networking, you can increase your advertising reach.

Run cross-promotions with partner organizations. Create cooperative events. Do joint advertising. You’ll reap the rewards for half the cost. Better yet, arrange to refer business among your networking partners. Referrals don’t cost a dime and are a powerful way to generate business. Customers tend to choose a business when it is referred by a person they already trust. An example of this is a mortgage professional partnering with real estate agencies that meet with buyers who need home financing.

Word of mouth is also a powerful and inexpensive way to build your brand. A good review from a customer is worth its weight in gold. That’s why customer service is critical in any industry. If your customers are mostly local, you can promote your business by offering local sponsorships and making donations, such as backing a local sports team or sponsoring an event. These good deeds will show people that you support the community. Customers are looking for a trustworthy and invested partner in the community. Remember to keep business cards or informational brochures on hand when you meet a prospective client or attend events.

Must-do list

Once you've chosen your advertising medium, it’s time to craft advertisements that speak to consumers. Here are few must-dos in all media.

  1. Be compelling. Make consumers think about how your product differs from the company down the block. Is it price? Quality? Level of service? Focus your message on what consumers should know about your business, whether it’s your track record of offering stellar interest rates or an unparalleled level of customer satisfaction.
  2. Make a connection. You have what they need and now you have to prove to them why. Find a way to make them feel that you understand them so they’ll choose you and not a competitor.
  3. Be efficient. Once you’ve identified the tools you are planning to use, don’t waste time and money spreading the wrong content. Make sure that your customers are getting the appropriate message. For example, younger Facebook users aren’t likely to be in the market for a reverse mortgage.
  4. Make a lasting impression. You want customers to remember you the next time they’re in the market for your services. Be innovative to make a lasting impression. Consumers are drawn to visual advertising, so your logo and any other graphics should stand out.

•  •  •

As technology changes rapidly, it’s important to keep up with what’s available. If you’re trying an advertising outlet on for size, it’s a good idea to do a bit of research to learn what works and how to use it for the best results. Companies should consider a multi-pronged approach to online advertising to reach a varied audience. The strategy that best suits your business isn’t necessarily the same approach that will reap success for the company down the street. If your first effort doesn’t work, try something different until you have the right recipe for success at a price you can afford. 



 


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