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   ARTICLE   |   From Scotsman Guide Residential Edition   |   June 2014

Numbers Make for a Horror Story

Give your marketing a personal touch to connect with customers

Numbers Make for a Horror Story

When it comes to mortgage origination, bankers and brokers are inundated with numbers. Consider the amount of daily number crunching your business must contend with. Besides running credit scores, weighing debt-to-income ratios, tracking interest rates and calculating monthly payments, banks and brokerages must also consider home prices, property taxes, closing costs and other miscellaneous fees.

Your customers, however, cannot be treated like numbers — not if you want to gain and retain their business. Although data-driven advertising campaigns can yield some success, truly effective marketing must go beyond mere numbers and embrace a more personal approach.

For mortgage brokers and bankers, the entire loan process can sometimes feel like an arduous arithmetical journey. Imagine, then, how your customers must feel. In the throes of subscribing to a seemingly insurmountable amount of red tape, it can be easy for borrowers to lose sight of what’s ahead. Ultimately, that vision is a place to call home.

Despite that fact, many mortgage companies continue to focus on numbers in their various marketing campaigns. Lenders urge potential homebuyers to lock in rates via search-engine ads, direct mailers or multifarious rate tables. Although mortgage organizations may subsist on the rise and fall of interest rates, you shouldn’t expect your customers to do the same.

Make no mistake: The mortgage industry is a numbers game. All of these marketing methods are an integral part of reaching customers. That said, mortgage companies should also supplement standard marketing strategies with a more human approach: namely, through “storyselling.”

Taking a closer look

Storyselling is just what it sounds like — the act of selling your services through telling a story. It puts a human angle on an otherwise impersonal way of promoting your company’s products. And let’s face it: Numbers, no matter how you use them, are impersonal.

The mortgage industry lends itself especially well to storyselling, but many mortgage bankers and brokers rarely embrace this method. There are a lot of reasons, however, why they should incorporate this approach into their sales strategies. For instance, many consumers prefer getting to know a company via articles rather than advertisements. In spite of this, just 10 percent of companies employ a full-time blogger or content marketer, according to marketing software company Hubspot.

For most firms, these articles aren't published in traditional publications such as local magazines or newspapers, but are instead “advertorial” opportunities posted on a company’s website through blogs, landing pages, microsites or elsewhere within its sitemap. Sometimes known as native advertising, storyselling is used by companies of all kinds — from technology manufacturers to pharmaceutical companies — and mortgage organizations may find similar success in reaching their own customers via this approach.

Marketing approaches

Storyselling itself comes in many forms. It may be as simple as posting a photo slideshow accompanied with captions, a short video, an interactive infographic, a blog post, a customer’s testimonial, or something more formal such as a case study or whitepaper. Some professionals think that the latter can be just as off-putting as numbers, however, so your organization may want to focus its efforts on more conversational tactics like social media and blogs.

Let’s consider, for instance, a customer who is seeking a U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) home loan. In a traditional “numbers approach” marketing campaign, a mortgage lender would promote this loan product by focusing on low mortgage rates, term length, loan eligibility, etc. The advertisement would likely include a stock photo of a veteran, an American flag, or the colors red, white and blue. Patriotic? Sure, but not necessarily attention-grabbing.

Now imagine if a mortgage marketer took a multimedia, testimonial approach. Instead of being subjected to a bland VA loan ad, a potential homebuyer who’s a veteran would be introduced to a former happy customer — also a veteran — from a similar region or part of the state.

Here’s how storyselling works: In addition to a customer reading a human-interest story about the veteran posted on the lender’s blog, there are high-quality photos of the veteran and his family, a short video of the vet with his loan officer and real estate agent at his new home, and a slew of testimonial quotes shared via Facebook and Twitter. Lenders may top off the campaign by blending company information with strong call-to-action instructions.

Which method do you think would have more impact? The answer seems obvious.

Branching out

Human beings are drawn to emotion. Potential homebuyers who see a banner ad emblazoned with numbers and percentages aren’t often as compelled to act as they are after watching a video about a young couple who each worked two jobs to save up enough money to buy their first home, then chose your company as their lender.

You don’t have to singularly focus on past customers. Blogs are also a great way to share mortgage or real estate news, descriptions of lending products and services, company announcements, personal finance tips, or home decorating ideas. The possibilities to connect with customers are endless.

According to Ignite Spot, 82 percent of consumers enjoy reading relevant content from brands. Similarly, studies by Hubspot show that 81 percent of marketers rated their blogs as useful or even better. The best part about this approach is that site visitors don’t feel like they are engaging with an advertisement.

Your customers won’t be the only ones who benefit from this type of marketing, however. Companies that put serious effort into providing content on their websites — namely, through a quality blogging platform — generate 126 percent more leads, 97 percent more inbound links and 434 percent more indexed pages than companies that don’t, according to Ignite Spot. Obviously, the more indexed pages that your company has on the Web, the better its search-engine optimization will be, translating into improved lead generation.

A home is a lot more than a structure held together by wood and nails; it’s a foundation that holds a homeowner’s stories, memories and milestones. Marketing campaigns by mortgage banks and brokerages should do the same.  


 


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