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   ARTICLE   |   From Scotsman Guide Residential Edition   |   September 2016

Make Your Marketing Stand Out, or Stand Aside

To drive your business forward, go beyond the ordinary

Illustration by Dennis WunschThe biggest barrier to your success right now isn’t the economy. It’s your marketing. The housing industry is an ever-changing environment, and your customers are the targets of more marketing campaigns than ever before. It’s not enough to just market your business anymore. You can’t win a marathon by walking, can you? No, it takes training and effort.

Many mortgage originators think their marketing is working just fine, or that it’s good enough. Some even feel that if it’s not broken, why fix it? Just because something is working “just fine” or “isn’t broken,” however, doesn’t mean you don’t have to maintain it and make adjustments.

If you want to win, or even maintain your current pace, you should do more than just show up. You need to stand up, stand tall and stand out.

Stop going through the motions

If you’re not seeing the success you want, it’s probably because, like many originators, you are just going through the motions when it comes to marketing. Flip through your favorite trade magazine or browse some industry news sites. How many ads did you notice? How many were actually compelling?

Now, go browse through LinkedIn, Twitter or your favorite industry community website. How many of your colleagues’ posts did you actually click on? If you’re not noticing ads or clicking on links, think about why that is and what you can learn from that experience.

When it comes to your own marketing, consider whether you’re standing out. Do your LinkedIn posts have real value to anyone else? Would you stop to read your own magazine ads? As you think about ways to advertise, keep in mind that your messages and visuals must separate you from your competitors in a way that appeals to your customers. They must stand out.

Poor marketing leads to poor sales

Some originators do the bare minimum when it comes to marketing because they’re primarily focused on sales. When you are incredibly busy and feel that your marketing is working — at least to an extent — why spend your valuable time trying change it?

Traditional and social media are important, but the best way to market yourself Is still to get out there and meet people.

It is important to realize that marketing is sales. It drives awareness and keeps you at the top of your customers’ minds when they are in the decision- making process. In addition, as the market evolves, your customers will evolve with it. You constantly need to keep your eyes open for new and innovative ways to maintain your relevancy.

The best salespeople not only stand out in the crowd, they draw new crowds to them. They experiment with innovative ideas and take chances on crazy ideas. Top producers are trailblazers who lead people down the path to their door. The best marketers don’t follow the pack, they are followed by others.

Re-evaluate your products

In addition to looking at your own marketing with a critical eye, you should look at the products you are marketing and decide if you should make any changes. If you live in a military community, for example, then U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) loans probably do very well for you. But will they forever? What is stopping someone from taking a big piece of that business away from you?

You may think that will never happen because you are a mainstay in the area, but what if some retired military personnel decide to form a mortgage team in your market? They have built-in connections from their military history that you can’t compete with. As your existing customer base ages, the new competitors’ younger connections will generate more and more referrals for them.

Even if you served your country as well, the team you’re up against in this example could definitely give you a run for your money. Now, no one would ever recommend abandoning your existing VA business in this situation, but what about those consumers who aren’t in the military? Are you missing out by not focusing on them?

The recent refinance boom is another example of how you can’t simply focus on one area. This segment of the market tends to ebb and flow with mortgage interest rates, meaning it can be a small or large part of your business depending on the whims of the economy. The question, from a marketing perspective, is how do you capture this business when it heats up?

Homeowners tend to look to Realtors for referrals on just about everything home related because they are seen as experts by — and have the most face time with — homebuyers. Realtors recommend contractors, inspection services, home improvements to make when selling a home and more. With luck, they’ll recommend you when the time is right. So when rates are dropping, or you expect them to drop, make sure your Realtor contacts know what is happening and give them a reason to connect you to homeowners who could benefit from refinancing.

Stay ahead of the curve

You can no longer just punch the clock in our industry. As stated earlier, you need to do more than just show up. Housing consumers are evolving, and your marketing needs to keep pace, or better yet, get a step ahead.

Marketing through social media is critical and well within your control. Almost every month seems to bring a new channel to leverage. You won’t have the bandwidth to manage them all but — as with your traditional advertising — you should choose to focus on more than one.

Maybe you believe you don’t need to use social media marketing yet because what you are doing right now is working fine for you. But that’s right now. Giant hulking SUVs worked for the auto industry at one time. How many Hummers do you see on the road now? Your customers are evolving, and you need to keep up unless you want to be left behind.

Snapchat geofilters and Facebook livestream events, for example, may not be right for your business, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t look into them to get some ideas flowing. What are you doing with LinkedIn and Facebook dark posts? These allow you to test multiple messages and headlines across numerous potential market segments without inundating your company newsfeed with all that clutter, which can turn off existing customers. When used correctly, these dark posts can add immense value. Instagram also is constantly evolving, and with that evolution, the way you can target its users via ads will change as well.

For the best chance of success in the housing industry, you need to cast a wide net. Your marketing mix should look like a pie chart, or a modern food pyramid. You need to take a bite out every piece to be well balanced, while concentrating more on some areas than others.

Don’t forget, however, that your marketing needs to stand out if you want to cut through the clutter. This is just as true with social media as it is with traditional media — if not more so because of the extra clutter in social channels.

As mentioned earlier, you can’t just do the bare minimum. Take LinkedIn, for example. Start discussions, make interesting comments in other discussions and create compelling content. Think you’re too busy or don’t have enough resources? When it comes to creating marketing materials, there is a paradise of free websites out there with accessible graphic-design tools that you can use to create everything from flyers to social media marketing materials. Search for them and use them.

Get up and get out there

Traditional and social media are important, but the best way to market yourself is still to get out there and meet people. As great as digital tools are, marketing efforts also require face-to-face interaction to build and maintain business channels.

To get the word out, you need to get out of your chair. Attend industry events regularly and even consider producing your own, perhaps after work because sometimes people want a free drink and food after a hard day. They often want more, however, so whether after work or during the day, you must create events that potential customers will want to attend. Offer them something of real value. Think about what it would take to get you to attend the event and build off of that.

You also should expand your horizons beyond what you see as your current customer base. Meet with potential referral partners and explain how you can help them and their clients, and don’t stop at meeting with local Realtors. Think about networking beyond your normal referral partners. Lawyers, estate planners and other financial professionals should all be on your radar.

Does this take extra effort? Yes. But if you want to stand out, you’re going to have to stand up from behind your desk and get out there.


 


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