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Residential Department: Q&A: Rosalie Berg, Strategic Vantage Marketing & Public Relations: September 2017


Q&A: Rosalie Berg, Strategic Vantage Marketing & Public Relations

Mortgage marketing professionals wear many hats

Marketing in the mortgage industry requires a wide breadth of experience and knowledge. Mortgage marketers must understand how to effectively reach multiple audiences, including first-time homebuyers, refi customers, returning borrowers, Realtors and builders. They also must be experts on the mortgage process and compliance issues that govern that process. We posed a series of questions to Rosalie Berg, president and CEO of Strategic Vantage Marketing & Public Relations, to get her expert opinion on a number of mortgage marketing topics.

What is the biggest challenge facing mortgage marketing professionals?

While most everyone thinks their company is the greatest, in the eyes of the prospect that’s not always the case. In fact, competing companies can appear very similar. So, differentiating your company from the competition is a big challenge for many companies in the mortgage industry. Whether they are looking to recruit employees or generate new business, marketers must find a way to clearly set a company apart.

How is marketing mortgages different from marketing other products?

Effectively marketing in this space requires deep knowledge of the mortgage industry. You can’t hire a marketer with light experience in this industry and expect great results. Other sales-based industries tend to be easier to understand. You don’t need years of experience in the auto industry to be able to market cars. But mortgages, well, that requires years in the trenches to really get it.

What lessons can mortgage marketers learn from other industries?

Mortgage originators should always remember that image matters. A website, marketing materials, e-mail campaign or business cards that look like they were created by an amateur will cast doubt on the quality of your services. Many mortgage originators seem to think they can sway prospects despite their amateurish marketing — not realizing that they are turning off many customers along the way. Another key thing to think about is your target audience and the most cost-effective way to reach it. I find many originators spend thousands [of dollars] trying to reach borrowers, ignoring the importance of marketing to referral sources.

What pitfalls should be avoided when marketing mortgage products?

In this industry, noncompliance ranks as the costliest mistake a lender can make. Be sure to clearly understand what can and cannot be said when marketing mortgage products. Run marketing materials past a compliance executive if you are ever in doubt. Be mindful that marketing must be compliant everywhere. Whether you are making a post on social media, writing a blog or sending prospects an e-mail, compliance should always be on your mind.

What about digital marketing versus traditional marketing?

Digital marketing has most certainly come of age. Whether we’re talking about e-mail blasts, e-mailed newsletters, online advertising, blogging, etc., a major focus right now is on doing things online. Digital marketing is cost-effective. In fact, e-mail marketing yields a 128 percent ROI [return on investment], according to [a 2016 report from] the Direct Marketing Association (DMA). This explains why many companies are shying away from more expensive marketing such as direct mail. That’s not to say that direct mail doesn’t work, though. In fact, because more companies are skipping the direct-mail route, mailboxes are emptier and recipients pay more attention to the advertising mail they do get.

How important is social media to mortgage marketing?

A considerable mistake some companies make is allocating too much of their marketing budget to social media. While social media is important in our industry, it should not be the primary focus of marketing. Social media is simply a component that rounds out a good marketing plan. That’s because direct marketing usually has greater ROI than social media. In fact, according to the DMA, when it comes to purchases made as a result of receiving a marketing message, e-mail marketing has the highest conversion rate (66 percent), not social media.

Any social media tips for mortgage originators?

I would advise mortgage originators to consider what social media platforms they should leverage based on the usage among their target audience. For instance, if they are looking to target young borrowers, think Instagram and Facebook. If they’re looking to target business executives or loan officers, consider LinkedIn. Also, originators should think about what social media platforms are resonating with their target audience. For instance, Twitter and LinkedIn are often cited as being used in business, but in the mortgage industry, it’s LinkedIn that generates the most business, not Twitter.

Rosalie Berg started Strategic Vantage Marketing & Public Relations in 2002. Since the company’s founding, Strategic Vantage has served more than 100 companies involved in the world of real estate finance, from lenders to service providers and technology companies. Prior to starting Strategic Vantage, Berg was vice president of marketing for Open Close Technologies, a subsidiary of She has more than 18 years of experience handling marketing, public relations and social media for the mortgage industry. Reach Berg at


Will McDermott is managing editor for Ask a Lender. Reach him at or (800) 297-6061.

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