Commercial Magazine

The Digital Branding Experience

Commercial mortgage brokers must use online tools to develop their business image

By Michael Leshinsky

Commercial mortgage brokers often find themselves in the middle. Standing between property buyers and mortgage lenders, a broker helps the buyer obtain and submit the proper documentation, and they do most of the legwork in various processes such as negotiating a great mortgage rate and saving customers a lot of time.

Far from easy, these responsibilities involve possessing considerable industry knowledge and great interpersonal skills. Such services typically earn mortgage brokers between 1% to 3% of the loan amount, although fees might vary substantially.

For instance, brokers might impose commissions, yield-spread premiums, upfront costs, loan administration fees and loan origination fees. Depending on the type of loan, the broker being employed and the commission the broker receives from the lending institution, the borrower’s overall payment will change. It also depends heavily on the broker’s work experience and level of expertise.

Marketing yourself

Commercial real estate finance is a highly regulated industry that requires appropriate licensing and certifications. Mortgage brokers will find that their professional reputation precedes them wherever they go. Hence, brokers will want to consider developing their brand.

The things that constitute branding are all about the information that matters most to potential clients, networking contacts or anyone else who can help them find their next clients or grow their careers. The fact is, what people say about brokers or how people perceive them holds a lot of weight. To increase their earnings and credibility in this extremely competitive industry, more people must recognize who brokers are and what they do.

Brokers should think of themselves as a company with products that need to be marketed. The company needs consistent and unique messaging to stand out from competitors. In this case, brokers are the brand and the services they offer are the products.

Commercial real estate buyers are increasingly discovering mortgage brokers online. Therefore, to facilitate their professional growth, brokers need to strengthen their online presence. This means having a consistent web presence across relevant communication channels and being easily discoverable on the internet.

Brokers can leverage popular strategies such as pay-per-click advertising, a type of digital advertising in which the advertiser pays a fee each time one of their ads is clicked on. It is a form of targeted marketing. Another is search engine optimization (SEO), which is about improving the quality and quantity of traffic to a website. And there is social media and content marketing, which is about developing and sharing relevant, valuable and engaging content to target an audience with the goal of acquiring new customers. These methods can be used to bolster an image and reach new clients.

Developing platforms

In addition, websites can be used as platforms to list a mortgage broker’s prior experience and services, as well as their thoughts and knowledge about commercial real estate. Such sites can help establish credibility in the minds of clients. Combined with SEO strategies, which can boost a website’s ranking on the search engines, this can translate into more client callbacks, more closed deals and more referrals. Websites will also be easily discoverable by mortgage lenders that prefer to work with brokers.

Social media marketing — using online platforms where users build social networks and share information to help build a company’s brand and increase sales — can be used for various branding purposes. Brokers can tell their career stories and visually craft their images, microblog content related to their industry and alert followers to any relevant accolades they may have received. At the same time, they can be reaching out to new clients, lenders and industry leaders.

To supplement social media channels, email marketing can offer stable and reliable leads. Well-done email marketing campaigns can lead to new clients and new lenders. A good newsletter can also help brokers remind existing clients and lenders of who they are, thereby generating more referrals and word-of-mouth marketing.

While doing these projects, don’t underestimate the importance of good design and visual consistency. Invest some time to study basic design theory, then come up with a compelling logo and color scheme that can be used consistently across different channels. Alternatively, brokers willing to invest the money can hire a freelancer or a boutique digital marketing agency.

Another important step in the process of professional branding is to start a blog or write guest blogs on other sites. Blogging can be done to become a thought leader, to reach out to newer audiences and to build profitable relationships. Bloggers need to offer something of value while indicating trustworthiness, self-assuredness and expertise — all of which will benefit them in multiple ways over time. They will need to subscribe to magazines and newsletters that inform them about the latest developments in the industry while keeping them abreast of all the materials they need to expand their skill sets.

Unique selling point

No matter what platform or social media method used, brokers need to send a consistent message to their audience. They need to zero in on their unique selling point (USP) during this process.

The USP is the superpower that makes them stand out from other brokers. It can be their extensive experience in the field, their fee structure or their network of lenders. The list is endless. Brokers should ensure that their chosen USP applies to their profile and is clearly communicated through a tagline, resume or mission statement.

A critical and often repetitive part of the branding process is reputation management, which mainly consists of preserving a professional online image, averting crises, resolving customer complaints and dealing with bad-faith actors. At the heart of any successful reputation management process is tact, sharp interpersonal skills, integrity and authenticity.

As a commercial mortgage broker, you are the matchmaker. And your ability to find the best matches that exceed everyone’s expectations will ultimately determine your professional worth.

A solid way for brokers to increase their success rate is to increase their influence in their local market while widening their network of lenders. The larger a portfolio of lenders, the more clients one will be able to acquire along the way. And one of the crucial components to building influence is to develop a personal brand.

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Whatever online techniques and social media tactics brokers decide to employ in their branding efforts, they need to understand that they should first experiment with the many tools available. Once they identify which ones will deliver the results they want, they need to sustainably invest in them and consistently use them over a long period of time.

Branding is a repetitive and cyclical process rather than a one-time effort. It involves results, revisions and repetition. This can sound daunting. Still, considering how rewarding the process can be in the long term, it is clear that brokers need to dedicate time and effort to using all the tools available for creating their own best brand. ●


  • Michael Leshinsky

    Michael Leshinsky is the founder and CEO of Leshinsky Finance, which primarily offers services to small businesses and real estate developers. He has an MBA from Providence College with a concentration in finance, portfolio theory and investment analysis. Leshinsky has bought and sold numerous businesses during his career and has acquired a sizable real estate holding. He consults and advises businesses of all types and sizes, helping them achieve optimal performance.

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