Months into the COVID-19 pandemic, it has become evident that the U.S. economy will suffer long-term consequences. Now is the time to start thinking about what mortgage companies can better do to serve their borrowers, and how these companies and their originators should prepare to emerge from the crisis that will surely impact them tomorrow.
Prior to the chaos of the coronavirus outbreak, mortgage rates were at historic lows, and lenders were seeing a surge in purchase and refinance applications. Today, however, a domino effect started by business closures and skyrocketing unemployment rates comparable to the Great Depression has led to a significant drop in buyer and seller traffic, extreme market volatility, tightened lending standards and severe liquidity stress.
More than 38 million Americans had filed for unemployment as of this past May due to job losses during the pandemic, The Washington Post reported. More than 4.7 million homeowners had entered forbearance plans at the end of May 2020, according to a Black Knight report.
With these challenges in mind, how will mortgage companies rise up to the needs of their borrowers now and in a post-pandemic world? Adaptability and complete alignment of mortgage sales and marketing teams will be key. Additionally, transforming mortgage business through empathy, effectual reasoning, technology and personalized borrower relationships will be instrumental in going the distance against the economic downturn.
Transforming mortgage businesses through empathy, effectual reasoning, technology and personalized borrower relationships will be instrumental in going the distance against the economic downturn.
Consumers are feeling the weight of uncertainty caused by the pandemic. It’s crucial that mortgage companies be mindful and respond in a way that is sensitive to the hardships that many are currently facing.
When tragedy strikes, many people will know someone who has been affected or they will have been affected personally, said John Seroka, principal of Seroka Brand Development. It’s important to quickly review all of your marketing efforts, then adjust their messages and overall approaches to show that you’re in touch with the world around you, he said.
“You may need to put some things on hold, like promoting a product or service that people are suddenly not going to be interested in given a new set of priorities,” Seroka said.
Communicating with empathy, optimism and gratitude will help build confidence with borrowers, and ease stress for them as they navigate their own challenges. Focusing on how you can help your community — whether geographically, or in terms of audience and industry — should be first and foremost on your mind, and it will be a much better reflection on your brand, Seroka said.
Consider a sincere approach to consumer outreach by sending warm messages that offer support, or provide useful, informative content that matches the situation at hand — in this case, borrowing in a time of crisis. Find ways in your messaging to say thank you. Beyond communicating with empathy, mortgage companies can consider taking an entrepreneurial approach that centers on effectual reasoning.
Effectual reasoning is a thinking style that emphasizes the journey, sees opportunity and allows goals to emerge along the way, rather than strategizing to achieve an end goal. The takeaway is to get creative and work with existing resources. Allow the journey to inspire and guide messaging in mortgage marketing campaigns.
Saras Sarasvathy, a University of Virginia entrepreneurship professor and author of “Effectuation: Elements of Entrepreneurial Expertise,” writes that, “Effectual thinkers are like explorers setting out on voyages into uncharted waters.” For her, entrepreneurs are entrepreneurial, as differentiated from managerial or strategic, because they think effectually.
Effectual thinkers believe in a yet-to-be-made future that can be substantially shaped by human action, she writes. They don’t need to expend energy and resources trying to predict the future. It is much more useful to understand and work with people who are engaged in the decisions and actions that bring it into existence. Effectual reasoning gives rise to ingenuity and the freedom to take risks in situations where the future is undetermined.
Getting sales and marketing departments to communicate and work in tandem can help streamline efforts, allowing marketers to create valuable content that more effectively supports the sales process.
Focus on relationships. Consumers crave real connections now more than ever. They demand an experience that is personalized and authentic, so outreach should be thoughtful and aim to drive an emotional response.
“One of the biggest mistakes sales and marketing teams make during uncertain economic times is to pull back, and sit and watch from the sidelines,” said Michael Hammond, president and founder of NexLevel Advisors. “This is like putting an anchor on your ankle in which you go down faster.”
Progressive companies lean in during challenging times, strategically focusing on activities such as digital marketing, account-based marketing and social media to build relationships and gain market share. To accomplish this, they need to increase the frequency of their communications, show empathy, focus on problem solving, and always demonstrate how they can add value to that individual or company, he said.
A sales team should be hyperaware of consumer needs and adapt to redefine the overall experience. Mortgage companies can stay connected through personalized borrower interactions by:
● Creating personalized video messages to send via email
● Getting social and going live on Instagram or Facebook Stories to interact with borrowers
● Calling and checking in to see how borrowers are doing
To ensure marketing teams are driving direct sales outcomes, align sales and marketing teams through strong communication, robust technologies and data-driven decisionmaking. Social selling expert Jill Rowley, formerly of Salesforce, famously said, “The new reality is that sales and marketing are continuously and increasingly integrated. Marketing needs to know more about sales, sales needs to know more about marketing and we all need to know more about our customers.”
Getting sales and marketing departments to communicate and work in tandem can help streamline efforts, allowing marketers to create valuable content that more effectively supports the sales process. Additionally, should strategies shift, both teams can collaborate to produce fresh campaigns that are better suited to the current climate.
Beyond communication between teams, mortgage companies can leverage technology to better serve their borrowers. This can be done by implementing technologies to help the company and their originators operate at their full potential.
With tech products such as mortgage point-of-sale platforms and customer relationship management software, originators can continue making loans in a virtual world. Mortgage companies that are proactive about implementing technology to help them serve today’s borrowers are going to be the ones that thrive.
Finally, data is so crucial but often overlooked. This is where mortgage companies must dive into their statistics and draw insights to identify high-value audiences and drive more qualified leads. As creativity is central to innovation, further your efforts by injecting imagination and originality into your data findings to deliver a memorable message to your borrowers.
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The coronavirus pandemic may have long-term consequences on the mortgage industry. Lenders and originators, however, are likely to meet the economic challenges through optimism and resilience for their peers, partners and consumers.
Enriching the mortgage sales and marketing experience for continued success in times of economic uncertainty begins when teams adapt and align themselves. This transforms the business and revives brand interest through empathy, effectual reasoning, technology and personalized borrower relationships. •