Residential Magazine

The Next Best Idea Must Actually Budge the Needle

Rank business strategies based on impact, certainty and ease to implement

By Carl White

All mortgage professionals get flooded with ideas on how to grow their business or land more referrals. There’s a careful balance between pursuing new ideas and using proven methods without getting distracted by the next shiny whistle.

One way to do that is something called ICE, an acronym that stands for impact, certainty and ease ― a trio that will guide your future moves. When working in an industry that’s as competitive and dynamic as mortgage lending, every strategy should be guided by these three pillars: the expected impact, the degree of certainty that positive results will materialize, and the ease of implementation for you or somebody on your team.

“The smallest businesses — forced to do what it takes to survive and unburdened by the expectations of stakeholders or large investors — are being forced to get creative.”

Rank each strategy on a scale of 1 to 10 with the top number having the greatest impact, highest certainty or easiest path to implementation. Each strategy must rank 8 or higher on each of the ICE categories before it gets a green light to move forward.

Potential effect

First up, let’s discuss impact. This is the potential effect a given strategy will have on your ability to secure more loans.

For instance, if you are deciding whether to design a logo or change your company letterhead, are either one of these something that is likely to greatly impact the number of referred leads you’ll receive? Most likely, there will be little to no impact. If the expected impact of the strategy is less than 8, it’s time to move on and seek another avenue.

By comparison, calling on your past database will — with 100% certainty — help you close not just a few more loans but a lot more. So, implementing this strategy would score a solid 10 for having the greatest possible positive impact.

The key to quantifying impact is to understand your goals and the various routes to achieving them. Not every strategy will suit every team. Keep an eye on emerging trends, be flexible and don’t be afraid to embrace innovative thinking.

Proven record

The second component, certainty, is all about confidence. How confident are you that the predicted impact will indeed come to fruition?

Ensure that you’re using data-driven insights to increase your certainty. Back your strategies with extensive market research, past experiences and expert advice. Gauge the success rates of similar strategies adopted by others in the industry.

With marketing campaigns, for instance, mortgage originators who call real estate agents on a 12-week basis generally get great results. Check around with industry peers. If they’ve done it successfully, you’ll know that the certainty is almost assuredly a 10.

Conversely, if it’s a new idea that has yet to be reliably proven, avoid it, even if it sounds great. There are many proven methods with a high degree of certainty on which to focus.

Manageable task

The final ingredient in the recipe for success is ease. How easy is it for you or your team to execute the chosen strategy? The best strategies are often the simplest. Complicated plans can lead to confusion, mistakes and wasted money. Again, if your strategy doesn’t score at least 8 on the easiness scale, it’s time to rethink it.

Keep in mind that easy does not mean effortless. It simply implies that the strategy is manageable and within the capacity of yourself or your team. Consider the skills, resources and time required. If a strategy requires more advanced skills, invest in training. If it needs more resources than your staff can handle, consider hiring. Remember, if the solution seems too complex, it probably is. Your strategies should streamline your workflow, not hinder it.

“It makes a lot of sense, then, to forecast that the next wave of success stories in the mortgage industry will involve those who develop, improve or deploy innovative technologies and business models.”

Now you have your strategy. But remember, it’s not enough to merely consider these factors. They need to guide every decision you make. With every strategy that scores 8 or higher in each of the ICE categories, you’re ensuring a higher success rate, minimizing risks and fostering a culture of strategic thinking.

Accurate measurement

Say that you’re considering hosting a webinar to engage potential referral partners. The impact could be substantial as it has the potential to reach a wider audience than traditional face-to-face meetings (impact: 9). But your team hasn’t conducted a webinar before, making the outcome less predictable (certainty: 7). Moreover, preparing for a webinar requires significant time and technical expertise (ease: 6).

While the strategy has high impact, the lower levels of certainty and ease make it a less-than-ideal choice, according to this framework. Instead, you might want to consider starting with a local seminar or investing in webinar training for your team to raise the levels of certainty and ease. But if you’ve done Zoom webinars before, this same strategy could score 9 for both impact and certainty and 10 for ease. That’s a green light — go for it.

Don’t let initial setbacks deter you. The ICE framework is designed to minimize potential failures and enhance your overall productivity. By taking the time to accurately score your strategies, you’re not only refining your current plans but also honing your strategic skills for the future.

Furthermore, this isn’t a one-time solution. As the mortgage industry continues to evolve, so should your strategies. Regularly review your plans and rescore them. What may have been a high-impact, high-certainty and easy-to-do strategy six months ago might not hold the same value today. The market shifts, new technologies emerge and team capabilities change — and so should your strategies.

And crucially, make the scoring model a collective effort. Engage your team in the process. This will not only provide diverse insights, but it will encourage your colleagues to think strategically. Teams that understand the logic behind a strategy are more likely to execute it effectively.

Lastly, remember to celebrate the wins and learn from the losses. Not every strategy will result in a jackpot. Each one will certainly provide lessons to improve your scoring abilities, making you a more efficient strategist and a savvier loan officer.

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In an industry where standing out is crucial, this framework offers a clear pathway to strategic excellence. By focusing on the impact, certainty and ease of each strategy, you’re setting yourself up for success.

Remember, the essence of this framework isn’t merely about assessing strategies. It’s about building a culture of strategic thinking and making informed decisions that bring out the best in you and your team. So, keep ICE at the core of your operations and see the difference for yourself. ●


  • Carl White

    Carl White is founder and CEO of Mortgage Marketing Animals, a successful mortgage marketing training program. White is also a branch manager at one of the top mortgage branches in America and the host of the No. 1 podcast for loan officers, Mortgage Marketing Animals teaches the strategies that originators in White’s own branch use today to close more loans in less time. Learn more by visiting

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