Marketing is an important, yet often overlooked, part of any lender’s business. However, it is not always easy to see (or predict) which tools and programs are going to be the most effective. Only a few short years ago, I was blissfully unaware of the power and capabilities that some of these tools could offer, let alone how quickly they would redefine all industries. Today’s marketing departments should consider these products for supporting their increasingly tech savvy mortgage professionals and stay aware of what is coming next that could help set them apart from their competition.
Some of the current, most effective tools that can enhance a loan officer’s business plan include:
CRM – Customer Relationship Management Systems
The foundation for most marketing departments, Customer Relationship Management systems (CRMs) are the platforms used for managing all relationships – past, present and future. These systems are vital for keeping all information connected and easily recalled. In the late 90s, I ran into a client for who I had previously completed a purchase transaction. She shared that she had just refinanced with another lender and, admittedly, I was a bit surprised. When I asked why she had never called me to see about lowering her rate, she replied: “I thought you only did purchase loans.” Disappointed yet driven by her words, I decided to figure out how to ensure I would never miss another similar opportunity. My employer at the time did not have any tools to help, so I tracked down an early version of an online CRM and never looked back. Fast forward to today and CRM platforms are now often taken for granted, with most being directly integrated into the loan origination systems (LOS) allowing one-time data entry and prospects, clients and past clients to receive communications via the CRM. Many lenders have also taken the CRM beyond mortgage clients to stay in touch with possible candidates for job openings, and wholesale/correspondent lenders can use these platforms to communicate with their brokers and correspondents.
SEO – Search Engine Optimization
Today’s mortgage companies want their advertising to be properly and prominently featured in an internet search, and Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is how that happens. With the right use of SEO, lenders can increase traffic to their websites by increasing visibility. For example, if a lender has a mortgage program they wish to promote, like one geared towards less-than-perfect credit score borrowers, they can pay a nominal fee to purchase keywords from a search engine so that when someone typed in these terms, its website would be displayed prominently. The fees can vary by both geographic location and how much traffic a keyword is generating, but the costs are often well worth the benefits.
Have you ever wondered how social media seems to know you were at a certain restaurant, and then asked you for some specific, related information? You probably just entered a geofenced area – one of the newest and somewhat controversial programs being utilized by many, including the mortgage industry. By leveraging this technology, a company creates a geographical “fence” using GPS coordinates around a specific address (e.g., convention center, open house, etc.), and when someone enters that area, they receive an email, text or app notification with a message relevant to that exact time and location. While it is understandable how this practice could be viewed as controversial, when used ethically it can provide a very cost-effective method of branding.
While many consider podcasts a new marketing tool, the format has been around since the 1980s with the advent of “audio blogging.” In 2004, with iPods in everyone’s pockets, the term podcast was coined. At its most basic definition, a podcast is a conversation where one or more people discuss a certain topic (e.g., first-time homebuyers, success coaching, etc.). The finished product is made available via the internet and where it can be downloaded and listened to at any time convenient to listeners. Podcasts are a great tool, allowing lenders to both enhance their brand image while also focusing on topics and conversations they want to promote.
These are just some of the marketing tools available, though there are many more out there (and on the horizon). While lenders should not be afraid to explore different approaches, the key is to find what fits you and your brand to build from there. Considering or even trying new ideas is fine, but do not feel compelled to do something simply because someone else is doing it. Likewise, if your current company is not supportive of exploring new marketing options, it may be time to look around and see which one may be. Finding a company with a creative, forward-thinking marketing department can be critical to supporting your current and future success.
Todd Sheinin is Chief Operating Officer for Homespire Mortgage, a leading national residential mortgage lender. Homespire has been included in Inc. 5000’s List of America’s Fastest-Growing Private Companies and recognized as one of the “Best Mortgage Companies to Work for” by National Mortgage News. For more information, visit www.homespiremortgage.com.