COVID-19 and the Refi Market: Five Key Considerations
March 23, 2020
Rock bottom interest rates. No travel. Remote employees. There’s absolutely nothing routine or ordinary about the mortgage industry right now.
As we all adapt to our new normal, companies in the mortgage business are faced with the question: How do you maximize revenue opportunities in this unusual market? After all, there will be companies that will contract or go out of business during this shift, while others will see it as a valuable opportunity for growth—and may establish market dominance.
So what should you be thinking about right now? Here are five important considerations ...
1. Consider the facts
Currently there are enormous opportunities to capture new business. For lenders in particular, refinance requests are shooting through the roof. It is true that this is creating capacity issues, but it is still something to be thankful for. And a refinance boom for lenders translates to revenue they can allocate to investments in technology, services and growth. Plus, many companies now have more room in their budgets due to cancelled conferences and travel plans. These funds can now be invested into other ways to generate business.
2. Consider your pipeline
With all travel to meet prospects and clients frozen for what is likely to be many months, this is the time to think of your pipeline. How do you stay top of mind and make sure your clients and prospects think of you as the go-to company to meet their needs? And what will you need to do to prevent your pipeline from drying up?
3. Consider your current customers
We all look for reassurance during uncertain times. Now is a perfect time to let your customers and partners know you’re there for them. Offer them information, insights and support they can use right now. In addition to sending out letters and emails affirming your company’s strength and stability in these trying times, B2B companies can build stronger bonds with their clients by providing tips and advice on how to improve business during a crisis. Lenders can also remind consumers and their referral partners about the benefits of refinancing while rates are low.
4. Consider your marketing
Marketing is going to be critical for the coming months—and it won’t be business as usual. Marketing plans should be revisited ASAP to adapt to the industry’s new normal. With almost everyone staying indoors and working from home, it’s critical to proactively reach customers, referral partners and prospects remotely. So, how do you do it?
►E-mail marketing: If you are not actively using e-mail marketing, now is a great time to start. E-mail marketing is a very effective way of generating new contacts and staying top of mind with customers, partners and prospects alike. And according to the Direct Marketing Association, it has an ROI of 4,300 percent. Not bad! E-mail marketing comes in all shapes and sizes, so it will be key to choose the right kind of e-mail marketing campaign and to execute flawlessly. After all, amateur e-mail marketing can do more damage than good by casting a bad image of your company.
►Publicity: Home-bound customers, prospects and partners are likely to have more time to be reading content online. Whether they are reading National Mortgage Professional Magazine, Rob Chrisman’s blog, MBA NewsLink, The Wall Street Journal or your local newspaper, this is a great time to make sure your company is appearing in the news. A well-connected and proactive industry publicist can make sure you’re regularly being quoted, commenting on a wide array of topics pertaining to your business and the market. They can also get media outlets to write about your business, your news and topics of interest to you.
►Blogging, article contributions and white papers: While it’s great to have a reporter write about you or your business, it’s also good to write and publish content that will educate your prospects and clients, with the exact message you want to put forth. You can write this content yourself or have someone ghostwrite it for you as many senior executives like to do. (Yes, we ghostwrite a lot of content at our agency!) Then make sure you proactively get your content out there, whether it’s published in a target media outlet, promoted via social media, posted on your Web site, and/or shared via e-mail.
►Webinars: With so many conference cancellations, webinars are proving to be a great way to get your voice heard without jumping on a plane. Make sure to find out what Webinars are available and how you can speak on them—often at no charge.
►Social media: Reportedly, 45 percent of marketers have gained customers through social media. This is as good a time as any to ramp up your social media efforts. However, you’ll want to ensure your company’s social media landing pages look and sound professional, as do the personal pages of your company spokespeople. And you’ll want to make sure your posts look and sound professional, too, so they represent your company well.
►Videos: Videos provide the opportunity for prospects and customers to see you, without the need for travel. Whether you record something informally or have it produced professionally (keeping a safe distance from the videographer, of course), videos can be a highly-effective means of communication.
►Advertising: Advertising can be a good vehicle to target prospects exactly where you want to reach them and how you want to reach them. From Google AdWords to advertising in media outlets’ news bulletins and magazines to so much more, advertising is worth considering as part of a well-orchestrated marketing plan.
5. Consider your window of opportunity
Rock bottom interest rates and the appetite to refinance won’t last forever. Nor will the fact that everyone is staying at home as a captive audience. The time to act and respond proactively to the changing market is now—not in a month or two. When flawless execution and quick turnarounds are needed, companies are wise to turn to third parties that specialize in their needs. Professional marketers who have experience in the mortgage industry will not only dramatically increase your odds of success, but they can also help you determine the smartest marketing strategy for your budget.
Whether leveraging e-mail marketing, publicity, advertising, social media or blogging, research has shown that companies that continue to invest in marketing during tough times tend to do better and capture greater market share than companies that don’t. And we can help with all of the above.
Rosalie Berg is president of Strategic Vantage, a marketing and public relations agency that specializes in the mortgage and financial services industries. Lenders, technology companies, service providers and start-ups count on Strategic Vantage to publicize their companies, write content and create their marketing materials. She may be reached by e-mail at RosalieBerg@StrategicVantage.com or visit StrategicVantage.com.