Many mortgage companies are still in the process of developing their 2012 strategies. But there is a problem ... many of these strategies fail to achieve the desired outcomes. Why is that? Here are eight reasons: 1. No written marketing strategy. Sure, this is obvious, but many plan to plan, then get caught up in the day-to-day and the plan doesn’t get written until the end of the first quarter or worse. Meanwhile, all you’ve done is put out fires and get caught up in the “me too” syndrome, following your competitors. 2. Goals are poorly defined. Before you write the strategy, come to an agreement on what your primary goals are for 2012. If you don’t, then your strategy becomes a list of tactics or busy-work. “Look boss, I’m doing something!” It’s like the guy that rushes around the office with a stack of papers in his hand shaking his head attempting to look busy in front of everyone else. 3. Unattainable goals. There’s nothing worse than working a strategy where the goals are not even possible. Set realistic marketing goals that can be achieved if the marketing plan is executed well. 4. No buy-in. Something often forgotten is that everybody in the company is essentially executing the strategy. This execution plays a role in the branding of your mortgage company. Once there is buy-in from key execs, everyone must play “follow the leader” and do their part. The worst thing is when the execs buy in but the individuals on the front lines don’t deliver the brand promise for your company. 5. No clear responsibilities or accountability. Strategies die because of lack of accountability and specific assignment of responsibilities. 6. Wrong people working the strategy. Do people assigned to work on the strategy have the skills to execute their part? 7. Lack of time or lack of money. Nothing is more frustrating than writing a marketing strategy and then finding out that there’s no budget to cover it and everybody is too busy to execute. I can’t tell you how many mortgage companies I visit with that run on zero-based budgeting. With this, every line item is debated and scrutinized before being approved typically by someone not schooled in marketing, PR or branding to begin with, corners are cut and then goals are compromised. Even if the budget is small, it’s good to know up front so you can set reasonable goals and design the strategy that fits the budget. 8. Changing market conditions. Things change ... sometimes quickly in this economy. Make sure your strategy is ready to adapt to these changes as you move forward. Enjoy your strategic planning session ... this should be a fun, motivational process for all involved! Patrick H. Seroka is president and chief executive officer of Seroka, the only Certified Brand Strategists in North America specializing in the mortgage industry. With Seroka, you'll experience unique, second-to-none client service and benefit from compelling marketing communications. Plus, we guarantee your growth. For more information, call (262) 523-3740 or e-mail [email protected].