Create new customers while you sleep: a step-by-step guideChip Cummings, CMCe-marketing, strategy, target market, auto-responders
The phone isn't ringing off the hook anymore. Pipelines are
shrinking, and the deals you do have seem to be getting tougher.
Are the good times really over? In short, noat least not for those
who planned ahead, and not for those who understand relational
versus transactional marketing. Even with interest rates up by more
than a full percent from a year ago, deals are still being done and
it promises to be another near-record year for the mortgage
industry, with an estimated loan volume of more than $2.5 trillion.
But face it with thousands of originators being eliminated per
month, it's time to get smart. With your future on the line and
pressure mounting, let's talk about some basic e-marketing
strategies to get some new customers in the door today, tomorrow
and for years to come.
Step 1. Get Focused
They say that to get business, you have to talk to people. That's
only partially true: You also need to talk to the right people.
Most of us do not have the time, energy, money or patience to
simply start talking and marketing to everyone. So first, clearly
define your target demographic so that you can focus your marketing
strategies on the right group: first-time homebuyers, new
construction, self-employed, sub-prime loans, healthcare workers,
women, minority groups or any number of target audiences.
Since people will only do business with someone they trust, and
they only trust people they like, you need the opportunity to
quickly build a trusting relationship. This is easier to accomplish
if the customer feels that you are dedicated to their group and
understand their specific needs and situation. Becoming a
specialist within a target market will give you a head start on
building that relationship.
Step 2. Create Value
Since everyone provides "great service" and "low rates," you need
to identify and establish at least three specific ways that you can
bring personal value directly to your target group I call this the
"Chip Value." The CV items should include at least one detailed
personal benefit from the following categories: free informational
reports, concierge service and professional affiliations.
For example, if my target market is the first-time homebuyer,
then maybe my CV items will include reports on understanding credit
reports, getting into a home with no down payment or how to prepare
for homeownership. Then, for concierge service, I would have a
program in place to provide pre-approval shopping certificates,
real estate agent partner referral programs or to take care of
transferring utilities after closing. As for my professional
affiliation category, I would provide access to a 30-minute
consultation with an accountant for developing new tax strategies,
or discounts/certificates/consultations with interior decorators,
landscape companies, snow removal and cleaning services, or a
handyman from Home Depot. Hundreds of combinations exist just focus
on the ones that provide great value to your target market.
Step 3. Market Your Value
People want information and they want it on demand. The beauty of
technology is that we can do just that and start developing a
trusting customer relationship without donating personal time to
the cause. Start by creating the free informational report for your
target group in electronic format. Using first-time homebuyers as
an example, it could be a report called, "How to Avoid the Seven
Most Common Mistakes When Buying Your First Home." To make it
easier, develop these reports in conjunction with affiliates that
are related to your target group (real estate agents, accountants,
Set up a special e-mail address or one-page Web site that will
capture a prospect's name and e-mail address, and can automatically
send out the report through an auto-responder or e-mail address
that automatically sends a predetermined e-mail message back to the
sender who requested it. This is simple and very inexpensive.
Remember to sell your "Chip Value" through the informational
Next, you need to drive people to request the report. Start by
offering it via e-mail to your existing client base, and then have
your affiliate partners, such as real estate agents who specialize
in first-time homebuyers, e-mail the offer to their clients. Place
small strategic classified ads in online newspapers, periodicals or
specialized bulletin boards. Go to www.adwords.google.com to
develop strategic localized ads for your report using narrow search
engine keywords (such as California First-Time Homebuyer), and you
can have leads in less than 30 minutes for only a couple of
Use small banner ads, internal Web links from other Web sites
and cross-links from affiliate partners to lead interested people
to request your report. Offer the reports via e-mail through
flyers, direct mail, radio, postcards and on the back of your
business cards. Just remember to focus your energy on the target
market. This system will allow you to automatically filter the
"suspects" from the "prospects."
Step 4. Sleep-Working
Anyone who requests a copy of your informational report is now a
"prospect." Like any other prospect, you need to follow up with
them in order to turn them into a true lead. Technology will allow
you to do this while you sleep or what I call "sleep-working."
Auto-responders were developed to instantly provide a receipt to
a customer via e-mail immediately upon purchase of an item through
the Internet. You can use this same concept to automatically follow
up with your prospects and let them turn themselves into "leads." A
simple follow-up system might look like this:
*When a person requests the report, a "Thank You" e-mail is
immediately sent to the prospect with the free report
*Two days later, another e-mail is sent with related information
and a contact number;
*Three days later, a follow-up e-mail is generated that educates
them about another related item; and so on.
It is important to set the system up to contact prospects a
minimum of seven times for this to be effective, and messages must
be kept simple but full of important content. If done correctly,
your conversion rate for people who contact you directly (now "hot
leads") should be between seven and 10 percent. Not bad for not
having spoken to anyone yet!
Step 5. Build the Nest
Be sure to structure your "value offers" throughout your free
reports and automated e-mails. Process and qualify the leads that
come to you and turn them into customers (either short-term or
long-term) through offering pre-approvals, transferable discount
certificates, professional consultations, etc. To build a long-term
supply of steady leads, continue to communicate with them by
providing information through e-zines (electronic newsletters),
financial physicals and affiliate partner resources to bring them
into your "family" of customers.
The database list that is compiled through this process becomes
your "golden egg". Build a strong nest to support that egg by
mining the database and providing consistent follow-up
communication at least once a monthautomatically. The technology is
there, it's inexpensive and waiting for you to creatively attract,
capture and convert your new customers.
Chip Cummings, CMC is president of Northwind Financial
Corporation, a loan originator, national speaker, trainer and
consultant to the mortgage industry. He can be reached at (866)
977-7900 or e-mail [email protected]