Mortgage marketing campaignsJoy Gendusapostcard campaign, pre-planned, promotional steps, campaign commitment Do they really make a difference in selling mortgages? What is a campaign, exactly? Many mortgage brokers often pose the questions, "What is a postcard campaign, exactly?" and, "Why do I need one?" The answers to those questions are the most difficult for people to accept and learn. No matter how hard I try--no matter how much proof I give--some people just don't seem to believe it. But I never stop saying it, because one day it will sink in. First, let's define "campaign," which, in its noun form, means "an operation or series of operations energetically pursued to accomplish a purpose." Its verb form means "to engage in an operation planned to achieve a certain goal." A marketing campaign is, simply stated, a pre-planned series of advertising or promotional steps; this includes repeat mailings that are strategically designed and mailed so that there is a maximum benefit (more new mortgages) for your business. I tell mortgage brokers that they need to do repeat mailings; otherwise, they are not getting the most from their money. Single mailings are nowhere near as effective and sometimes completely ineffective. Mailing one postcard once is hardly going to get anyone's attention or get a company known. Consider this: How many times have you seen one TV commercial aired over and over? It is the same principle for postcards. A one-time postcard mailing is just not going to change your business, your profit margin or your lifestyle. The other added benefit of repeat mailings is credibility. Sometimes people may hold onto your postcard for a long while--even months or years. But more often, they'll think, "I may need to refinance someday, but not yet," and toss it out. Repeat mailings to those same people get them to see your image, logo, slogan and message over and over, thus making you more credible to them. It is a fact that your income is heavily influenced by how much communication you put out about your business. After some time mailing consistently, you will learn how much you need to mail in order to bring in the desired dollar amount. It will become predictable for you. How does a campaign work, exactly? With consistency comes prediction. You can get to the point where you can chart out expected results. Here is an example of a business sending out 5,000 postcards: -Out of that 5,000, 150 hang onto your postcard. -Out of that 5,000, some call the first week. -Out of that 5,000, some call the second week. -Out of that 5,000, some call the next month. -Out of that 5,000, some call in six months. -Out of that 5,000, some never call. There is a dwindling return from that first mailing that can give a false impression of what occurs from one mailing. Someone sends out a postcard and says, "I only got four responses from my mailing!" But there is a whole dynamic that is going on that is continuing from that one mailing long after the person who sent the mailing expects things to happen. Think about it. Do you jump at every advertisement that you get that you think is a good idea? If you do, you are either a millionaire or broke. Most likely, you see some advertisement that catches your interest and say to yourself that you'd like to check that out someday. Then, you see it again and remember that you wanted to check that out one day. And then, you see it again, and this time you decide to check it out. Or, you file it away, and when you pay off that credit card, you pull out your file and visit that store that advertised the outdoor furniture set you wanted to buy for your back porch. You want continuous and consistent growth. You want to have so many mortgages in the pipeline that you could take off a couple of weeks and not feel the hurt. So what do you do? Look at this scenario: What if: -You send out 5,000 postcards one week and have all that going on that I mentioned above? -You send out 5,000 the next week and have all that going on that I mentioned above? -You send out 5,000 the next week, and that dwindling flow chart is going on on each one of those outflows? What is going to happen? Eventually, it is going to snowball, because it's coming in from all different places! And yes, it costs a lot of money to do it. Once you have your list, which you'll use over and over and only pay for once, postage will be more than 55 percent of your costs. So find the money. Start with a list and mail to one list one week, another list the next week and another list the following week. Then, rotate those lists again (and again and again). "Now," you ask, "what if you only have one list?" You can still rotate one list. And it is always good to put it on a spreadsheet or a flow chart to track what you are doing and what you have already done. For instance, let's say you get one list of 6,000 identities. You can mail to 2,000 one week, 2,000 the next week and 2,000 the third week. Then, you rotate. There are your three different lists! Two types of campaigns The next thing to know about campaigns is that there are two different types of marketing campaigns. There is the campaign to get your customers to keep buying from you so they don't go elsewhere, and then there is the campaign to get new business in. Once you have gotten new business in, then those customers who once were prospects get the repeat-customer campaign, which is basically a different campaign with different messages and different buttons, all for the purpose of retaining their business and having them not go anywhere else to refinance or get that second mortgage. How do you start campaigning, exactly? The first thing you should do when starting out and thinking of a marketing campaign is to start with your own customers. Let's say you've been in business for five to 10 years and have hit a plateau. Start by mailing out to your own customers who have been with you and already know you are good. And then, once you get your income up a little bit by this campaign route, start the second campaign to market to new customers. However, if you have the money, figure out how to do both. If you want more money, then put money back in your business via the new customer and customer retention campaigns. If you are a new broker starting out and really only have 12 customers, then you have to do a campaign to get new customers. Warning: It costs money; it will be a big expense. Just mail to the list for a while and rotate through it. It will pay off; I promise. A campaign could be as simple as mailing the same postcard over and over and over again to the same list. You'd still be campaigning if you did it this way, and you would have results. But you could get closer to an ideal scene with a campaign that includes several different messages. You could design each piece so that it communicates to different types of people. For instance, fear is a common feeling for people when they are about to make a purchase. You could use this to make your cards communicate how safe it would be to refinance right now or how awful it could be for them if they don't. Maybe you can offer a money-back guarantee. People also respond to humor, so another card in your campaign could be funny. Different folks will respond to different emotions in advertising. A very successful way to put together a campaign has to do with creating a series of cards with similar appearances--not the same, but similar. You could do a three-card, four-card or five-card campaign. The look and feel of each card should match. Your logo should be in the same place each time, your color scheme should be the same, etc. Come up with your look and feel beforehand. I suggest that you design and mail the first one and check for results. You can tweak it, but choose your basic colors first. Do a little research. Which colors communicate to you the most? Be your own survey person. Love your mail piece. Don't sign off on anything a designer came up with if you don't love it. You'll imbue it with results. It'll pull better if you love it. It sounds nutty, but it's true. Don't be afraid of campaign commitment One thing about campaigns is that you have to commit to a campaign. Commit. Wherever you buy your marketing services from, commit to a campaign. Let them design all five pieces at once. I don't suggest printing them all at once. Tweak the design on the others as you go, if you need to. Consumers rarely get multiple postcards from a business, yet it is such a brilliant idea. When I receive multiple postcards, I take a look. I think, "Hmmm, these guys are still contacting me." That shows persistence; it shows credibility. You are building credibility with a campaign. That is the moral of this article. A campaign is mailing to the same people over and over again. The point is that you want to hit your prospects with different communications about the same thing or hit them with different products with the same look and feel--or both. The rest will come. People think that if you open up an office, people will come. They think if you build a Web site, then people will automatically visit it. No. You have to drive customers to your business. Drive people to your business through communication. You are communicating consistently--so much that people will believe you and will respond. They will come. They will spend. Joy Gendusa is the founder and owner of Clearwater, Fla.-based PostcardMania. She may be reached at (800) 628-1804 or e-mail [email protected].