I’ve been thinking a lot about what to share with you in this article on marketing. The truth is that I could have filled the entire magazine with the ideas, mistakes, proven campaigns and little-known yet highly-effective tactics I have learned and used over the past 25 years. Before we even go into the mistakes, I want to tell you that you are extremely lucky. Yeah, I know none of us really feels too lucky in this business, so let me explain. Take a look around … you aren’t getting too many calls at dinner anymore, are you? You’re probably not getting many e-mails or direct mailings either. Why? Simply because when business slows down and times get tough, the first thing originators stop is their marketing. This is a big mistake! Now, let’s dig in and explore the most common mistakes and reveal what does work. Mistake number one: Stopping your marketing You must never, ever stop marketing. When you take a step back and think about … we really aren’t originators, are we? In reality, we are marketers of our services, and no marketing equals no business. I mentioned earlier how lucky we are, so let me explain. Now that others have stopped marketing, there is less clutter and less competition for your prospect’s attention. That’s why I believe this is a great time to kick up your efforts. I know! You are afraid! Or, you simply don’t have a lot left for a marketing budget. Hang in there, because I will share a few no cost ways to generate business. Plus, I will give you the “magic formula” for your marketing dollars. Mistake number two: Doing what everyone else does Let’s be honest for a minute with each other … tell me if this describes your marketing campaigns … You want to get your name out there so people will think of you when they are looking for a mortgage. That’s what I thought when I first started. It’s what I see most other “marketing gurus” teaching. Worst of all, it’s what I see most other originators doing when they are marketing. None of us has the advertising budget of a Coke or Pepsi. This type of advertising is known as “brand advertising” and most simply cannot afford the cost or the time it takes to finally penetrate the market and get them to know who you are … or even care who you are! You see, everyone is tuned in to station W-I-F-M … What’s In it For Me … and as brutal as this may sound, no one cares that you do mortgages and provide good service. All they care about is what you can do for them. My business started changing when I discovered Emotional Direct Response Marketing. It allows you to target your prospect, give them a message they want, and most importantly, gives you the ability to track every penny you spent and makes you accountable. More on that subject in our next marketing mistake … Before we leave this mistake, I want you to read the mistake again. One of the problems with all of us telling people how great our service is and how many programs we have is that we all look the same. When that happens, the only way a prospect can choose is based on price. You never want that to happen because you will never have the best price! Mistake number three: Not being able to track every penny you spent This goes back to the last mistake, but let’s get a little deeper. I go crazy when I hear people tell me they got a two percent or five percent response to a marketing piece. Who cares! This is a big money trap and it’s what all of the marketing companies and sales reps tell you when they try to sell you ads. All you need to care about is your ROI or “return on investment.” I don’t care if 100 people responded to my marketing piece ... all I care about (and all you should care about) is that I spent $1,000 hard earned dollars and I earned “X” in closed loans (not applications). If you are earning more than you spent, then continue. If you earned less, then you are either marketing in the wrong place or your marketing materials need improvement. While we are on this topic ... Most people would be thrilled to get their ad in the big town newspaper, or on their big city television or radio station. But stop and think about it for a minute … let’s say you put an ad in that big town newspaper and it has 200,000 readers daily. Publications will charge you based on their readership numbers (the same goes for radio and television as rates). The problem is that maybe only one to 2,000 people are in need of a mortgage, but you are paying for 200,000 sets of eyeballs to see your ad. So, what do you do? Well if you are marketing for first-time homebuyers, then why not advertise in your local “homes” magazines? It will definitely be cheaper than the big newspaper and you know that anyone reading it is most likely looking for a home or else they wouldn’t pick it up. The same goes if you are marketing reverse mortgage deals. Find the publications geared toward seniors in your area and advertise there. So, how do you make your ads accountable and able to be tracked? One tool is Arch Telecom, the other is Mortgage Web Success, or watch a video on the components every Web site must have at whatbrianuses.com/lofnmvid.htm. In each ad, I give them a phone number with an extension and a Web address to respond to. Each ad or marketing piece has a different extension and Web address, so I can track what exactly is working and what exactly is not. Why would you spend your hard-earned money on marketing and not know if it’s working? Mistake number four: Not giving your marketing a fair chance … shiny object syndrome I call this the “Shiny Object Syndrome” because we are all bombarded each and every day with the next shiny object that companies send us promising us a ton of new business. It’s ironic that most of these companies have never originated a loan … isn’t it. But yet, they are telling us how they will help us get more deals if we pay them. I have found that most originators never give their campaigns a fair chance. They will send out a mailing once or run one advertisement and say that direct mail and advertising doesn’t work. The key to direct mail and any other marketing strategy is to keep perfecting and testing it and improving upon it. With direct mail, I would rather mail to a tight selected group of 1,000 prospects, five times, rather than dropping 5,000 mailings at once … which leads me to our next mistake. Mistake number five: Not following up I’ll keep this one brief. You must follow up with your prospects. That means staying in touch with the ones who do respond (I use www.whatbrianuses.com to do this online) and continue putting your marketing message in front of your group of targeted prospects. They will be ready when they are ready, not when you need to close a deal! Okay, so we have gotten through some of the biggest mistakes, but I still have a few more important things to share: 1. Always give your prospects more than one way to respond. I allow them to call an 800 number or allow them to respond online. 2. Always include testimonials from past clients in your marketing pieces to add credibility. 3. Always market! 4. Use free public relations to get your name out. 5. Write articles for your local papers. 6. Go meet real estate agents at your local board and teach some courses. 7. Get your own radio show or be a guest on someone else’s show. I could go on and on here, but I think I am out of room. The bottom line here is that you must always remember that you are a marketer of your services. Read the mistakes above again and then implement them! If you want even more tips, I have put together a 32-page free report by clicking here. If you have a question you would like Brian to answer in this column, please send an e-mail with “Ask Brian Question” in the subject line to [email protected]. Brian Sacks is CEO of www.loanofficerformula.com. He has been an industry expert for more than 25 years, closing 6,000-plus loans totaling $1 billion. You can read Brian’s 32-page special report entitled “The Death of Mortgage Origination as We Know It” and “The 10 Things You Must Do Now to Survive and Thrive” at www.loanofficerformula.com/mp. This report sells for $97 and has been downloaded by more than 9,200 originators and company owners, but is free for a limited time for readers of National Mortgage Professional Magazine.