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Mortgage Professionals: Where Are You Headed in 2011?

Joy Gendusa
Jan 03, 2011

Do you feel like you have been treading water ever since the housing bubble burst? If you have, where is that getting you? It comes down to this: If you aren’t progressing, you’re regressing. That’s just the way it is. The key to growing your business in this market is implementing a proactive strategy. Being reactive in this economy will kill you and marketing is the best way to combat the dire market and grow despite industry trends. Often, when things get bad, businesses react by cutting their marketing budget. It seems like a good idea, and you start saying, “I could pay bills off, people won’t respond anyway, etc.” The problem with that theory is, if you market, people will respond—and actually in higher numbers than if the economy was booming. But why? Most businesses slash their marketing in hard times. But if you don’t, all of the people who need mortgage services will contact you because you’re the only message out there. So, what does that mean going forward? Let’s look at how you can take your business on an upward journey in 2011. Here are three important strategies you can immediately implement to get moving in the right direction. They may not be flashy, but these classic marketing techniques are proven to work … and why fix something that isn’t broken? The key to success in this medium is diligence, so be ready to commit. Single serving efforts in these areas are a waste of money. By the same token, if you apply them in a consistent schedule, they flat-out work. 1. Direct mail: Maximizing your return on investment (ROI) There are many options these days in the direct mail industry (letters, flyers, door hangers, etc), but the most effective and time-tested way to increase name recognition and get new leads is postcards. Postcards deliver results because there is no envelope to open and the designs are (or at least should be) readily eye-catching. This, at minimum, ensures that your prospect at least views your message, even if the card eventually ends up in the trash. When created with a solid strategy, a postcard campaign goes a long way towards solidifying your credibility in the community. The fact is 79 percent of households read or skim direct mail advertising, according to the 2010 DMA Statistical Fact Book. Moreover, an International Communications Research study found people were 31 percent less likely to ditch unopened mail than delete unopened e-mails, and 45 percent said they found direct mail less intrusive than e-mail. When you send out postcards, you boost visibility, a necessary element of an effective marketing campaign. When you send out ads or invitations through the mail, about 80 percent of your prospects give you the chance to woo them. With a quality call to action and compelling copy, you will see a great response. Also, it’s important to choose the right marketing firm to handle your direct mail campaign. Be sure to find one that is willing to share previous samples of their work. Also, ask if they will work with you on the design (i.e. give you free revisions, listen to suggestions, etc.). It is often helpful to select a firm that handles printing and mailing in-house. This can save you money on postage because they mail in bulk. 2. Networking The dreaded word … networking. Not always a pleasant experience, but it’s a must-add to our list as another great form of marketing, especially in the financial industry. It may be intimidating for some people, but the effort is well worth it. The benefits really do outweigh the awkward moments of attending mixers. Simply having lunch with a few real estate agents can be a huge boost to your business. No amount of direct mail ads or an amazing Web site design can fully convey who you are to your prospects. There is something about your physical presence that lends credibility and trust—so be real and not too sales-like. Search for mortgage professional groups and look over the events they host in your area. Some of the best ways to establish contacts in the community can be found through these events. While you’re at it, read Keith Ferrazzi’s book on networking, Never Eat Alone: and Other Secrets to Success, One Relationship at a Time. He is a power networker, but even the most timid can gain valuable lessons from his insights. Remember, there is no more powerful form of marketing than word-of-mouth. People trust their peers far more than they trust advertisers. Networking gets people talking about you. And that’s a necessity, since many mortgage professionals rely heavily on referrals. If you are disinclined to put yourself out there in the networking field, try to strategize. Who will make the biggest impact for your business? Find out who the big influencers are in your community that can spread the word about your company. Select two or three individuals in your area who are well-connected to the real estate industry and introduce yourself to them. Invite them to lunch, tell them about your vision and convince them that your business plays a role in this market. If all goes well, you could see a significant difference in traffic just based on these individuals’ recommendations. That’s not too scary. So direct mail and networking are Elvis and The Beatles. They are the classics, but what is the next big thing? Well, it won’t be on stage—it’ll be on the computers … and every smart phone in the building. You probably guessed it! It’s social media. For the more timid networkers among us, online social networking is a dream come true. It’s also effective, which is nice bonus. 3. Social media Social media is great for posting funny pictures and interesting anecdotes from your day, but is it really a viable growth strategy for expanding your business in 2011? Quite simply … absolutely! According to the 2009 Realtor Technology Survey, 84 percent of real estate agents engage in social media to some extent. If you want their business, you go where they are, and for the vast majority of them it’s social media. Two social media sites prime for targeting real estate agents are Facebook and LinkedIn. Facebook wins the popular vote, according to the same study, with 78 percent of respondents saying they use the Internet colossus. LinkedIn, a business networking site, comes in at a very respectable 58 percent. Signing up for these sites is free, and using them is actually quite simple. Register for an account and take a few minutes familiarizing yourself with the site and you will immediately be more comfortable with it. For Facebook, you want to create a Fan Page for your business to give realtors the opportunity to connect to you. Also, search for groups that may contain prospects. For example, “Real Estate Agents Dallas” might turn up a networking group of professionals for the Dallas area, and it would be a great place to meet potential clients. On LinkedIn, it’s even easier to make business connections because that’s the whole point of its existence! It allows you to build connections with other professionals and also get recommendations from past clients to build your credibility. Use it to post news and articles about your business. Remember, nobody likes blatant advertising on social media. If you want to succeed, you need to offer valuable content that subtly promotes your business. This is especially true for Facebook and less so for LinkedIn. Informative articles, facts, trivia questions and contests are great ways to involve people and market your business. Dedicate yourself to executing these three growth strategies, and you’ll be on the right track to grow your business in 2011. This is a fantastic place to start, but always remember to implement a complete marketing plan that integrates each marketing element to get the most for your marketing dollar. Of course, you could always just keep treading water and hope things work out, but do so at your own risk. It’s never too early to start planning ahead for 2011. Grab the reins to your success and enjoy the ride. Joy Gendusa is chief executive officer and founder of PostcardMania. She began PostcardMania in 1998 with nothing but a phone and a computer and zero investment capital. By 2008, revenues reached nearly $19 million and the company now employs more than 150 people, prints four million and mails two million postcards each week representing more than 40,000 customers in over 350 industries. For more information, call (800) 628-1804, ext. 342 or visit
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