You can’t battle a down market with passivity … it will eat you alive, with a side of green beans. You need to get out there and claw for business. The good thing is that if you do just that, the business is still out there. Often when things get bad, businesses react by cutting their marketing budget. You can see why: It saves money, 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 wonderful but why? When you don’t slash your marketing budget, you’ll be one of the few, and you’ll get more bang for your buck because there is less competition.
But enough about why … let’s look at how you grow your mortgage firm and get more clients. I’m going to outline three important strategies you can implement immediately to get moving in the right direction. First, you need to make sure you’ve covered the basics … the old stand-bys: Direct mail and networking. They may not be flashy, but these classic marketing techniques are proven to work—and “if it ain’t broke” … you know the rest. The key to success here is diligence, so be ready to commit. Single serving efforts in these areas are a waste of time and money. By the same token, if you apply them in a consistent schedule, they just flat out work.
There are many options these days in the direct mail industry, but the most effective one for raising awareness of your business and growing name recognition is postcards. Because there is no envelope to open and the designs are, or at least should be, eye-catching, you are guaranteed your prospect at least views your message, even if the card eventually ends up in the trash. When stuck to, a postcard campaign goes a long way towards solidifying your credibility in the community.
As a mortgage professional, however, there are times that may call for full-size letters with envelopes. If you are inviting prospects to a seminar, these are definitely the way to go. Classy, professional invitations work better in this case because you are projecting your professionalism to the recipient.
The fact is 79 percent of households read or skim direct mail advertising according to the 2010 DMA Statistical Fact Book. When you send out postcards, you will boost your visibility. It is a necessary byproduct of an effective campaign. Send out invitations through the mail, and just about 80 percent of your prospects give you the chance to woo them. With a quality invite and compelling copy, you will see a great response.
It’s important to choose the right 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 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. They can save you money on postage.
Here is another great form of marketing, especially in the financial industry. It may be intimidating for some people, but you don’t have to be crazy about it. The simple act of having lunch with a few real estate agents can be a huge boost to your business.
No amount of direct mail or 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, not pitching sales.
Search for mortgage professional groups and look over the events they have 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. Keith is a power networker, but even the 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.
If you are disinclined to put yourself out there in this way, try to strategize. Who will make the biggest impact for your business? 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 and tell them about yourself and your business. If all goes well, you could see a significant difference in traffic just based on these individuals’ recommendations. That’s not too scary, is it?
So direct mail and networking are Elvis and The Beatles. They are the classics, but what is the next big thing? You won’t find it in the Cavern Club. Well, you might, but it won’t be on stage—it’ll be on the computers and every smartphone in the building. It’s social media, and for the more timid networkers among us, online social networking is a dream come true. It’s also effective, which is nice bonus.
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? 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 to utilize 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.
Registering for these sites is free, and using them is actually quite simple. Register for an account and take a few minutes to familiarize 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 real estate agents 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; 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 growth strategies, and your business will grow. Of course, you could always just keep treading water and hope things work out—but you do so at your own risk. Don’t say I didn’t warn you!
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.