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Six Do's for Branch Marketers

Jul 20, 2012

When choosing to join a branch organization, making the best decision is critical. One of the biggest advantages that a large organization can bring when considering a branch arrangement is more effective and efficient marketing. We know the refinance boom that has dominated the industry has to end at some point, so a branch operation has to offer very strong marketing tools that deliver a measurable and positive return-on-investment (ROI). Evidence points to the evolution of a purchase market, according to the S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Index. The price of homes has plummeted 34.4 percent since the recession started, which made loan officers have to become short sale experts. In addition, Dr. Robert Shiller, Yale economist and noted predictor of the housing and tech bubbles, recently predicted it would take 20 years for the housing market to recover. Even if Dr. Shiller is wrong, marketers have to adapt to a new normal―a market that is overregulated and filled with too much supply and not enough demand. Finally, since 2009, the Heritage Foundation estimates the Obama Administration imposed more than 75 major regulations with an annual compliance cost of $38 billion. To be successful, mortgage professionals need to work smarter not harder. Here are six key items to look for in a marketing package offered by the branch: 1. Recurring marketing must be automated Advertisers will tell you that continuous marketing touches are one of the keys to maintaining relationships, so having an efficient and inexpensive system to do this is critical. Having a varied and dynamic approach is best, so direct mail, e-mail and social media are all important. The key to strengthening relationships is frequency and repetition. 2. Make sure the marketing is relevant A study conducted by the direct mail industry showed that when marketers employed personalized marketing messages, response rates from consumers increased tenfold. The more relevant marketing messages are, the better the result will be. In addition to the simple mass messages described in the first point, marketing messages should be customized to the individual recipient. This goes beyond just a name and address. To truly demonstrate ongoing service, monitor their loan and give them specific advice. This is also true for industry partners who refer leads. If leads come from real estate partners, marketing must be relevant to their clients. This demonstrates a clear understanding of the client’s goals. Referral partners want to know that you are providing excellent service to their customers. Personalized marketing will not only assure partners that you understand the client’s unique situation, it will deliver better results. Delivering results will be vital for most partners that refer business to you. Relevant marketing provides value for their customers, which will ensure they keep sending you leads. Giving great service to a referral partner’s customers will build great relationships with them, and building great relationships with key partners will take your business to another level. The expertise you demonstrate with their customers will help to build their reputation in the industry, as well. Once trust is established, your partners will continue to send business your way for years to come. The same goes for past customers, prospects and other referral partners. 3. A targeted marketing program The mortgage industry is dynamic. New products, regulatory changes and guideline changes all create opportunities for targeted groups of borrowers. It should be easy to precisely target specific groups (think HARP 2.0, FHA for MIP changes, etc.) and deliver a relevant message to that targeted group efficiently. 4. Centralized marketing support We know that loan originators are busier than ever trying to shepherd loans through the closing process. They don’t have the time or expertise to execute an ongoing, relevant marketing program. As a branch manager, you need someone centralized who can help execute your marketing goals. At a minimum, you should have the ability to do it on behalf of your own team. Centralized marketing enables originators to measure the results and adjust marketing messages to deliver stronger results. It also empowers originators to do what they do best, which is close and sale loans. 5. Compliance in marketing While many branch managers and loan officers prefer to send individual marketing whenever they want, it simply isn’t realistic. A company that allows this is asking for trouble. Compliant marketing should be efficient, but it also needs to be centralized and relevant. The new Consumer Finance Protection Bureau (CFPB) has already decided that the mortgage industry is a target and today’s mortgage firms need to take this seriously. Mortgage professionals can take a look at the banking industry to see how potentially game-changing regulation can be. Perhaps, if the mortgage industry is more proactive, they can potentially avoid disruptive regulatory forces. 6. Marketing that measures its ROI Many marketing companies think their job is done when the marketing is sent. They are missing the most important point—accountability! Loan officers are accountable for generating business and marketing should be too. You should be able to quantify and evaluate the change in customer retention based on your marketing program, as well as quantify the ROI on individualized, targeted pieces. Marketing partners should provide this information regularly. John Wannamaker, considered by many to be a pioneer in marketing, said he knew half of his advertising was wasted; he just didn't know which half. That was more than 100 years ago―originators should expect more. The marketing program is just one of several items to be considered when joining a new firm, and it is one of the most important. Most firms that have survived the consolidation of the last several years meet the basics in operations, processing and product availability. Providing the tools to create a consistent brand image that positions you as a true mortgage professional is the key to long-term business success and should be high on the list of requirements when choosing a branch with which to work. Jim Blatt is chief executive officer of St. Louis, Mo.-based Mortgage Returns. Jim co-founded Mortgage Returns in 2004, bringing consumer and database-driven marketing expertise to the company. He may be reached by phone at (314) 989-9100, ext. 102 or e-mail [email protected].  
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