Basic marketing initiatives are never too old to review. They are worth repeating, especially in such a volatile rate environment. Business planning, understanding your market and taking steps to engrain your services within the community, both real estate agent-based and consumer-based, are important keys to success. Those relationships are all critical to our production and on-going referrals. Best rates and lead generation services will not necessarily lead the way in the coming months.
We review a variety of marketing initiatives periodically with our branches. What is important is to establish a pattern of activities visible within the community. The activities must distinguish yourself from the inundation of e-mail, advertising and junk mail received daily by many of those same prospects.
Time to get back to basics. The following are just a few examples. Be active, grow the list, and think outside the box.
Important to remember that any marketing or promotional endeavors should always be reviewed and approved by your compliance officer. Interpretations can vary depending upon the specific event and circumstance. The following practices are examples only and should be viewed as prospective activities, and formally reviewed prior to rollout.
Join local community service organizations
The Better Business Bureau (BBB), Chamber of Commerce, community center, etc., support community events, some of which can be held at, or sponsored by your branch. Some organizations will sponsor a grand opening of a local business, including your branch, if new or recently opened. Many members are well-connected within the community and are individually, prospective leads. They will absolutely be a source of leads in the future. Some events will result in free press coverage and community access.
Be with your real estate agents everyday
Important activities would include open houses, tour day, weekly meetings, office visits, board meetings, community events, e-mail and phone follow-up. Real estate agent tour day and Sunday open house visits are productive time and time again. Purchase a case of red licorice at Costco, about 100 vines per jar. Then get the lists of open homes for real estate agent tour day and Sunday's opens, set a route, distribute the licorice and introduce yourself. Follow-up with office visits during the week.
Consider sponsoring a party bus to take your real estate agents to open houses on tour day. They key in this market is to strengthen, initiate and renew real estate agent contacts. Of course, for events such as a party bus, the agents should pay a proportionate share of the expense to be deemed compliant.
Every business in your market should have business cards or flyers on its front counter
Local businesses are thrilled to display your business cards in exchange for a commitment to send them referrals. No business is off limits: Restaurants, cleaners, beauty salons, bookstores, gyms—anyplace, anywhere. Settlement and service providers should not be included in this activity without checking with your compliance officer.
Every morning, read the newspaper twice
Read the newspaper daily, once for the news and once for your business. When you read it for your business, look at births, obituaries, marriages, local news, announcements of new business, new physicians in town, etc. Send out congratulatory notes, e-mails or mail acknowledgement cards. Send out a minimum of five cards a day. Clip the article and send it with the card. Individuals are always looking for another copy for friends, family and associates–and glow in the recognition.
Perhaps someone's child has won an award. The parents love the personal recognition and you leave a memorable, warm, caring feeling by sending the acknowledgement.
Check the Real Estate Section, especially in the Sunday edition. Who are the real estate agents advertising? Go and visit them. They may be the ones who are doing a majority of transactions. Who are the loan originators advertising? Hire them.
Organize a "Sunday Brunch With Your Branch" and prep buyers for the day's open houses. It can be just incidental food items, such as pastries and coffee. Invite a real estate agent, title officer, CPA or real estate attorney. There is an opportunity here to obtain free PR if listed in community events section of paper.
►Be our guest at the Embassy Suites Hotel this Sunday for a free brunch, and join in on an informative discussion of the home loan process with industry experts.
►Learn from our panel of experts on how the purchase or refinance of your home can be a fast and hassle-free experience. Discover from the insiders what you need to know to take advantage of this thriving real estate market.
►Have brunch and learn from the experts, and visit Sunday's open houses armed with the tools necessary to purchase or refinance your dream home … RSVP today!
Settlement and service providers should be contributing a proportionate share of the expenses, and a review by your compliance officer is highly recommended.
Participate in community events
Community involvement is just a good thing to do and also helps to promote your services and your branch name, such as serving food to the needy, charity walks, volunteering ay your local PBS TV phone bank, community clean-ups, schools, senior centers, etc.
Hire interns from local schools and colleges
You might be training a potential employee, but it also gets your name and services out there to the community, including the student’s parents.
Give seminars at schools and community organizations
Come with personalized pens and handouts. If you talk to a local high school or junior college on how to sell or buy a home, the students may be bored to death, but they will bring your pen or flyer home to mom and dad.
Allen Friedman has 20-plus years of experience in the mortgage industry. He has maintained key positions in operations and sales management, serving more than 10 years as vice president with Great Western Bank and Washington Mutual Bank (now JP Morgan Chase) and joined iServe Residential Lending in 2009 as western regional sales manager. He may be reached by phone at (415) 298-2500 or e-mail [email protected]