To be an effective leader, you must certainly demonstrate the highest level of integrity and strength of character. You must inspire your people to be courageous and assured in their work. You must instill a sense of purpose in them. All of these things are important qualities of a great leader who wishes to motivate his or her people toward greater achievement.
However, being a great leaders also means doing something that isn't often associated with the term "leadership" … embracing new technologies. On a fundamental level, being a leader in any context means being first. Leadership means showing up when everyone else is shying away. It means being the one who goes out on a limb and takes the first step. It is following the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson when he said, "Do not go where the path may lead; go instead where there is no path and leave a trail."
Social media is not new. Many industries have embraced it as a means of connection with customers and building brands. However, a few industries have still not taken the leap onto the social Web. The mortgage banking industry, sadly, is one of those few industries which has fallen behind. As a leader in the industry, it is your responsibility to step up and lead your people into this new way of doing business. It is your responsibility to pave the way. It is your responsibility to be the first.
Be the first to blog
The term "blog" has been met with much confusion over the years. Many have misconstrued the term as being something akin to a journal or diary published on the Web. Blogging has nothing to do with the content and everything to do with the technology. A blog is simply a Web site (or a page on your site) that consists of an ongoing stream of content. Yes, it can be an individual's diary, but it can also be an informative Web site about politics, sports or even mortgage banking.
The key to blogging for the mortgage banking industry is being "informative." It means answering questions. You know the "FAQ" page that you've had on your Web site since the Internet was invented? That can and should be turned into your blog. Take those questions and make them the titles of your blog posts. Take those answers and put them into the body of your blog posts. Once you get 20-30 of them published, you will start to see a huge surge in search engine traffic to your site. Why is this so? First, because you are answering prospects' questions that they are asking in search engines, and second, because there aren't many people in the mortgage business blogging right now, so you don't have much competition. Be the first to blog. The rewards you'll reap will blow you away.
Be the first to start a podcast
A "podcast" is another one of those terms that are met with trepidation. I don't call it a podcast. Instead, I call it a radio show. Essentially, podcasting is simply creating a stream of audio files that people can listen to online. I have experienced tremendous success with my Lykken on Lending show on Blog Talk Radio. Again, there are people looking for content on the Web about the housing market, but there aren't a many folks in the mortgage industry creating that content. You have the unique opportunity, then, to be the first to put mortgage banking content into your prospects' ears.
Like blogging, the important thing about podcasting is providing useful information. It isn't a sales pitch. It's a conversation around the issues. If you can, bring on guests from the mortgage or housing industries to discuss issues that homeowners care about. You don't have to stick to mortgages, but discuss issues on the fringes as well. Talk about property values, renovations, real estate, saving for college, retirement, and so on. I can tell you firsthand that this works wonderfully. You can become the go-to business in the industry for prospects asking questions about mortgages. You can be the first.
Be the first to Tweet
Twitter has been around since 2006, and despite early skepticism that it would not catch on as a social network, the Web site has grown to the number two social network with more than 500 million users posting 300 million-plus tweets each day with one billion-plus daily search queries being conducted. Nevertheless, professionals in the mortgage banking industry continue to scoff at Twitter because they "don't get it." Compared to Facebook, though, Twitter skews toward a wealthier user-base. Typically, that means "homeowners." If you are one of those mortgage professionals that "doesn't get Twitter," the payoff will be tremendous if you are willing to be the first to learn.
Twitter is about two things: Conversation and information. Just as you will find with any social network, and just because you join Twitter and set up an account, that doesn't mean that you are "on Twitter." If you want to get any use out of the network, you're going to have to play by its rules.
First, that means starting conversations with people. It means reading what they tweet and thoughtfully replying. That's how you build your initial following. Start conversations with the right people and you'll be off to a good start.
Next, you will want to be sure that you are sharing valuable content. By valuable, I mean links to informative or insightful articles. That's how to cross the tipping point from a few followers to a few thousand followers. Most people use Twitter as a newsfeed to get information. Make sure you are sharing information worthy of their following—not just promotional jargon about your company.
Be the first to build a Facebook community
Chances are, I don't really need to go into what Facebook is. You are probably using it yourself for your own personal networking. Facebook for business, though, is a whole other animal. Like Twitter, just setting up a page isn't going to cut it. Unlike Twitter, though, you cannot just start talking to people. Facebook is more private than Twitter, so you cannot just initiate conversations uninvited. Instead, you have to get people to start conversations with you. You have to build a community.
You can drive traffic to and get "Likes" on your Facebook page in a few ways. First, you can do targeted advertising to find people in your area who will be shown ads of your page. Secondly, you can advertise that you are on Facebook on your own marketing materials with a call-to-action such as "Like Us on Facebook." Put the slogan on your door, on your counter, on your bulletin board, in your newsletter, on your brochures, in your commercials, and anywhere else you can think of.
When you actually get people to Facebook, though, you've got to keep them there. If you don't get them to interact with you, your posts will stop showing up in their feeds. Therefore, the content you post most incite a response of either "Like," "Comment" or "Share." You can post funny photos (memes) related to mortgages or housing with calls-to-action such as "'Like' if you agree!" You can post fill-in-the-blank questions to get people to comment such as, "If I could make one addition to my home, it would be ________." Share anything that will get people talking to you. If you do, you'll be constantly on your prospects' radar--making you the first to tap into the power of Facebook to change your industry.
Be the first to embrace inbound marketing
Inbound marketing is a concept that has really taken off in a number of industries within the past few years. Also known as "content marketing," the concept involves creating content that compels prospects to come to you instead of you going to them without their solicitation.
Inbound marketing weaves social media, blogging, podcasting, and all other forms of Web content together to drive traffic to landing pages—pages on your site where prospects can submit forms requesting information about your services. Periodically place links on your blog, Facebook, Twitter, etc. with calls-to-action prompting people to visit these pages. When they are there, offer something of value to them like a free eBook about home design trends to incentivize them to join your e-mail list. Once you get their information, you can follow up and nurture the prospect into the sales funnel. That's inbound marketing. Be the first in the industry to embrace it and you'll be the first to reap the rewards.
Being a leader in today’s marketplace is all about being first. It's about exploring the fringes and uncovering new paradigms. Social media provides a unique opportunity for leaders in the mortgage banking industry to raise the bar and set new standards. The Web has revolutionized the way businesses engage with prospects and convert them into customers. The mortgage banking industry is ripe for being a significant part of this revolution. Will you be the first to take the initiative of bringing the industry into the 21st Century? Your prospects are waiting. Your people are waiting. The world is waiting. Make your move.
David Lykken is president of mortgage strategies and managing partner with Mortgage Banking Solutions. He has more than 35 years of industry experience and has garnered a national reputation, and has become a frequent guest on FOX Business News with Neil Cavuto, Stuart Varney, Liz Claman and Dave Asman with additional guest appearances on the CBS Evening News, Bloomberg TV and radio. He may be reached by phone at (512) 977-9900, ext. 10, or e-mail [email protected]
or [email protected]