With the explosion of opportunities for businesses and professionals to market themselves via the Internet, deciding where to spend your time to get the greatest return-on-investment (ROI) can be a challenge. How do you prioritize if you only have so much time to devote to marketing? Here are few tips:
1. Choose things you enjoy doing, because that enthusiasm will show.
2. Choose what you are good at. If you are a good writer, then start a blog. If you have strong social skills, then get involved in your community.
3. If you love to stay connected with people through the Internet, utilize social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.
Maximize your social media contacts
Social media is not only an easy way to stay in touch with family and friends, it’s also an effective business networking tool. One can hardly watch TV these days without the host or anchor asking you to check them out on Facebook or Twitter.
Facebook is a good vehicle for mortgage professionals because of the ability to set up a separate business page with links and tabs. It’s also very popular with real estate agents.
If you are currently on Facebook and do not have a separate business page, this is a good place to start. A Facebook business page can be used effectively with your personal profile to grow your sphere of influence and position you as an expert on mortgage matters. To set up a business page, go to your Facebook Home Page and type “Facebook Pages” in the search field. There you will find a tutorial including how to set up a business page, build a presence, engage your audience and spread your message.
After creating your business page, post news that people will find of interest, such as housing information, interest rate projections, what’s selling and for how much, or the popularity of certain loan products.
Invite your Facebook “Friends” (who are or could be customers) to become “Fans” of your business page. Ask them to “Like” and “Share” your page with others. There are some useful tips for building your fan base in the Facebook tutorial. Use this tool to its fullest by posting regular market updates and insightful, topical content. Posts that get “Liked” and “Shared” end up in more feeds, which means greater exposure for you.
If you like to write, blog!
If you enjoy writing, have interesting things to write about pertaining to your business and have the time, you definitely should be blogging. In a recent survey touted by Hubspot, an online marketing company for small businesses, 97 percent of the respondents said that blogging drives more traffic to their Web sites, which can generate more leads. Sign up with a free blog hosting site such as WordPress, Blogger or Blog.com. Most have the ability to design a custom blog page that includes your photo and other materials.
Blogs should be informal, as if you are having a conversation with someone. If you are already blogging, ask people you trust to give you feedback on content and style.
Give your readers something of value so that they look to you as an expert and read your blogs regularly. Write about housing trends and statistics, provide local market information, new loan products and services. People really want to know what is selling in their community, and for how much. Share your opinions about news articles you’ve read. Offer your insights. Educate your audience; help readers understand the process of buying or selling a home in your area. Get them engaged. Ask for their questions and comments.
Blog consistently, at least once a week, preferably several times a week. Keep it brief—200-300 words. It’s better to post shorter blogs more frequently than longer blogs less often. The more you post, the more you will be seen and the greater chance you will have of acquiring a customer.
Be sure to link your blogs to your Facebook page and your Web site (plus additional social media or other sites you use such as Twitter). Include your e-mail address and invite people to ask questions. Publish questions and answers in future blogs.
Host a Webinar
Web-based seminars—or Webinars—are a cost-effective way to get in front of more clients and establish yourself as an expert. Participants attend your Webinar via their computers, and are able to see you and hear your presentation live. Webinars are great because attendees can participate from their homes or offices and they can click in and out whenever they want, which means they do not have to worry about a pressured sales pitch.
Evaluate different Webinar platforms to meet your needs, such as GoToWebinar, GoToMeeting, AdobeConnect, WebEx and ConferencePlus. Research what tools you will need and practice using them. Determine if you want participants to be able to ask questions so you can set that up with your conference company. Your presentation should be informative and compelling, with a title that generates interest and entices people to sign up. It should be no longer than 10-15 minutes, longer if you are taking questions.
Once you have a platform and a presentation, select the date and time and get the word out to everyone you have contact with, including your customers, social media contacts, personal mailing lists, and so on. Blog about the Webinar and post it on your Web site. Ask people to register in advance so you know who is attending. Add the names of new prospects to your personal contacts list.
Finally, get the most mileage for your Webinar by uploading it on You Tube, and posting a link from your blog and Web site.
Become active in your community
Perhaps you prefer to get out and meet people face to face. If so, and you aren’t already doing it, get involved in your community by joining groups and organizations that will put you in front of your customers.
Join your local real estate agent organization as an affiliate or associate member and attend events and functions. Volunteer to serve on committees that are allowed for your membership level. Get to know people by attending real estate caravans and open houses. Establish your credibility by becoming familiar with your local market, such as inventory, trends, what’s selling and for how much.
Join other groups that you may have an interest in such as the Chamber of Commerce, the Rotary Club, a local youth group or religious organization. The more you believe in the cause, the more you will enjoy and become passionate about your involvement. Become active on committees or boards, and work alongside others who may eventually turn to you as their mortgage professional.
Become the local expert
People hire people who are good at what they do, and there are ways to position yourself as a mortgage loan expert in your community. Many newspapers, especially online editions and print weeklies, are looking for editorial content. Contact your local newspaper and offer to write a bylined article on a topic related to your field. It should inform and educate the reader, not promote your services. Your byline and bio will be included with the article, which can raise your profile as an expert. You might propose writing a column or Q&A feature to answer readers’ questions about the mortgage process. You can also connect with people on real estate and consumer Web sites that post consumer questions, such as ActiveRain, YELP, Zillow and Yahoo, among others. Focus on those pertaining to your area of expertise within your community. Offer your advice as an experienced mortgage lender or broker.
Some real estate Web sites allow people to post reviews about local businesses. Ask your satisfied clients to post a review about you.
The last decade has been an explosion of Internet marketing opportunities, from social media to blogging, to industry-specific and interactive Web sites. There are many ways to interact personally with people in your community.
Find your comfort zone. If you are marketing yourself on the Internet, build your presence and provide information that is meaningful and relevant to people. If you enjoy being around people, get involved in industry, business and/or charitable organizations to expand your personal relationships.
Above all, offer to help people as opposed to promoting yourself. Times are tough for everyone, so be a positive influence on those around you. People will naturally gravitate to you because they want to associate with a winner!
Cathy Blaszyk is vice president of lender services for La Jolla, Calif.-based ClosingCorp Inc., a provider of residential real estate closing cost data and technologies for mortgage lenders, real estate professionals and consumers. She can be reached by e-mail at [email protected]