In order to strengthen our hold on the marketplace in the coming year, my own firm is focusing on a few key areas of the business. First and foremost, we are placing large importance on compliance. Our chief compliance officer is committed and dedicated to the industry’s regulations and upcoming changes. Having a chief compliance officer and a fully staffed quality control (QC) department allows a company to focus on production while the competition could potentially be playing catch up. Having immediate access to a compliance department is a huge advantage for any firm’s sales team.
We are making a strong push on the recruiting front with our recruitment team. As some of the smaller competitors exit the market due to a drop in refinance business, we will be looking to acquire more producers in the coming months. The entire game has changed, and we need to change with it. It is now a purchase market and the focus needs to be on purchase business. This fits our business model well as our primary focus has always been on purchase transactions. That requires attention to the real estate agent community. We have been streamlining our retail model to be a resource for our real estate agent partners and to give added value in working with our company. The truth is that all purchase business starts with the real estate agent community. By nurturing those relationships and providing value to their business, loan originators and lenders can lead the industry instead of being left in the dust.
Marketing is going to have a large impact over the next few years. A marketing model that includes brand awareness campaigns, a social media strategy and lead purchasing is going to be crucial. Brand awareness directly influences the everyday consumer, whether they are a repeat buyer or a first-time homebuyer. If they don’t recognize your name, they are most likely not going to choose you. Brand awareness isn’t just about being the loudest. The brand awareness campaigns, whether they include radio, television, billboards, print or SEO, are crucial because they catch the consumer’s attention and if successful, motivate a call to action. We are spending a lot of time trying to reach potential buyers before they contact a real estate agent. If we are successful in doing this, we can then share that business with our agents, which will strengthen our partnerships. In turn, we will see that business come back to us.
Social media outlets should be monitored on a daily basis. If you don’t set social media goals and don’t have a social media strategy, you are archaic. I suggest setting monthly goals for growth and you will be able to track the success of campaigns quite easily via Google Analytics and Facebook Insights. This way, you can track how many followers are coming from your social media channels to your Web site. In terms of return-on-investment (ROI), this is what it’s all about. Not only does social media get you in front of people everyday with a new message, but it also is extremely successful in driving traffic back to your site. Ultimately, that is where it all happens, and that’s the goal. Content is king with social media, and if you are posting effective material that promotes interaction with clicks, comments and “Likes,” then your audience will grow along with your brand awareness. Spend some time thinking about your target audience and then tailor your content to interact with them. These are real people and potential consumers on the other end you are interacting with.
According to MarketingCharts.com, Americans ages 18 through 64 who use social networks say they spend an average of 3.2 hours per day doing so. To market effectively, you need to have a presence where your consumers spend their time.
Lead purchasing is another avenue that appears to be on the rise. Companies like LendingTree are investing a great deal of capital in attracting consumers in need of mortgage financing. First-time homebuyers are beginning the search for a home online. According to LendingTree, 60 percent of mortgage borrowers research online before applying. Whether they apply directly on the Web site or through a third-party site, you need to be flexible with this new approach. Make sure that you have easy-to-use online applications present on your site that are integrated with your LOS. With Generation Y, it’s all about immediacy. Lenders need to work around the clock these days in order to compete. I have personally seen a majority of m y company’s online applications coming through during off hours and the weekend.
As other lenders exit the wholesale channel, remain committed. The competition may dwindle and with that comes more opportunity and more market share. Rates and service continue to drive the Wholesale market. My firm prides itself on creating great partnerships with our brokers. Honest communication and setting expectations will serve you well. With the upcoming regulations and changes, branch opportunities will present themselves from the wholesale channel. My company has built a support team for its branch partners to make the transition as smooth as possible. Potential branches are looking for companies that are stable, compliant and offer the support they previously didn’t have access to. It’s important to make them feel like part of the team from day one. Be inclusive, stay in touch and help them grow their business. If you are able to support them, the partnership will serve you both well.
Finally, build out your correspondent and wholesale presence by increasing your sales team. In addition, focusing on newer territories and in spreading your reach throughout the country. It’s important to grow your footprint outside of your comfort zone. Start by increasing your sales teams in these new territories and then follow up with a well-executed marketing strategy. This might include exhibiting at trade shows, running print mail, telemarketing and SEO campaigns to target those territories.
Whatever your plan is, make sure that you can track it. It’s crucial to know what’s working and what’s not. In an industry where change is inevitable, you need to change with it.
Ryan Kelly is marketing manager with Norcom Mortgage He has been at Norcom since January of 2011, and received his bachelor's degree from Central Connecticut State University in communications and is currently pursuing a master's degree in graphic/informational design. Follow Ryan's blog at TheMarketingRace.com, or reach him by phone at (860) 899-2734 or e-mail [email protected]