The world is moving faster, technology is improving exponentially and information is everywhere. With all of this speed and high tech advancement, it's easy to buy into the mantra that the Internet is the answer and that marketing in the 21st century is all about reaching potential customers through Web sites and e-mail.
Not so fast.
Step into any local credit union or bank, and you'll see plenty of customers on the premises. Whether Internet savvy or not, those customers are choosing to conduct their business in person. And every time they walk through the door, banks and credit unions have an opportunity to reach them with a mortgage marketing message.
Don't forget the traditional favorites
There's a reason why some marketing techniques get used again and again. It's because they're effective. Choosing the tools that will work best for you is one of the most important components of the marketing process. The following are some of the most proven and popular mortgage marketing tools:
-Lobby signage can range from banners behind the tellers to posters on the walls to small point of purchase displays on the counter. Outside, you might place posters near the ATM, drive up window or front door.
-Lobby brochures describing your mortgage programs can be placed on counters, in information racks or in waiting areas. Make sure brochure covers are attention getting and that verbiage is focused on benefits instead of features.
-Statement stuffers in monthly statement mailings can be used to highlight new mortgage products or other ways you can help the homebuyer. If you send out 12 statements a year, make sure three of those focus on mortgages.
-Buttons worn by your service representatives can promote your bank or credit union as the place to apply for a mortgage.
-Direct mail can be as simple as a postcard or letter, or it can be a more elaborate mailing that includes a brochure and other mortgage information. Your mailer should be written clearly, contain visuals that capture the recipients' attention and compel them to take action.
Get a current, targeted mailing list. If your goal is to reach existing customers, tap into your bank or credit union's databases for a list. If you are doing a prospecting campaign, you'll want to create or purchase a mailing list, focusing on renters with children first. Focus efforts during active home buying seasons. Springtime and mid summer are the most popular times for home purchases and, therefore, the best seasons for mortgage related mailings. Generally, it's a good idea to avoid mailings in December, when holidays take up peoples time and few are thinking about moving.
-Special events can be very effective in promoting your mortgage programs. A home financing or first time buyer seminar held on a Saturday afternoon or weekday evening can draw in many prospects. Or, consider attending or sponsoring a booth at a local home show. Special events can be excellent opportunities to hand out brochures about your programs or distribute coupons for $100 off of closing costs.
-Work with human resources of your parent company to write articles for a newsletter, create new employee welcome kits, provide transferees with information about mortgage programs and services, or even insert a promotional note into pay envelopes.
-Public relations efforts are typically free or low cost to you. Writing a press release can be a good way to get some coverage for a new mortgage program in your local paper. Nurturing relationships with the media can position you as an expert in mortgage lending, possibly providing opportunities for interviews or for placement of articles written by your staff.
-Mass media is an excellent tool if your budget allows. Should you decide to use newspaper ads or radio or TV spots, avoid focusing on interest rates, because it's too easy for consumers to compare you to other lenders. If your rate is a little higher than others, you may be viewed as too expensive.
Start with a plan
Written plans not only keep you on track, but they also clarify the important points for everyone on your marketing team. The plan doesnt have to be long or perfectly written, it just needs to identify your goals and outline how you expect to achieve them.
Initially, your goals might be to educate customers about the availability of mortgages, the competitiveness of your rates and services, or to create awareness that you can meet all of their financial needs. Later, you might set goals that involve targeting a specific segment of customers.
In any case, your plan will include all of the promotional tools you want to utilize, the specific actions that need to be implemented and a timeline in which you need to accomplish everything. This marketing calendar should become your guide for the entire year.
By combining some of these traditional marketing elements with your Web site and online promotion, you'll find your message is reaching an even greater percentage of potential customers. As the world moves ever faster and the push is ever greater toward online marketing, you'll find you make the greatest impact by making sure you always offer a personal touch.
Robert Schmitz is director of sales and marketing for Middleton, Wis. based mortgage banking company Greystone Residential Funding Inc. He may be reached at (888) 766-4734 or e-mail [email protected].