Actually, sports have become a HUGE — no pun intended — venue for the housing business, especially mortgage companies. And for the same reasons: A connection to a team brings instant recognition and credibility. We support them, the thinking goes, so their fans will support us.
Of course, most entities in mortgage finance don’t have the — echm — HUGE bucks to spend that Rocket or the others mentioned here. But there are numerous opportunities at sports’ lower levels. The Danvers, Mass.-based Mortgage Network sponsored the 2021 National Championship USA Track and Field Half-Marathon and backed this year’s NCAA Hockey East Men’s Championship, which featured 11 teams. Now, it is sponsoring a regional golf tourney in Hilton Head, S.C.
Sports marketing “is not something we’ve historically done,” Executive Vice President Brian Koss told me. “We don’t see ourselves doing a lot more of it … With mortgage rates so high, we try to be more surgical, whereas sports is more general.”
Still, in the case of the hockey playoff, “many of our people and the people who work with us” are big college hockey fans, “so we decided to do a one-time thing for them,” Koss says. And in Hilton Head, the company is a top lender, so the sponsorship made sense.
Typically, though, the Mortgage Network is not a brand-based, if you build it, they will come type of marketer. Rather, it provides marketing dollars to local offices based on their volumes. Which is how Thomas Popson, the Pepperell branch manager, came to have the money to put the company name above the concession stand at the local ballfield. The cost was a “relatively inexpensive” $750, he says.
Actually, sponsorship wasn’t even Popson’s idea. “They approached me,” says the senior loan officer, who relies mostly on social media for his marketing. And since it “complemented other things I’m doing,” he decided to take the plunge. Now, he’s in his second season of sponsorship. “It says I’m here and I’m local,” the 30-year mortgage lending veteran told me.
He could have put the Mortgage Network mantel on the outfield wall, but he chose the hot dog and soda stand instead. For several reasons: The outfield wall was farther away, therefore not as noticeable; his was the only name on the stand, so he’s not competing with anyone else, and people wait in line for food and drink, so they almost have to see his name.
Popson, who has no children and has never attended a game at the park, admits it’s “hard to measure” whether or not the signage has really paid off. “It’s not that type of market,” he says. “But people have commented on it.”
Sometimes, sponsors aren’t looking to get any business out of their outlay. But that’s not always the point. Royal Hartwig of Royal Family Real Estate in Schaumburg, Ill., outside of Chicago once sponsored his own kids’ teams to the tune of $200 to $400, depending on the sport. His company’s name was mentioned a few times but it was not on any uniforms or other apparel.
“I didn’t do it for the money,” Hartwig told me. “I did it so my kids could see that my company was involved in their team, and I did it for my client — a very involved dad — because he asked me to.”