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Industry Commentary


10 Steps to Successful Mortgage Marketing

Steps reduce expenses and increase closings

March 11, 2005

By DAVE HERSHMAN


photo of Dave Hershman

There are ten steps a mortgage loan originator can take that will reduce advertising costs, improve marketing efficiency and increase loan closings.

I just returned from speaking at a very large sales and marketing event for loan officers. There were over 600 in attendance -- so I would define that as very large. There were a variety of speakers selling various marketing systems and giving marketing advice. While they were all good systems and good marketing advice, I gave a slightly different message. OK, perhaps it was radically different. I would like to clarify this message here.

Do not expect a marketing system to work if you don't do the basic things necessary to become successful. As a matter of fact, if you do these things correctly you will need to spend much less money and energy on marketing. Why? Because marketing is not something you do -- it is the way you think. Those who are very successful take care of the basics. I invite you to see if you have taken care of these following ten things. And if you have not -- do not spend another dollar on marketing or advertising until you have taken of them. I think most of these items are very, very simple.

So here is the top ten (apologies to David Letterman).

  1. Communicate, communicate and communicate. How many times have you heard that you must call/email people back? You are probably sick of hearing it. Yet this is still the number one customer and real estate agent complaint. So you are still not doing it as an industry. People ask how I did almost 600 in loans my FIRST 18 months on the street. Well, it wasn't because of experience or relationships at that point. I called them back quicker than anyone. To this day I live by that standard. If you have a sales manager or trainer or coach who tells you to do this -- and does not set a great example doing this themselves -- fire 'em!

  2. Identify your sphere of influence. Those who go through my school are introduced to an exercise that is designed to triple the size of the database of the typical originator (I usually pick one with five years of experience as a guinea pig and then demonstrate on a rookie as well). If you do not have a database that correctly identifies your sphere, why in the world would you be marketing to those you do not know? What sense does that make? None in my mind. The alternative promotes cold calling and to me -- COLD CALLING IS STUPID. You should have no less than 3,000 to 5,000 people you either know or with which you have something very important in common.

  3. Prioritize your sphere of influence. Maximum synergy rule number three states that some targets are more important than others. You cannot market the world. If you have a sphere of influence of 4,000 people you can't have lunch with all of them. The sphere should resemble a pyramid with the most important targets at the top. These would be your three to five potential synergy partners. At the bottom are people you have things in common with (such as they attend your church or are fellow alumni) -- but you don't know personally. Your marketing plan will revolve around this sphere and prioritization is the key.

  4. Everyone in your sphere should know what you do for a living and should receive value from you on a regular basis. This is exactly why I started writing a value-laden newsletter as a loan officer my third month in the business twenty-five years ago. It is why I supplied these to my loan officers when I became a head of production. And it is why I continue to write these newsletters and make them available to the industry. It makes sense that the industry expert is going to provide the most value.

  5. Attend your settlements (or signings on the west coast). Nothing is more important than delivering topnotch customer service. This is a very important event for your customer. If you are not there and questions/problems arise, everything you have done up to that point can be for naught. Even if everything is smooth, you are differentiating yourself from your competition in a positive way by showing up when most loan officers do not. And guess what? There are usually real estate agents at the table. Or would you rather cold call them?

  6. Single out one segment of your sphere for a special phone call. Call everyone who closes a loan with you one week after settlement. And not to ask for a referral. Instead thank them for the opportunity to serve them, ask if there is anything else you can do for them and finally ask for feedback. They are not expecting follow-up from a sales person, so you will be exceeding their expectations. Exceeding expectations is another key to a successful business model.

  7. When you get feedback from them and it is negative, do everything in your power to turn it around. You can't afford to have customers walk away unhappy. And when it is positive, use the opportunity to obtain a testimonial in writing. Social proof is a key of differentiation and if you are not using this tool you are selling with your hand tied behind your back. You should have a letter or a quote from at least one-in-ten closings. And some of these quotes can come from your vendors. In addition, don't forget to write testimonials to your real estate agents and other partners and even vendors.

  8. When a prospect decides not to do a loan with you, call them one week to ten days afterwards. Do not call to ask if they have changed their mind. You can remind them that you ended the phone call by offering to do what you can to help them even if you are not doing the loan. Just ask them how it is going and offer your help again. If things are going badly (this will be the case one in three times), you may just recapture the prospect. By the way, one-in-three have done nothing, so the phone call may result in a chance to convert the prospect over fifty percent of the time. So it is a phone call that can be well worth the effort.

  9. Make the words "thank-you" part of your marketing plan. We don't say these words often enough, we don't say it in the right way and we don't make it part of the plan. Stop learning cheap closes and say thank you more often. In America, people are just not used to hearing that and doing so will exceed your customers' expectations and differentiate yourself from your competition. AND IT IS FREE!

  10. Become an expert in the industry. Stop trying to sell by convincing people to do business with you. You need to stop selling and start advising. That does not happen because you are using scripts and fancy words. It happens because you are an expert -- and that takes a plan and time.

Remember, if you do not go back and accomplish each of these you have no right to go out and advertise. Save your money and your energy and start building your business the right way. It is the ONLY WAY off the proverbial roller coaster and treadmill.


Dave Hershman is a mortgage industry author and speaker -- with 8 books and hundreds of articles to his credit. He also heads OriginationPro.com Mortgage School. You can email Dave at [email protected].


click here for more articles by Dave Hershman



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