You do not need to be enlightened with the advantages of a diversified marketing plan if you have spent the past few years feasting on refinances and now are experiencing famine while you attempt to get a grip on the purchase market.
To outsiders we must have appeared to be lemmings running from one market to the next.
Recognizing the need for a plan is easy. Developing a solid plan and implementing it consistently over the long run is the task for those who desire success in any sales profession. This work will outline the components of a professional marketing plan and give examples to get you started. If you choose to get a step ahead of the competition, then you can take it from there.
Marketing Plan Components
Goals. You cannot plan without goals to guide your actions. Success will not come to those who do not define success because there will be no recognition of what success means.
Actions. Each plan should have four to six separate and distinct actions which are designed to provide diversity. Each action should be responsible for at least 10 percent of your total production goal.
Tools. Your actions will always be using a particular tool(s) to reach the target group. Using more than one tool promotes diversification.
Targets. Each action has one or more specific targets. The identification of targets also provides the opportunity to diversify.
Frequency. Each action will be performed at regular intervals. This provides the marketing plan with consistency.
Synergism. The actions must be set up to work together in a way which will magnify the effects of your marketing efforts. In a marketing plan, two-plus-two must equal eight.
Evaluation. The existence of goals makes it possible to consistently evaluate your efforts. If your actions are not moving you closer to your objectives, then an adjustment of any one or more plan components will be warranted.
Identifying Your Goals
Every successful sales professional has objectives which guide his/her actions. For those of you who are not goal oriented, this aspect of the plan will come as quite a change in thought process. To achieve maximum performance, every action must have a corresponding achievement. Think about your last visit to a real estate office. What objective did you achieve? The same line of thinking goes for each mailing, rate call, or sales presentation. You must go in with a list of possible goals.
Here are a few possible goals for a meeting with a real estate agent.
- A commitment for future business;
- The phone number of a prospective purchaser;
- Referral to another real estate agent;
- Learning the needs of that agent;
- Invitation to a sales meeting;
- Another meeting with that agent;
- Invitation to sit on an open house with the agent.
Developing Actions to Reach Goals
The problem with the marketing efforts of most sales professionals is that actions enable us to resemble lemmings. If most originators spend most of their time visiting real estate offices with rate sheets, we tend to join in the crowd. A study of the top achievers will show that mass delivery of rate sheets is not the way to focus efforts. As a matter of fact, any action repeated too many times will make us vulnerable to changing market conditions.
The key to the actions is to choose several which are different from each other and the actions of others. Go where no one is likely to follow. Spend you time giving seminars instead of knocking on doors. Write articles. Become a member of a finance committee.
Each action must be specific and have a goal, i.e., "Visit four open houses each weekend with a goal of setting up one interview with a top producer for the following week."
Since our goal is to interview with top producers, then we must first identify which agent is holding which house open before we set out each weekend. This implies an information gathering step before our action plan is delineated for the weekend.
Arming Yourself With Tools
It is most important to identify your available tools before you embark upon implementing the marketing plan. Sometimes we feel that a tool must resemble the Star Ship Enterprise which transports loans to your doorstep. Yet, the most common tools sit around our desk totally ignored, or worse yet, used in such a way that our marketing efforts are undermined.
Take a most common tool, the telephone. We hear that someone is great on the phone and always winds up with an appointment. Others hear the phone ring and hide under the desk. It is obvious which of the two sales professionals has correctly identified and mastered the tool. The latter may also be forced favor another common tool, the rate sheet -- common but usually much less effective than the telephone.
In order to have an effective and efficient marketing plan we must recognize all tools at our disposal. This enables us to identify which tools are more effective and will help us achieve our goals.
Identification of Targets
It is the identification of targets which facilitates diversification of a marketing plan. The most common target in our industry consists of real estate agents. The most common tool for reaching that target is rate sheets. But what kind of real estate agent is likely to respond to a rate sheet? Yes, a rate shopper. If we correctly identify our target as those real estate agents who want to do business based upon relationships, then we realize the inefficacy of rate sheets. What are other targets among real estate agents? New agents, top producers, listing agents, new home sales agents, relocation specialists, etc.
What are possible targets outside of the real estate industry? Other loan officers, title companies, financial planners, home improvement companies, large corporations, FSBOs (for sale by owner), home counseling agencies, etc. The list is endless.
We saw last year how a concentration on direct refinances worked against long term diversification. Concentrating too much on one type of agent, geographic area, or other target is just as dangerous. True diversity makes us less susceptible to changing markets.
Frequency of Actions
No marketing plan will work unless we implement all facets of the plan with consistency. It is important to specifically define the frequency of our actions. This enables us to set monthly, weekly and daily goals. For example, if our goal is to set up three interviews each week and our telephone conversion rate is 25%, then we know that we have to make at least 12 calls each week. It is in this stage that we define our actions with numerical objectives. The next stage is to make this plan a part of the calendar. Most sales professionals schedule meetings, loan applications, and other appointments in our calendars. Very few schedule marketing time such as general office visits or telephone solicitations.
In the end, most of us declare that we spend very little time marketing and too much time "in the office." Our first step in breaking this log jam is identifying what must be done. The next step is to commit to the time in your calendar. We must remember that as sales professionals, our number one priority is marketing. Giving marketing priority in planning and scheduling will enable us to match our actions with the desired results.
Putting it Together With Synergism
Synergy made one of the Seven Habits of Effective People in Stephen Covey's work. This is because those who are highly effective arrange their actions so that they build on top of other actions and upon the actions of others. It is easy to see why synergy is more effective than a string of haphazard activities which do not work together, or worse yet, work against one another.
The opportunities for synergy in mortgage banking sales is endless. What one needs is imagination and innovation to make the connections. Lets take a few examples:
- You have two separate targets, FSBOs and real estate agents. It is easy to see that you are in a position to recommend your real estate agents to the sellers when they are ready to throw in the towel. There is no better way to garner loyalty from a real estate agent than by the referral of business.
- You have a mailing system for refinances. Instead of mailing solely for refinances, you alter the flyer to include a service for preapprovals for those who will not be refinancing because they are looking for another home. Of course, now we have another Realtor lead. This means that you will continue mailing (consistency and diversity) during even after the refinance boom ends. If you are already mailing, why not make it multipurpose?
- You are visiting open houses. You develop a professional follow-up system to assist real estate agents in tracking the people who visit. This helps the real estate agents and puts you directly in touch with a multitude of leads (including other agents).
- You are driving in your car two hours each day. You decide to make three marketing calls each day from your car. This results in over 1,000 extra marketing calls each year.
In most of these examples, we connect more than one action to reach another target group more effectively. It is important to note that connecting the actions takes very little extra time. Yet the results may be exponential. We must chose our four to six marketing actions in such a way that they will relate to one another. This is the true definition of success in a marketing plan.
All the implementation in the world many not bring us closer to our goals unless we take some time to stop and smell the roses. Most of us go through life putting out fire after fire and never relating how a particular day has fit into the overall plan. Did we accomplish what we expected today? Are we closer to our goals?
For one week, try an exercise. Write down every business activity and the time it took accomplish that activity.
How much time did you spend implementing the marketing plan? How much other time did you spend on activities which are either nonproductive or counter-productive with regard to the plan? What were the results of your actions?
You may be spending much time implementing the plan without the desired results. Does this mean that the activity is wrong or is the implementation flawed? Are you perhaps making phone calls to the wrong target, or not asking for the appointment from the right targets?
There are literally thousands of questions to ask regarding implementation of a professional marketing plan. Those who truly want success will question every step of the way because they do not desire to spend one extra minute performing an activity which is not productive.
And now we have gone full circle -- from goal setting to implementation to evaluation. If you really are looking to differentiate yourself from your competition, try a professional plan of attack. Stick to the plan and you will become the objection of industry emulation.