Marketing is not the sole domain of the store-based retail industry. Mortgage originators also must market their businesses to stay relevant in the modern age.
Marketing doesn’t have to be a daunting experience. In fact, the most impactful marketing begins with some simple research. Emerging technologies are changing how entire industries (including real estate finance) look at marketing, making it possible to pinpoint the strategies that work for originators and their clients. Although many of these strategies are free of charge, others are not. Luckily, there are methods to generate extra capital and fund these activities.
Marketing plans for mortgage brokers and loan officers aren’t unlike those in other industries. Success begins by staying on top of the housing markets you do business in as well as the needs of your clients. You should understand what is driving the industry and utilize technology to maximize your business potential.
A website is no longer a novelty. Mortgage originators need to be well-versed in current technologies. An originator who can use these emerging tools will stay ahead of the game.
First, look at the tech being used by your clients. Smartphones allow borrowers to connect with you anytime, anywhere. Is your website equipped with chatbots or live agents to handle their requests? Have you set up alerts to notify you of messages that arrive outside of typical work hours?
Originators should constantly build and hone their digital presence to maximize this connectivity. Communicate with clients on social media. Create personalized emails and text messages for loan-processing updates. Reconnect with past clients who may be interested in refinancing or receiving personal-finance snapshots.
Aside from hyperconnectivity, another benefit of technology is automation. Tech tools allow mortgage professionals to streamline repetitive tasks. For example, you can automate entries to contact-management spreadsheets. You can schedule personalized newsletters and emails. Other marketing automation tools allow originators to build email lists for marketing blasts, collate client information, or get quick and accurate information about an applicant’s credit status.
Additionally, emerging tech is allowing loans to be processed faster. In fact, according to a report from Visionet Systems, automation technology is driving reductions of up to 50% in loan origination times. Quicker data verification and enhanced document management are revolutionizing every step of the loan process, from automated underwriting tasks to streamlined collaboration with third parties. If you’re not using emerging technology, you’re falling behind.
Originators know that borrower relationships don’t end at the closing table. Each client is a long-term investment. Although it’s not overly volatile, the mortgage industry can be influenced by unforeseen circumstances. To ensure long-lasting growth and stability, brokers and loan officers must maintain strong relationships with existing clients.
Across all industries, it can cost five times more to get a new client than to keep an existing one. Even with tech innovation and automation, the mortgage lending process continues to be burdensome. Borrowers often don’t understand the process and existing options don’t always showcase what an originator can do.
To keep clients happy and increase your odds of retention, originators must guide borrowers through the lending process. Highlight your tech options and teach borrowers to use them. Connect with Realtors and other referral partners to learn the full picture about a client. Do they have kids? Are they starting a family or a business?
Connect directly with clients via their preferred methods. This can often hinge on the demographic (texts for millennials and phone calls for baby boomers). Clients will appreciate your effort in getting to know them, which will lead to a stronger relationship, but this also is a great way to ensure you are in synch with their intrinsic desires. Do they prefer to communicate by text or phone? Do they want quarterly updates or yearly reports?
Loyalty programs are another simple method for keeping your clients happy. Previous borrowers can be given discounts on origination fees, cash rewards or other prizes in exchange for their business. Importantly, however, federal law prohibits lenders and settlement service providers from offering incentives to consumers on the condition that they provide referral business.
As with everything else, tech is there to help. Automated marketing tools can typically pair with customer relationship management (CRM) software. This will allow you to track post-transaction client behaviors, set up automated emails and reminders of specific milestones (such as birthdays and anniversaries), and store and plot client data for analysis. Existing clients can drive sales while saving you money, so it’s imperative to keep them satisfied.
Integrating new tech-based marketing systems may not fall into the planned budget for your mortgage company. But there are some creative ways to do it without any painful financial hurdles.
Start with free services. One of the greatest educational resources for small-business owners could be only a few blocks away. Each state has at least one small-business development center (SBDC). These havens are backed by the U.S. Small Business Administration and staffed by expert industry advisers. SBDCs offer a variety of services, all at little to no cost, including:
- Marketing and networking
- Tax assistance and cash flow optimization
- Website building, including specialized e-commerce and financial-integration education
- Business analysis, including research on local markets and competitors
- Technology lessons, such as automation integration and CRM usage
SBDCs have scheduled courses on topics such as marketing and financial management. They are frequented by other small-business owners, not to mention the staff advisors, making them excellent networking resources. After a few visits, mortgage professionals can often create a sizable circle of contacts while also receiving inside information into concurrent industries and emerging trends.
If you’ve maxed out the help from your SBDC and still need some extra funds, you might look into a grant. Unlike loans, grants have no terms and do not need to be repaid, but they can be tricky to come by.
Government entities and private sources offer grants for specific purposes. These can range from financing for a tech company to helping minority business owners. In fact, grants for minorities are some of the most common forms of financial aid. Women and people of color are underrepresented in nearly every industry, and mortgage lending is no exception. Grants can be a real boon for these types of originators who own their businesses.
The Black Founder Startup Grant through the SoGal Foundation is one such option. Available for Black women or nonbinary business owners, it awards $5,000 and $10,000 grants throughout the year. Recipients who are planning for scalable growth in the future can use the grant money for their immediate needs. The foundation also provides long-term assistance with fundraising and business-development activities beyond the initial funds.
Grants are never a guarantee and are awarded based on merit. They are often awarded to businesses that benefit local communities. To fall into this category, a mortgage company could, for example, start a financial-literacy initiative for low-income residents or help women get a home loan after they’ve landed their first job. The list is virtually end-less, so be creative.
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Marketing for mortgage originators doesn’t have to be daunting. Focus on emerging technology and your existing clients, and always look at how these two factors can come together. Using tech to drive efficiency while keeping your clients informed and engaged will help your business to more easily transition through changing times.
For an extra boost, visit a local small-business development center. Chat with experts and fill up your contact sheet with local entrepreneurs who may be potential sources of new loans. Finally, check out grant options to see if you qualify for extra cash. This just might lift your business to the next level. ●