With today’s focus on new and emerging technology, it can be easy for loan officers to rely on electronic, automated solutions to gain new business instead of putting forth their full efforts to reach potential customers and referral sources. While keeping up with technological advances is vital to staying relevant in our industry, the timeless fundamental practices of a natural self-promoter are irreplaceable. Incredible self-promoters are those who effectively and consistently stand out from the competition and make known their clear and unique value proposition. They are actively seeking the attention of their leads and refuse to be ignored until they have it.
However, they do not simply make a lot of noise. They know how to make the right kind of noise. Great self-promoters strategically plan how to market themselves to each audience they need to reach. Specifically, they follow these three steps: 1) position themselves correctly in front of their Key Targets, 2) create a memorable style, and 3) consistently reach out to leads using multiple touches.
The databases of most loan officers are made up of many different types of leads. A one-size-fits-all approach to marketing is not going to help them stand out as someone who can bring specific value to each client. For example, a loan officer might send out a weekly newsletter that frequently covers FHA lending. While this information is great for referral sources who work with first-time homebuyers, it has no relevance to a Realtor who does only high-end business. This loan officer has just become white noise. Messaging should bring value to the intended audience. Once mortgage professionals know who their Key Targets are, they need to develop communication that speaks directly to the needs of the people they want to reach. This way, they are positioning themselves as a true business partner.
There is an often-overlooked group of people loan officers should work to position themselves in front of: friends and family. An LO should ask themselves, “When the people I know think about mortgages, do they automatically think of me?” If the answer is no, an originator needs to work on making their name synonymous with the word “mortgage.”
Here’s an example of two people who accomplished this goal. I know of two loan officers who decided they were going to wear their name tags everywhere they went—the grocery store, restaurants, even their family reunions. These name tags had their company and job title on them, letting everyone who saw them on a regular basis know exactly who these men were and what they did for a living. If anyone were to talk to any of their friends or family members about needing a mortgage, these two loan officers were sure to get a recommendation. Simple and easy practices like this can have an incredible impact on creating recognition for a loan officer in their community.
When positioning themselves in front of potential clients, mortgage professionals need to consider what their unique style is that will make them stand out from the competition. One of the primary ways to get the attention of a referral source is through personalized marketing. This will require more than just knowing what kind of business they do. It does not normally involve using generic, branded trinkets. Effective personalized marketing is, as the name suggests, personalized specifically to the referral source. The goal is to form a personal connection that will leave a lasting impression.
In a recent episode of Inside the Mortgage Mind—a podcast from XINNIX, the Mortgage Academy—top producing loan officer Kristi Hardy talks about how she used a personal fact she knew about one referral source to win her business. “I met a Realtor who was really into shoes, so I did a shoe campaign. I sent pictures of shoes mysteriously to her mailbox. After two or three weeks, I sent my business card with a note that said, ‘Mama needs a new pair of shoes. Come see me for your next loan.’ Ever since then, that Realtor has been completely dedicated to me and refers business to me all the time.”
The other vital way for loan officers to differentiate themselves from the competition is through their unique value proposition. Once the loan officer has established a personal connection, their next step is to let the customer specifically know how they will help their business. Every originator in the country will say, “I have great rates, the best service, and the most knowledge.” These are broad statements that are easily ignored. Great self-promoters tell their leads exactly what kind of value they bring. They have an answer to the age-old question, “What’s in it for me?” They essentially make a service agreement with the customer, ensuring them, “When you do business with me, I’m going to answer the phone every time it rings or call you back within 30 minutes,” or “I will get someone to the closing table on time every time.” By making specific promises, and then building a reputation for following up on those promises, LOs bring value and build loyalty with referrals.
First, they’ve positioned themselves in front of the right people. Then, they made themselves stand out with personalized marketing and a unique value proposition. All the pieces are now in place for this loan officer, but there’s one more strategy that is nearly always the determining factor in landing someone’s business—the practice of repetition. A common rule in marketing is that someone must see an ad seven times before they remember it. The same general principle applies to referral sources. No matter how engaging a communication or creative their personalized marketing is, loan officers are not going to get their leads’ attention after one touch.
Additionally, the way mortgage professionals reach out must be varied. We have all been on the receiving end of a marketing email campaign that we found far more annoying than engaging. Instead, by combining relevant communication, personalized marketing, phone calls, and other touches, loan officers stand a far higher chance of making an impact on a potential referral partner.
Persistence is key as well. Some referral partners might call back in a few days, but most will take weeks, months, or even years to build a business partnership. While many will give up, the loan officer who most consistently reaches out will be the one to eventually get their attention.