We recruited 10 marketing leaders from some of the top lenders in the industry to serve on the advisory board for our engage.marketing summit June 13-14 in Charlotte, North Carolina. These leaders helped us develop an incredible agenda focused on giving mortgage marketers practical insight to solve the challenges they face every day and we’re interviewing each one to find out more about their perspective on the industry and what they see coming in the future.
In this segment, we talk with Keosha Burns, head of public relations at Chase Home Lending. Keosha built her career in Washington, D.C., joining the industry just shy of the events in 2008 at the Financial Services Roundtable, working closely with Treasury and HUD to address the housing crisis.
For nearly five years, she served as the senior manager of media and external relations at Fannie Mae, where in addition to addressing the communications, she helped establish and grow their social media strategy. During Keosha’s tenure at Fannie Mae, her PR team won the In-House PR Team of the Year award from PR Week. In her current role at Chase, she leads PR strategy and brings an extra passion for first-time homebuyers.
HousingWire: What is the single greatest challenge facing mortgage marketers this year?
Keosha Burns: I think the industry is still trying to understand the Millennial buyer, the largest group of potential buyers today. It is a very diverse audience who isn’t necessarily following the same path as previous generations. You can’t rely solely on the traditional triggers of marriage and expanding families to reach this audience. However, we know they still have a strong desire to be homeowners.
So, what is driving them and how do we reach out? A recent Chase survey found their top motivation for wanting to own was an excitement to have a place to call their own and make it a home. I understand that because that is my story, too.
HW: You’re going to be speaking on a panel at engage that talks about reaching new buyer groups. What do marketers need to remember when it comes to Millennials?
KB: I believe the best way you reach any audience, but specifically this generation, is through an authentic voice and going to where they are. One of the most successful campaigns we did last year was discussing common barriers to entry (lifestyle choices, savings, etc.) through popular influencers on social media and YouTube.
I think this type of success comes when you, as a marketer, are also a consumer of the content. Not just understanding something conceptually, but truly getting why a message or a channel resonates with the culture. We not only need to see diverse faces in leadership roles in the industry, but we need age diversity as well.
We need more subject matter experts who also have a true understanding of how and why today’s buyers are approaching homeownership the way they are. Things have changed. Although homeownership remains a major goal for most, the process for getting there is different.
HW: Which social channel is most important for lenders this year? Is there one you think is on the decline for reaching your consumers?
KB: Social media is always in flux and always changing. I do believe it is important to have broad reach. People still need to recognize your brand. But this audience is far more sophisticated than they get credit for. You have to deliver more than a tagline. We saw great engagement partnering with lifestyle publications last season. This is where PR and marketing blur together. We are delivering financial education in a voice consumers can relate to.
HW: You’ve worked for two of the largest companies in the mortgage industry. What are some specific challenges facing large organizations when it comes to connecting with consumers?
KB: I joined Fannie Mae during the crisis. I loved my time there. I fell in love with crisis communications. I loved the fast pace and the energy. That is where I really connected to Americans across the country and saw what the uncertainty in our society looked like on the ground.
I traveled to three to four cities a month for nearly four years with the Treasury Department’s Making Home Affordable program, trying to save people from foreclosure. I had strangers crying on my shoulder. You don’t forget that feeling. I think it is so important for people to remember what this industry means to families.
I am working at Chase in a very different time, but I brought my experience from Washington, D.C. with me to New York City. People are very connected to Chase. We aren’t just a mortgage company. Customers have a checking account with us. Or they have a Sapphire card, something customers are very emotionally connected to and has become a phenomenon of its own. That gives us a lot of opportunities to build lifelong relationships and earn customers’ trust, especially when it comes to Millennials and first-time homebuyers.
I am all about financial education because of what I saw during my time on the road for Fannie Mae. At Chase, we have the relationships and expertise to educate our customers as they grow their careers and get closer to the step of homeownership.
HW: One of our most popular sessions in our first engage.marketing event was the panel on lender/Realtor partnerships, and we’ve repurposed that into a Referral Marketing Super Session this year. Why is this such a hot topic for mortgage marketers?
The mortgage market is a collaborative environment. We all play our roles and each of these spaces are evolving to meet customers’ needs today.
Real estate agents have long played the role of main advisor to buyers, so lenders have to remain in a close relationship with them. It is important that we continue to provide real estate professionals with the service and content they need to meet their clients’ evolving needs.
At the same time, most first-time homebuyers are beginning to educate themselves earlier in the process, so that circle of advisors is expanding.
HW: What is one thing you can’t live without?
KB: Personally, my dog Winston and reality TV. At work, great co-workers! I am not someone who could work remotely for long periods of time. I need that face-to-face element at work. Never underestimate the power of relationship-building.
HW: What are you most looking forward to at the engage summit?
KB: I am really looking forward to meeting people around the industry. I find the mixture of fintech and traditional banking very fascinating and think we all play an important role in this market.
For me, I have a strong connection to the mission behind the mortgage industry, which goes far beyond just being profitable. Providing people with a home and with ownership is something we all have to remain connected to regardless of which part of the industry we work in day to day. I like finding those like-minded people in the crowd.
Read our Marketer Intel Q&A with Jim Anderson of Stearns Lending here.