C1Every day, people in your community are looking for a new place to call home. But in the age of the digital shift, they are now getting most of that information from their mobile devices rather than more traditional sources.

The right marketing plan will put you ahead of your competition and could serve as the difference between growth and failure. The good news is you don’t have to spend a lot to make a big impact.

So, how do you develop a strong marketing plan to reach your target?

Here are five strategies to help you succeed:

1. Determine what’s unique about your business

For clients looking for a local broker, the decision isn’t just based on pricing and products, as many brokers in your neighborhood offer many of the same benefits. You want clients coming to YOU.

What can you offer that sets your business apart from the competition? Your marketing must highlight that added value.

When developing your marketing strategy, create your own brand. All successful companies and brands have a unique selling proposition. Determine yours and promote it.

Does your business have a strong commitment to quality? Do you provide a combination of local expertise and digital technology? Are you committed to personal service from preapproval to closing?

For example, SD Capital Funding is proud of the local and industry top workplaces awards it has received. The company uses this as a selling point because it’s known that happy team members provide better client service.

SD Capital also has a detailed list of FAQs, do’s and don’ts of when buying a home, a full list of documents needed to close a mortgage and an explanation of the appraisal process. It knows that this detailed, up-front information will create more informed clients, which will help the brokers provide a smooth, quick mortgage process.

2. Create an effective email strategy

Email marketing is one of the most effective ways to communicate, and it’s surprisingly affordable. You can personalize your email messaging by targeting specifically to your client base and measuring your return on investment.

The first step to developing an email marketing strategy is to create a strong list of clients. Focus on quality, not quantity.

Make sure you remain in contact with your engaged clients. After sending a few emails, consider eliminating less-engaged clients so you’re focusing your time – and money – on the consumers more likely to engage. You should also optimize email effectiveness, test subject lines, content and call-to-action messaging.

As a local broker, another option is to partner with a company, like Quicken Loans, that has extensive marketing experience. Some larger lenders offer services and technology that helps smaller brokers achieve their goals such as email, social and flyer templates to which brokers can add their logo and contact information.

3. Know your audience, target your audience

Who’s your target audience? Homebuyers? Refinancing homeowners?

You should develop separate campaigns for your distinct audiences. For example: First-time homebuyers need more guidance and want an expert who understands their wants and needs. Create messaging to emphasize your personal service.

Refinancing homeowners, on the other hand, respond more to rate-based messaging. By tailoring the messaging specifically to your target audience, you’re positioning your business as the right choice.

Now that you’ve established your target audience, narrow it further. Where are your potential clients in the home buying process? Just thinking about buying? Ready for preapproval?

Texas Farm Credit is a lender that does a great job of focusing on its audience. It has locations all across Texas and products that Texans are looking for – including agriculture and real estate land loans. But that’s not the only thing that’s unique about the company. It also has a patronage program that pays dividends to clients based on how much business they do with Texas Farm Credit.

The company can use both of these things to differentiate itself in the market and have a strong selling point to local Texas farmers.

4. Focus on relationship-building

You should always be building strong relationships within your local community. Are you sponsoring a local high school baseball team? Is your business involved with a fundraiser or charity events?

Include these activities in your marketing efforts. This is the first step to getting consumers to know you before they need you.

Also, remember that your clients are more than just leads – they’re in the middle of one of the biggest financial decisions of their life. To create a strong relationship, you should be a trusted ally, advocate and expert.

“If you want to be interesting, be interested,” said David Ogilvy, one of America’s advertising icons.

So, put your client hat on. What do clients care about? You’re offering a service to real people with real concerns. Go beyond pricing and rates.

A strong marketing program takes time and effort, but the rewards can be powerful.

Last, as you talk to your clients, get feedback on social media and measure results. You’ll see what’s working and what’s not so you can adjust as you go. Just stick with it. Marketing takes a daily commitment. You can’t expect overnight success.

5. Enhance your social media

More than 81% of Americans are using at least one form of social media. In fact, consumers often look to social media before they even view your website, so developing a social media plan is critical for local brokers.

If you’re an established broker, you’re probably already promoting your business on social media. But did you know you can target your audience by demographics, ZIP codes or personal interests? Best of all, social targeting is very affordable.

Make sure you’re emphasizing the visual aspects of social media. Give them something to “stop the thumb” when they’re scrolling through their social newsfeeds, since you only have a few seconds to capture their attention. You could try posting quick videos with one of your clients who recently bought a home with your help, or a video with mortgage tips and FAQs.

One good example of this is LoanSimply. This broker is less than two years old and has less than 10 team members, but it is very active on all the main social platforms. It even has recurring shows on Instagram, including, “Ladies Doin’ Loans” and “Two Fact Tuesday.”

Whatever is right for your company, implement it and keep improving. Stay up-to-date on new social media formats, and measure engagement and reach. Then, adjust your content regularly to improve results.

Keeping all of these strategies top of mind will help you create effective marketing that will make the people in your community think of you when they need a mortgage, and ultimately, keep your company growing.

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