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What’s the key to a clear marketing strategy? Keep it simple

A&D Mortgage’s David King on adapting to a new way of doing business

HousingWire’s newest Marketing Leaders award recognizes marketing executives like David King, CMO of A&D Mortgage who have been leading their teams to pivot marketing strategies to adapt to client needs in recent months.

“We recognized that explaining and marketing our unique value proposition had to be done more quickly and clearer than ever before,” King said. “Building brand equity became first and foremost…we really tried to define at the most granular level what our strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats were in order to shape our direction forward.”

HousingWire reached out to King to discuss the key to a successful marketing strategy and the challenges his team has had to overcome in wholesale lending.

HousingWire: 2020 was a year of acceleration for the housing industry, how did this impact the direction of A&D’s marketing strategies for the year? 

David King: A&D Mortgage has typically focused on Non-QM loan products, and it has been tremendously successful for our organization. As the ominous gloom of 2020 unfolded, almost every company in every industry had to adapt to a new way of doing business. This was very true for A&D Mortgage. Not only did our product mix change and evolve, but how we approached our marketing strategy to a new demographic evolved with it— everything from our corporate voice and tone to learning different ways to appeal to new customers. Being a wholesale company, we consider it paramount to understand the needs of our brokers and crucial to provide true value in every area of the loan process that we are responsible for. We believe that we provide some of the best turn-times in the industry, the most competitive rates, and so much more, but how we deliver this message from a marketing perspective completely changed. With stay-at-home orders in play and our Account Executives not being able to interact the same way they were used to, we recognized that explaining and marketing our unique value proposition had to be done more quickly and clearer than ever before. Building brand equity became first and foremost, and we looked at media partners within the mortgage space to help build brand trust among new audiences. We looked at how we communicated with our brokers, from SMS to email to digital ads, and realized that we needed to not only simplify our communications strategy in order to cut through the noise of daily COVID-19 bombardment, but we really tried to define at the most granular level what our strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats were in order to shape our direction forward.

HW: What would you say is the key to a successful marketing strategy in this market?

DK: An easy mistake to make in marketing is trying to fit too much in. Consumers have extremely short attention spans these days and will move on from an ad or a post unless they can understand what you are saying and whether it provides value to them. Don Miller, author of “Story Brand” and one of my favorite authors, put it this way: your messaging has to pass the “Grunt Test.” A consumer of your content basically has to understand three things within the first five seconds: First, “What do you offer?” Second, “How will it make my life better?” And lastly, “What do I need to do to buy it?”

In other words, could a caveman look at your website and immediately grunt what you offer? Going forward, our new marketing will go through that test and our audiences will see that in all areas of our marketing soon. Stay tuned.

HW: What has been the biggest challenge to your marketing team in the past year and how did you manage this challenge?

DK: The easiest and most predictable answer was figuring out how to pivot and to logistically manage a workforce remotely. There were some real challenges that had to be overcome in a matter of days, and calendars instantly became filled with non-stop meetings. What once could be a quick interaction or being able to swing by a teammate’s desk for an on-the-spot collaboration or a three-minute discussion all of a sudden became a thirty-minute block in Outlook. It was also difficult to truly get a pulse on individuals and a sense of how people were handling pressure with everything being virtual.

Good leaders who treat their teammates with respect and properly delegate and empower eventually figured out ways to navigate around this. Employees who feel valued, feel that their work matters, and personally believe that their work is truly moving the needle for their organization will move mountains to make sure they are delivering their best work. It took some time to figure out how to have the same chemistry and synergies between my various teams with close to zero office time. There is so much relationship that is built in the micro-moments during the workday. Whether at the coffee machine or walking past your teammate’s desk or even in the unspoken gestures during meetings. But to build a great team there has to be trust and there has to be relationship. Understanding the “why” behind someone’s actions or decisions and their tangible work product can help shape your perspective on their desired results—which can ultimately produce empathy—a characteristic sometimes undervalued.

Nominations for the Marketing Leaders award are open through March 26, 2021.

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