In college I learned to KISS.

No, I didn’t capitalize that to over-dramatize what was actually NOT happening during my glory days in the UNC Journalism School, but rather because it’s a backronym (look it up!) I learned there for Keep It Simple, Stupid.

As an aspiring journalist, I discovered how to write in simple, declarative sentences. Don’t confuse things. Don’t make it harder for the reader or viewer to follow you. I lived by these lessons my entire career…until 2018.

Last year was a doozy for all of us in the industry. Over the previous nine years, Movement Mortgage had built an incredible brand, and we tripled down on that foundation through the branding of our loan officers, in many cases, using industry-leading digital tools and strategies.

We’ve taken that full-steam ahead into the new year, building a scrappy in-house digital team and working in lock-step with some of the top, forward-thinking tech minds and vendors in the business. 

The digital mortgage boom is here, and the buzz is LOUD. Need proof? Look no further than my July blog post on this very website, where yours truly ratcheted up the volume on the conversation.

The buzz is so loud, in fact, that it’s easy to be distracted from the data. Usage rates of all of the exciting new tools that we put in front of our loan officers are going in the right direction, but as a whole, we’re still not at 100% adoption.

If I had a nickel for every “I love all of this stuff, Jake, but I don’t know where to start, so I just don’t do any of it,” I’d probably invest in a t-shirt company…and then woo Movement. (Sorry, that’s another article.)

The point is, despite all the work we’ve done to stay ahead of the digital curve, I’m not sure I also kept things as simple as they needed to be for our LOs in what was – and is – a challenging and ultra-competitive environment.

And I know I’m not alone.

Late last year, at Total Expert’s Charlotte Road Show stop, one of the panelists from a local bank was asked a question about his approach to digital and marketing heading into 2019. He responded with, “My strategy is to simplify and intensify.” I nearly fell out of my seat. He nailed it. And I’m definitely stealing it.

Simplify and intensify. 

In social media, that means quit going an inch deep and a mile wide. Stop trying to master every platform, and instead identify where you hang out the most and go all-in with a simple content strategy.

In lead gen, quit overwhelming yourself with the latest and greatest funnel tech. Instead, mine that database and leverage those raving fans. In personal branding, quit saying you’re going to start a podcast next week…then the next…then the next. Just. Press. Record. 

But don’t take my word for it. Here’s some simple, specific, actionable advice on those topics from three of Movement’s finest:

Social media – Casey Crawford, CEO
Yes, you read that correctly. Movement’s chief executive gives our loan officers social media advice. Seriously, it’s true. This month, with Casey running as our lead blocker, Movement launched Facebook February.

The campaign isn’t focused on who can run the most effective ad (although we’ve seen some incredible success stories); it turns back the clock 10 years and recognizes the LO with the most creative closing content. Remember 2008 Facebook? It was the best – more cats and less Cambridge. What it also represented was free advertising for our loan officers.

Casey asked them to keep it simple: 

  • Take a picture with your clients at closing
  • Post the picture to Facebook
  • Tag/celebrate them in the post
  • Wash, rinse, repeat

It worked then, and although the F in Facebook definitely doesn’t stand for “Free” anymore, it still works today. And those people that “like” the picture? Those are all leads. Speaking of which…

Database management – Tim Davis, Sales coach
Tim is known for many things in the industry (his signature multi-colored, paint-splattered blazer included), but it’s his easily digestible personal branding and sales tactics that have earned him the ravest of reviews around the country. Not surprisingly, when asked to identify an effective database marketing strategy, Tim was quick to deliver a memorable response: 12 - 4 - 2, which is:

  • 12 emails
  • 4 cards
  • 2 phone calls

Tim coaches that the life you have – your home, the food you eat, the clothes you wear and the entertainment you enjoy – are the result of clients who chose you. You owe it to them to stay in touch. The proof is in the pudding: As a former originator, 72% of Tim’s business was from client referrals.

Personal branding – Adam Constantine, Digital content strategist
When it comes to keeping it real, you’d be hard-pressed to find someone more at ease with himself than “AC.” Six-foot-eight with a beard of nearly equal length, AC is a walking personal brand.

While he can dive as deep as necessary with loan officers on the nuances of personal branding, he keeps his messaging simple, and it’s advice he practices as much as he preaches: Nothing attracts an audience more than consistent authenticity. Are you posting technical mortgage content because you feel like you need to in order to sound smart? Are you sharing inspirational quote memes completely out of nowhere after 30-straight posts on craft beer? Don’t be that guy.

AC teaches LOs to: 

  • Find your niche
  • Find your voice
  • Be authentic
  • Unleash fury (or content, either one)

When your brand takes off and you start getting DMs from industry peers about your morning hair regiment, you’ll thank me.

I tried to take AC’s advice on authenticity when writing this article. Sometimes our department gets it right, sometimes we get it wrong and sometimes it’s both. The latter is where we periodically found ourselves in 2018, and that’s OK.

We and our LOs learned a lot from each other in the process. At Movement we spend every waking minute obsessing over our sales team. They expect us to stay ahead of trends and strategies. We expect them to hit us between the eyes with feedback.

We listened, we adjusted and now we’re better for it.

You better believe the digital train roars on, but so does Occam’s razor.