I got a call from the regional sales manager of a small mortgage bank on the east coast. He wanted to know what it was we did and to see if we could help with his marketing efforts.
He was very nice. We’ll call him Rick for all intents and purposes. Rick proceeded to ask me what we did and I told him. However, what he was looking for was different from what we do. To put this into perspective, he wanted to find content (keep that word “content” in your side pocket; we’ll be getting back to it in a bit) and this is how the conversation went, in brief:
I explained that we produce physical mortgage newsletters for lenders as well as real estate marketing newsletters, and what separates us from our competitors is that we promote actual communication between the LO or Realtor and their client base and that we diligently help our clients in that process. Further explaining my contention that most marketing doesn’t really consider the end reader, and that our goal is to show our clients how marketing to their sphere, so that the marketing works, etc. To which he said…
“Our situation is different in that we have joint ventures with real estate companies and so… we’ve had great success with email campaigns, not only to our agents but to our database of customers. What I’m looking for is content that’s already pre-packaged that I basically can plug and play and keep that going. It’s been very successful for us, but coming up with the content and having this stuff where I can just execute…” This is a direct quote exactly as he said it.
It was clear that he didn’t understand what marketing really is, or how to harness the power of communication and, sadly, he really couldn’t care less about anything other than the numbers. He went on to say that his email blasts were successful despite the fact that they had no idea who was opening them and that they didn’t reach out to any of the folks that might have had interest in anything that they might’ve been sending these folks. HELLO?
He also mentioned that he didn’t want to bother his LO’s with marketing and that they were so busy, etc. He just wanted content.
Well, this is the seed that germinates the problem with LO’s, especially from a corporate minded regional sales manager. The people from which these “sales” come were not the issue, but viewed as simple numbers. Hey, I understand that shareholders need dividends and all, but to overlook how to actually get them in your own arena all the while acting like you care for the people who actually use your service, along with the people who perform the service, is a real tragedy. When you only see clients as numbers the level of service tends to degrade. It might seem a little too down-home and old-school to actually communicate in a way that turns clients into ambassadors, but I’ve got a nice brood of LO’s and Realtors who love having strong client bases that constantly send referrals. The corporate mindset and marketing culture it creates really shows just how unimportant each individual is. That’s very sad really.
This was a clear case of a small mortgage company trying to become Citigroup. I felt compelled to recite to Rick the tagline on their website which reads, “Your Hometown Mortgage Lender” and then I said, “Rick, you can almost hear the stings when you read that, and yet, none of it actually exists in your marketing.” He didn’t expect to hear me say that but, hey, I’m not here to make friends. I’m telling the truth. You see, our product to our clients is different than our client’s products to their sphere-of-influence, and so while many just follow the latest trends and hope that the more followers on Twitter they can muster, the more successful they’ll be. It simply doesn’t work like that. To think that it does is absurd!
If the sign on the wall, on the website, on the business card, and on all the letterhead says, “Your Hometown Mortgage Lender,” is it a smart to run as hard and as fast as you can from that ideal? And to do so in the pursuit to churn out disconnected industry-type content? If an email blast with content that appears to be marketing with no way to interact with past clients is the goal, then this is the way to do it, but customer loyalty doesn’t come from image graphics and loosely related industry articles. Rick was all too willing to dismiss how a customer might relate to his mortgage bank in the blind pursuit of getting more sales. He was a swell guy, I guess, but something along the way told him that this was what marketing is and, sadly, Rick was WAY OFF! The exact opposite of this is the Exodus Marketing client who, as an individual Loan Officer, grows his or her sphere of influence with REAL borrowers that are the direct result of referrals who wouldn’t dream of using someone else. And with each new customer, in almost all cases, are the loan officer’s customer for life! This includes friends, family and all who are connected to the new client. The idea is to create ambassadors for you and your business, so that you become this person’s trusted finance authority. If your goal is to burn through the numbers, ripping and tearing just to make money, you may very well make some money, but consistency and predictable revenues go right out the window.
No one enjoys Chili’s or Applebee’s better than a restaurant where the people inside are seen as family and thus make you feel like part of that family. Where the pride in their cooking reflects the way you feel when you leave, aside from just being full. And to further the restaurant analogy, managers from establishments like Chili’s aren’t around very long.
Like I said, Rick was a nice guy and he didn’t seem to have bad intentions, but actual marketing wasn’t really his focus. Doing it right always takes a backseat to what’s hip, slick and cool. With about 170 loan officers, they send out about 10k emails. So that equates to 58 people per loan officer if you divide them up evenly. Does that sound like a successful client base per loan officer ratio to you? Think about that for a moment. Maybe finding content to just blast out there without any actual communication isn’t the best foundation for a marketing plan. Rick didn’t want to believe that. He wanted to set-it-and-forget-it and I say that if you suddenly run out of “content” there’s something wrong with your connection to the very folks you service.