Changing TimesMortgage Marketing: The Changing Times

Over the years, we’ve seen lots of changes in the housing market for both Loan Officers and Realtors. Marketing has seen some changes, too, and lots of people have taken to Twitter and Facebook to keep themselves relevant.

If we look at people, however, they don’t seem to change. While opinions and styles may change, the human condition remains constant across the board. And, interestingly enough, loneliness is at an all-time high. In fact, there’s a new name for it; it’s called the Lonely Generation.

People are buried in their smart phones. You see it at restaurants, on buses, on subways, and in parks. Everyone is constantly connected to the internet and yet, we’re the Lonely Generation.

When we look at marketing trends of the housing market, it’s almost the same thing, except the people that aren’t stuck to their cellphones seem to embrace the reality that communication and relationships work better than hours and hours of twitter feeds and tweets. Oddly, this has become the exception and not the rule, despite the higher ROI of marketing efforts that aren’t electronic. Huh?

An email marketing expert told me just the other day that Twitter is fleeting. You have to tweet things out 3 or 4 times a day in the hopes that someone will see it, interspersed with “content” that will make it seem like you’re sharing more than just your tweets to help sell yourself or your brand. Well, that’s pretty disingenuous and is anyone fooled into thinking otherwise?

The person with the most followers wins and yet, in countless conversations, no one’s really monetizing their efforts in the mortgage and real estate arenas through social media efforts.

A Realtor friend of mine who’s been in the business since 1999 said, “I’ve spent plenty of money on Facebook to get people to click on my ad but never sold a house or even listed one that way.”

Social media is great for sharing and reading interesting stories, but with all the hoopla about “followers” and “shares” somehow equating to a marketing plan is foolish because “image” marketing doesn’t work for the Loan Officer or Realtor. You need files to make money. Some of the new marketing angles, like following the influencers, is the latest trend. If I follow a multi-million-dollar loan industry guy, who influences him? If I can get that influencer to follow me, his followers will follow me, too! Do consumers follow industry influencers? C’mon, let’s be realistic here.

In the efforts to connect socially, we see more and more disconnection between people and especially between Loan Officers, Realtors and their client bases, and this is a tragedy because it’s so much more expensive to garner new business from completely new clients than it is to get business from referrals.

I’ve been keeping my eye on the trends of social media marketing and when a social media marketer talks about how wonderful it is, it’s always in general terms. If you are marketing a local shoe store, is the process the same as it is for the Realtor or Loan Officer? Well, from a digital standpoint it is, but from the marketing standpoint the chasm between the two is miles apart. What makes someone refer you to the people they love and care about for something as serious as a home loan or a purchase, isn’t the same as sending a clever and provocative Carl’s Jr. commercial on YouTube.

The human condition doesn’t change. We all want to be accepted and we all want to be loved and admired. And when it comes to our businesses, we all want to be successful, comfortable, and helpful to others and, sadly, in that order.

There’s an old saying and you’ve probably heard it: “Don’t step over dollars to pick up pennies” and I see people doing this all the time. I spend time helping Loan Officers and Realtors market to their sphere of influence and, in comparison to their efforts online, not one of them can vouch for online social media being more effective than direct marketing using a newsletter. This is because the human condition is such that that when we receive something from someone else, we feel loved, even from the smallest of things we receive.  When someone reaches out to us in a real way to share a story or an experience, we feel accepted and when we make smart choices we feel successful and certainly more comfortable.

Don’t forget that when a borrower is done with the loan process, they aren’t really a borrower so much as they are a debtor. If you treat them like a borrower after the fact, you’ll turn them off of listening to what you have to say, because it’s clear you aren’t talking with them any longer, but AT them and people know when they’re being “sold” or patronized for your benefit.

There’s no magic sauce or special software program that’s going to make your marketing work better because it’s in an email, on Facebook, or in a tweet. Most LO’s and Realtors can count the amount of people that REALY follow them on one hand, despite the thousands of followers they have on their dashboard. With the unique characteristics of the mortgage and real estate value proposition hiding behind an iPhone or an @ symbol doesn’t cry out “trust and relationship” as much as it says, “I’d rather just tweet-ya.”

There’s a lot more to marketing when you’re trying to grow your market share than you’ll be able to utilize using a surrogate form of relationship like Twitter, Facebook and Google+ as these social tools don’t really promote a marketing base. They’re fun and they can help with knowing you exist, but they need support from real marketing concepts.