Category: Mortgage and title industry (general)

Year two of the mortgage meltdown, and the proverbial landscape has definitely changed.  Countrywide is just a memory.  Freddie and Fannie spend more time salvaging loans than buying them now.  The Fed has become (or revealed itself as) the very hand of God, as we await the results of the end of its MBS program.   Mortgage lenders and title agencies alike are grappling with yet another mangled, HUD-created mess.  The appraisers are at the throats of the AMCs like never before.  The underwriters are sharpening their litigation skills.  And the abstractors are just waiting for the phone to ring. more

Ok.  I’m late again.  For the half-dozen or so of you out there awaiting this blog (Hi Sis!), I’ll make it up to you.  Maybe I’ll buy you all a beer Friday.  Or perhaps (gasp) a second blog on Friday. Stay tuned… more

Things are quiet out there (except, maybe, for the dull roar of hostility and confusion emanating from a nebulous netherworld somewhere between the 2010 GFE and 2010 HUD-1…).  We’re ready for the “down market” to go up again.  But it appears the market isn’t quite ready to oblige.


Nonetheless, there is business being done.  We just have to fight a little harder for our share of it.  more


What do you know?  It only took me about two weeks to get another blog posting together.  My apologies, but, as you might have guessed, I’ve been busy!    more

After last week’s epic, I’m going to try to keep this post under 5,000 words.  In fact, I even thought about copying and pasting the last 500 words as a new post, just to see who stayed with me (I know you did, Mom!).


This week, let’s talk a bit about marketing and advertising strategy.  I’m going to limit this to direct marketing—the stuff you send out to prospects (rather than collateral).  A blog is no place to spell out all of the elements of marketing communications strategy, but remember that this is for small business owners or executives who don’t have the resources for a large marketing department or useful, high-value expensive agency or consultant.  Especially in the title and mortgage industry, I see several mistakes at the strategic level fairly often.  So let’s get started.


Make sure your direct marketing or advertising key message is pretty much the same as your PR key message, your social media key message, your customer service key message….


The end user, prospect or potential customer does not differentiate between a postcard he/she receives, an article he/she reads about your product or a conversation on Facebook about your niche.  So why focus on winning media coverage on an ancillary product only to follow up with a mailer about your corporate brand?  As I’ve mentioned repeatedly, people are literally bombarded by the minute by hundreds and thousands of competing messages and information in general.  It’s easy to get caught up in the many offerings and nuances of one’s own brand.  But to the user who isn’t familiar with you, your message needs to be simple and consistent.


If you’re going to do some marketing, then DO SOME MARKETING


I’ve written about this before, but it bears repeating.  If you’re going to spend the time and money to assemble an advertising or direct marketing campaign, have a plan, and have one that goes beyond “I’d like an e-mail with this image in it.”  If you’re building around a particular image or icon, that’s ok—just make sure that it matches up with your key message and, more importantly, your actual brand.  And prepare to hit your audience consistently.  No, not carpet-bomb them.  No, not with the exact same postcard or e-mail with the exact same copy repeatedly—that’s called SPAM.  But your message should have consistency, clarity, and a chance to work its way through the thousands of other messages competing for the same set of eyes you’re after.


Your creative and message are only as useful as the lists and channels you use.


An award winning piece with a powerful message, award-winning design and impeccable strategy is a waste of money if you don’t make sure it gets in front of the people you want it to.  I have seen smart businesspeople put together solid marketing pieces….only to slap together a plan for how to get those pieces into place.  Do a little research.  If you’re advertising, you probably already know (or should) what your customers read, view, etc. for information.  But get the basics from the publication.  How many people actually see the e-mails or go to the Web site?  Many trade pubs won’t tell you how many subscribers (read:  paying visitors) they have, but some will.  Most will, at least, tell you how many see the publication (pass-arounds, Web site visits).  Start with that, but realize that can be a puffed-up number.  Similarly, if you’re going to buy or rent a list (rather than building your own), kick the tires—hard and often.  There are many, many bad list brokers out there, and I will warn you that list rentals or purchases are not cheap.  That said, there are some good ones as well.  Ask a LOT of questions, ask around, and do the research.


So…was it worth it?  Are you sure?


Way too often, I’ve asked executives in the industry how a marketing or ad campaign performed, only to hear “Well, it seemed to go well.  Everyone seemed to like it.”  That’s great…if we’re talking about a birthday gift to a picky great Aunt.  But if you’re going to spend money—and usually, with direct marketing and advertising, its serious money, shouldn’t you take a little extra time to figure out how well your investment performed?  If you’re doing Web advertising or Web-based direct marketing, you can use something as simple as Google metrics (which is free, best of all).  If you’re working with a publisher, demand statistics—at least if you ever plan to advertise again.  For all you know, you’ve just made a charitable contribution.  A good trade publication should, at minimum, tell you how many e-mails were actually sent out on your behalf (recipients), how many “clicked” on your call to action and so on.  If they won’t, rethink your placement. 


Print advertising can be more difficult to track, but there are ways to get some type of measurement.  Consider driving the recipients to a specialized Web page, and make sure that the mailer is the only place where this specific URL may be found.  Or try using a promotional code.  It’s definitely not perfect, but you’ll get some feel, at least, for who saw your investment and acted on it based on the numbers that return.


Remember, these are the basics.  You’re probably not going to have a Gap-caliber campaign if these are the only principles you use and apply.  But it’s a good start, and should get you through that e-mail campaign you’d like to run, or the local association ad campaign.


That’s it for now.  Happy holidays to all my friends and family in the title and mortgage industry, and to all of the other interested bystanders who have found their way to my little corner of the blogosphere.  Best wishes for a prosperous New Year!




I’ve been pretty active lately on LinkedIn, managing two title and mortgage industry professional groups (Real Estate and Mortgage Executive Forum and Title Insurance and Settlement Services Network).  It’s been a lot of fun, but also a good reminder to me that just being on LinkedIn doesn’t automatically bring results.  In fact, when you misuse your involvement, you may find yourself getting bad results.  more

The sky is falling.  The economy is failing. Capitalism is grinding to a halt in the U.S.   The redcoats are coming, and they’re bringing The Fed, the CFPA, Big Insurance, Nancy Pelosi and a few tax collectors with them. more

I can remember attending a couple of fairly worthless marketing/PR trade association meetings a few years ago where the only word spilling from everyone’s mouth seemed to be “blog.”  Businesses just had to get into the act.   ”Everyone” was doing it!  Don’t ask “why.”  Just blog, dammit!  more

The news out of Washington D.C. (and San Diego, site of the 2009 MBA Annual Convention) is pretty dreadful these days.  To summarize… more

After commenting on a few deeper topics lately, I thought I’d get back to my bread-and-butter this week.  So my topic will only be as deep as the subject of marketing communications allows! more