Tag: advertising

So it took, of all things, the hyperbolic media coverage of Snowmageddonpocalypse along the East Coast recently to drag me back to my blog.  No promises, but let’s see if we can’t keep this going.

Unless you are living off the grid in a national park somewhere, you couldn’t help but be battered by a 24/7 informational assault to the senses earlier this week.  TV.  Radio.  Social media.  Internet.  All caps headlines. Flashing lights and sirens.  Warnings using words like “worst ever,” “life-threatening” and more.

All over a reasonably significant but hardly historic snowstorm.  In the Northeast.  In January.  (Jon Stewart has a great take on this.)

In fact, it seems like each new weather “event” is heralded by increasingly poignant language and dire warnings. Reporters standing in floodwaters.  Government officials urging citizens to buy powdered milk and D batteries.  That sort of thing.  And the result is that the target audience grows increasingly deaf and indifferent to their cries.   I wonder when (not if) one of the 24/7 infotainment channels will forecast that the sky is, indeed, about to fall.

This catastrophe, brought to you by...

This catastrophe, brought to you by…

So what does this have to do with your mortgage or title focused marketing or PR program?  Why, everything!

You see, for years, our choice of adjectives for our products or services–be it on our websites; in our news releases or in our ads–has been similarly hyperbolic.  As a result, once-powerful words like “revolutionary,” “game-changing,” “cutting-edge” or even, er…”powerful,” have become cliches.  In fact, some have taken on almost opposite meanings to the cynical ear.  It appears that each and every similar new technology lives on the bleeding, leading, cutting edge (must actually be a lot of room on that edge).  Pricing is “competitive?”  Uh oh…it’s pricey then.

Once upon a time, this was refered to as “puffery.” In selling one’s goods or services, one was actually expected to accomopany his/her pitch with trumpets and dancing bears.  But we live in a different world now.  The louder you yell, the less you’ll be heard…and even less you’ll be believed.

Stick to authenticity.  You don’t have to promote your weak points, of course, but be objective enough to understand that very, very few products or services in our world are truly “game changing.”  So choose your words carefully as you promote your brand…or you might as well tell them the sky is falling.

Let’s be honest.  There aren’t a lot of consultants or agencies serving the mortgage and title industry when it comes to public relations or marketing commmunications.  There are many reasons for this.  After all, this is a very “hands-on” industry.  Many simply choose to go it alone–even without an “in-house” marketing department.  Many of the smaller businesses place great value on everything but their own time.  I’ve seen small agency owners eschew a $300 plane ticket to make a 12 hour drive at an odd time, solely in the name of cost savings.  And I’m not necessarily condemning this.  But it helps explain why many of the more established PR agencies out there aren’t hanging out at mortgage and settlement services conferences. more

Ok.  Now I’ve done it.  I’ve given myself away as a (deep breath) marketing guy.  (*sighs and groans of disappointment ensue*).  But I just have to do it. Today, I’m going to revel in my craft. That’s right.  Here’s what I saw this year in the title and mortgage industry in the way of marketing. more

There is a dramatic change taking place across the mortgage and settlement services industry.  It concerns how professionals take in, and disseminate data, information and knowledge.  

Why don’t many of the trade organizations and publications serving the space get that? more

I saw a commercial on TV the other day, and it got me to thinking.  In and of itself, that’s pretty amazing in the age of the information blizzard.  The majority of 30-second spots these days tend to induce a coma, rather than provoking thought or action. more

For some, “marketing” is little more than a flyer extolling the virtues of one’s product or service.  There’s actually some truth to this.  But when the “strategy” behind a marketing piece starts, and ends, with little more than a look in the mirror, it’s more likely than not that your marketing piece isn’t going to be that effective.  Not with today’s prospect. more

It’s easy to fall in love with your marketing, especially the brainstorming part.  It’s a chance to present your brand the way you see it.  The way you plan for it to be perceived.  It’s a chance to be creative, to dabble in something that doesn’t (always) have its roots in numbers and problems and logistical challenges. more

Wow!  Two blog posts in one week…but don’t get too used to it.  With  spring conference season almost upon us, it’s time for firms of all sizes to consider carefully if and where to allocate their sponsorship or advertising budgets.   Here are a few tips for the most important part of the ad or sponsorship buy:  the production and execution or fulfillment of that ad or sponsorship.  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!



As my little gift to my valued readers (hi Mom!), I’m going to let you all look behind the curtain this week.  You see, marketing communications strategy, in my humble opinion, is little more than common sense.  And I believe that pretty much any level-headed business person can, indeed, do it himself/herself with just a little thought.   more