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.
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.
I’ve been serving the good people of the mortgage and real estate industry now for about eight years. Eight good years, mind you. During that time, I’ve seen the industry discussion go from bundled services and Alt-A loans to RESPA reform to mortgage fraud and predatory lending to the subprime meltdown, servicing fiasco and reg-apocalypse. more
There’s no doubt that the mortgage and especially the settlement services (title, closing, escrow, appraisal, etc.) industry are….ahem, traditional. Even conservative. The most popular approach to business development remains, even to this day, hopping on a plane and visiting the prospect. That’s sales. The marketing is the flyer brought along as the “leave-behind.” Really, there’s nothing wrong with either approach. They’ve worked for decades.
Similarly, it’s hard to argue that the industry will ever return to doing business the way it did five years ago. We’ve had some big changes, with more coming. Many from outside the space.
If there is consensus among the experts and thought leaders tasked with reading the crystal ball, it seems to be that pretty much everyone in the industry, from lender to closer, will need to be more flexible, more efficient, and more attuned to the net than the gross in the future. That’s just the way it will be.
So, with that in mind, what will the best marketing communications strategies look like five years from now? Glad you asked….
They’ll emphasize the cost-effective. If firms won’t have the extra cash to carry large staffs or redundant processes, they sure won’t have much budget for marketing, PR, or social media. Traditional print flyers will likely give way to PDFs. Postcards will be e-mails. Advertising will become a luxury for many. Social media will be embraced. Content marketing will replace blanket ad buys. And the “blast and pray” approach, long ineffective anyway, will by necessity give way to much, much more targeted and customized approaches.
They will dovetail with the sales strategy. They’ll have to. Mortgage and title companies won’t be able to afford the luxury of large sales and marketing departments. Long gone will the days of the marketing guys at odds with the sales guys. That’s because the sales guy will be the marketing guy. The good news? Marketing collateral and marketing messages will be better aligned with the on-site sales pitch.
They’ll allow for two-way communication. The consultative sales approach tends to be the standard in our industry. In the old days, you made the flyer, hoped it worked, and dropped it into the mail. Then you made a call or paid a visit. If you were lucky, the orders (and the phone calls) came back…eventually. With the advance of technology (social media, e-mail marketing, etc.), and the growing importance, in general, of being more responsive and adaptive to one’s marketplace, good firms will make sure their marketing materials—from e-newsletters to Webinars—provide ample opportunity for the prospects and customers to express their concerns and needs. Feedback at every turn will be a key ingredient to companies that know they need to somehow have both ears to the ground of the marketplace at all times.
They will emphasize the best of traditional techniques, but use them more efficiently. The fact that this is a relationship-based industry will not go away quickly, if at all. Who knows whom will still play a big role. But things already move quickly, and they’ll move more quickly in 2016. There will be a push from the outside for increased transparency and the complete avoidance of even the appearance of impropriety. Therefore, marketing communications will mirror the remainder of the new industry. That said, title insurance, a closing, an appraisal, will never be “impulse buys.” The trusted advisor approach will remain a key ingredient to closing a deal. Alliances, partnerships and collaboration, where allowable, will continue. You’ll just see it in a LinkedIn group more often. Travel won’t go away—there may just be less of it as fuel prices and whatever else the airline industry dreams up increase the drain on the travel budgets, eventually shrinking them. But we’ll reserve travel for key prospects. We’ll combine visits at trade shows, and attend less of them. Face to face will never go away. But we’ll be streamlining that as well.
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