MReport July 2019

TheMReport — News and strategies for the evolving mortgage marketplace.

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28 | TH E M R EP O RT FEATURE Speaking the Language of Multicultural Borrowers How can lenders use technology to support a multicultural customer base? By not losing the human touch. By Sue Woodard T oday, more than 20% of Americans don't speak English at home, making this growing segment of the population hugely important for mortgage lenders to consider as they focus on improving the customer experience. The essential piece of the puzzle is that you must be able to communicate in your customers' first language. Otherwise, you'll struggle to build trust and may even cause damage. Want proof? The internet is full of tales of poorly executed multicultural marketing efforts. Few resources, unfortunately, offer insight on how to get it right. Even fewer offer tips on how lenders can get it right. Here, I'll start the work of filling that gap by highlighting how lenders can achieve humanized communication at scale to build relationships with a diverse customer base, largely by tapping into fintech offerings. Fintech firms are facilitating inclusive, humanized marketing by offering software solutions that support customizable content for organizations of any size. Whether you're working in a small branch or at a major bank, these takeaways will be translatable to your work and for your customers. Beyond Language Barriers L iteral translations of market- ing collateral don't cut it. Not only can literal translations miss nuances of meaning they can also be disastrous if the translation ignores cultural context. Culturally sensitive marketing goes beyond literal translations of marketing materials. There are two main tactics you can use to nail your multicultural marketing strategy, and it isn't rocket science: 1. Speak to Your Customers in Their Language: Twenty-five percent of Hispanic buyers say they would prefer to work with a real estate agent who can assist them in Spanish. When hiring for these roles, keep in mind that Spanish speakers in Florida with Cuban heritage will have a different vo- cabulary and idioms than Spanish speakers in San Diego with roots in Mexico. Details matter when you're trying to connect. Of course, hyperlocal market- ing efforts should pay special attention to the local culture in any language, but it's especially important when mounting a suc- cessful multicultural campaign, where honest mistakes may come off as insulting. 2. Succeed with Values-Based Marketing: Hispanic customers in the U.S. also want marketing content to be culturally relevant. Facebook researchers found that in- cluding culturally specific elements in brand videos (like Spanish- speaking actors, family gatherings, and humor) was one of the best ways to achieve that relevance. Of course, these learnings apply even if you're not producing video content. There are opportunities to illustrate or include these elements in nearly all marketing assets. Look for messaging opportu- nities that speak to customers' values, wants, and needs. And it should go without saying that you should avoid stereotypes and cultural appropriation. Look for culturally relevant elements that support your message. Know Their Needs W hen marketing to your customers, make sure your financial products and educational materials meet them where they are. Marketing tools and data insights and analytics may power most major marketing programs, but it's still your loan officers (LOs) who have to steer. Your LOs should be familiar with the people who've researched your products online before they meet them in person. And while LOs may have personalized information on hand before they meet a customer over the phone or in person, it's important that they have a more general sense of who in the local community might ap- proach them for a loan. If the customers you're target- ing are among the 24.2 million American households that are underbanked, they may not have a credit card, let alone a credit score. This presents an opportu- nity to educate them about the value of a credit score, how to build credit or tips on how to become a homeowner without a 20% down payment. Your marketing should focus on giving customers something they need—not necessarily what your company needs. If your custom- ers don't even know they need a credit score, it's your job to dig in and educate them on the impor- tance and the practicality of how. Knowledge Is Power E very transaction starts with building a relationship and every well-maintained relationship will yield many transactions. Let's look at two examples: Many first- and second-genera- tion homebuyers still believe that they have to put 20% down to buy a home. If you provide educational resources about FHA loans—in

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