The Psychology Behind the Recovery

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26 | Th e M Rep o RT Feature Feature is a good way for them to think about you the next time they have a buyer or seller who needs a mort- gage," he said. "I ask them for their feedback on the transaction. By engaging in conversation, you learn what they liked and what they didn't like and you can address it." Garnering enough contacts means Auerback has to sit at a lot of settlement tables every year. Just how many is where the second part of his marketing plan comes in. He develops a personal business plan, including financial goals, so he can zero in the num- ber of loans he has to close. Here's how it works. Let's says Auerback's goal for 2014 is $100,000. If he makes $1,000 per loan closed, he needs to close 100 loans a year. And that leads back to staying in touch with the people he sits across from at settlement. After the initial call, Auerback does mailing campaigns, visits real estate agents' open houses, and even stops by to see accountants. During his visits and conversations, he flat out asks for their business. "If you were to call 10 people, half of them would say, 'Oh my goodness, your timing is perfect,'" he said. "If you don't ask for the business, people aren't necessarily going to think of you." But surprise, surprise—his biggest ROI is from a handwritten note. "You cannot imagine how people react to a handwritten note," he said. "Two or three lines on person- al letterhead or business stationary go a long way to making someone stick your card on the wall." Customers Fancy Face Time T he common thread being pulled through his market- ing plan is communication. It builds relationships and fosters trust. It is what encourages the real estate agent, lawyer, accoun- tant, and even the buyer to give their client or friend your name. No trust, no business. "You have to make trust es- sential to what you are doing," he said. "I think you gain trust through constant communication and being transparent. This is one of the biggest decisions in that person's life. If you are not having a conversation with that person, you are not doing your job." Today those early conversations often start online. Roughly 80 percent of buyers begin searching for a home online, says Brian Ross, EVP of Mortgage Network. It may be six months before a prospect calls a real estate agent or contacts a mortgage lender. Even then they may choose video conferencing rather than meeting in person. "A lot of people would rather build a relationship online at arm's length," Ross said. "The Internet al- lows you to build trust with some- one. To be a shoe leather kind of guy, that model doesn't hold with those who embrace technology." To reach younger, tech savvy buyers, a marketing plan should in- clude an online presence. Facebook and LinkedIn pages, and a Twitter or Pinterest account, cover the ba- sics. Blogging about local real estate is another clever tool to establish your brand online. But many originators aren't used to thinking outside the traditional box. "Our industry has been slow to adopt technology in part because the average guy is a little bit older," Blatt said. "But we're focusing on a first-time buyers, and first-time homebuyers are younger. So we have to get better at technology." The same general rules still apply: know your audience and make the information relevant. So if you are courting younger, first-time buyers online, a marketing message focused on the home-buying process may hit the mark better than a mailing. But blasting a general email, tweet, or Facebook post to everyone may prove counterproductive. "If you are not interested in read- ing it, it's just an impression and it's not a very favorable one," Blatt said. "You have to understand your objective and audience and make your marketing message meet it." For older audiences—say mid- 30s or second-time buyers—an old- fashioned mailing campaign just may be the ticket. Three years ago, Blatt's firm conducted a direct mail campaign for a client. Cynics said Mortgage Returns was crazy, that mailing was a dying marketing tool. Yet when the results were measured, the campaign was quite effective. "The key comes back to measurement," Blatt said. "We're a marketing company, a technol- ogy company, and we're kind of accountants because if we can't quantify it, if we can't be objective about it, we can't really recom- mend it. We are showing real ROI, quantifiable results. It doesn't seem right to do it any other way." Blatt repeats that mantra—the truth is in the numbers—to his clients. If the message is not rel- evant to your referrals, prospects, and clients, the marketing plan is only wasting money. "As we customize a market- ing campaign for our clients, we are measuring their results," Blatt said. "We are going to benchmark them against their peers. We can help people adapt their marketing message to what is really working in their market." What is working for Bishoi Nageh is the same thing he has been doing for years: building an organic relationship with real estate agents and the buyer. "I do things very differently from most mortgage guys," said Nageh, VP of Mortgage Network Solutions in Somerset, New Jersey. "I'm never cliché or just here is the recipe. For instance, we track the birthday of every client and instead of us calling and saying happy birthday, we let the realtor know." And while a lot of mortgage originators faithfully stay in touch with people they closed with, Nageh likes to keep in contact with the clients he didn't assist. Hey, just because it didn't work this time doesn't mean it can't work in the future. And any email you get from Nageh won't be of the mass run-of-the-mill kind. Each one is personalized. "The point is that there is always substance when we email someone," he said. "I hate 'Happy Holidays' because I am one of 200 people that are sending you the same thing. We make occa- sions of other things." For instance, in winter rather than send an email about saving money on your energy bill, Nageh's will be about reducing the length of your mortgage. How? By cutting your energy bill and putting the savings toward your mortgage. "So instead of just saying hey, here's a way to save $50 a month in heating, I start by saying here is a way to take three years off your mortgage," he said. Still, the key for Nageh is build- ing a relationship with realtors and homebuyers through direct, personal contact. It is more time consuming and labor intensive, but it's a marketing plan that works. "I don't want to say that I'm old school, but it's almost like I'm reinventing old school," he said. "I'm face-to-face. Face-to-face is a big deterrent to competition. It's more labor intensive but it is also more quality oriented. Over the long period of time, I win."

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