MReport July 2017

TheMReport — News and strategies for the evolving mortgage marketplace.

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26 | TH E M R EP O RT FEATURE BEST IN ORIGINATION Waterstone Mortgage Corporation and digital communications. But the study is also quick to point out that "millennials consider live dialogue an important part of the borrowing process." All this data suggests that it is important to diversify your communications and marketing efforts to address the needs of the various generations of custom - ers with whom you transact. The new buzz term for this is "omnichannel," which essentially means having diversity in your sales approach. Geographic Marketing Diversity M ortgage companies tend to be large or small with few true regional players. Smaller lo- cally focused operators under- stand their geographic nuances and tend to address local needs quite well. For example, a South Florida-based mortgage company is going to be well-versed in condos, a Baltimore lender will focus on row homes, a New York lender will focus on co-ops, etc. That regional focus will reveal itself in many ways, including the visual cues in marketing material. National lenders may have regional specialists, but they often create their messaging around their corporate headquar - ters' regional nuances and forget to deregionalize their communi- cations or elect to segment their communications by region. We have all seen this with brochures and marketing material that have a very specific architectural style, such as adobe Southwest-style homes, saltbox New England- style homes, a cactus in the yard, Spanish tile roofing, or water - front homes in brochures. This works well if you are a local lender or if you are segmenting your marketing by region. But if you present a marketing piece to a New Englander with an adobe-style home pictured, you will quickly convey that you are an outsider and likely eliminate yourself from consideration. Be careful to decide what cues you want to convey with the visuals in your marketing, and go local or go generic with styles to avoid alienating your customer base. People in Marketing F air lending is a hot topic in today's environment and many mortgage bankers are interested in capturing market share of all well-qualified bor - rowers, irrespective of what they look like, who they vote for, who they love, or who they pray to. But as an industry, the subtle messages we send in our marketing often tells a differ - ent story. How many marketing pieces do you relate to when you look at them? Now consider a different perspective: Consider yourself as a different race or a different gender. Do those same marketing pieces seem as ap - pealing and relatable? Ensuring that the visual cues are relatable to all well-qualified borrowers means you must make a conscious commitment to di - versify the imagery with inclusive photos of all kinds of people (race, sex, profession, etc.) in your marketing. Remember, a picture is worth a thousand words, so make sure those thousand words tell the story about your company that you want to tell. Define Yourself and Your Audience L et's look at how two well- known companies have approached the diversity in the markets they want to reach. Five Guys Burgers has defined itself narrowly, and they attract a diverse customer base seeking reasonably priced, consistently and quickly prepared burgers and fries. The company's marketing and messaging are void of images and therefore do not alienate anyone who wants burgers. Retail chain Target has an extraordinary variety of products that appeal to nearly anyone of any race, gender, social status, and economic status. It's clear the company has set out to appeal to all and offend none and in turn has achieved great success with that strategy. Look at their marketing and the visual cues they send. The advertisements are relatable to folks from all walks of life. The marketing focuses on people. It's hard to look at Target's marketing and not find an image that resemble yourself. Like Five Guys, which has narrowed its product focus, there are successful mortgage opera - tors who have a narrow product set and market with laser focus on a specific target consumer. They want to be the best at working with those consumers, whether it is veterans or first-time homebuyers or other segments. It's intentional, and it can be a winning strategy. A strategy not to be diverse is a strategy. But many companies seek to have broad appeal to their community with a broad product offering, like Target. Unfortunately, they inadvertently alienate themselves or their prospective customers by how they communicate (think of generational communication preferences) or in their messaging (think of the adobe house on a brochure in Boston) and struggle to find success. If companies make a concerted effort to focus on these essential elements of diversity in business, then they will be able to optimize their business. These successful strategies start with intentional - ity and an understanding of the company and whom they want to appeal to. So, thinking of diversity in terms of business strategy in - stead of political correctness will help lead to broader success. DANIEL JACOBS is the EVP of National Retail Lending for MiMutual Mortgage. With more than 20 years of experience in the industry, he has previously held senior positions at American Financial Network, Residential Finance Corporation, and 1st Metropolitan Mortgage. "How many marketing pieces do you relate to when you look at them? Now consider a different perspective: consider yourself as a different race or a different gender. Do those same marketing pieces seem as appealing and relatable?"

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