September 30, 2016 by Leave a comment

This article is part of a series put together by the Total Mortgage marketing team that provides loan officers and other sales professionals with a crash course in marketing and self-promotion. To read other articles in this series, click here.

Good business doesn’t change.

Or does it?

As the market recovers from the housing crisis, many loan officers and housing professionals are making the mistake of trying to return to a pre-crash business model.

Pre-crash, there was no such thing as a smartphone. Your average homebuyer hadn’t grown up with the internet. Most transactions were conducted over the phone, maybe with an email or two here and there. Unfortunately, this isn’t 2005. Reaching today’s homebuyers requires a different set of skills.

This guide will help start you down the right path.

Meet the next generation of homebuyers

You’ve probably heard the word “Millennials” thrown around to describe today’s college kids and recent grads, but that moniker actually applies to anyone born from the early 80’s up until around 2000.

So while one of the biggest myths out there right now is that Millennials are still years and years away from buying their first homes, that’s simply not true. They’re already here.

So is the intent to buy homes. According to a 2014 survey conducted by Fannie Mae, 76% of younger renters actually think that owning is more sensible than renting in the long term.

What’s more—there are a LOT of them. Millennials number around 76.6 million, more than even Baby Boomers. In a few years, they’ll make up a majority of buyers, and without an understanding of what separates them from past generations, you may find yourself struggling.

Marketing to Millennials

There’s one thing that will never change: a house is still a huge purchase, especially for a generation crippled student loan debt.

Winning over Millennials will be an uphill battle for most loan officers, as they may be the toughest generation to market to yet. In a 2012 Pew Research Center survey, just 19% said most people could be trusted, compared with 40% of Baby Boomers.

To earn the trust of Millennials, you’re going to have to be able to:

  • Meet them halfway, on the platforms they use most.
  • Be fast, accurate, and personable.
  • Promote yourself in ways that make them feel involved, understood, and educated, not marketed at.
  • Understand what they value and promote accordingly.

If all that has you scratching your head, don’t worry. We’ll go through the basics components of a good marketing plan next.

Going beyond the phone

Traditionally, the phone has been the key point of contact when it comes to mortgages. Regardless of where the lead came from or how it reached the loan officer, the goal has always been to get that lead on the phone.

But Millennials are much less likely to respond to offers of phone calls so you can talk about their concerns. In fact, many will try to get out of talking to you completely. A greater reliance on personal cell phones over a family landline has turned talking on the phone into a much more personal act.

Many other older marketing tactics also won’t work, either because younger generations have started to abandon the medium or grow wise to marketing lingo:

  • Direct mail
  • Radio ads
  • Print ads

Even email marketing can backfire if not done right. Millennials have grown up sifting through junk mail. They’ll have no problem deleting anything that isn’t relevant to their needs or interests. To learn more about email marketing the right way, our guide on email lead nurturing is a great start.

The importance of a CRM

We’ve already touched on Customer Relationship Management tools (or CRMs) in our blog on referral partners, but here are the basics.

CRMs are built to keep all of your contacts, accounts, leads, referral partners, and emails in one place, organized and ready for you. A CRM isn’t the sort of platform you can wave around to impress prospective clients or referral partners, but it will help you stay on top of all the channels you manage on a day to day basis.

There are tons of platforms out there. If a CRM sounds right for you, shop around before settling on one. At Total Mortgage, we offer our loan officers a few different CRM options just so they can find one that fits their workflow.

Creating content you can market

A great way to build a relationship with potential clients? Give them something valuable, no strings attached, with your name on it. This builds goodwill while attracting potential clients to a space you control—generally a blog or newsletter.

This isn’t a new idea. Way back in 1904, for instance a struggling Jell-O gave out free cookbooks full of Jell-O recipes, only to see their sales balloon to over one million (on a ten cent product).

The trick, of course, is knowing what sort of content will be most valuable to the kind of people who are likely to become your customers. That’s something we can definitely help you out with. We’ve run a popular industry blog for almost 10 years. Our guide to content will be a great jumping off point.

Once you’re ready to post, you encounter a whole new set of problems. In order for your content to reach as many people as possible, you have to make it friendly to search engines like Google. If you’re wondering how we do it, this guide on on-page optimization and this other one on generating links to your page will be a treat for you.

If you’re looking for a way to stand out from the crowd, though, you might want to check into our guide on marketing videos. Total Mortgage creates video for a wide range of uses, and we’ve found that it can really make a difference (especially if you use our tips).

Social media and you

Social media isn’t a hot new fad anymore—it’s a fact of life for a large percentage of the population, Millennials and Boomers alike. That makes it a great way for you to connect directly with your audience and give potential customers a feel for who you are.

Most companies big and small have a Facebook page these days. That’s a great first step, but it’s not going to get you far. If you’re wondering where to go next, we have some great resources on how to get started on other platforms and engaging with followers.

Of course, gathering followers and interacting with your peers isn’t the only thing social media is good for. It also makes for a great advertising platform. Facebook especially offer tons of options for targeting your ads to a specific audience. Take a look at our primer on social advertising here.

Mobile and apps

Housing is a slow and steady kind of industry. Many smaller companies and brokers still haven’t made the jump to online lending, much less considered the part mobile will play in their future.

However, that future is coming up quick. Right now about 56% of internet traffic already comes from mobile devices. That’s a huge number, and it’s only going to go up as new users age into the market.

While updating (or even creating) your site, consider optimizing for mobile, so that it will look nice and stay usable to potential borrowers on the go. Another thing to consider? An app. Our MyTotal Mortgage app has played a huge part in allowing us to reach a new set of homebuyers. It might not be right for everyone, but if you’re working with a larger company that has the resources, consider raising the issue with your sales manager.

Referral partners

In the face of all this talk of SEO and Twitter, it’s easy to overlook the old-school tactics that will still play well with this generation of homebuyers. Namely, building up a network of referral partners.

One thing that hasn’t changed about buying a house? It still takes a small army of people, including realtors, inspector, contractors—you get the picture. By creating a network of professionals you trust (and who trust you), you create opportunities for buyers to find you through word of mouth.

If you’re interested in seeing a breakdown of how Total Mortgage loan officers make this happen, guess what—we have a guide for it. Just click here to learn more.

To get more specifics about what the Total Mortgage marketing team does for our loan officers, check out other articles in this series, or by visiting our career portal.

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