By Doren Aldana
If you’ve ever attended an industry training event, chances are you’ve heard all about the importance of becoming a “mortgage expert.” Sound familiar? While that’s true, it’s only one part of the success puzzle. Over the years, I’ve come to realize there’s a lot more to it than that. You see, you could be the most knowledgeable “mortgage guru” in your city, with a long string of alphabet soup credentials behind your name, and that still doesn’t guarantee people are going to be banging down your door to do business with you. In other words, it doesn’t matter how great your technical skills are or how ground-breaking your loan products are, your business will wither away and die like 80% of all mortgage professionals if you can’t market and sell your services.
I got thinking about this distinction between “experts” and “marketers” the other day when an email arrived in my inbox from my colleague, Dave Hershman, who is a well-known mortgage trainer located in Maryland, United States. He was curious to see a sample of my Done4U Client Newsletter, so he went to my website, checked it out, and then sent me the following unsolicited critique:
“First of all, we have some very different marketing philosophies. You are a “Dan Kennedy” type guy and I don’t like that type of marketing. I tend toward the expert approach–I want my customers to be experts and to sound like an expert. It is not only the response you get, but the type of response you get. That does not mean that he is not effective–or blending the two is not. I think when you look at my newsletter, and then yours, you can see the difference. I don’t want my loan officers peddling recipes. Not that I don’t like brownies (love them)–but does your CPA or stockbroker send recipes? On the other hand, you do a great job with the special report response mechanisms. It does not help if people don’t call.
Second, I think that the print newsletter is a dinosaur – because snail mail is. Doesn’t mean I don’t provide them – I do. But 99% of my loan officers don’t use the print –they want to send out the HTML. It is cheaper.”
As you can see, Dave has no shortage of OPINIONS, the question is, “Are they accurate?” What I’m about to say in response is likely to ruffle a few feathers but I’m here to tell you what you need to hear, not what you want to hear. For the purposes of instruction, let me point out four ways experts think differently than marketers.
1. Experts place high value on opinions. Marketers place high value on results. Dave’s comment about not liking “that type of marketing” is a great example of how experts tend to pre-judge and discredit a marketing approach entirely based on personal opinion, without actually putting it to the test. They assume that their clients think the same way they do – at their own peril. At the end of the day, the only true votes that count are the ones cast by people who put cash in your wallet – your clients. All the other votes get shredded! That’s why serious marketers routinely test multiple approaches to determine the highest performer, while experts, on the other hand, tend to do things simply because that’s what all the other experts do. Monkey see, monkey do.
This reminds me of the guy driving in dense fog on a dangerous road, relieved to come upon the tail-lights of a car, then following that car – when it suddenly slammed to a stop, causing him to rear end it. The enraged follower leapt out hollering, “You idiot, couldn’t you see me following you? How dare you slam to such an abrupt stop without warning? This crash is YOUR fault!”, to which the poor guy just rear ended sheepishly says, “But I’m parked in my garage.” Moral of the story: Be careful who you follow.
2. Experts place high value in their knowledge or experience. Marketers place high value in the perception of the prospect or client. For example, Dave says he doesn’t want his loan officers “peddling recipes”. I agree, recipes in and of themselves are not going to get the phone ringing with hot mortgage deals. However, the question is not whether you should be peddling recipes, the question is: “Does having recipes included in your monthly “Home Newsletter” add to its perceived value, and thereby increase the likelihood it will be read and responded to?” Notice my emphasis on the key words “perceived value”. The bottom line is if your client values and appreciates the monthly recipes, thereby making you more top of mind and top of heart, that’s all the matters. Yes, it’s important to provide expert financial advice, but if you’re a marketer, you understand that it’s all about response and return on investment (ROI), not opinion. That leads me to my third point…
3. Experts focus on cost. The marketers focus on ROI. I agree with Dave’s assertion that, “99% of my loan officers don’t use the print –they want to send out the HTML. It is cheaper.” Especially now, when everyone’s screaming “Recession!”, most are on the flight to cheap – which, by the way, is a good indicator what NOT to do. If you follow the mediocre majority, you’re gonna get mediocre results! According to Payscale.com the average mortgage broker earns $36-61K per year. If you’re happy with that, go ahead and follow the herd. If not, I would suggest modeling the top 5% income earners. Success leaves clues. If you’ll make a study of it, as I have for the past five years, you’ll find that Top Producers are more likely to be using a mix of both email and direct mail in their follow-up marketing campaigns. Why would they bother spending their money on direct mail when email is “cheaper”? Simply put, it pays better. If you say, “Direct mail is too expensive” you’re like the person you says, “I don’t enjoy sex” – you’re probably doing it wrong!
Here’s how marketing guru, Dan Kennedy, puts it: “It must arrive, interrupt and demand attention, and then reward. If it is merely waiting somewhere the subscriber must go to get it, or it arrives in the truly horrid, increasingly despised tsunami of junk email, it is not fetched, not read, not valued. The newsletter is commoditized. The experience is gone. So, soon, will be the subscriber.”
NOTE: if you, like Dave Hershman, still think that direct mail is an obsolete “dinosaur”, I would strongly recommend reading the recent article in the Wall Street Journal titled, “Firms Hold Fast to Snail Mail Marketing: Despite Prevalence of Digital Media, Entrepreneurs Find Old Fashioned Direct Mailings Still Key to Winning Customers”.
4. Experts expect prospects to seek them out. Marketers expect prospects won’t seek them out unless given sufficient motivation. Research tells us that the average consumer is exposed to more that 300 advertising messages a day in one form or another. With all the marketing clutter you’re competing against, it’s delusional to assume your prospects are going to automatically seek you out, read your email or respond to your newsletter – just because YOU, the “Expert”, sent it. Sorry to burst your bubble Bubba, but it ain’t gonna happen, unless you engineer your message to STAND OUT from the clutter and induce response. That’s why I purposefully include involvement devices in my Done4U Newsletter, such as the quiz of the month, free report offers, response forms, etc. Each of these elements is designed to get response. If all you do is send out an email data-dump with your photo, contact info, market update and rates, you’ll be lucky if it’s even read, let alone responded to.
So, starting today, make the commitment to become a powerful marketer. Move beyond the myopic confines of your own perspective and get inside the mind of your ideal client. Find out what they want and how they want it and then deliver. In doing so, you’ll bolster your “Expert” status and become irresistibly magnetic all at the same time.
So, what do you think of this post? Please share your thoughts/comments below. I love feedback!