Al Hensling, president of United American Mortgage, Irvine, Calif., likes to “drill” his name into his customer’s memory. While searching for the perfect post-closing gift during the holiday season—”something the borrower would keep for a long time and find both useful and valuable”—Hensling found a complete cordless drill/screwdriver set at a home improvement store and purchased every one in stock. He then printed up some professional labels with his name and contact information and affixed them to the reusable case. “Of all the promotions I have utilized, I can not remember a better received gift that resulted in additional referrals from satisfied customers,” Hensling says. “The response was incredible.” He sends about 300 per year to purchase customers, at a “very attractive price for a quality product” (approximately $40 each, including shipping). Hensling calls it a “unique and lasting” gift that leaves a great impression on borrowers who are never expecting a gift of such “significant value.” Look for specials on this or similar items at home improvement stores, especially during the December holiday season.
See your name in lights—or very close to them. Betsy Lamond, an originator with Charter One Mortgage, Rockville, Md., wanted the members in her community to be able to “put a face with a name,” so she gave herself an audience of likely prospects. Lamond began running playbill ads 10 years ago at the successful Olney Theatre in Maryland’s Montgomery County. They are featured in both the winter and summer show seasons, with five or six plays per season. The ad highlights a fictional show—”Loan Approved”—and features Lamond herself as the star. “I get recognized by being a part of the community and it gives people a sense of familiarity,” she says. “People have commented on the picture and how nice it is to be able to put a face with the person on the other end of the line.” The idea stems from a desire for visibility in an upscale-buyer market, and the theatre was a natural place to start—her father sits on the Board of Directors. Lamond was able to create the ad in conjunction with a design team to get just the look she wanted, and is very pleased with the results. Not only does it generate substantial business, but also the cost is relatively low ($1,600 per year), making it very profitable. Check with theatres in your area for advertising rates and show schedules.
Hold the phone! Shawn Portmann’s unique “Cellmate” will really give the competition a hang-up. The Cellmate is a thin grip pad that “magically” holds a cell phone in place on a car dashboard. “My clients love it,” Portmann says. “They always want more.” Portmann’s name, company, and phone number are conspicuously, yet unobtrusively printed along the bottom. “It keeps my name in front of them at all times. Repetition and consistency is the name of the game.” The idea of placing your name on an everyday item isn’t new, but unlike pens or key chains, this marketing piece grabs the client’s attention because it’s something out of the ordinary—something they probably don’t already own. In the past, Portmann, a loan officer with CityBank Mortgage, Puyallup, Wash., has also sent out such novel marketing items as water bottles, lunch boxes, and Frisbees. He distributes about 1,000 Cellmates per year to customers and 200 to Realtors as part of a larger thank-you package after closing a deal. The Cellmates cost approximately $0.30 a piece.
Lawrence Montani of First Interstate Financial Corp. in Shrewsbury, N.J. knows that the mortgage business is a numbers game, and often a confusing one. That’s why he gives out an easy-to-read slide mortgage calculator at bridal fairs, seminars, and Realtor presentations. “It’s a good giveaway that people will hold on to,” Montani says. He originally saw the calculator being used by a competitor, and liked the idea so much that he started ordering them himself. He estimates that he gives 1,500 per year, and gets a great response. “People love picking them up at seminars so they have something to play with,” he laughs. “It’s successful because I can show prospects how to use it, which gives me an excuse to talk to them, and it’s functional so it fills a specific need.” The front of the calculator has Montani’s company logo along with his name and phone number. The back has a clear envelope that holds his business card, which displays his contact information on one side and his photo and tagline, “Because Every Mortgage Matters,” on the other. Montani spends $1.50 per piece; it’s an extra 50 cents for color, which Montani gladly pays because “it looks sharper.” Montani says, “This is a staple—it’s one of the things I use on a consistent basis because I’ve had such good luck with it.”