Developing an Ethnic Niche

“Homebuying seminars should be an integral part of your ethnic marketing efforts.”

Harvard University’s Joint Center for Housing Studies forecasted that within the next 10 years, two-thirds of all newly formed households will be minorities. The exploding cultural diversity within the next decade provides mortgage companies with an opportunity to develop a marketing strategy to assist these new homeowners, increase your business base, and help you develop your own mortgage niche.

The California Association of Realtors met for a daylong summit to discuss minority issues and the sensitivity of those issues within the real estate industry. They have even formed their own sub-associations within the NAR. The sub-associations include the African American-Oriented California Association of Real Estate Brokers, The Chinese Real Estate Association of America, the National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals, The Hispanic Council of Realtors, and the Korean Real Estate Brokers Association of Southern California. Just think of it. Within the Latino community alone, you have Cubans, Mexicans, and Guatemalans. Within the Asian community, you have too many cultures to even begin to list.

Last year, my family and I rented a cottage on Lake Michigan. The resort that we stayed at was beautiful. It had small cottages nestled in sand dunes and overlooked the lake. There was a large stone house for activities such as pool, volleyball, and tennis. However, when we arrived we found that we were the only family who spoke only English. Almost everyone else was bilingual. The resort was a prime vacation location for the Lithuanian community, whose families had been coming to the resort for the last 25 years. Now we were the “outsiders” trying to learn a new culture. While most of the younger people spoke English, the elders spoke their native tongue. Living with and learning another culture was a great, unexpected educational experience for us. Sitting around a campfire one evening, I met a man who was a mortgage loan officer for a bank in Chicago. His clients included a large number of Lithuanians, his niche market.

With Realtors developing their own niche associations within their state and national associations, it is evident that mortgage lenders need to adapt to the changing marketplace.

One of the first steps needed to expand your customer base is to learn your community’s demographic makeup. Secondly, you need to develop your marketing strategies for reaching these different groups. Here are some consumer-direct marketing ideas.

Hire staff members who can relate to different cultures. You don’t need to be Asian to market to the Asian community. When I managed a mortgage company in Houston, Texas, some of my best referrals came from real estate agents who worked for an Asian-owned real estate company. I learned that several families live in one house. They pool their resources, income, and assets in order to qualify for a mortgage loan. I was able to find a couple of mortgage programs that fit their needs. These real estate agents also had rich clients who lived in Tokyo and bought rental homes, which I also financed for them. I am not Asian, but was able to understand their culture and needs when it came to their housing requirements.

However, speaking the language and being able to communicate in writing is just an added plus when you develop your diverse mortgage staff.

Advertise on ethnic radio, TV stations, and newspapers. Not many mortgage companies advertise with these media. The costs to advertise using them are extremely inexpensive because you are marketing to a limited audience. You may even ask to be interviewed, have an article you wrote published in the local newspaper, or host a mortgage talk show once a month.

Produce a video. Develop an informational video about how to buy a home and how to qualify for a mortgage. Speak the language. Don’t use technical mortgage terms. Your radio, TV, and newspaper ads can include an offer to mail prospects a free videotape that can be passed on to friends and family. (As an added benefit, the videotape can be given to real estate agents who serve ethnic homebuyers.)

Develop a mini-mortgage application. Have someone write the application in different languages. This is a non-threatening form that provides you with preliminary information to determine the best mortgage program for your ethnic clients. After all, the questions could be in a different language, but the answers are usually local employer information, names of banks and account numbers, and yes or no answers.

The mini-application could be distributed at meetings and cultural performances. It can also be sent to real estate agents or inserted into the videotape jacket.

Hold seminars. Homebuying seminars should be an integral part of your ethnic marketing efforts. Be sure to have a translator present at your meeting if you don’t speak the language. Show your videotape, distribute your mini-applications, and offer to provide those attending with a free copy of their credit report.

Use your voice mail or company answering machine. When someone calls your office, you may want to record messages in several languages so potential clients feel comfortable working with you from the start. For example, they could have the option to “press extension number two” if they speak Spanish.

These ideas are meant to get you thinking about how you can use the same consumer-direct techniques, but adapt them to different niche markets. By starting to develop your plans for the diverse homebuying market, you are investing in the future of your business.

by Karen Deis

Refining Your E-Strategy

“There is marketing strength in numbers by creating partnerships with professionals that share a common interest-providing services to homebuyers”

The American public appears to have an insatiable appetite for technology these days. The dot-com stocks are making a seemingly unstoppable upward climb, and web addresses and Internet access seem to dominate the advertising landscape.

The mortgage industry is caught up in the same technological euphoria. Every mortgage company, or affiliated service or supplier, clamors about its technological capabilities. But where’s the beef? How much profit has really been generated by e-commerce mortgage activities? There is a mixed bag of results, which indicates that a mere e-commerce presence is not an easy street to profitable loan production. The potential for success, then, lies within the strategy.

For as long as I can remember, mortgage originators have been looking for new ways to expand their business and serve customers better. New ideas, however, do not stay new for long. As innovative techniques prove viable, originators who look for easy, effortless tactics to produce instant sales results will be quick to jump on the bandwagon—making differentiation difficult to maintain. E-commerce fits this description.

The notion that there must be an easier or more certain method to generate hot leads and ensure satisfied customers can be a powerful attraction. E-commerce has that allure, but it is important to realize that it is a tool. You cannot afford to get caught up in the hype without a well-planned e-commerce strategy. Otherwise, it is no different than other quick-win marketing and promotional concepts in which success is short-lived.

No matter what the size of your business, your e-commerce strategy must be in sync with how you do business or how you plan to do it better. The Internet and new technological applications offer unprecedented opportunities to help grow your business as long as the implementation is in line with your business model and part of a well thought out strategy. In other words, technology should be an integral part of how you support your business. If you think in those terms, you will be able to develop a plan to stay on track even though you may not be able to execute the strategy all at once.

The Internet and web-based technology are strategic tools that mortgage companies of all sizes can leverage to generate and build relationships in order to increase production. The key is to use technology to enhance the company’s positioning, not to redefine it. For example, use the Internet as a simple communications vehicle, a marketing tool to generate leads, a business service that creates value in partnerships, a convenient source of relationship data, a means to coordinate work activities, and a tool to attract and retain quality loan officers.

Regardless of how you use the Internet, you should consider both current and future applications and make them an integral part of an overall business strategy. If a company’s business philosophy positions its loan officers as possessing unequaled financing expertise and provides easy access to mortgage financing with a high degree of convenience and personal attention, then the company’s Internet strategy should employ tools that facilitate and deliver that promise.

Communication Vehicle
Websites offer a simple, cost-effective tool for communicating between customers and loan officers. It doesn’t replace other tools, but it can certainly increase communication and create real and perceived value. The number of households across the United States with Internet access continues to expand. It is important to do business the way your customer wants to do it. Let them choose the phone, face-to-face, or Internet communication. Providing customers with easy Internet access during the loan process offers them convenience, while giving you the opportunity to capture their e-mail address for future communication.

Keep in mind the positioning example. Companies want loan officers to be seen as an expert. It also wanted them to be easily accessible and offer great convenience and personal attention. The functionality of its website should support and enhance this positioning. The customer should be able to submit an application, check the status of a loan in process, or ask a question. Loan calculators, informative financing information, and other tools that support the idea that loan officers are a knowledgeable mortgage professional belong on their websites.

Internet as Lead Generator
The Internet can be a lead generator. You can get leads for free (although it takes continuous work) or you can pay for them just like other media. Unless you are technologically inclined, I would seek expert advice in building a website that will get noticed with sufficient frequency in order to generate leads. You can also pay for leads from sources such as LendingTree, Inc. ( Internet lead generation is an important business source today, and it will only get bigger. You need to get in the game.

What amazes me about Internet leads is how slow some companies are to respond to them. This even seems to be true with companies that purchase leads. People use the Internet in large part because of the speed in which it delivers information. That means a quick electronic response is critical. Personal contact as a follow up can also be critical. Utilize auto-responder features in the software you’re using to automate the initial response. Automate the pre-qualification formula to provide an automated response so the customer is served quickly regardless of the time of the request.

Market Your Partnership Service
Affinity partnerships are powerful marketing tools. There is marketing strength in numbers by creating partnerships with professionals who share a common interest–providing services to homebuyers. The combined referral strength of Realtors, appraisers, title companies, and insurance agents can be substantial. The Internet provides the tools to keep affinity partners informed. It enables them to request and track service and helps ensure that service levels meet or exceed customer expectations.

The Source of Relationship Data
A critical element of any marketing program and e-commerce strategy is realizing the power of a customer database. Keeping customers requires continuous communication. Maintaining a database of current customers, past customers, referral sources, and prospects is essential. There is power in using a database for communicating on a regular basis to customers, but that power increases exponentially when you analyze the demographics and know as much about your customers as possible. The objective is to add value to the customer relationship through those services that are part of your support or affinity team. This information will lead to ideas and new services that will create a stronger customer relationship.

Coordinate Workflow
It helps to have workflow and process monitoring tools integrated into your loan processing software. But even if this tool is not available, you can create a manual monitoring system that can be enabled by the Internet. The loan officer and support team should communicate with the customer, as well as real estate agents involved, through loan closing. Milestones, such as underwriting approval, appraisal, and notice that the insurance binder has been received can be flagged to generate an e-mail, fax, or phone call to homebuyers and real estate agents. This is the type of value-added customer service that keeps them coming back and helps originators generate leads.

Attract Talented Salespeople
Good people, and particularly good salespeople, can go to work just about anywhere. Powerful marketing and communications tools can attract loan officers. The attraction is made easier when companies do not see the value in supporting loan originators with tools for success. An e-commerce strategy can help attract talented mortgage professionals.

When it comes to the mortgage business and the effect of the Internet or e-commerce, what we know for sure is that we are certain to see significant change. The mortgage and financial services companies are implementing Internet technology at an increasingly rapid pace. This new medium creates room for applying greater creativity and customer knowledge. In the long run, bigger companies may have advantages, but smaller and more nimble firms will initially have the edge. What’s next is up to you, but now is the time to build and execute an effective Internet strategy.

Marketing to Baby Boomers

“Many of these people retire with very healthy IRA accounts. Know what the guidelines say about cash in the bank and ‘compensating factors.'”

Seventy-six million baby boomers were born between the years 1946 and 1964. In fact, it is reported that someone turns 50-years old every seven seconds. In Harry Dent’s latest book, The Roaring 2000’s, he predicts that the greatest economic boom in history will occur during the next eight to 10 years. It’s all due to the baby boomers reaching their peak spending years.

Think about it. Those people born in 1946 are 54-years old now. Those born in 1964 are 36-years old. For the next 14 years, there will be a huge number of people turning 50—which means that the economic boom has just started. Those who want to specialize in marketing to the over-50 group will have a major opportunity to make a good income and to establish a niche market before others realize the potential.

The boomers are expected to live longer than any generation in history, but they are planning on retiring earlier than their parents did. However, you can’t put all seniors into one group. When marketing mortgages to them, you need to know the definition of the four categories of the over-50 group.

The first group has children who are in college (or have moved out of the home). They are alone for the first time in their lives. They will continue to work but will go on more vacations and get more involved in social activities such as golf, clubs, or volunteer work. They do not need as much space to live in, but it’s important to them to maintain their home.

Then there are those who retire. They have worked for a company all of their lives, and they have a good pension and retirement program. They want a maintenance-free home because they want to play and not work. They will also try to relocate to areas of the country where other retired people congregate and will be buying homes, town homes, and villas in resort areas. Other people retire, but then start a business in the home. The entrepreneurs will work even after they formally retire from their regular jobs.

The multigenerational households are the people thinking about retiring. But children, parents, or grandchildren have moved in with them and they have to change their plans and lifestyle.

All of these groups will require a change in housing needs. This means buying down; buying up; home improvement; or buying townhomes, condos, and villas. With this in mind, you have the opportunity to be viewed as the financial expert by this large consumer group.

Before you decide to tackle this niche market, consider the additional education that will be helpful. Know your Fannie and Freddie underwriting guidelines regarding social security and pension income needed to qualify for a loan. For instance, the guidelines allow you to “gross up” the income (to qualify) if it is considered non-taxable income. Many of these people retire with very healthy IRA accounts. Know what the guidelines say about cash in the bank and “compensating factors.” In working with seniors, not only will you be a loan originator, you will also need to be seen as a financial advisor. It may mean taking some educational courses or teaming up with a financial planner. Expand your knowledge of home improvement lending and reverse mortgages. The issues facing the over-50 crowd are different than those concerning a young couple.

In marketing to this audience, you need to appeal to their changing household and changing financial circumstances. Where do you find these people to market to in the first place? Word-of-mouth advertising and referrals are very important. If you treat a senior well (and have a good customer-for-life program), the news will travel quickly through their social circles. They are very well established social circles—they have known their friends for a long time.

In addition, you can offer seminars on buying and selling their homes, with an emphasis on long-term financial planning. When holding these seminars, be sure to include a financial planner who is experienced in working with seniors. Also, you should include a real estate agent. There is a new National Association of Realtors (NAR) designation called a Senior Real Estate Specialist (SRES).

Advertise to the children of these seniors. The older parents often rely on the advice of their children when it comes to buying and selling a home. When advising them about mortgages, be prepared to counsel both the seniors and their children.

Advertise your mortgage services in resort area real estate magazines that highlight lake properties, mountain cabins, town homes, condos, and beach properties. When seniors are planning for retirement, they already have an idea where they want to live.

Advertise your second home mortgage programs to this market. They are buying their second homes now (in their peak earning years), so they build equity in the home upon retirement.

The stock market section of your newspaper is a good place to advertise. Many of these people have their retirement funds invested in the stock market and mutual funds.

Health and finances are the two main concerns of most people over the age of 50. A common dilemma is whether they will outlive their funds. People are living longer, and they worry that social security and pension income will not be enough. They will be living on a fixed income, so they may need to sell their home and buy another one so they can balance their budget. However, the senior market is not afraid of debt so they understand how leveraging their cash—taking out a mortgage—will help them live on their fixed income.

When developing your marketing pieces, provide something extra. Offer to include a financial planner at your mortgage application appointment. Recommend the services of a real estate agent who specializes in the senior market. Establish a one-stop shopping experience and market it that way. And don’t forget to use larger print in your ads and marketing pieces. The 50 plus prospects don’t like to (and sometimes can’t) read the fine print.

by Karen Deis

Making Money on the Net

“You must have an Internet presence in order to take advantage of available online marketing opportunities.”

It’s already a couple months into the new millennium, and you don’t have a website. Or you do, but you know you’re not maximizing your site’s potential for success and profitability. If you find yourself in either of these situations, it’s time to develop your online strategy for this year and beyond.

First you need to determine your online focus. You will either want some combination of making money, branding your website’s name, or simply having an online presence in order to generate credibility with your clients and professional relationships. If you don’t have a website, your focus should be on developing one. You must have an Internet presence in order to take advantage of the available online marketing opportunities.

Those who don’t have a website need to consider the development options. You can either purchase a canned, off-the-shelf website or you can have a site custom-created for you. The choice you make will depend on your budget and the kind of functionality you are looking for on your website. A canned website can cost you anywhere from $300 to $5000. A custom site can cost anywhere from $3,000 to $500,000. So understanding what you want first will help you determine the route that makes the most sense for you.

To fully understand the profitability of your website, you need to recognize and understand the ongoing costs involved. This will allow you to start creating a budget for the future and to look at your costs in order to increase your profits–not just as overhead.

One fixed cost is the monthly fee you pay to a company that hosts your website. Typically, the cost is under $100 for most mortgage broker websites. A variable cost is what you will have to spend money on advertising your site. Most of these sites charge a monthly fee for your banner advertisement or listing. The fee ranges from a few hundred to several thousand dollars depending on the amount of traffic you are trying to generate. The other variable cost is based on upgrading your website, which you must do from time to time.

To be profitable, it is important to try to match your variable cost to the amount of business you want to close. If the market is doing well and you want to go out and get more business, you should increase your variable cost by advertising more. If you have enough business and cannot handle any more, reduce your advertising. If for some reason your website is not generating business, you have two choices. You need to either reduce your advertising to minimize your variable costs, or increase your advertising to see if you can generate more business.

Whether your website is new or you’ve had it for a while, it’s time to take a look at what you are doing in order to assess your site’s current profitability.

Your website should have an easy to find and easy to fill out application or pre-qualification form. The site should also have your company’s contact information readily available, a feature that will encourage someone to bookmark your site, a daily market update and updated rates section, and concise content.

So now you have a website that is ready to generate leads. The first area to look at is how you are responding to the inquiries received through your site. In general, you can expect an average direct-marketing response rate of anywhere between 5 to 10 percent of all visitors. You need to make sure that you’re ready to respond quickly to these inquiries. Part of a quick response is based on a quick retrieval of leads from your e-mail box or from your website. Make sure you have a constant online connection. This means that you are ready to be notified the moment a message is sent to you. Look into providers that offer a constant connection such as DSL, frame relay, or to a fractional T-1 line. If you are able to respond quickly to your leads, you can expect higher conversion ratios from inquiry to loan file.

Early on, you need to choose an online business model. Two basic business models are the “low cost leader” strategy and the “local mortgage broker and banker” strategy.

The first option involves emphasizing lower rates and overall costs. A company that has been successful with the low cost leader strategy is ( The margins have been from 0.5 to 0.75 points over wholesale. succeeds by making it easy for potential customers to make buying decisions through its website. They do this by clearly displaying rates and locks in periods or closing costs. As a result, customers typically apply through the website.

The companies often use loan consultants to work with clients. The strategy’s focus is to recruit business people who have good credit and want to save money. It will not work as well with consumers who are not organized, who need a lot of handholding during the loan process, or with customers who have complex situations. These companies are working on a high volume and slim margin basis. They expect the customer to be organized and to provide documentation quickly on request.

The idea behind the second strategy is to target borrowers in a specific geographical area and create a local originator image. There is a greater emphasis on service than price. This can be done by advertising in local newspapers and regional websites and also by creating affiliations with Realtor partners or other related industries. A company that has been successful with the local mortgage broker and banker strategy is Dalton Mortgage at Dalton Mortgage’s site clearly explains that this is a local, family-owned business that has links to websites in the Cleveland area. The site is friendly and provides up-to-date rates, loan products, calculators, and other helpful features.

You can also use the same approach as a subprime broker by not putting rates on the site and by stressing that you can handle difficult situations and borrowers who have been turned down before.

To further enhance your profitability, you will want to explore different marketing strategies. Aside from the conventional online advertising avenues, such as banner ads and directory listings, there are many other opportunities available in order to generate more business to your website. Areas to consider are partnerships, permission marketing, and affiliate programs.

A number of lenders have developed unique partnership arrangements in order to expand their online business and increase their profits. For example, Chase Manhattan Mortgage Corp. recently announced its agreement with, a multilingual homeownership website. An initial pilot program will focus on both Spanish- and Korean-speaking communities in the southern California area. will help Chase Manhattan Mortgage reach a greater minority audience through the partnership program. and introduced their strategic partnership last year. It will involve creating a multi-functional co-branded mortgage center that will provide visitors of the website with online home financing services. Homebuyers visiting the site will have direct access to’s mortgage information, rate comparison, and online loan application. Links to the mortgage center are placed throughout the site.

Permission marketing focuses on converting visitors to leads. If your current conversion rate from surfer-to-inquiry is between 5 to 10 percent, instead of focusing on driving more traffic to your site, look towards increasing your site’s conversion ratios.

Seth Bodia is considered to be one of the world’s foremost online marketers. He says of permission marketing that, “Every commercial website should be set up to accomplish one goal. Your website should be 100 percent focused on signing up strangers to give you permission to market to them.” He argues that permission marketing is more efficient than interruption marketing or media advertising.

The goal is to develop and deliver relevant, valuable, and judicious information to consumers who have given you permission to do so. One of the more common ways this is done is through a newsletter or interest rate registration on a website. When someone signs up for this, you have successfully received permission from the visitor to market to him or her in the future. Your job now is to be sure to deliver what you’ve advertised. Now, your chances of acquiring business is greater because you’ve “broken the ice” by offering valuable and relevant information.

Affiliate marketing is also a powerful marketing tool. By making affiliations, you can earn money from visitors who may not ready to do a mortgage with you. You can create an affiliate program to generate traffic to your site. You can also market other companies’ products, services, and web addresses on your site and get paid based on traffic the affiliates receive from your website.

When generating traffic to your site, you want to create relationships online with business partners. You should target sites that offer similar products or that reach a similar demographic of people. Two good examples of affiliations a mortgage company can make include automobile and Realtor sites. The affiliation with a car dealer’s site could be a simple arrangement. You might place a mortgage advertisement in a prime place on their site and pay them for every visitor you receive through that ad.

You could set up the same arrangement with Realtors as you did with the car dealer’s website but, since you have more important ties with the Realtor industry, the way you structure the affiliation will probably be more involved. You could harvest relationships with Realtors by offering them a free link to their website, or by offering them a realty section on your site. The goal is to establish a strong online relationship with business partners that is a win-win situation for both parties. Be sure to follow the appropriate RESPA guidelines.

The area of affiliate marketing of product and services is showing tremendous potential. The basic premise is that not everyone that comes to your site is looking for a mortgage. A person needs a mortgage once every five to seven years, so you need to determine if you can cross-market to them while they are at your site in case they are not ready for a mortgage. If so, make sure you are cross-marketing related products.

An example of a site that uses the strategy effectively is E-LOAN ( E-LOAN offers both car and credit card loans on their site, which is a good way to make additional income from those visitors that don’t get a mortgage.

The drawback to this kind of marketing is the potential to lose business by the distraction of other offers. Don’t clutter your site with different offers. Choose products and services carefully and make sure that your competitor does not advertise on any site that you recommend to your clients.

Despite the growing competition of mortgage companies online, there are many way to run a profitable site. Pick a strategy that meets the goals of your company. Make sure your site includes the basics such as an online form and application. Respond quickly to all inquiries because your online customer expects swift replies. Understand your site’s cost structure so you can calculate your cost per lead and eventually your cost per closed loan. Find a niche in your local market including partnering with Realtors, creating affiliations with other online companies, purchasing niche advertising in mortgage malls such as or, and getting permission from visitors to your site in order to continue marketing to them. You are now on your way to running a successful and profitable online campaign.

by Lovina Worick

Personal Brochures Set You Apart

Starting a serious marketing campaign with a personal brochure allows you to introduce yourself in a professional, memorable way.  Real estate agents have utilized this for years as a way to relate on a personal level with potential clients.  Consumers need to feel connected and secure with the person they will be entrusting one of the biggest purchases of their lives to.  As you develop visibility and sincerity with a personal brochure, you give people the chance to get to know you and then understand how you will be able to help them with their financing needs.  You are now one step closer to becoming their trusted advisor.

Don Hobbs, chairman and cofounder of Hobbs/Herder Advertising, a company that has designed over 35,000 personal brochures for individuals and companies in the real estate profession, spoke with me regarding what makes a personal brochure successful.  He stated that, most importantly, the personal brochure should be the cornerstone piece of a successful marketing campaign that will open the door to greater success.  A well-developed brochure can eliminate or lower sales resistance as it helps with the beginning of a relationship based on a personal or emotional connection.

Consider the details of putting a personal brochure together.  First, I highly recommend you have professional help with the copywriting, graphic design, and printing.   While utilizing a desktop publishing program and printing the brochures on the office copier may save money, you will not look as professional and appealing to clients, which defeats the original purpose of having a personal brochure.

The cover of the brochure should be attractive and interesting;  attention-grabbing in a way that calls to be picked up and read.  Focus on things that reflect your personality and the niche you are trying to reach.  You can’t be all things to all people—decide who you are going to target and speak to them throughout the brochure.

Once you have the prospect to the point of reading your brochure, the content will be what convinces them to use your services.  As you decide to put together a personal brochure, remember to create “you” on paper. “Why I would like this person” needs to jump from the page.

A photo of you inside the brochure is essential for people to feel a connection.  Definitely do not use a glamour shot or a digital photo your secretary took.  Most photographers offer what is called an “executive photo,” which will portray you in a professional manner or “personality” shot.  If you haven’t had a photo within the last three to five years, it is probably a good time for a new one.  You want to make sure people recognize you when they see you in person!

Your personal biography and photos should be 60 to 70 percent of the content.  This is about you and should be written in a story format as if someone else were speaking to your potential clients.  As the story unfolds, remember to address things you have in common and accentuate the potential benefits to the reader.  Telling a story will present you as something other than a machine-like, one-dimensional salesperson.  Your brochure can make an immediate and lasting emotional impact—people feel a need to connect with those they do business with.  If they didn’t, Internet loan companies would be the only ones doing business today.

Listing company strengths can also add to the depth of your brochure.  If you work for the number-one company in town, state it.  If your company has been serving local clients for 20 years, state it.  People realize the importance of a solid company behind an originator and will want to know that you are supported by a flourishing company.

Personally, I like a few testimonials on the back page.  This is the final statement, and using third-party comments on your abilities will strengthen the other messages of the brochure.  Try to use statements that reinforce your personal philosophy or statements from a high-profile person that your readers might recognize.  For example, if you are targeting teachers and have helped the local school district superintendent with his mortgage, that name and comment will add strength to your brochure.  Well-voiced   testimonials can link together everything else said in a brochure.

During my years as an originator, I consistently used the tag line, “The Highest Compliment I Can Receive is a Referral from a Friend.”  This truly stated my business philosophy of working on referrals and becoming a friend to each client.  A tag line does not have to be loan-related, as long as it connects back to you as a person.  For example, one professional displayed herself as a gardener and used the slogan “Nurturing Great Results.”  Be creative and find a short sentence that portrays you as a trusted resource.  In a personal brochure, the tag line is best placed on the front cover and then below the testimonials on the back, reinforcing your position as their mortgage lender.

Remember that the best business connections are personal.  Stay away from bragging and boasting statements throughout your brochure.  Rather than boast of your degrees, designations, and impressive closing numbers, state your business philosophy in a way that allows to readers come to understand your desire to help them.  You want to relate with potential clients, not impress them.

Getting it Read
Now that your brochure is put together, printed, and ready to go, how do you get it in the right hands?  This step is crucial; since you have spent quite a bit of time and money developing this marketing tool, you need a plan to distribute them for the highest rate of return.  You basically have two avenues of distribution.  The first is potential referral partners, such as Realtors, financial planners, CPAs, attorneys, and builders. The second are possible borrowers.

In distributing brochures, the success rate of it being read and kept for any length of time goes up dramatically if the recipient has met you or knows of you prior to receiving the brochure.  I term this “warm marketing,” (versus cold marketing where they have no prior knowledge of you).  A few ways you can make sure your marketing is warm is to have some type of introduction before mailing or handing out the brochure.  With referral partners, this can be done by a phone call introduction, or you may have met them through some type of networking.  With potential borrowers, you might have talked to them on the phone or in your office.  Do not give out your brochure when first introduced, as this can be interpreted as pushy.

Once you have a chance to be introduced to a potential referral partner, follow up a few days later with your brochure and a note stating you enjoyed meeting them.  The same goes for borrowers; after your first contact with them, mail a letter along with your brochure, thanking them for their time.  By meeting or contacting them first, you have hopefully sparked their curiosity to know more about you.

Reaping the Rewards
Now for the crucial element—contact after the brochure has been received.  This is the step most originators don’t take, thus leaving their brochure and first impression to be thrown in the trash.  You have invested time and money in this marketing tool, so make sure you receive the most out of it.  A day or two after you know your brochure has been received, follow up with a phone call if it was a potential borrower.  Ask if you can be of any further assistance and if they are ready to make an application yet.  If you have given your brochure to a potential referral partner, follow up with a visit to their office or an invitation for lunch to discuss how you can help their business.

We are in a highly professional business and must continually seek to find new referral partners and clients.  By utilizing a personal brochure, you are giving people a chance to warm up to you and hopefully feel comfortable about calling you and requesting your services.  This is a tremendous tool to set you apart from your competitors and help create an image of being a professional and a trusted advisor.  A personal brochure will draw more people to you and help you to create an incredible referral-based business—a fantastic goal of any marketing strategy.