Utilizing the mail to generate referrals has been a primary tool for as long as there has been marketing in our business. Unfortunately, the majority of money spent on this marketing strategy tends to give little-to-no return on investment. In talking with originators around the country, I hear over and over again that mailing for the primary goal of obtaining mortgage applications results in very few leads.
The key to direct mail is simply this: mail with a purpose. Very few people go through their mail each day hoping for a new offer from a mortgage originator. Most are looking to throw away as much junk mail as possible. In any mailing, the goal is to send a marketing piece that will be kept or passed along to someone who needs your services. Can you remember the last time you kept an advertisement for any length of time? Keep that in mind as you decide on your course of action. Here are a few ideas to get you started on a new mailing campaign.
Becoming well-known within your community is vitally important to your networking success. One originator has found an inexpensive way to help his local high school while increasing name recognition and production. Sterling Campbell with Citiline Mortgage in Colorado Springs, Colo. sent a sports schedule postcard to high school students’ parents. This was mailed at the beginning of the school year featuring the fall sports, and again in January with the winter/spring schedule.
The front of the fall postcard has Compliments of Sterling Campbell above the contact information with the football schedule listed on the left. The back of the postcard is used for the other fall sports’ schedules and again repeats the originator’s contact information and picture. The postcard for the winter/spring sports features boy’s basketball on the front with other sports listed on the back.
The school provided the mailing labels and use of their bulk-mail permit and Campbell paid for the postcard and postage. (The school secretary was especially grateful, as she is the one who usually fields the many calls before a game asking for schedule information.) The response was very positive with two applications taken immediately after the first mailing. Consider the long-term benefits of this type of mailing. Name recognition and familiarity are essential to becoming known as a trusted advisor in mortgage finance. Season after season this originator will certainly become recognized as the “Hometown Lender.”
Sending an item of a different size, texture, and color within a mailing is another way to deliver something that will hopefully be set aside for future reference or be given to family or friends. A coupon can be like a second business card, and may be kept a bit longer than your business card if it stands out from other things received in the mail.
To get your coupon noticed, make it the size of your business envelope and print it on cardstock in a bright color (cobalt blue works great). Include your picture on the coupon; people want to feel a connection with the person who will be helping them. Your job is to make sure they have a reason to choose you, and a personal connection is one of your biggest selling points as an originator. Plus, with today’s technology, you may not see the client face-to-face until closing. Next, make it personal. Leave a place for your signature on the coupon. This gives the consumer a sense that this is more than just a mass mailing.
Be creative in distributing your coupons. Put coupons in letters to potential clients and give them out in past client mailings so they can pass them along to friends and family. You can also share coupons with Realtors for them to distribute to their buyers.
Center of Influence
Utilizing a “center of influence” mailing list will direct your mailings to people who know you, increasing the likelihood of your mailing piece being read and kept. This list should include past clients, referral sources, friends, family, business associates, and anyone else you know. It has been said that the average person knows 250-300 people. (Remember, the plumber and dog groomer will need a loan someday too.)
Once or twice a year, send something of value to this group of recipients. If your company is sponsoring an event, such as a home and garden show or Parade of Homes, you may have access to tickets. Our company had received complimentary tickets for sponsoring a local home and garden show, so I sent a letter to my center of influence group expressing my appreciation for their business along with two tickets for them to enjoy this local event. I was amazed at the positive response I received from such a mailing.
Another mailing of value to this group is a coupon for a local business. This might be a “buy one get one free” ice cream at the beginning of summer or a bowling pass for Christmas vacation. This type of mailing will also benefit the business willing to participate. Your mailing can help to increase recognition and traffic to their business. Within your center of influence mailing list, see if you have a local business owner who would appreciate your help in expanding their client base. If not, approach a local business with this idea. This win-win situation gives you the opportunity to deliver something tangible as well as increasing the partnering business’ profits. These efforts at networking will also help brand you as a trusted mortgage professional.
These are just a few ideas to help your mailing campaigns be as successful as possible. Marketing funds are precious, and your goal should be to utilize each dollar to the best of your ability. Your goal is to get as many referrals as possible from each piece. As you analyze your current marketing efforts, look for areas where you can mail with a purpose, giving the recipient a reason to open, keep, and share your information, thus helping you with your goal of having a referral-based business.
By Bliss Sawyer