In today’s mortgage industry, it’s absolutely mandatory that originators utilize technology to bring in more customers. But Mikel Erdman, founder of MySmartBlog, says that many originators are using technology – often quite expensive technology – that simply doesn’t generate enough business to be worth the time and expense.
On Jan. 25, Erdman will run a free webinar, hosted by MPA, aimed at busting some of the most common internet marketing myths and giving originators a roadmap to more effective online marketing. MPA recently chatted with Erdman – who spent about 15 years in the mortgage industry before founding MySmartBlog – about why originators end up spending time and money on ineffective marketing techniques.
MPA: What do you hope people take away from your upcoming webinar?
Mikel Erdman: One of the most important things that people will learn from this webinar is a lot of the misinformation about technology and marketing, and how that works within the mortgage industry – especially how it relates to closed transactions. There are always so many new ideas and people out there creating new types of technology. People are trying to create the silver bullet – some magical thing that takes the work out of marketing or sales.
There are a lot of myths out there – things that a lot of technologists who’ve never actually been in the mortgage industry tend to promote as ways that people should invest their time and money – that just frankly don’t work.
MPA: That’s interesting. What, in your opinion, is one popular business-building method that’s actually ineffective?
ME: If you talk to anyone who’s a high producer in the industry or who’s been around for a while, it’s very consistent that virtually no business is done through the “online lead generation” type of marketing – the traditional sales-funnel style of marketing. What we’re going to talk about (in the webinar) is how most people who get taken down that path end up wasting time and money, end up not getting the results they want – and the ways they actually should focus their time, energy and investment online in order to generate the types of transactions that actually close and put dollars in their bank account.
MPA: That’s surprising, considering the prevalence of online lead generation as a marketing tool.
ME: That’s just it. There are a lot of studies done every year that talk about where transactions that close actually come from. It’s very consistent; 85% or 90% of the mortgage industry – it’s a little bit lower on the real estate side – is repeat and referral business. And it’s interesting that people in the mortgage industry continue to look for some alternative, because the reality is that most of us in the mortgage industry who’ve been successful over time know that it’s hard work. It’s hard work to go out and meet people, to build your sphere of influence and stay in touch with them consistently – and at the same time, deliver great, quality service to your clients. It’s that brick-by-brick kind of building, and everybody wants to find a shortcut.
And there are all these people out in the technology world who promise, “Hey, we can run these ads, and we can develop lead magnets or surveys that drive people into sales funnels” – and all of a sudden, that’s going to turn into borrowers to do more loans for.
MPA: But that’s not the case?
ME: Say you end up buying leads from those companies. When you make that first phone call, you figure out right away that this was a really bad idea. People who fill out those forms online, generally speaking, either fill out forms because they’re a little naïve – although that’s getting harder and harder; people are become more and more educated – or they get bombarded because the companies oversell the leads. They’re not unique to one person. What (many lead companies) do is sell them to multiple people in the hopes that not all of them will call them. For them, it’s a pretty secure standpoint knowing that 90% of those leads are never going to get called. Here’s the funny thing – often the only people who actually do want to talk to you out of those leads that you buy online are the people who’d never qualify anyway.
MPA: So how should originators use technology to boost their business, if many of the traditional methods don’t work?
ME: What hasn’t changed is human behavior. Technology has allowed people to gather a lot of information. It’s allowed them to do a lot of research without having to subject themselves to a salesperson. And most people don’t really like the sales environment. They see it like a used-car situation – you walk on the lot, and they’re going to close you today or forget you forever. That’s not what good consultative sales is, but unfortunately, for most people that’s their interpretation of it. So they try to avoid that sales conversation for as long as possible.
So technology has allowed people to gather a lot of information before they deal with a salesperson. But what didn’t change is the way that people decide who they select to do that high-value transaction with. The key is, how do you make that connection? What are the strengths of technology, and how do you leverage that to support and amplify the way that human beings make decisions? And those decisions happen offline. It’s that connection that makes all the difference in the world. We’ve developed a road map that literally shows people step by step exactly what they need to do online to support and amplify that offline behavior.
I tell people all the time that it’s not about the quantity of clicks you get. Most technologists will say it’s all about impressions and click-through rate – those metrics. But it’s not about the quantity of clicks that you get, it’s about the quality of clicks that you get. If you get the types of visitors to your website who’ve already been exposed to you and are now looking to validate that exposure, that’s a really high-quality click that has a high propensity to turn into a paying transaction. So how do we make sure that when that really high-quality click happens, that you have the right information there that gets them to pick up the phone and make the call to do the loan application? At the end of the day, that’s where the money’s made.
It’s not this thing that you have to throw millions of dollars at – and people are throwing all kinds of money at it, hoping it will work – and it never works. My answer to them is: Look, just do the right things, trust that they’re the right things because they line up with human behavior – just do these right things that are inexpensive and simple to do. And once that’s done, you’re released from this idea that there’s anything else you can possibly do online to change your future. And that gives to time to focus on the things you need to do: growing your audience, spending your time delivering world-class service to the people you’re serving, and developing a referral culture within your community. At the end of the day, that’s what I want to teach people: there is no magic bullet. There’s no simple answer that you can possibly invest in or buy that’s going to change the core nature of sales in the mortgage industry.
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