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Sunday, August 25, 2019

John and Patrick Seroka on New Marketing Strategies for Lenders

By MBA Insights Staff
November 12, 2018

Topics:
John and Pat Seroka
Market Strategies


John Seroka is a Principal and Brand Strategist with Seroka Brand Development, Brookfield, Wis., which provides brand development, marketing, PR, social media and mobile strategies to companies throughout the mortgage industry. He can be reached at john@seroka.com. Patrick Seroka is CEO of Seroka Brand Development, and has been named Entrepreneur of the Year by Ernst & Young and Merrill Lynch. He can be reached at pat@seroka.com.

MBA INSIGHTS: We've seen a tremendous surge in marketing tactics and strategies in the mortgage industry, post-financial crisis. Are you seeing more enthusiasm from clients to engage in such?

JohnSerokaJOHN & PATRICK SEROKA: Absolutely! They appreciate our proactivity in bringing new tactics to their attention and sharing the ways they can benefit from them. Clients want to understand how new tactics can be leveraged to drive a higher ROI and reduce cost per acquisition. From our perspective, those who set and implement focused strategies yield the greatest results and the best ROI. Finding the way to incorporate the right tactics into a strategy is key. Then, as we execute, we provide data on how those tactics are working to achieve our clients' goals.

Keeping plan implementation flexible is also important. Flexibility allows us to react to the data we collect, some in real time, and possibly adjust course, giving more or less weight to certain tactics.

Personalization of marketing content right now in conjunction with marketing automation is a big trend. The data that search engines, social networks and many third-party providers have gathered on individuals, both structured and unstructured, has made delivering highly personalized, relevant content in a variety of formats an amazing reality. As I write this, I just received a notification from LinkedIn that it is moving its Dynamic Ad product into the newly designed Campaign Manager--which means enhanced testing and performance tracking. B2B companies reading this should take note! We're big fans of the LinkedIn ad platform for our B2B clients.

PatSerokaAll this data combined with social platforms, advanced search algorithms and targeting capabilities means the buyer path, and marketing, is much more complex than ever before. There is no longer a sales funnel. Now it's more like a "buyer loop" or maze.

Ten years ago, consumers were much more reliant on sales people. Now, consumers conduct a lot of research before contacting a company or speaking with anyone. This has driven a drastic change in how MLOs, B2B sales people and AEs approach their crafts. They can no longer use tactics to "convince," rather, they need to become consultants in the true sense. Companies also needed to change their corporate mindsets to work within this new reality. We help companies, their MLOs and salespeople by extension achieve this consultative position through media relations, speaking opportunities, webinars, white papers, infographics, video, audience segmentation and much more.

INSIGHTS: What are some trends you are seeing in marketing and branding strategies for lenders? Is the transition from a refi market to a purchase market changing their marketing approach?

SEROKA: First off, whether you are in a purchase or a refi market, your approach wouldn't change--just the message. You still need to reach your target audience where they visit online with the right content to guide the decision to purchase or refinance with your company.

A big trend that is driving our clients' strategies right now is a focus on and management of "the experience" which starts with the initial touch, and then guiding them potential borrowers through the process with clear calls to action.

Live video has really become a big trend that companies in the industry should creatively find ways to embrace. It is offered on several social platforms with Facebook being the most popular and enables lenders and service providers to be authentic and connect with their audiences in a very real way. According to Nielsen, U.S. adults now spend six hours per day watching video. And according to Social Media Today, people will spend three times longer watching a live video than a pre-recorded video on the same topic!

Lenders can use live video for homebuyer seminars, market updates and other announcements. B2B companies can use it for a product launch, product demos, industry announcements and more.

The bonus with live video is that it allows for real-time audience interaction with the presenters that can steer the conversation in the direction the audience desires. Another benefit is the engagement that's created on social networks, text and emails by promoting the event prior to and during it.

Another key trend that lenders need to pay special attention to is micro-moment marketing. A micro-moment occurs when consumers have that "I want to know right now" moment which usually happens on a mobile device. It's when they pick up their smart phones and use voice search to ask Google something on a particular topic such as home affordability or financing (most popular) or any other query about real estate. For example, when someone drives by a home that is for sale and wants to know if he can afford it and what the payment would be, he might do a voice-activated search on his mobile device. When Google fires back results, the "experience" begins!

Many people don't yet understand that mobile and desktop require two different SEO strategies. Since micro-moments occur while a prospect is on the go, marketers need to consider the context and intent of mobile search data and develop pertinent content that meets the mobile search's need. We help lenders meet that need and take advantage of this significant opportunity.

INSIGHTS: How are Millennials driving those trends?

SEROKA: Millennials killed the sales funnel. The traditional funnel represents the linear approach their parents traditionally took when they were making purchase decisions. Since Millennials have only known a world with an Internet in it...and they've played a big role in populating it...the Internet, in turn, plays a big role in how they make purchase decisions.

As search, social networks, the production of user- and brand-generated content, apps and technology continue to evolve, Millennials' expectations of the buying experience evolve as well.

When buying a home, they value more of a "technology plus human" approach so they're not completely reliant on their own devices when embarking on the biggest decision of their lives. This approach is pushing lenders to leverage technologies, marketing strategies and tactics that meet their expectations--or they get left behind.

Industry vendors also need to put the same thought process into their marketing strategies, ensuring their campaigns, websites and social networks work together with a touch of human.

Remember, Millennials are the ones that built social media platforms, websites, your favorite apps, review sites, machine learning and so much more--all of which have raised society's expectations. It has driven marketers to think differently about the buyer path and accommodate people's needs for different types of information at each stage, so they can decide and take action.

INSIGHTS: What are you telling your clients about social media?

SEROKA: According to Statista, in 2018, 77 percent of the U.S. population currently has a social network profile. Without burying you with stats on LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Twitter and other user demographic profiles, these platforms are where your target audience lives. Your ability as a lender and service provider/vendor to use these ad platforms to narrowly segment and personalize your outreach is necessary to help reduce your acquisition costs and build trust.

Therefore, leveraging social media as a part of your overall marketing strategy is not an option any more than having an email address. It's necessary. It helps you convey the culture of your company to visitors and provide insight on what's top of mind for you. It's also a way to provide valuable insight on topics associated with a purchase, whether you're a consumer looking for a home or a lender looking for technology to enable a smoother process.

INSIGHTS: What are some challenges you see going forward as the industry becomes only more competitive?

SEROKA: The cost of manufacturing a loan is significant and even more so for those who can't afford to adopt the technology that allows them to automate as much of the process as possible. When lenders, or industry service providers for that matter, use outdated marketing techniques that don't properly target and streamline their marketing operations, marketing dollars are wasted.

In today's rising rate and low inventory environment, many lenders are fighting for the same borrowers. The lenders that have the wherewithal to use data to segment, target and provide an exceptional experience from the initial touch point through closing and beyond are going to win more business.

(Views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect policy of the Mortgage Bankers Association, nor do they connote an MBA endorsement of a specific company, product or service. MBA Insights welcomes your submissions. Inquiries can be sent to Mike Sorohan, editor, at msorohan@mba.org; or Michael Tucker, editorial manager, at mtucker@mba.org.)

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