Developing a solid marketing plan and implementing it consistently over the long run is the key for those who desire success in any sales profession. In this article, we will outline the components of a professional marketing plan and give examples to get you started.
Identifying Your Goals
Every successful sales professional has objectives which guide their actions. For those of you who are not goal-oriented, this aspect of the plan will come as quite a change in the thought process. To achieve maximum performance, every action must have a corresponding achievement. Think about your last visit to a real estate office. What objective did you achieve? The same line of thinking goes for each mailing, rate call or sales presentation. You must go in with a list of possible goals. For example, what are possible goals for a meeting with a real estate agent? Here are a few:
- A commitment for future business;
- The phone number of a prospective purchaser;
- Referral to another real estate agent;
- Learning the needs of that agent;
- Invitation to a sales meeting;
- Another meeting with that agent; and,
- Invitation to sit in on an open house with the agent.
Developing Actions To Reach Goals
The problem with the marketing efforts of most sales professionals is that actions enable us to resemble lemmings. As a matter of fact, any action repeated too many times will make us vulnerable to changing market conditions.
The key to the actions is to choose a few which are different from each other and the actions of others. Go where no one is likely to follow. Spend your time giving seminars instead of knocking on doors. Write articles. Become a member of a finance committee. Each action must be specific and have a goal:
“Visit four open houses each weekend with a goal of setting up one interview with a top producer for the following week.”
Since our goal is to interview with top producers, then we must first identify which agent is holding which open house before we set out each weekend. A personal referral to the producer will open us up for a more productive visit. In other words, do not just randomly visit.
Arming Yourself With Tools
It is most important to identify your available tools before you embark upon implementing the marketing plan. Sometimes, we feel that a tool must resemble the Starship Enterprise, which transports loans to your doorstep. Yet, the most common tools sit around our desk totally ignored, or worse yet, used in such a way that our marketing efforts are undermined.
Take a common tool: the telephone. We hear that someone is great on the phone: “He gets a call and always winds up with an appointment.” Others hear the phone ring and hide under the desk. It is obvious which of the two sales professionals has correctly identified and mastered the tool. The latter may also be forced to favor another common tool, the rate sheet--common but usually much less effective than the telephone.
In order to have an effective and efficient marketing plan, we must recognize all the tools we have at our disposal. This enables us to identify which tools are more effective and will help us achieve our goals.
Identification Of Targets
It is the identification of targets which facilitates diversification of a marketing plan. The most common target in our industry consists of real estate agents. If we correctly identify our target as those real estate agents who want to do business based upon relationships, then we realize the inefficacy of other tools such as rate sheets and flyers. What are more specific targets among real estate agents? New agents, top producers, listing agents, new home sales agents, relocation specialists, etc.?
What are possible targets outside of the real estate industry? Other loan officers, title companies, financial planners, home improvement companies, large corporations, FSBOs (for sale by owner), home counseling agencies, etc.? The list is endless.
We have seen in the past how a concentration on direct refinances worked against long term diversification. Concentrating too much on one type of agent, geographic area or other target is just as dangerous. True diversity makes us less susceptible to changing markets. But do not ignore specificity—because the development of a niche is a very effective targeting mechanism.
Frequency Of Actions
No marketing plan will work unless we implement all facets of the plan with consistency. It is important to specifically define the frequency of our actions. This enables us to set monthly, weekly and daily goals. For example, if our goal is to set up three interviews each week and our telephone conversion rate is 25%, then we know that we have to make at least 12 calls weekly. It is in this stage that we define our actions with numerical objectives. The next stage is to make this plan part of the calendar.
Most loan officers schedule meetings, loan applications and other appointments in their calendars. Very few schedule marketing time, such as telephone solicitations. In the end, most of us declare that we spend very little time marketing and too much time “in the office.” The first step in breaking this logjam is identifying what must be done. The next step is to commit to the time in your calendar.
Putting It Together With Synergy
It is easy to see why synergy is more effective than a string of haphazard activities which do not work together, or worse yet, work against one another. The opportunities for synergy in mortgage banking is endless. What one needs is imagination and innovation to make the connections.
Let’s take a few examples:
- You have two separate targets, FSBOs and real estate agents: It is easy to see that you are in a position to recommend your Realtors to the sellers when they are ready to throw in the towel. There is no better way to garner loyalty from a Realtor than by the referral of business.
- You are visiting open houses: You develop a professional follow-up system to assist real estate agents in tracking the people who visit. This helps the agents and puts you directly in touch with a multitude of leads (including other real estate agents).
- You are driving in your car two hours each day: You decide to make three marketing calls each day from your car. This results in more than 1,000 extra marketing calls each year.
In most of these examples, we connect more than one action to reach another target group more effectively. It is important to note that connecting the actions takes very little extra time, yet the results may be exponential. We must choose our four to six marketing actions in such a way that they will relate to one another.
All the implementation techniques in the world may not bring us closer to our goals unless we take some time to stop and smell the roses.Most of us go through life putting out fire after fire and never relating how a particular day has fit into the overall plan. Did we accomplish what we expected today? Are we closer to our goals? Try this for an exercise: For one week, write down every business activity and the time it took to accomplish that activity.
How much time did you spend implementing the marketing plan?How much other time did you spend on activities which are either nonproductive or counter-production with regard to the plan? What were the results of your actions?
There are literally thousands of questions to ask regarding implementation of a professional marketing plan. Those who truly want success will question every step of the way because they do not desire to spend one extra minute performing an activity which is not productive.
And now we have gone full circle-- from goal-setting, to implementation, to evaluation. If you are really looking to differentiate yourself from your competition, try a professional plan of attack.