Don’t Forget the Personal Touch
Loan originators, Realtors and others in the real estate finance profession have become accustomed to e-marketing. They send e-notices, newsletters, loan updates and other correspondence because it is faster and cheaper.
Many have emphasized that “snail mail,” including letters, postcards and other communications once considered the mainstay of marketing, are no longer as effective.
However, there is a concern that consumers are paying less attention to the daily influx of e-mail notices they receive. They may even miss the occasional personal contact with their loan originator.
As you continue updating your own marketing program, you may want to look for simple ways to add the personal touch to your communications.
Greg Frost, Frost Mortgage (and VP-National Training, Primary Residential Mortgage, Inc.), Albuquerque, N.M., is a longtime advocate of sending handwritten notes to customers and others. “Find a reason to send out five note cards to industry professionals and past clients each day,” he said. “Very few handwritten cards are sent, all are appreciated when received. Think about yourself. Don’t you think positively about those very few folks who send you a written card? Five cards a week = 25 cards x 52 weeks = 1,300 opportunities to make a lasting impression.”
Karen Cimera frequently sends past customers a handwritten note to “check in” with them. “I ask how they’re doing and share some relevant market news, and of course, ask for referrals,” said Cimera, Loan Star Home Lending, San Jose, Calif. “My best personal touch is the note I write to say hello and the birthday cards I write monthly. They take forever but I like doing it and this keeps me connected with customers.”
Geoff and Cindy Worrell, Franklin American Mortgage, West Wareham, Mass., have always used handwritten personal acknowledgement notes to stay in touch with customers. “When we write the personal note we try to acknowledge an attribute or character trait that we admire and enclose several business cards, along with some type of personal enclosure such as an article from a magazine or something that may be significant to what we are talking about,” said Cindy. “Handwritten notes are the best with a stamp instead of the postage meter and we try to do at least 50 to 100 per week. We send a note card to anyone we meet during the course of the day and we randomly go through our database and sphere of influence.”
Of course, customers probably appreciate hearing your voice occasionally, especially if you have helpful information to offer. Some originators make birthday calls or to simply check up on their customers.
Jack Lieberman, Guaranteed Rate Mortgage, Austin, Texas, has developed a streamlined method of phone contact. “Several times a year we’ll call them and leave brief messages on various topics and on an annual basis call to arrange their mortgage review,” he said. “All of the calls are on voice mail except for the annual review.”
Others take extra time to talk with their customers, which John Weller has found to be especially rewarding. “Our follow-up system automatically sends customers birthday and anniversary e-mails, and sends me a reminder to call them personally,” said Weller, Megastar Financial, Denver, Colo. “After offering my birthday/anniversary wishes, I’ll ask about their family and friends and life events like job changes or their kids going to college, to see if I can assist them in any way. It is very common for me to originate refinance loans on customers’ birthdays and on anniversaries of their previous closing. I tend to originate pre-approvals and help them plan for their next home.”
Even though many originators conduct most of their business on the phone, others see the advantage of meeting with customers whenever possible. Aaron Jernigan prefers to meet with the majority of his clients. “I really enjoy meeting with people and also believe it helps to minimize communication issues and strengthens the relationship,” said Jernigan, Oak Star Bank, Springfield, Mo. “Unless the customer would rather to do it all over the phone, I generally meet with most of them in my office.”
The Worrells consider the annual check-up to be an ideal time for personal visits.”We send postcards inviting clients to a six month Mortgage and Financial Wellness check-in,” said Cindy. “We provide clients with lots of updated and helpful information on a variety of topics from the Federal Trade Commission, which is all free and very helpful. We also tie the Mortgage Wellness in with health and wellness and provide a pedometer, music and headphones, journal and an “Easy” Button to confirm how easy it is to keep in touch and to share us with others. We encourage this to be in a face-to-face appointment, and we use the tagline ‘The coffee is always on.’”
Obviously e-marketing is fast, easy and inexpensive, and preferred by many consumers. However, it also makes sense to make your communications more personal whenever possible.
David Robinson is Associate Editor of Broker Banker.