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Get smart

The mortgage market is certainly tough at the moment and in uncertain times the temptation is always to tighten up the marketing budget. That is fine and prudent but some would say this is exactly the time to crank up your marketing efforts.

Why? If there is a smaller pie, you have got to fight harder for your share. If you do it right, you can swoop in and grab market share while your competitors are huddled in the corner. Now has never been a more important time to get good at marketing, especially if you are offering additional services.

I am not suggesting for a minute that you need to spend like it’s 1999. However, you do need to be smart about where you spend your marketing budget. Working to a specific marketing plan will depend on your target market – remortgage, buy to let etc – and your specific objectives with regard to selling associated products and services but generally it is a good idea to focus on measurable, direct-impact marketing. Start with the initiatives that will bring in actual sales now, not feelgood branding campaigns that might yield sales at some future date, like sponsoring local events.

Here are a few tried and tested marketing tactics that may be helpful to use in good times or bad.

Search engine optimisation. If your website shows up on the first page of results for your keywords, you will get a constant flow of customers who are looking for exactly what you have to offer. Aside from the increased traffic and sales, owning the organic search listings builds your reputation as a leader in the mortgage industry.

Pay-per-click search marketing. PPC search advertising offers a lot more targeting control than organic search. Sure, you have to pay for every click but you are only paying for the clicks you want, plus you can limit your campaign to time of day or specific geographic regions if you are a local broker.

Have a professional set-up and manage your campaign and you will see a huge difference in results.

Affiliate marketing. Grab as many websites as possible to promote your business and only pay for completed sales. That is the allure of affiliate marketing. It’s a lot harder than it sounds to get it right but if you are generous with your commission and treat your affiliates right, this channel can make a huge impact to your sales numbers.

Email marketing. Build a list of customers and prospects and send them valuable information. Customise your newsletters to their specific needs and let them know how you can help them. This is a good time to maximise your in-house list and nurture your relationships with existing customers. They say it costs 10 times more to acquire a new customer than to sell to an existing one, so it’s a no-brainer. It will also provide you with a valuable platform to cross-sell additional products such as general insurance and secured loans.

Joint ventures. It is smart to use your own customer list to its maximum, just as it is smart to leverage the loyal customer base of partner companies. Pay your partner a commission for sales they generate or cross-promote their products to your customer list.

Test everything. Ditch the tactics that do not work and increase spending on the ones that do. To ensure smart spending in a slow economy, it is wise to focus on current clients, cross-sell and seek referrals from happy customers and third-parties. Most important, view these tough times as opportunities rather than threats and look to improve your marketing skills. After all, the world is full of great companies that never fulfil their potential because nobody knows about them.

Sally Laker is managing director of Mortgage Intelligence


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