Buying a house is a big deal. For most people, it’s right up there with purchasing your first car, getting married, having a child – I mean, it’s a significant commitment. When you’re looking to buy a home, you want a low interest rate and down payment, along with a mortgage that works with your budget. Now, aside from all the financial aspects and paperwork involved in this, the most critical part of working with a mortgage company, realtor, loan officer, etc., is trust.
I was not an expert when I bought my first home, which is why I started looking for someone who was. Why? The same reason you read reviews about products online, or why people search for the perfect doctor to help them deliver their child:
But do you trust strangers? Do you trust people you have never met or spoken to? Probably not. You do, however, trust people you have relationships with. And what’s the key to every healthy relationship? Say it with me: Communication.
People looking to buy homes are bombarded with a myriad of choices and options of whom to work with. The complexity of the process doesn’t help either. If anything, it adds to the importance of working with someone you can trust. So as a mortgage company, how do you build trust? How do you connect with these people on a human level, establishing a genuine and meaningful relationship?
Easy – treat it like any other relationship and get to know each other.
A good step in achieving this is focusing on your brand. First off, does your company have a brand book? This acts as a guide on how you talk to customers and what drives everything you do – it’s your purpose. What about a brand story? This is what’s going to let people know why you do what you do. Is it to make money, because that doesn’t sound like a good selling point: “Work with me because I get commission off this.” So it’s not JUST about making money, right?
Well, prove it.
Here’s a snippet of my story: I started TAG because I loved technology and wanted to use everything I knew to help other people solve their problems. What about a company culture video – do you have that? Something that lets consumers see the day-to-day environment of your office – all the funny or entertaining things that happen?
Consumers are no longer sold on one-pagers about products and services; they want meaningful, authentic and sincere content that helps them learn more about the brand and the people that are a part of it. People want to do business with people.
Another critical note is that people are buying homes sooner, at a younger age. These people have digital habits that are, let’s say, different from those who purchased homes 20, 10, maybe even 5 years ago. They are on different platforms, using different services. Truth be told they are not looking at magazines or billboards as frequently as they did in the past. They are looking in the same place where they do everything else: the internet. Have a problem? Google it. Something wrong with your car? Google it, then go to YouTube and watch someone explain it.
Businesses need to pivot in where and how they reach out to their audiences.
This case is even more true for mortgage companies. Let me use a quick example: When I get my coffee in the morning, I go into autopilot mode. It’s not a very in-depth, thought-provoking process. Why? Because I know what I like, I know what to order, it’s (roughly) $5 and, if it doesn’t taste good, I will probably still drink it. Now, if the employee were to tell me I’d be paying off that cup of coffee for the next 20 years and that it would be the only thing I could drink for those 20 years, my perspective would shift a little bit. I would be a bit more hesitant to hand over my debit card.
See how that changes things?
So, when it comes to mortgage companies, I consider there to be a few phases the customer’s go through when making these decisions: the awareness phase, shopping phase, and the purchase phase. This is what’s known as the customer’s journey. The final phase – the purchase – is easy. This stage is the point in which the customer is working with you, relying on your expertise to help the process be as seamless as possible. At this point, you have their trust, because they’re about to buy something.
The awareness and shopping phases – these are entirely different stories. These are the phases when trust is either gained or lost and where many companies trip over their own feet.
In the awareness phase, the customers have a need that has to be fulfilled. They are establishing a problem internally – something along the lines of, “I am tired of paying rent to live in an apartment I do not even own. I want my own place.” This helps them transition into the shopping phase, which is when they start looking at options.
Let me use another example: You’re hungry. There’s a sandwich shop you go to all the time. It’s cheap; it’s not that far away, it’s fast but – most importantly – it’s a good sandwich. You know that when you get a sandwich from that place, it will be good. You trust them, and it’s this trust that secures them in the awareness, shopping, and purchase phase.
For mortgage companies, they need to 100% focus on building this type of trust.
How? Well, the first step is content. Trust can be formed by establishing a foundation of expertise. Blogs, emails, social posts, videos. Consistent content that lets people know you’re an expert in your field. The other way to build trust is to establish a relationship and nurture it. This means not entering the shopping phase purely with the intention to sell. You have to go into it with the plan to walk side-by-side with the customer, helping them take this next big step in their lives. But don’t just say it – commit to it. People can see through marketing if it’s not genuine, and then guess what happens: you lose their trust.
Make everything you do personal & meaningful. You have to build rapport. You have to get them to like you because, if they like you they will listen to anything you have to say.
Here are some trends we have noticed customers dealing with mortgage companies (and companies in general) expect from their experiences:
- Online tools to make decisions easier
- Content personalization
- One-to-one interactions
- An active digital presence
- Online engagement on different platforms
- Live-chat options
- Electronic documents and quotes
- Follow-up on forms (within 24 hours)
- Recommended loan options
- Information about the process
- Updates on progress and next steps
What’s the trend in all of these? Communicating.
A recent study surveyed more than 1,000 people looking to make purchases within the home buying industry. The study found that 91% of these people wanted marketing that used “common language.” Along with that, 71% wanted a “live chat” feature on the site. The most noticeable factor they found is that – from Millennials to Gen X-ers, to Baby Boomers – roughly 61% will make their decisions and purchases through the internet. Not the phone. Not at the store.
They are living online, and are making decisions there as well, so you need to meet them there.
We are not loan officers and, as far as I know, nobody at TAG moonlights for a mortgage company. However, we do know how to market to people, and that makes us experts in communication. What worked a couple of years ago isn’t as effective anymore. Marketing is no longer about just selling. I mean, it is, but it’s not the focal point. Why? Because emotion is more powerful than discounts, and trust is stronger than funny radio spots.
The way to truly succeed in marketing is to be human.
Build relationships. Genuinely care about the people you’re selling to and get to know them. With the noise and the clutter in today’s advertising, consumers are not expecting brands to talk to them like people. So talk to them like people.
Put yourself in their shoes: Would you trust someone you have never met and know nothing about to help you purchase your first home?