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Facts You Need To Know

Now the mortgage industry is changing. So, in order to be successful, you have to change, as well. You have to market better. How do you do that?

According to the article “16 Important Facts All Marketers Should Know for 2018” written by Amy Balliett, the world of content marketing is always evolving, but these 16 stats will help you create a content calendar for 2018 that will get you ahead of the competition.

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As 2017 is now behind us, savvy content marketers are: visiting content past, present, and future. Huddled together around the light of their computer screens, they will dissect the past twelve everything that they did in 2017 to identify what marketing tactics worked and what didn’t.

As they count their remaining budgets they will plan last minute content pushes, hopeful to get another win. But a visit to content future will be the most important part of their journey. Will they see a future filled with success and happiness, or will they refuse to adapt and find themselves buried in a grave of dead tactics?

To avoid finding yourself 6-feet deep in a grave of dead content, consider the lessons that arise from these 16 facts about content marketing:

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Marketers that plan to invest in unique, high-quality content will see a lot of wins this year. Counterparts that rely too heavily on templates or low-cost services, which often prioritize quantity and speed over quality, will likely lose traction this year as a result. The following five trends back up this claim:

1.) According to Hubspot, a whopping 80 percent of consumers prefer custom, original content over canned solutions.

2.) The recent Content Marketing Institute 2017 Benchmarks Report found that 85 percent of content marketers attribute their 2017 success to developing custom, quality content throughout the year.

But quality content isn’t cheap…

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3.) The same report suggests that B2B Marketers who spent at least 39 percent of their budgets on custom content in 2017 saw the most success.

4.) B2B marketers that spent at least 38 percent of their budgets on the same level of content saw equal success.

If you are spending less than most marketers, consider adjusting your budget for 2018. And while you’re at it, focus on personalizing your content as much as possible. This heightens your level of quality while positioning your brand for greater success in the New Year.

5.) Gartner suggests that businesses focused on personalized marketing in 2018 could outsell their competitors by 20 percent

Moving on, with video, it’s all about the simple economic theory of supply and demand. As demand for video increases, the supply of online videos like motion graphics must go up to meet the expectations of today’s consumers. For marketers, it’s important to understand just how strong that demand is so that they can invest more of their budgets into the right types of video in the New Year. The next seven statistics should drive your video marketing efforts in 2018:

According to Cisco, an expected 79 to 84 percent of online consumer traffic will be video traffic in 2018.

6.) Hubspot’s 2017 Video Benchmark Report suggests that successful businesses release an average of 18 videos each month to keep up with demand.

7.) According to Hubspot, 80 percent of customers prefer to watch an explainer video above all other content types to learn about a brand, product, or service.

8.) And if you’re marketing to executives, then video is even more powerful with The Economist suggesting that 85 percent of executives prefer watching a video above all other content types when learning about a product or service.

9.) When considering what types of video to produce, there are three categories you should focus on: personalized videos, motion graphics, and livestream.

10.) According to Livestream.com, 82 percent of people prefer to watch a livestream video delivered from a brand versus viewing a traditional social post from that same brand.

But animated motion graphics continue to be the most popular option because they are more affordable to produce for marketers and offer more engaging storytelling experiences for audiences. Motion graphics also make producing personalized videos easier, which is important for marketers hoping to boost conversion rates in 2018.

11.) According to Vidyard, personalized videos can increase open rates 16 times more than standard videos.

12.) Vidyard also suggests that personalized videos grow click-through rates by 450 percent.

While video is the most popular choice for visual content marketing this year, other forms of visual content should be considered to drive further success. The remaining four statistics should help you convince coworkers and clients alike to focus on creative visual content:

13.) According to reports from Forbes and Deloitte, 71 percent of key decision makers prefer short case studies spanning three to four pages with plenty of visuals breaking up the content.

14.) Blogs that break up their content with images see 650 times the engagement of those that don’t according to Adobe.

15.) Statista predicts that there will be at least 171 million active virtual reality users in 2018

16.) Techcrunch reports that augmented reality will see the most demand with nearly 70 percent of consumers believing that AR will be highly beneficial for them this year and beyond.

About The Author

Michael Hammond

Michael Hammond is chief strategy officer at PROGRESS in Lending Association and is the founder and president of NexLevel Advisors. They provide solutions in business development, strategic selling, marketing, public relations and social media. He has close to two decades of leadership, management, marketing, sales and technical product experience. Michael held prior executive positions such as CEO, CMO, VP of Business Strategy, Director of Sales and Marketing and Director of Marketing for a number of leading companies. He is also only one of about 60 individuals to earn the Certified Mortgage Technologist (CMT) designation. Michael can be contacted via e-mail at mhammond@nexleveladvisors.com.

Mortgage Marketing Trends For 2018

At this time of year there are a number of articles that focus on the key trends in a certain discipline or industry for the coming year. I found some interesting articles on marketing trends for 2018. Here is what some of the predictions included.

In an article entitled “5 Trends Marketers Need to Prepare For In 2018” by AJ Agrawal, CONTRIBUTOR to Forbes, he states.

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1.) Establishing A Conversation

In 2018, look for marketers who are doing more than ever before to generate high-quality, relevant content and optimize their sites to encourage users to participate in the content they share. Marketers will need to find ways to connect more authentically and leverage social listening to strategize successfully in the new year.

2.) Short Planning Cycles

When it comes to marketing strategy, it’s important not to get too far ahead of yourself. Consumer tastes change frequently, so businesses can’t put all their advertising eggs in one basket. Kate Sayre, global head of consumer goods strategy at Facebook, explains that when it comes to marketing, the only real constant is change: “We do six-month planning cycles at Facebook because we don’t know the future. A lot of it is driven by the consumer.”

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3.) Contextual Marketing

Contextual marketing is driven by the insights afforded by big data, including market and customer analysis and predictive analytics; understanding the context in which consumers seek to engage with your brand can help you determine customer intent and drive conversions. Contextual marketing is the future of marketing, as consumers continue to demand greater personalization online.

4.) Purpose Driven Purchasing

As much as 79 percent of consumers would prefer to purchase products from a company that operates with a social purpose, and high-performing marketers are more than two times more likely to be leveraging purpose-driven marketing methods.

5.) Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning

“In 2018, chatbots will become a far more common solution for brands wishing to serve their customers in a smarter and more cost-effective way,” explains Matt Navarra, director of social media at TheNextWeb. “With AI now being easier to integrate into various tools and services, chatbots will become far more useful and personalized with each interaction it has with users.” Artificial intelligence will also help to power big data interpretation and analysis, making it possible for startups to glean greater insight from the information collected.

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AJ’s predictions got me thinking about what which marketing trends the mortgage industry will see in 2018.

>>Content is Still King. You must be able to create and deliver highly relevant content when and where your potential borrower is ready to consume it. The content must be specific to that individual and help them along their specific home buying journey.

>>Big Data and Analytics. There is an enormous amount of data available about your potential borrowers. The lenders that can best utilize this data and turn it into meaningful content can engage with potential borrowers before they begin shopping around for the best mortgage rates.

>>Mobile. Mobile is not just important in delivering on the digital mortgage, it actually begins when the potential borrower begins their housing search. This usually starts on mobile devices; therefore, your mortgage marketing must be mobile and highly engaging to capture their attention and to keep them engaged.

>>The Need for Print & Digital. While more and more of today’s borrowers are starting their searches online and looking for a digital mortgage experience, what we have found is that the most engaging mortgage marketing campaigns combine both print materials that are highly personalized to that specific borrower and digital marketing. Because so many people are getting inundated with emails and digital ads, combining strategically placed print with your digital campaigns truly captures the attention of the borrower.

>>Marketing Automation. The days of lenders using their outdated CRM or email marketing tools to drive business are long gone. With big data, analytics, the need for personalization, and the need for event triggers to send highly targeted marketing materials at the exact time the potential borrower will consume them requires sophisticated marketing automation.

 What mortgage marketing trends do you think lenders are looking to incorporate in 2018?

About The Author

Brandon Perry

Brandon Perry is President at The Turning Point. Brandon oversees all operational and administrative activities of TTP. Brandon brings over 16 years of experience in various financial services industries to TTP which enhances the Company’s ability to maintain it’s position as industry leader in providing customers with an advanced marketing solution.

Use Content To Get New Business

Everyone wants to succeed in 2018. How do you make that possible? One way is content marketing. In the article “How To Move Customers to Buy With Content Marketing” by John White he says that solid content marketing strategy is critical to your company’s success.

How do we make more sales? Companies everywhere are asking themselves this most basic yet fundamental question as the new year approaches.

Consumers are greater informed, and they have more choices on how to spend their money than ever. Getting them to buy your product or service takes some serious skill.

To get them to buy, you need to move them to take action.

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Your content should be attractive to get people’s attention. This can be achieved by having eye-catching visuals in your content. Another way to do it is by crafting a show-stopping headline that will make them stop scrolling and click.

Then, to keep their attention, your content must be compelling, and it needs to educate the buyer about something new and exciting. People love to learn. If your content lacks value and is nothing more than a pitch, it will turn most buyers off.

Buyers want to make a connection with the companies they do business with. So humanize your brand with your content whenever possible. Use storytelling with real examples of how your product or service solves actual problems and improves lives.

Research over the years has consistently shown that emotional response has more influence on buyer’s behavior than the claims made within the content. In other words, if people aren’t feeling it, they’re not buying.

Your content should make buyers begin to envision themselves using your product or service. This is a critical step, and if you don’t get past it, you won’t make a sale.

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Next, consumers want to know how the product or service gets delivered to them. If you are selling a furniture set and part of the visual people get when envisioning buying is them spending their entire weekend assembling it, they will not be moved to buy. Make sure that your content reassures buyers that the setup will be quick and easy, and that it won’t cause significant disruption to their lives!

Buyer advocacy is one of the best ways to get others to make a purchase. Encourage your existing customers to comment on your content. We all know that FOMO (fear of missing out) is a massive trigger for buyers these days. When your existing customers comment, it validates the claims made within your content.

While price alone is not enough to make people buy these days, they do want to feel like they are getting a good offer. Your content should make the buyer feel like they are spending their hard-earned money wisely.

Remember, there are lots of places people can buy. You don’t want to warm them up to the idea of buying your product or service only to have them shop around because the offer you presented did not make them feel good about spending their money.

Your offer should have a little bit of scarcity associated it with it. In other words, after consuming your content, buyers should feel like your company is the industry-leading expert and they can’t get exactly what you are offering them anywhere else.

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Always be thinking about SEO with your content marketing. Create content that is written for SEO using strategic keywords placement within the content that buyers are likely to use when they do a search online. When someone goes to Google or Bing, they have intent and an expressed interest in your product or service.

Creating fresh content that tells your company’s story is the best way to connect with buyers in today’s market. Your content marketing is what makes your business discoverable on the Internet, and getting it right is vital to your success.

About The Author

Michael Hammond

Michael Hammond is chief strategy officer at PROGRESS in Lending Association and is the founder and president of NexLevel Advisors. They provide solutions in business development, strategic selling, marketing, public relations and social media. He has close to two decades of leadership, management, marketing, sales and technical product experience. Michael held prior executive positions such as CEO, CMO, VP of Business Strategy, Director of Sales and Marketing and Director of Marketing for a number of leading companies. He is also only one of about 60 individuals to earn the Certified Mortgage Technologist (CMT) designation. Michael can be contacted via e-mail at mhammond@nexleveladvisors.com.

Your Roadmap To Success

Now is your time. What do I mean by that? The mortgage lending industry is undergoing radical change. In the STRATMOR Insights Report, Nicole Yung, the company’s Senior Partner put it this way:

“While there have been many significant advances in mortgage technology over the years, most of were focused on improving lender processes and productivity, not on fundamentally changing the borrower’s experience,” said Yung. “But, as the publicity surrounding Quicken’s Rocket Mortgage and the Agencies’ stated commitment to Day 1 Certainty attests to, Digital Mortgage may well be a game changer that no lender can afford to ignore.”

So, the big question is: How do you as a vendor take advantage of these new industry trends? One way forward is to know what’s going on in the industry so you can use that knowledge to turn that lender into a high-value prospect. For example, in the late summer of this year Embrace Home Loans, a prominent leader in the mortgage industry, added industry veteran Patrick Mullen as its new Director of Recruiting. In his role, Mullen will spearhead the growth and expansion of Embrace Home Loans’ sales organization by developing a robust recruiting strategy.

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“My vision is for Embrace Home Loans to be the employer of choice for mortgage origination talent in the markets in which we serve. Embrace Home Loans is uniquely positioned for growth and I am thrilled to play a role in helping drive our future growth,” said Mullen. “I joined the team at Embrace to continue to build upon the great foundation the company has built over the past 3 decades. In my 15 years recruiting within the mortgage industry, I’ve learned mortgage originators desire a stable and secure company, a supportive culture and strong executive leadership; Embrace Home Loans is that company.”

How can this news help you? You can use this newsworthy trigger event at Embrace Home Loans to talk to them about how your technology will help them recruit. Knowing about these trigger events and using them to your advantage is essential to success these days. In the White Paper entitled “Hidden Gems: The Ultimate Strategy To Find High Value Prospects” written by Jill Konrath, she explains that many trigger events are newsworthy announcements. Companies share much of this information via press releases. They want to be visible. Sometimes the media writes about what’s happening. Or, people on LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter spill the beans about what’s going on. All this is online, waiting to be found. You need to use this knowledge to adjust your thinking about how you sell.

If trigger event thinking is new to you, it’s important to broaden your understanding of these catalytic agents first. That means we need to take a look at the plethora of “trigger events” that can create a ripple effect within an organization. Here are just a few of the major categories:

>>Mergers, Acquisitions, Partnerships. With these types of activities, organizations re-evaluate many of their existing relationships to determine what Strategic Initiatives. >>Strategic Initiatives. When new corporate directives become a priority, there’s a shift virtually overnight in what decision makers are concerned about. They need to quickly determine if their status quo is sufficient to help them achieve their new objectives.

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>>Market Challenges. This broad category can include competitive activity, changing customer demographics, economic turbulence, rising gas prices and a host of other factors that can both positively or negatively impact future business.

>>Legal/Compliance. Any changes in government regulations or corporate litigation can cause an organization to undertake immediate action.

>>Reorganizations. Tumultuous restructurings change priorities and shift alliances virtually overnight. Existing business relationships are all in jeopardy too.

>>New Leadership. Anytime a new executive is brought onboard, they’re expected to deliver results quickly. Change is always in the air. Depending on what you know about the organization and position (e.g., CFO, VP Marketing), you can infer what might be forthcoming.

>>Financial Announcements. If an organization has missed their earnings expectations or sales growth is lagging, expect to see big changes in the upcoming quarter. Conversely, if growth was better than expected, watch for new initiatives to support their expansion.

These are some of the biggies. But there are also a whole slew of other trigger events that can catalyze change. They’re not earth shattering. But, if you’re aware of them, you can get your foot in the door to have a good discussion with a person who’s finally open to new ideas or vendors.

Knowing about these and other trigger events happening in the mortgage space can make that lender a perfect target for a sale. Today research shows the profound impact of this vital sales intelligence on the sales process. CSO Insights found that effective use of sales intelligence results in a 17% increase in revenue productivity/rep.

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Also, Aberdeen Group discovered that companies who support sales teams with sales intelligence tools see a 28.4% increase in year-over-year revenue. Additionally, Aberdeen Group found that 81% of companies who used a sales intelligence platform saw significant yearly gains in team quotas.

Leveraging sales intelligence yields compelling results. And, the key driver of these results is a trigger event that alters a prospect’s priorities. By using them effectively, you can initiate more opportunities, deepen existing relationships, shorten your sales cycles and minimize competition.

Selling via trigger events is not meant to replace your existing prospecting process. It’s imperative that you still target and go after your ideal customers. Instead, think of trigger events as an ideal augmentation strategy to find those hidden gems. It creates more opportunities for you. And, if you set up a system to do the work for you, your technology partner will alert you when something happens that could create a need for your products or services.

Sometimes finding the best way to use this new knowledge and marry it with your existing strategies can be tricky, which is where trusted partners like NexLevel Advisors can be crucial. If you think about it, this type of knowledge and expertise is valued by executives when making decisions. Executive leaders look to make informed decisions based on more than just internal knowledge, they seek information from trusted external resources. Fact based research, viability assessment, target market segmentation, and competitive analysis all provide a detailed view of potential opportunities, risks and rewards specifically developed for your organization.

As a trusted business advisor, NexLevel Advisors leverages years of experience in business strategy, corporate performance, strategic selling, and marketing to deliver customized solutions that help our clients take advantage of their unique business opportunities. These custom developed solutions allow you to obtain new insight and perspective, optimize sales & marketing effectiveness, and increase customer loyalty quicker and more strategically as you take your company to the next level.

About The Author

Michael Hammond

Michael Hammond is chief strategy officer at PROGRESS in Lending Association and is the founder and president of NexLevel Advisors. They provide solutions in business development, strategic selling, marketing, public relations and social media. He has close to two decades of leadership, management, marketing, sales and technical product experience. Michael held prior executive positions such as CEO, CMO, VP of Business Strategy, Director of Sales and Marketing and Director of Marketing for a number of leading companies. He is also only one of about 60 individuals to earn the Certified Mortgage Technologist (CMT) designation. Michael can be contacted via e-mail at mhammond@nexleveladvisors.com.

Attracting New Borrowers

In today’s hyper-competitive mortgage market with fluctuating rates, low inventories, and changing borrower expectations, it is vital for lenders to truly understand their target audience if they want to attract new borrowers.

In an article entitled “How to Define Your Target Market” by Mandy Porta from Inc.com, Porta addresses this topic and states, “To build a solid foundation for your business, you must first identify your typical customer and tailor your marketing pitch accordingly.”

“Given the current state of the economy, having a well-defined target market is more important than ever. No one can afford to target everyone. Small businesses can effectively compete with large companies by targeting a niche market.”

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“Many businesses say they target “anyone interested in my services.” Some say they target small-business owners, homeowners, or stay-at-home moms. All of these targets are too general.”

The mistake a number of lenders make is trying to appease every possible potential borrower instead of focusing their marketing message and materials to a specific or a limited number of target audiences.

In addition, Porta says, “Targeting a specific market does not mean that you are excluding people who do not fit your criteria. Rather, target marketing allows you to focus your marketing dollars and brand message on a specific market that is more likely to buy from you than other markets. This is a much more affordable, efficient, and effective way to reach potential clients and generate business.”

For example, “an interior design company could choose to market to homeowners between the ages of 35 and 65 with incomes of $150,000-plus in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. To define the market even further, the company could choose to target only those interested in kitchen and bath remodeling and traditional styles. This market could be broken down into two niches: parents on the go and retiring baby boomers.”

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By clearly defining your target audience, your marketing materials and value propositions can be much more specific, personalized, and meaningful to your prospective borrowers.

Porta goes on to state, “With a clearly defined target audience, it is much easier to determine where and how to market your company.” Here are some tips she provides to help you define your target market.

“Look at your current customer base.

Who are your current customers, and why do they buy from you? Look for common characteristics and interests. Which ones bring in the most business? It is very likely that other people like them could also benefit from your product/service.

Check out your competition.

Who are your competitors targeting? Who are their current customers? Don’t go after the same market. You may find a niche market that they are overlooking.

Analyze your product/service.

Write out a list of each feature of your product or service. Next to each feature, list the benefits it provides (and the benefits of those benefits). For example, a graphic designer offers high-quality design services. The benefit is a professional company image. A professional image will attract more customers because they see the company as professional and trustworthy. So ultimately, the benefit of high-quality design is gaining more customers and making more money.

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Once you have your benefits listed, make a list of people who have a need that your benefit fulfills. For example, a graphic designer could choose to target businesses interested in increasing their client base. While this is still too general, you now have a base to start from.

Choose specific demographics to target.

Figure out not only who has a need for your product or service, but also who is most likely to buy it. Think about the following factors:

>>Age

>>Location

>>Gender

>>Income level

>>Education level

>>Marital or family status

>>Occupation

>>Ethnic background

Consider the psychographics of your target.

Psychographics are the more personal characteristics of a person, including:

>>Personality

>>Attitudes

>>Values

>>Interests/hobbies

>>Lifestyles

>>Behavior

Determine how your product or service will fit into your target’s lifestyle. How and when will your target use the product? What features are most appealing to your target? What media does your target turn to for information? Does your target read the newspaper, search online, or attend particular events?

Evaluate your decision.

Once you’ve decided on a target market, be sure to consider these questions:

>>Are there enough people who fit my criteria?

>>Will my target really benefit from my product/service? Will they see a need for it?

>>Do I understand what drives my target to make decisions?

>>Can they afford my product/service?

>>Can I reach them with my message? Are they easily accessible?

While targeting is a very powerful tool to help maximize marketing dollars and results, it is important to prudently carve out your niche. Companies can get too narrow with their focus and have a very limited number of prospects to market to.

Porta’s tip, “If you can reach both niches effectively with the same message, then maybe you have broken down your market too far. Also, if you find there are only 50 people that fit all of your criteria, maybe you should reevaluate your target. The trick is to find that perfect balance.”

She concludes with, “Defining your target market is the hard part. Once you know who you are targeting, it is much easier to figure out which media you can use to reach them and what marketing messages will resonate with them. Instead of sending direct mail to everyone in your ZIP code, you can send it only to those who fit your criteria. Save money and get a better return on investment by defining your target audience.”

Knowing your target audience will not only save you money on your marketing but it will also deliver greater results as you look to attract more new borrowers in today’s highly competitive mortgage market.

About The Author

Brandon Perry

Brandon Perry is President at The Turning Point. Brandon oversees all operational and administrative activities of TTP. Brandon brings over 16 years of experience in various financial services industries to TTP which enhances the Company’s ability to maintain it’s position as industry leader in providing customers with an advanced marketing solution.

Your Brand Matters

What you stand for is important. Relationships in the mortgage industry matter a lot. Often technology decisions, for example, are made based on who else is using that same technology.

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For this reason a lot of mortgage technology vendors are reluctant to tinker with their brand, but I’m here to tell you that’s the wrong approach. In the article entitled “The Importance of Updating your Brand” by Chirag Thumar, he defines a brand as “what your consumers perceive of your company. The idea or feeling that they associate with your company is the brand of your business. If you ask your clients of what comes to their mind when your business is mentioned and they respond consistently with an emotion or perception, which is your brand.”

Your company’s brand plays a vital role in the workings of its business, as it helps create an impression, evokes curiosity about the company and its business, and gives out an essence of quality and professionalism.

Why should you update your brand?

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Brand image is crucial in communicating properly with your target clients the goodwill of your business and to assure certain levels of expectation. Even if your business has an established brand, it needs to evolve as the business itself changes. Re-branding and refreshing your company’s appearance is crucial to keep it relevant to your old clients as well as to attract new ones. There are many reasons why to do so, such as:

>>To reflect internal changes

>>Business growth: As a business expands, the brand needs to extend itself to appeal to the increasing mass of consumers that the company is trying to interact with.

>>Globalization: When a company expands its products and services to the international market, the brand name has to evolve to be represented constantly in all the countries.

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The biggest of the international brands like Google, eBay, Apple, Coca-Cola update their brands frequently to cater to their expanding business strategies.

When is it time to update your brand?

Re-branding your company is a decision that should be made after a systematic analysis of the response pattern of your consumers. There are certain signals that your brand needs an update, which you need to look out for, like-

>>If your brand is being associated with negative feelings

>>If your brand is out of sync with your business identity

>>If your brand is not making your business stand out

How do you get your brand updated?

A refresh comes in many forms and it is important to have an understanding of your clients’ attitudes to opt for the most suitable re-branding for your business. The options include:

>>Getting a logo: If your business doesn’t have a logo, consider getting one developed. Or if your company has had the same logo for a long time, consider getting it changed. A case in point is the company Starbucks, which has become a very easily recognizable brand with its much simplified logo.

>>Changing the company’s name: For a business to appeal to the popular mass, the company needs a name that is easily accepted and recognized by its large variety of consumers. For example, the digital giant Google was once known as “Back Rub”.

>>Releasing a new product that has gained relevance among the consumers.

>>Changing the way of advertising: It is essential to advertise your company the right way and by right way, what is meant is the way your target audience will find your product or service the most appealing. It is equally important for the advertising strategies to be relevant to both your business identify as well as time.

And most companies can’t do this alone, which is where partners like NexLevel Advisors come in. NexLevel Advisors marketing services helps its clients strategically market products and services whose complicated selling propositions or complex technical offerings require the communication of highly specialized information to elevate results. We offer world-class expertise and marketing insight to deliver dynamic marketing strategies and campaigns that will truly take your organization to the next level.

So, don’t be afraid to change your brand to meet today’s mortgage industry needs and don’t be afraid to ask for help in making sure that you do it right.

About The Author

Michael Hammond

Michael Hammond is chief strategy officer at PROGRESS in Lending Association and is the founder and president of NexLevel Advisors. They provide solutions in business development, strategic selling, marketing, public relations and social media. He has close to two decades of leadership, management, marketing, sales and technical product experience. Michael held prior executive positions such as CEO, CMO, VP of Business Strategy, Director of Sales and Marketing and Director of Marketing for a number of leading companies. He is also only one of about 60 individuals to earn the Certified Mortgage Technologist (CMT) designation. Michael can be contacted via e-mail at mhammond@nexleveladvisors.com.

Value Your Data

We have heard industry veterans like Roger Gudobba and others say, “It’s all about the data.” The phrase has become so overused that it almost means nothing anymore. However, lenders and vendors alike should listen to this sound advice. Roger was talking about how data can improve the mortgage lending process, and that’s true, but I’m here to say to you that data can improve your marketing process, as well.

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In a White Paper entitled “Put Data First: Why Data Quality in CRM and Marketing Automation are Top Priority” written by RingLead, the author states that whatever your situation may be, you will quickly realize that it all comes back to data, because data is the real value in your CRM and marketing automation platform.

We don’t mean to trivialize the importance of workflows, automated processes and drip nurturing campaigns that these systems offer. These features are one of the primary reasons that organizations invest so much time and money into their implementation and ongoing administration and improvement, but many are rendered utterly useless when they come into contact with dirty data.

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Dirty data has a way of silently infiltrating your organization, creating frustration, inefficiency, and loss of confidence (eg. dismal user adoption) in the systems themselves. It can affect each department and group of stakeholders in a very different way, but unless there is a “State of Our Data” address, the problem is not brought to the forefront of the organization’s collective psyche.

One of the key requirements of a customer and prospect database is to easily segment the records, allowing your organization to interact with one set of contacts differently from others. This can be easy if you have a strict set of values for each field and the input is controlled at the insertion point.

A common requirement is segmentation by job title, but there are simply too many variations on an individual’s job title to try to account for each with a picklist value, so the standard method of insertion is via a regular text field. This creates a pretty big problem for segmentation.

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According to a 2013 Experian QAS survey, 94 percent of businesses believe there is some level of inaccuracy within their CRM systems. When you think about the time, money and focus that is put into CRM, an allowance for inaccurate and useless data is mind boggling.

Think about the time that your organization is wasting sifting through inaccurate or worse, completely useless, data. Inaccurate data leads to:

>>Wasted sales efforts on useless bits of information stored in CRM, leading to discontent and potential abandonment of the CRM system (ie. decreased user adoption)

>>Longer wait times for support while reps are forced to piece together information while on the phone with a customer, leading to decreased customer satisfaction

At Sirius Summit 2013, Jim Ninivaggi, Service Director of Sales Enablement Strategies at Sirius Decisions cited a study that found roughly 30% of an enterprise salesperson’s time is spent doing research on the Internet. If you think about that in the context of an 8 am – 6 pm workday, that means that 35 days per year are spent doing research.

In Data Driven: Profiting from Your Most Important Business Asset, Thomas C. Redman sums up the advantages of data completeness as “A moat around our business [that] gives us a unique competitive advantage.” Nowhere is this more evident than the aspect of data completeness.

Duplicate records in CRM and marketing automation platforms are a familiar aspect of bad data. The errors and frustration that duplicates cause can be felt across most departments at almost every level.

Reports are skewed, the wrong messages are being sent, and quarrels are created over one record that somehow made it into the system twice and was distributed to two different sales reps.

How are duplicate records created? Today’s CRM and marketing automation platforms come equipped with very basic duplicate identification, which is, in almost every case, based on a scan for an exact-match email address.

Many modern, technology-enabled organizations are using more than one software platform to manage their customer and prospect data. It is crucial to keep your data in sync across your email, ERP systems, CRM, marketing automation platform, and more. If your data quality plan is limited to one platform, you’re only solving part of the problem.

It’s important to remember that dirty data can be a big problem, but can be easily solved. Analyze the problem and try to hone in on the areas that are causing the most pain. Then get in touch with a team that has experience in resolving these types of issues.

For example, NexLevel Advisors is focused on companies that are looking to take their business to the next level. NexLevel Advisors assists you in elevating your results. Creating new opportunities, executable strategies, and delivering results creates an environment that promotes continual growth and business value for your company.

We add value through strategic advice specific to your company. Our team has years of experience and have been in your situation and position. These individuals possess in-depth knowledge of your complex product and service offerings, the nuances of your market segment, and the challenges of your product roadmap and lifecycle. We deliver customized differentiation in the marketplace for your organization while producing measurable results.

What this means for your business is that you get customized programs from accomplished executives who offer proven results-oriented solutions specifically created to take your organization to the next level, quicker and more strategically than you could on your own.

NexLevel’s experience has covered multiple industries including: Financial Services, Healthcare, Legal Services and Insurance in delivering marketplace results, with extensive expertise in complex technology oriented products and services. Our customized solutions help you to sell more, more frequently, to more people by clearly establishing your specific value propositions. This is where real world experience, strategy and execution deliver measurable results for your organization.

For over 20 years the advisors of NexLevel have been leading and creating market leaders in business, delivering success after success in taking companies to the next level in revenues and profitability. This vast expertise comes from real world experience in running companies, building organizations and holding the following positions of leadership: CEO, CMO, VP Business Strategy, and Director of Sales & Marketing. Our experience makes the difference in your business.

If your CRM reporting seems “off”, if your marketing campaigns are less than impressive, if your sales team is underperforming, then this is your system flashing the Check Engine light. More often than not, dirty data is the root cause.

About The Author

Michael Hammond

Michael Hammond is chief strategy officer at PROGRESS in Lending Association and is the founder and president of NexLevel Advisors. They provide solutions in business development, strategic selling, marketing, public relations and social media. He has close to two decades of leadership, management, marketing, sales and technical product experience. Michael held prior executive positions such as CEO, CMO, VP of Business Strategy, Director of Sales and Marketing and Director of Marketing for a number of leading companies. He is also only one of about 60 individuals to earn the Certified Mortgage Technologist (CMT) designation. Michael can be contacted via e-mail at mhammond@nexleveladvisors.com.

Perfect Your E-Mail Campaigns

Email marketing is one of the original and often most successful forms of digital marketing. But email is kind of like your favorite restaurant—just because it’s popular doesn’t mean you can let quality slide. One bad meal (or email) can have damaging effects on a brand.

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We’ve all received a marketing email with a blatant spelling error or broken link. It happens, but it doesn’t do much for the credibility of the sender, and it might just go straight to the trash.

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And if you’re on the other side of a marketing email, you want to avoid errors at any cost!

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Today’s infographic by direct mail management company Citipost Mail will help you do just that. It lists 10 things to avoid in an email. And if something does go wrong (perish the thought), the graphic advises four steps to manage the damage.

For a checklist on what not to do in your next email campaign, see the infographic:

Progress In Lending

The Place For Thought Leaders And Visionaries

Back To Basics

As the mortgage industry becomes more advanced, sometimes classic strategies are still worthy of use. For example, in the article entitled “Creating Lead Magnets That Convert” by Clayton Johnson, he says marketing techniques are amazing. No matter how much technology advances online, some techniques never go out of style. One of these classics is a lead magnet.

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Let’s take a look at what lead magnets are and how they can improve your marketing efforts.

How They Work

Traffic is great. But online success is about more than just driving people to your site. You want visitors who are actually interested in the products or services you provide.

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Lead magnets are a marketing technique used to attract leads that are likely to convert. Basically, you offer something for free in exchange for the person’s email address. Then, you send this potential customer additional emails. Each email provides additional free content as well as information on your brand. Slowly but surely, you’re driving the customer toward a sale. This process is called a conversion funnel.

The Right Magnetic Energy

Here’s the thing. Suppose you sell designer furniture: You decide to offer a free product in exchange for email addresses as a way to generate some leads. You can probably get a ton of email addresses if you offer free iPads or big-screen TVs. Of course, that would be incredibly expensive, but you’re almost guaranteed to get a lot of responses.

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The problem (aside from the cost) is that those email addresses aren’t going to be very good leads. Pretty much everybody wants a free iPad. There’s no particular connection between people who want a free iPad and people who want to buy designer furniture.

Offering Free Content

You want to offer content related to your brand. Here are three key ingredients to consider when developing your lead magnet:

>>Is this content something your audience will care about?

>>Does this content have any real-world value?

>>Does this content help solve a problem?

The first step to success is to understand your audience. You’ll want to develop a buyer persona. This is a detailed, fictional person who represents your larger customer base. You’ll also want to understand how your brand is perceived.

Launching A Lead Magnet

The ideal piece of content is something you can create for free but other people are willing to pay more for. This often means creating written content like an e-book. A great way to find out what type of information is popular in your niche is to search the Kindle Marketplace. What e-books are selling well? What type of format does the audience respond to?

When you’ve found some best-selling e-books, take a look at the reviews. Are there any common complaints? You’re looking for shortcomings. The idea is to create a better e-book and then offer it for free. You’ll promote the book by showcasing how your e-book has information the competition lacks.

Creating New Content

Writing an e-book can be a fairly labor-intensive project. Fortunately, you can still generate leads even before the book is finished. Hit up your social media pages and announce the topic of your new e-book. Explain that you’re just starting the writing process. Ask your social media followers for feedback. This accomplishes two things:

>>You’ll learn about the specific topics your potential audience is interested in.

>>You’ll create advanced buzz and excitement for your e-book.

Of course, once you do this you need to actually finish the e-book. If you can’t deliver on your promise, your customer base will have a hard time trusting you when it’s time to make a sale. But as long as you deliver, an announcement is an effective strategy.

Creating free content can pay off big time in terms of brand awareness and conversions. Following the tips above will focus your marketing efforts on people who are most likely to be interested in the products or services you provide.

About The Author

Michael Hammond

Michael Hammond is chief strategy officer at PROGRESS in Lending Association and is the founder and president of NexLevel Advisors. They provide solutions in business development, strategic selling, marketing, public relations and social media. He has close to two decades of leadership, management, marketing, sales and technical product experience. Michael held prior executive positions such as CEO, CMO, VP of Business Strategy, Director of Sales and Marketing and Director of Marketing for a number of leading companies. He is also only one of about 60 individuals to earn the Certified Mortgage Technologist (CMT) designation. Michael can be contacted via e-mail at mhammond@nexleveladvisors.com.

Not Everything Needs To Be Digital

There is a lot of buzz around the digital mortgage, but not everything needs to be digital. What do I mean? Some marketing needs to be direct mail. In the article “How and When to Use Direct Mail as Part of Your Inbound Marketing Strategy” by Mac McAvoy, he writes that direct mail regularly gets a bad rap as an exclusively outbound-focused tactic that doesn’t keep up with the ways buyers want to consume content.

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But in the right situations, direct mail could be a crucial differentiator in a world where 78% of consumers have unsubscribed from a company’s email list because the company was sending too many emails.

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Just as a product that’s similar to a dozen competitors will struggle to take off, marketing that looks like everyone else’s simply won’t be memorable. Classic digital marketing tactics like email have become so overcrowded that approaching inbound creatively is crucial to standing out from your competition.

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The key to doing direct mail right is keeping it aligned with your inbound marketing funnel.

Never forget your main objective: you want to lead prospects back online to continue nurturing them there. Any piece of mail you send must direct prospects online to help you track them throughout the process — whether that’s including a link to a landing page or a code they can enter on your website. Plus, the more information you have about what kinds of offers they respond to, the better you can speak to their pain points and specific needs.

Prior to beginning any marketing campaign, your team should be laser-focused on your potential customers’ preferences and needs.

Your number one priority is standing out to those who are most likely to buy your product. This fundamental step shouldn’t change when you’re considering incorporating direct mail into your marketing. Inbound is all about meeting prospective customers where they are.

Given the plethora of other places to spend, it’ll be hard to justify spending on direct mail over, for example, paid content promotion on social media if your target audience is addicted to their smartphones.

However, if your potential customers are old enough to own homes or apartments and are likely to check their mailboxes often, direct mail could prove to be effective. It’s all about understanding what your audience needs.

If you’ve identified that sending a letter or postcard is an effective way to reach your particular prospects, you can begin to think about the moments in the buyer’s cycle when it’s best to reach out with the personalized touch of a physical piece of mail.

For example, a prospect finds a piece of content useful and subscribes to your blog to stay in the know. So what’s your next step?

Keep in mind that all your prospect did was subscribe to an email list. That means they’re probably still a pretty “cold” lead. If they found a blog post through organic search or because they saw a headline that looked interesting on LinkedIn, they’re not going to appreciate receiving any type of content that attempts to make a hard sell, let alone a postcard explaining your pricing.

Think about the number of coupons and offers that you’ve discovered in your mailbox, only to toss them in the recycling bin immediately. Those pieces of mail probably weren’t relevant to needs you’d expressed.

You need to make the content you’re offering via direct mail speak to the individual. That means that if at all possible, you want to segment your mailing list in the same way you’d segment an email list.

Ultimately, striking at the right time with direct mail comes down to maintaining awareness of your prospects’ stage in the buyer’s cycle. Craft the direct mail piece that stands out from the rest by showing that your company understands their leads.

About The Author

Michael Hammond

Michael Hammond is chief strategy officer at PROGRESS in Lending Association and is the founder and president of NexLevel Advisors. They provide solutions in business development, strategic selling, marketing, public relations and social media. He has close to two decades of leadership, management, marketing, sales and technical product experience. Michael held prior executive positions such as CEO, CMO, VP of Business Strategy, Director of Sales and Marketing and Director of Marketing for a number of leading companies. He is also only one of about 60 individuals to earn the Certified Mortgage Technologist (CMT) designation. Michael can be contacted via e-mail at mhammond@nexleveladvisors.com.