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Market Analysis: Combining Mobile Technology And Social Media

*Combining Social Media And Mobile Technology*
**By Tony Garritano**

***We talk a lot about mobile technology. PROGRESS in Lending Association has a fre iPad app that you can download right now. We believe in this technology. We also support the use of social media. Our company is active on Twitter and I’m on both LinkedIn and Facebook. But how do these technologies play in the mortgage space for lenders? Technology providers like LenderMobile, a provider of mobile mortgage loan applications for iPad computers, has made advances in this area and recently launched several new features for its LenderMobile+ flagship application in response to user feedback, including a new Social Invite feature enabling loan agents to invite Realtors or borrowers who also are using the iPad app to start a loan transaction in real-time. This new feature creates a powerful lead generation tool for loan originators. Here’s the story:

****Other new features just introduced include new loan prequalification tools, such as payment information, front- and back-end ratios and loan-to-value ratios (LTV) for the Form 1003, Uniform Residential Loan Application–information a loan originator needs to make a prequalification decision. The LenderMobile+ app now provides pipeline reporting from the loan agent’s loan origination system (LOS), a good faith estimate and mortgage calculators.

****Loan originators now can invite a Realtor partner or a borrower to connect directly with them via their iPads to start a new loan transaction. On their iPads, Realtors and borrowers can request loan prequalification forms and submit them to originators to start the process.

****The LenderMobile+ app also has the ability to generate prequalification data based on information entered on the 1003 application, such as the loan amount, target rate, income and expenses. From this data, the app will show critical prequalification information, including the monthly mortgage payment (principle and interest) and front-end and back-end ratios. The iPad app’s new mortgage calculators allow originators to easily enter different borrower scenarios to generate new mortgage amortization or payment information.

****With the iPad app, loan agent users can also retrieve pipeline information for loans from their LOS, including loan status, conditions and notes from the loan file.

****“Based on our users’ feedback, we realized the need to expand our LenderMobile+ app to borrowers, who will ultimately decide how they wish to transact the loan process online,“ said Lovina Worick, vice president of business development at LenderMobile. “Our new iPad app features provide loan officers all the tools for on-the-fly prequalification calculations. Before our iPad app upgrade, they had to use a separate device to run different loan scenarios for the borrower. Now all this can be done from their iPads. This is especially helpful for loan officers who do business face to face. While in front of the borrower, they can take the application, get signed disclosures and run prequalification scenarios without needing a laptop, scanner, printer or fax machine.”

****The LenderMobile+ iPad app uses cloud computing technology to bring mortgage origination capabilities to the screen of any iPad user who has downloaded the mobile application. Borrowers can electronically sign the loan application directly on the iPad. Loan agents also can order vendor services from their iPads, such as credit reports and review them in real-time with borrowers.

****The LenderMobile+ application can be downloaded at no charge from the online Apple App store. A monthly subscription is required for loan originators using the LenderMobile+ app to order services from third-party vendors and submit mortgage loan documents to their LOS. The subscription is available on www.LenderMobile.com.

Winning The Battle For The Borrower: Here’s How You Get More Business

*Here’s How You Get More Business*
**By Judy Margrett**

***I started in the mortgage business back in 1985. It’s hard to believe. I’ve originated, did sales management, you name it. In that time I’ve seen a lot of changes. Being on the lender side got me thinking. What would help me or my originators get more quality business? The more I thought about it, the more I became convinced that automated loyalty was the solution. A lot of people say you can’t automate marketing, but you can. Here’s how:

****If we take a short trip down memory lane, initially it was all about digitizing your signature, pulling data from the loan origination system and sending out marketing materials every 90 days. Basically it was about replicating your marketing process with software. Things have evolved. If you think about it, the LOS started out as just a more automated 1003, but today the LOS is the system of record and does much, much more.

****The first difference in today’s market vs. the market of 1985 is that you need a Web-based tool that goes beyond just sending out marketing materials. Marketing is about relationships, not transactions. The industry has been transaction based for too long. It’s not about the deal, it’s about the people. The days of just closing any deal because you have a willing investor are long gone. Today it’s about quality, not quantity. And guess what, if you originate quality loans the quantity desired will follow.

****Similarly, marketing itself has also evolved. What do I mean? You can’t expect any one solution or approach to work. As the saying goes: There is no silver bullet. Marketing should be about using tools like social media, e-mail, texting, and, yes, sending out old-fashioned print media, as well.

****Automated programs maximize the retention of current clients and the revival of past clients. These pre-determined sequences of strategically timed marketing communications typically run for up to three years (or more) and can be extended at any time. A well-configured automated program lays the firmest possible foundation for long-term success – not only by generating a steady flow of referrals, repeat sales and cross-sales from a loyal audience, but also by ensuring maximum response to on-demand custom campaigns, thus creating a lasting relationship.

****Statistics show that every client/borrower has at a minimum 15 to 20 referrals. And we as people automatically refer things like restaurants all the time naturally. What does that mean for your business? If you focus on the relationship and have a holistic approach to marketing you can close more business. In my next column we’ll continue this conversation as I give some solid strategies on how you can use this technique to get more business.

New Media Strategies: A Simple Blog Post Formula

*A Simple Blog Post Formula*
**By Rick Grant**

***So now that you’ve got your blog set up, you’re probably wondering what to say. You may be having trouble saying exactly what you want to say and you might be standing face-to-face with the fear that you don’t really have the time to be writing regular blog posts.

****The good news is that blog posts don’t need to be long (think 250-500 words), so it won’t take up a considerable chunk of your time to write them. And despite the fact that there are probably a million ways to write a blog post, I’ve found that a simple can make your blog not only easy to update but also interesting and interactive for your readers.

****It’s a four step process. I’ll walk you through it.

****You’ll want to start off your post with a link to something newsy that will be valuable and interesting to your readers. It should be directly or indirectly related to what you want to talk about; you’ll be the one to point out the relevance. This is a good way to hook people into reading—instead of forcing them to jump in with both feet, you’re preparing them for what you’re about to say by first pointing to the environment: something that’s happened in the industry, somebody’s opinion, or even something in a completely unrelated field that’s similar to what you’ll be talking about.

****The second step is to write a paragraph about why this news item is important now. Give a little background and make it relevant to the topic at hand. There must be some good reason this snippet of Web info caught your eye. Share it.

****Next you’ll provide your take on the news item. You can do this in one sentence or you can go crazy on it, but remember that people would rather read blog posts that are short. Still, this is the part of your post to show off your thought leadership: What does this bit of news mean for your industry? What should people be doing about it? How do we move forward from here? Share your valuable insight and you’ll become an important resource to your readers.

****Always end with a call to action, that’s the fourth step. Now that you’ve provided some news and your thoughts on it, what should everyone do with it? Ask your readers to provide their opinions in the comments section. You want your blog to be a two-way conversation between yourself and your readers; value your readers, and they will value you.

****This is also a good time to point them to further information or something you or your company has done—a white paper or a case study, for example. Your blog should be more than just commentary, it should encourage your readers to become active participants in the conversation and in your industry.

****Don’t forget a headline to your post. I find it easiest to come up with a headline after writing the post, and you’ll want to include keywords that will pull in your readers. That’s just a few words so we don’t refer to this as a full step, for those of you who think I can’t count.

****This formula is the easiest way I’ve found for writing concise, informative, and consistent blog posts. If you’re one of those people who has trouble starting when it comes to writing, taking these steps should make blogging a whole lot easier for you. So get out there and share your thoughts.

Lykken On Lending: Don’t Ignore Social Media

*Don’t Ignore Social Media*
**By David Lykken**

***Harnessing social media tools can help you connect with potential customers in new ways as well as increase your mortgage company’s brand recognition.  Social Media websites have gone well beyond being a passing fad and have become “mainstream” strategic marketing and communication tools.  If you are not yet a believer in the benefits of social media for your business, consider the following two dozen facts:

****1. As of last year, Gen Y will outnumber Baby Boomers and 96% of them have joined a social network

****2. Social Media has overtaken porn as the #1 activity on the Web

****3. 1 out of 8 couples married in the U.S. last year met via social media

****4. Years to reach 50 millions Users: Radio (38 Years), TV (13 Years), Internet (4 Years), iPod (3 Years)…Facebook added 100 million users in less than 9 months…iPhone applications hit 1 billion in 9 months.

****5. If Facebook were a country it would be the world’s 4th largest between the United States and Indonesia (note that Facebook is now creeping up—recently announced 300 million users)

****6. A recent U.S. Department of Education study revealed that on average, online students out performed those receiving face-to-face instruction

****7. 1 in 6 higher education students are enrolled in online curriculum

****8. The percentage of companies using LinkedIn as a primary tool to find employees is 80%

****9. The fastest growing segment on Facebook is 55-65 year-old females

****10. Generation Y and Z consider e-mail passé… therefore an increasing number of colleges have stopped distributing e-mail addresses to incoming freshmen

****11. The #2 largest search engine in the world is YouTube

****12. Wikipedia has over 13 million articles…some studies show it’s more accurate than Encyclopedia Britannica…78% of these articles are non-English

****13. There are over 200,000,000 Blogs

****14. Because of the speed in which social media enables communication, word of mouth now becomes world of mouth… consider the recent uprising in Egypt

****15. 34% of bloggers post opinions about products & brands

****16. 78% of consumers trust peer recommendations

****17. Only 14% trust advertisements

****18. Only 18% of traditional TV campaigns generate a positive ROI

****19. 90% of people that can TiVo ads do

****20. 24 of the 25 largest newspapers are experiencing record declines in circulation because we no longer search for the news, the news finds us

****21. In the near future we will no longer search for products and services they will find us via social media

****22. More than 1.5 million pieces of content (web links, news stories, blog posts, notes, photos, etc.) are shared on Facebook…daily.

****23. Successful companies in social media act put listening (via social media) first, selling second

****24. Successful companies in social media act more like aggregators and content providers than traditional advertisers

****The three social media sites I recommend that you consider using are LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter. Whether you are an individual working at a technology company or as a loan originator or with a small mortgage company or a large financial institution, my recommendation is for you to start creating “your community.” Please call me if you want help developing an effective social media strategy for yourself and/or your company.

Your Competitive Edge: Sure-Fire Rules For Success

*Sure-Fire Rules For Success*
**By Michael Hammond**

***How much do you spend on marketing? Are you getting a return? I talk to a lot of companies about marketing strategy. I find it amazing what I hear some times. Companies are all looking for a silver bullet. They want an easy way to get an immediate return. Sorry to say, the old adage life isn’t easy certainly applies. However, I ran across an article by Karl Stark and Bill Stewart called “4 Rules for Better Marketing” that will help anyone serious about marketing get ahead. Here’s what they advised:

****Rule No. 1: Bring a Rifle to the Hunt, Not a Shotgun

****Contacting a potential customer with a marketing “impression” is not necessarily very expensive. A direct mail campaign might cost as little as a few cents per impression for an insert in an existing mailer, or a dollar or more for a catalog. Hypothetically speaking, mailers cost roughly 20 cents per impression.

****With these mailers you target a very broad range of potential customers. Is this the right approach? Probably not. This “shotgun” approach shows in the results: The efficacy is only 0.1 percent – 0.3 percent, which means that you must reach between 300 and 1,000 potential customers for each customer that you acquire. This is how 20 cents per mailer translates into $70 per new customer acquired.

****Better targeting would improve the results. You already have a wealth of historical customer data that can provide telltale information on which potential customers are ripe for purchase. For example, if you’re a lending looking to get new borrowers, when a customer gets married their purchasing patterns change dramatically. Targeting customers based on recent behaviors and life events can dramatically increase their “hit rate” and lower their cost per customer acquisition.

****Rule No. 2: Make Them an Offer They Can’t Refuse

****Tailoring existing products or creating new products for customer niches can be expensive, but the payback may be worth it. By better understanding their customers’ business and life stages and purchase patterns, you can take the first step toward treating the customer base not as a monolithic whole, but as a collection of niche markets with different needs and behaviors.

****The second step is to tailor product offers to those niches, using the four Ps (Product, Place, Price, Promotion) to create offerings that are appealing to a given niche.

****What are the other two rules? I’ll tell you next week.

Your Competitive Edge: Social Media Innovation

*Social Media Innovation*
**By Michael Hammond**

***I can tell you that the PROGRESS in Lending Innovations Ceremony was a true testament to how this space is responding to real problems. I’ve been involved with PROGRESS in Lending and its Innovations Program since its inception. It’s a great honor for me to act as one of the six industry judges behind this competition. I look forward to reading the applications each year. Why? Because each application shows that innovation is alive and well in the mortgage space. And judging by the fact that over 100 prominent mortgage executives gathered at the Innovations Awards Ceremony proves to me that the industry agrees with me when I say that we need to recognize innovators and do our part to encourage future innovation. So, on this topic I want to share with you one way that I feel you can innovate when it comes to crafting the best B2B marketing strategy. Here’s my take:

****Did you know that 61 percent of U.S. marketers use social media to increase their lead generation? I bet you didn’t. Are you using this technology to innovate when it comes to crafting your own marketing strategy? If not, you should.

****According to an article called “How Social is B2B” By Shea Bennett, while the business to consumer (B2C) side of social media is both proven and well established, business to business (B2B) social marketing has been a harder sell. But the effort is paying off. A recent Business.com study showed that 55 percent of B2B survey respondents search for information using social media, and IBM reported an incredible 400 percent increase in sales in a single quarter after implementing a pilot program of social selling.

****Some 53 percent of B2B companies actively use Twitter in their marketing efforts, but this is dwarfed by Facebook (90 percent), which generates about twice as many monthly leads overall. However, and as you might expect, it’s LinkedIn that rules the roost – while less than half of businesses actively use the platform, LinkedIn returns more leads than Facebook, Twitter or blogging for B2B marketers.

****Sometimes a picture says it all. Check this out:

****(Source: Inside View. B2B image via Shutterstock.)

Your Competive Edge: What’s Your Story?

*What’s Your Story?*
**By Michael Hammond**

***Think a minute: What was your last family vacation like? Now think about the projected level of defaults in 2012? Which is easier to remember? Let’s make this exercise even simpler, quick, think of a good story you’ve heard in the last few months, or even years – any story (short story, childhood bedtime story, a narrative joke, story in a presentation, etc). Now think of a couple of good statistics you’ve heard in the last few weeks. Which one came easiest? Nine times out of 10, it’s the story. Stories stick in your head, sometimes for years.

****Now you’re saying, “Get on with it, how does this relate to my business?” Well, there’s a lot of attention around corporate content now. Relevant content. Compelling content. Engaging content … and tons of posts on techniques – how to spin the content, how to write powerful headlines and so on. In an article called “Steve Jobs and the Power of Storytelling,” Mark Ivey provides some tips on how you can better tell your corporate story to attract new business.

****He says, “Less attention is given to storytelling. That’s weird since social media is the perfect opportunity. Bloggers are our modern day storytellers. They’re not marketers, as many like to think, but humans with emotions, history, baggage – and specific views of the world. In other words, they are all walking stories, ready to be told.”

****When you really think about it, stories are more powerful today than ever. Why?

****>> We are drowning in information. Good stories can cut through the noises

****>> Personal stories feel “real” vs. abstract concepts, statistics, or logical arguments

****>> Stories capture people on an emotional level, creating a deeper, intimate bond.

****>> Stories are memorable. People forget facts but remember stories.

****In the book, A Whole New Mind, author Daniel Pink (in a full chapter) captures the essence of stories: “Stories “are important cognitive events, for they encapsulate, into one compact package, information, knowledge, context and emotion.”

****Some elements of a good story include:

****>> A clear beginning and end

****>> Clear message

****>> It’s authentic

****>> It’s relevant

****>> Engaging (often with drama or tension)

****Strong stories have a natural flow, and never leave the audience wondering where it’s going (“What’s the point to that”?) Ivey notes, “I can’t think of a better modern day example of this than Apple’s Steve Jobs, who was fired from Apple, then returned to save the company and transform it into a media powerhouse. His Stanford commencement speech is an example of a great story using the hero’s journey model.

****“It has all of the right elements, starting with an engaging life story – how he was born to a young, unwed college graduate, adopted by working class parents, etc. Later, talks about bouncing around an expensive private college he can’t afford, sleeping on his friends’ dorm room floors, finally dropping out.

****“The first story talks about how his one class in calligraphy wound up helping him create the first typefaces in the original MacIntosh. His next two stories were even more powerful, talking about love and loss, and facing death. One message was he’d have “never been successful if I hadn’t been fired by Apple” the first time around. He goes on to talk about his emotional battle and facing cancer and death, and how that transformed his thinking. Now every day counts. This speech is authentic, gritty, and relevant for a college audience about to set forth into the world. His message was simple and powerful:

****“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition…”

****How can you learn from this? You don’t have to turn every corporate blog or speech into a personal, life changing endeavor on this level. What I’m suggesting is you at least start injecting more of a human voice, using your own personal stories to provide context and perspective. With blogs, the approach could be a simple as: A) I faced a big challenge/dilemma. B) I overcame it through these x steps. C) Resolution, results and ending (optional call to action).

****So think through how you can collect and tell stories through your speeches, blogs and other social media efforts. Play journalist as you go through your normal daily activities and keep a notebook. Your message is that “it’s ok” to be a storyteller, since so much of our training in the corporate world is to focus on the facts and process. None of this is really new. Technologies and platforms will come and go, but human nature changes slowly if at all. So, tell your story.

Your Competitive Edge: What Will Happen In 2012?

*What Will Happen in 2012?*
**By Michael Hammond**

***The season for making predictions is coming. Now is the time when all the prognosticators come out of the woodwork and tell you what’s going to happen next year. You’re going to hear about origination volume falling, how to win the battle for the borrower, increased regulation, foreclosures spiraling out of control, and so on, and so on. What you probably are not going to hear much about in our space is social media. So, let me enlighten you a bit about what is going to happen in this emerged sector that we in the mortgage space can use to our advantage.

****In an article entitled “Trends for 2012: Social Media Intelligence” by Sally Falkow, the author says, “For several years now we’ve been told that at the very least we have to listen to the online conversations. The number of social media monitoring tools has exploded and at last count there were over 200 on the market. However, there is much more to be learned from these conversations than just brand mentions, complaints and sentiment.

****“Savvy PR and marketing folk are digging deep into the conversations – mining that data to find insights that can drive strategy, inform product R & D, give the competitive edge and improve that pesky bottom line.”

****How do you do this now and into 2012? You start by listening and gathering information about your brand/s, your company and your competitors. Once you have the data use that old PR skill called content analysis.

****>> Discover what different groups are talking about and what’s important to them

****>> Find out where they are talking about those things

****>> Tap into what your competitors are doing and what people are saying about them

****>> Identify threats and opportunities

****>> Share the data you find with your team and others across the organization

****>> Brainstorm how best to implement what you find to support the organization’s goals

****Falkow notes, “There is a ton of information available in the social networks and conversations, but it takes commitment and work to find all the threads. A monitoring tool can do a lot of the work, but there is still a lot that has to be done manually. And the analysis cannot be done automatically. It takes a live person with a bright and inquiring mind to read the content and figure out what’s important and what’s connected. To see those brewing threats and spot the low-hanging fruit that will bring big rewards.”

****There is an old saying – “Know before you go.”

****For the past few years Social Media has been treated as a warm and fuzzy experiment, according to Falkow. Now that we know it works, it’s time to get serious about this data stream and use it to discover really useful information that can move the needle.

****Social Media Intelligence is definitely a trend to watch in 2012. In order to take advantage of this trend, you need to learn how to do social audits and provide your company with the data they need to make the tough decision. It will definitely get the attention of the C-Suite.

*****So when everyone else is talking about the expected trends in 2012, you should be using social media in 2012 to make sure that your business is not on the losing end of those trends.

Your Competitive Edge: Are You Informed?

*Dare To Know More*
**By Michael Hammond**

***All the talk these days seems to center around UAD. However, when you talk about UAD you need to talk about UMDP and MISMO and XML data standardization, etc. What’s my point? There are a lot of acronyms and terms in our industry that you have to keep up with. It can be tiring, quite frankly. So, when I stumbled upon an article that detailed must-know words, I knew that I had to share it with you. In the article entitled “10 New Words Every Business Owner Should Know” by Jason Fell, he selects what he considers the 10 need-to-know new words for every business owner. Whether or not you start using them in your own business dialogues is, well, up to you, but here they are:

****1. Light-bulb moment

****Definition: (noun) A moment of sudden realization, enlightenment, or inspiration.

****Example: “Sales at my company were plummeting, but then had a light-bulb moment and knew exactly how to turn things around.”

****2. Cross-functional

****Definition: (adjective) Denoting or relating to a system whereby people from different areas of an organization work together as a team.

****Example: “If we’re ever going to boost productivity, everyone will need to improve their cross-functional capabilities.”

****3. Retweet

****Definition: (verb) On the social networking service Twitter, to repost or forward a message posted by another user. (noun) A reposted or forwarded message on Twitter.

****Example: “My company is blowing up on Twitter. My posts are retweeted constantly.”

****4. Geolocation

****Definition: (noun) The process or technique of identifying the location of a person or device by means of digital information processed via the Internet.

****Example: “Business is up at my restaurant since I started this geolocation-based mobile marketing campaign.”

****5. Contractionary

****Definition: (adjective) Causing or relating to the contraction of a country’s economy.

****Example: “This darn contractionary economy has really stifled my business growth this year.”

****6. Cyberbullying

****Definition: (noun) The use of electronic communication to bully a person, typically by sending messages of an intimidating or threatening nature.

****Example: “This person won’t stop harassing my business over Twitter. He’s practically a cyberbully.”

****7. Textspeak

****Definition: (noun) Language regarded as characteristic of text messages, consisting of abbreviations, initials, emoticons, etc.

****Example: “If you even think about using textspeak in our marketing copy, I will not R-O-T-F-L. For the uninitiated, ROTFL stands for rolling on the floor laughing.”

****8. Webisode

****Definition: (noun) A short film, advertisement, or episode of a television series, made for online viewing. A blend of Web and Episode.

****Example: “For our next webisode on YouTube, let’s think of a way to incorporate customer testimonials.”

****9. Denialist

****Definition: (noun) A person who refuses to admit the truth of a concept or proposition that is supported by the majority of scientific or historical evidence.

****Example: “I’m the boss. I’m always right and you know it. Stop being a denialist.”

****10. Bajillion

****Definitiion: (noun) An extremely large number.

****Example: “I’m an entrepreneur so, obviously, I have a bajillion things to do.”

****I hope you enjoyed reading about these new words as much as I did. My broader point in presenting you with these “new” words is to emphasize that things are always changing and we all have to keep up with the times. Sometimes just keeping up can be a full-time job, but we all have to do it.