If you build it…they will come
Of the numerous seminars I have given on managing a database and database marketing, I am still amazed at how few mortgage professionals truly profit from it. I think it is partially because database marketing is misunderstood, but mainly I think it is because few people ever truly establish a database that amounts to much more than an outlook contact folder. To many, managing a database seems like a separate full time job and they do not see the ROI. To others, they may think their past clients do not want to hear from them again (which may be true in some cases) while others consider it an intrusion to constantly mail to the same group of people. The fact is, managing and marketing to your database can have a tremendous impact on your longevity in the mortgage industry.
I live off my database. I cherish every person in there. My kids eat because of my database. My database bought my house, cars, virtually everything I own. While many of my own staff are out chasing new business, I am talking on the phone with old friends. When I meet with them, we rarely talk about rates and fees. When I ask them for referrals, they canít wait to send them. Last week one of my past clients came in to refinance his loan. By the end of the day I had also helped his son and daughter in law.
There has never been a better time to be considered a trusted advisor in this business. People are full of anxiety and the last thing they want to do is talk to someone they donít know. The true professionals in this business (those of us who didnít make our living putting unqualified borrowers into pay option ARMís) should thrive during this economic downturn. The bottom-feeders have left the business and people are looking for guidance and expertise. Your past clients and sphere of influence need to hear from you. Here are a few strategies that will help you build and maintain a working database that will yield consistent results:
1.†††††† Make sure youíll use it. I am often asked what the best database software is. The answer? Whichever one you will use consistently. I have toyed with many programs and have found that the more complicated they are, the less likely I will use it. Some experts argue that you should gather your clientís entire life story and enter it into your database. I disagree. Keep it simple.
2.†††††† Regular Contact. You must contact your database regularly. Monthly, bi-monthly, quarterly, it doesnít matter as long as they are getting it regularly. All you want them to do is think of you when they think mortgage.
3.†††††† Provide Value. Newsletters get thrown away. So do fliers with those round stickers you have to rip open to read the inside. Recipes get thrown away too, along with business cards. You must provide value. Fridge magnets, calendars, sports schedules, grocery lists, and bottle openers will have a use in your clientís home- just remember to put your contact info on it.
4.†††††† Fire your bad clients. It may sound crazy, but there are some people I have worked with that I would not care to work with again. They donít go in the database. While I will lose the potential income of working with them in the future, I stand to lose far more from having to deal with a client who does not appreciate and respect what I do for them. While these clients may potentially send me referrals, they are likely to be just like them! Birds of a featherÖ
5.†††††† Keep it up to date. The last thing you want to do is send out something to 500 people and have 200 returned. Update your database regularly and you will save big money on postage.
6.†††††† Donít overdo it! I have come across some people who mail to their database so often that they are receiving calls asking to be dropped from their mailing list. Think about how much mail you get. Unless it requires action (such as a bill) most items become less interesting the more often we see them. Keep in touch, but donít harass.
7.†††††† Track your leads. This is the most important step and biggest reason people stop mailing to their database.†Since response to a mailer can often take a bit of time,†people often fail to realize what generated the lead in the first†place.†You should track every lead and know exactly how it was acquired. This is how to measure your success in each area of your business. If you donít know your numbers, you will forever be an amateur. Ask anyone in your office who plays on their church softball team what their batting average is and they wonít be able to tell you. Theyíll probably give you a rough estimate (which will also be totally wrong). But ask a professional baseball player his batting average, and he will know it down to 1/1000th of a percent. Why? Because heís a professional.