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The Risk and Reward of Permission Marketing

As a devoted permission marketer, my heart’s always telling me to give as much as I can to prospects and clients.  Our credo around here is to ”make it easy to say yes”.  Certainly this business philosophy has served us well over the years.

However, permission marketing comes with challenges.  Namely, when you open up the floodgates with prospects, it’s difficult to distinguish the promising leads from tire kickers.  The tenets of permission marketing require elbow grease and time – both of which are scarce and valuable resources.

We as marketers are forced to choose between two scary situations:

1)  The more you give (value) - the more you get (prospects).

Well that doesn’t seem scary until it’s time to service permission-based leads.  I’ll give you an example.  We give away a free sample of our address stamper closing gift on our website.  Lots of people request these free samples – and we’re happy to send them out.  Win-Win, right?  But in order for us to monetize these prospects, we must be committed to engage in the sales process – not some of the way, but all the way.  Phone calls, emails, letters – the whole nine.

The question becomes:  how hard do you chase somebody that hasn’t demonstrated any true buying signals?  We’ve been testing this permission marketing technique, and I really believe in it.  However, our initial takeaway is critical – if you are not committed to following up with vigor on these permission-based prospects, don’t engage in the campaign.  You’ll be wasting your money.

2)  Without a unique edge… a hook if you will… you’re just another widget.

The world’s full of widgets.  Let’s be honest – loan originators all sell the same money.  On the surface, you’re widgets.  Likewise, we’re not the only mortgage CRM company out there.  So we all have to find our differential advantage.  For Top of Mind, a dedication to permission-based marketing has been a key edge.  I guess you could say permission marketing gets us a lot of  ”at bats” to use a baseball term.

But what if we were like everyone else and we didn’t give away so much value up front?  We wouldn’t have as many “at bats”, that’s for sure.  However, I’d be inclined to say that the “at bats” we did get would result in a higher closing percentage.  There’s something to be said for that too.

Conclusions:

We’re going to keep giving the store away around here.  But we also need to better identify interested prospects earlier in the sales cycle than we are today.  I think mortgage professionals should also test permission-based techniques in their marketing approach.  For example, I like the idea of giving away a free credit report – no catch, no questions asked.  This would undoubtedly get you a lot of “at bats”.  I’m inclined to believe that you’d see:

a)  Tire kickers who will waste your time.

b)  Prospects who aren’t ready for a mortgage today.  But what happens when you continue developing these new relationships over time?  Would credit counseling make sense?  Surely these prospects will be in the market for a mortgage at some point in the future.

c)  Prospects who are actively in the market for a mortgage.  And I don’t need to tell you how valuable a lead these are.

I’d love to see a Top of Mind Blog reader integrate the idea into their marketing for 30 days.  Maybe you’d budget for $1,000 in free credit reports.  Market this in your advertising and on your website.  If anyone is willing to step up and test this idea, I’ll even chip in with a free 50-piece mailing – on the house – to any 50 prospects you want to send the offer to.

Let’s learn together.  If you’d like to take me up on the offer, please call the office and ask for me.  We are at 404-943-9910.

August 19, 2009 by · Leave a Comment

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About Mark

Mark is President of Top of Mind Networks, specializing in turn-key CRM solutions for mortgage professionals.

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