Top of Mind Networks

The New Top of Mind Training Calendar

July 6, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

This was built using Google Calendar – and I’m experimenting with Adobe Reader for my online meetings.  I’m using the simple “embed” code Google gave me in order to display the calendar on this web page.  Wow, this was really easy. If you’re a mortgage professional, you could use a feature like this to add a Community Events calendar to your website (and your preferred agents’ websites). Or you could easily create and maintain a calendar of upcoming Open Houses for your Realtor partners. Lots of fun and powerful applications here!

Here's Where Surefire Succeeds Where Most Mortgage CRM Solutions Eventually Fail

March 28, 2011 by · 2 Comments 

We’ve been exceptionally fortunate here at Top of Mind Networks.

When the market crashed, we had two choices.  One possibility was to roll up into the fetal position and hope for the best.  Another was to channel everything we had into our Surefire System.  I’m proud we chose the latter.  But when we set out to build the industry’s best mortgage CRM platform, one of our big challenges was this:

How do you create one-to-one content for borrowers?  In other words, how do you craft a message that readers see value in regardless of where they are in the mortgage life cycle?  Or what their interest rate is?

The short answer is that our approach to email marketing works because we’ve identified what borrowers care most about.  It’s the same thing you and I both care most about when it comes to what we choose to read (or not read).  It’s an old cliche, but our email marketing content answers the WIIFM (what’s in it for me?) question very well.  And that’s why it works – not just in the short term… but over the long haul.

This month, Top of Mind will be unveiling its newest innovation(s) – our Campaign Builder and Template Library.  And the WIIFM for you, our clients, is extremely powerful.  This month, you’ll be able to add each individual in your database – be it clients, prospects, referral sources, or even your general Sphere of Influence – into the ideal email campaign with one click of a mouse button.

It’s coming – really.  But all this new functionality will be worthless to you unless you take one critical action:  segment your database.  It’s actually much easier to do than meets the eye, but when it comes to marketing success, nothing is more critical.  Would you like to learn how to segment your database easily… painlessly… using your Surefire System?

Please consider joining Maggie Reames at our next Surefire Overview Webinar.  You’ll learn:

  1. How to navigate Surefire and identify opportunities
  2. How to supplement the marketing we do for you with your own highly personalized email blasts
  3. And of course… you’ll learn how to place your contacts into the proper “buckets” and truly master “one-to-one” marketing

Supplementing Your Mortgage CRM With Facebook Updates – It Works. Here's An Example:

February 10, 2011 by · 1 Comment 

I’m in the “I Love Facebook” camp.  Not because I “use” it for business.  I really don’t “use” Facebook at all.  Use just doesn’t seem like the right word.  We don’t say we “use” the television.  So I don’t subscribe to all the noise out there from the Social Media gurus teaching people how to “use” Facebook.

But, I feel very strongly that Facebook is a fantastic complement to your existing mortgage CRM efforts.  Here’s an example from my personal life just the other day:

I happened to be checking status updates about 10 minutes before a sales call.  One of my friends is an insurance agent, and he posted some really awesome pictures of him and his daughter dressed up in rock-n-roll costumes.  Well, when I hit the “share screen” button for my online sales call, the mortgage originator I was meeting with saw the same photos I was looking at.  She has daughters too and commented on the awesomeness of the photos.

And then, it occurred to me that my Facebook buddy is an insurance agent – and his main referral source is mortgage professionals.  So I asked my sales prospect if she was currently working with an insurance professional and she said “NO!!!  But I’d love to talk to your friend as soon as possible.”

  • She immediately saw that he is a “real” person who is an involved parent.
  • She knows that I’m friends with him and that’s a natural endorsement without me having to say a word.
  • She knows that since he’s dressed up like Motley Crue he must be a pretty interesting guy.

So, the next thing you know, I’m patching two really great people together who could easily end up working together.

Without Facebook, this wouldn’t have happened.  So again… like I’ve said many times over the past couple years.  Don’t “use” Facebook.  Just be yourself and you too will find that not only will you enjoy the experience… you might even build your business!

Surefire 2.0 Tutorial Webinars – Register Here

September 9, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

We’re proudly taking our new Surefire 2.0 System live!  We’ll be doing live instructional webinars every Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 3pm EST, 12 noon PST.  During these webinars, we’ll teach you all the basics of contact management – plus some advanced techniques such as segmenting your database into “Groups” and even the art of sending the right email… to the right contact… at the right time.

Register for a session now by clicking a date below:

Wed, Nov 3, 2010 3:00 PM – 3:30 PM EDT

Wed, Nov 10, 2010 3:00 PM – 3:30 PM EST

Wed, Nov 17, 2010 3:00 PM – 3:30 PM EST

Top of Mind Moved the Needle for Jasmine!

September 2, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

What are we in business to do?  Sure, make a living.  But for me, that’s not nearly good enough.  I need something more.  And the thing that’s always kept me inspired are emails like the one I got this morning from a client named Jasmine Krnjetin with Silverton Mortgage in Atlanta, Georgia.

 ”Hi Guys, Wanted to let you know that I got two new loans from your TOM email that went out yesterday.  I know you guys know that you totally rock – but I wanted to take a moment to fully appreciate you!

Thank you so much for the beautiful system you keep in place that continues to prosper all of us “automatically” 🙂

Jasmine, thank you for the kind words.  We at Top of Mind are working on making our Surefire System better and more powerful every single day.  By the way, I just noticed that you earned Loan Officer of the First and Second Quarters of 2010.  Congratulations!

This is what we work for at Top of Mind, and feedback like yours today never gets old.  Stay tuned for some very big news from Top of Mind in the next 48 hours.  I’ll be breaking it right here on the Top of Mind Blog.

Building It Only Gets You Halfway There

July 2, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

In the Mortgage CRM world, firms like Top of Mind Networks compete hard for your business.  The route we’ve chosen is a path of constant innovation and high value.  When I woke up this morning, I noticed that an old video (below)  is making the rounds on Facebook:

For me, this is a very compelling story for two major reasons:

1.  It once again proves the power of social media and video marketing.  The fact this video went viral is surely costing HP tens of millions of dollars – and remember it’s only half of the story.  Most people won’t take the extra step to figure out the other side… but here it is.  There is plenty of wrong to go around here and the purpose of this article is not to debate who is most out of line…

2.  The main purpose of this article is to illustrate how difficult it is for companies to support their product line.  Companies like HP operate in the ultra-competitive technology space – and battle for literally billions of dollars.  The stakes don’t get much higher.  In this case, we’re talking about a piece of crap $100 all-in-one machine they might have made $20 per unit selling.  And I’m being generous with that $20.

The more piece of crap $100 printers HP puts out there, the more calls they’re going to receive at their help desk.  Then HP is faced with another decision – a decision all technology companies must face – how do they best… and most profitably… support their product line?  Clearly, HP must have upset this soldier in Iraq with a lack of support somewhere down the line.

We in the Mortgage CRM space also face the “build it” – “support it” dilemma.  And I am quite proud of Top of Mind’s decision to invest in the often invisible and unappreciated customer support function.  When you call Top of Mind Networks during business hours, an actual human being answers the phone – hopefully before the third ring.  We have a sense of urgency to help you solve whatever problem you’re having – not tomorrow and not next week, but now.  There is no such thing as the perfect product or the perfect software solution.  So the difference between vendors often comes down to support.

I’m extremely proud of our team led by Maggie Reames, David Orsini, Sherwood Lawrence, Stacey Garner, Dante Jones and even yours truly.  I’m also proud to announce that Top of Mind Networks just enjoyed its best month in our 7-year history.  To celebrate our accomplishment, we’re making another significant investment back into the company – in the form of even better customer service.  Videos like the one above strongly reinforce the fact that no matter how great your product might be, you’re going to fail if you cannot support it.

I’d like to also give a shout out to my friend and unofficial mentor Mike Gulitz of Mortgage Planner CRM.  The friendship Mike and I have forged over the past several years really inspires me.  And speaking of customer support – wow, Mike’s company sets an extremely high bar.  Just ask Jeremy Forcier - one of our mutual clients.

In closing, I hope everyone enjoys their Fourth of July holiday.  Thanks again to everyone for helping Top of Mind Networks enjoy its best month ever.  We are going to keep reinvesting into our business, so please stay tuned for more news right here on the Top of Mind Blog.

Release 1 of Surefire 2.0 is live!

June 9, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

We are very pleased to announce that release 1 of Surefire 2.0 is now live. This will be the framework for all future releases. I have created a short demo video you can see below detailing all of the new functionality. But here are a few bullet points detailing the highlights in case you don’t want to watch the video:

  1. Adding New Contacts – Data entry has been simplified. We got rid of the multi-page data entry model for adding a new contact. Now all contact info is on a single page and the only data required is the first and last name. So now if you meet someone at the grocery store and want to add them to your Surefire database, all you need is a name. although an email address would certainly be nice so you can send them emails.
  2. Notes – You can now add notes under each contact in your database. This will allow you to keep a conversation log each time you talk to someone. You can also view all recent notes for your whole database on the notes summary page, just to keep tabs on what you have done lately.
  3. Activities – You can schedule calls or meetings with your contacts. You select the time and date and it will add the task to your “My to do list” for that day. You can mark these activities as done once completed to remove them from your list.
  4. Static Groups – Very simply functionality; you create a group, then scroll through your contact list to add contacts to the group.
  5. Dynamic Groups – With a static group, you add and remove people from it. A dynamic group adds and removes contacts based on a specific criteria. So you can create a dynamic group for all VA closings you did in 2009. And based on their loan criteria, past clients will be added or taken out of this group.

Most of this is very basic functionality, but still a huge step above what we had before. The next step is to take this functionality a step further. Very soon you will be able to take those groups you have segmented out and send email blasts to the contacts in those groups. We will do another update once that is done… estimated dev time 2 weeks.

If you are having trouble viewing this video or would like to see a larger version so it
is easier to see please click
here.

There a couple of flees with this video I am going to go ahead and call myself out on, I promise the next one will be better:

  1. My microphone is awful so the volume is kind of low, you may need to turn your speakers up to hear it.
  2. I accidentally selected 2007 as the ‘end closing date’ instead of 2006 in the dynamic groups demo. I saw it at the last minute after all video editing had been completed and I didn’t think that was worth going back and starting over for.

Back to the Drawing Board

April 19, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Surefire 2 dot 0 LogoThere will be no Surefire 2.0 Webinar today, unfortunately.  We launched the Early Adopter Version of our new Surefire 2.0 Contact Management System last week – and we got a lot of extremely valuable feedback from those of you who took the time to take it for a test drive.

Here’s what we heard from our Early Adopters:

1)  You have a need… for speed.

And we don’t blame you a bit.  This is all “tech speak” which I don’t excel at, but in a nutshell, we went from “server side” code to “client side” code two different times over the year-plus development project.  As it turns out, we’ve decided that the User Interface itself is too “heavy” – meaning, it’s too bogged down with java and user controls that our clients may or may not ever use.  We’re making some changes to our code that will drastically reduce page refresh times – it is our utmost priority.

2)  Many of you preferred our old User Interface (UI).

No problem.  As a matter of fact, the old UI loads a heck of a lot faster too.  Our development team has immediately begun reworking the Nav Bar, Tabbing Schemes, etc.

Where do we go from here?:

Unfortunately, these reworks are not trivial.  But rather than waste our time – and yours – on a solution that we all are not 100% thrilled with, we’ve decided to:

1)  Staff up.  We have more than doubled our development resources over the past six months, and we made another critical hire last week.  Nobody is more motivated to get this killer solution in your hands than I am, and we’re putting our money where our mouths are.

2)  Provide granular progress reports every two days on the Top of Mind Blog.  I’ve covered the main objectives above, and you’re probably wondering what our new estimated launch date is going to be.  I promised Shey I wouldn’t throw a date out there until tomorrow.  But for those of you who are highly motivated to get your hands on SF 2.0 – please know, we’re just as motivated.  It’s been an around the clock effort around here and our resolve has only grown stronger with these setbacks.  When you check back here tomorrow for our estimated relaunch date, I think you’ll all be pleasantly surprised.  We’re not that far away from being where we need to be.

But it’s not all bad news on the development front.  Here’s some good news:  We are absolutely, positively going live with our new Mortgage Website Platform within the next 24 to 48 hours.  We’re calling it The Lenderama Project because the industry’s Original Mortgage Blogis going to serve as the mother ship for every site we build.  I’d like to congratulate my friend Mark Madsen – and his motley mortgage blogging crew – for doing such a bang-up job on the custom creation of over 80 new pages of content.  All 80+ pages are extremely well written and will be provided free of charge to our Surefire clients.  If you’d like to get yourself into our Queue for your own Lenderama site, please visit this website and fill out the form.  I’m going to ask Mark Madsen to post an introductory article on the Top of Mind Blog this week to give everyone the scoop on what makes our new website platform special.  We’ll also be conducting regular webinars to teach each of you how to use your new Lenderama site.

In closing, I want to thank each of you for your enthusiasm, your great feedback, your business and your patience as we try to release this killer technology.  I promise, it’s going to be worth the wait.

Surefire 2.0 Soft Launch – We Are Live

April 12, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Surefire 2 dot 0 Logo

After over a year in development and two consecutive all-nighters from the programming team, we’ve officially soft launched the new Surefire 2.0 platform.  Here’s a short list of FAQ’s about our new Contact Management System:

What Should I Expect Today?

Today’s release is pretty raw, but it will give you a feel for your new Surefire interface.  There are known bugs we’re working on.  We expect other bugs to surface as you begin playing with SF 2.0.  When you experience a bug, would you please email Sherwood Lawrence at slawrence at topofmind dot com?

What Should I Expect Over Time?

Surefire 2.0 is the largest and most challenging development project we’ve ever taken on at Top of Mind Networks.  And with today’s release, we realize that our work has merely begun.  Over the weeks and months ahead, we’re going to continue adding new features.  We’re also going to be doing live (and recorded) webinars to train our clients on Surefire 2.0.  The best way to stay abreast of new Surefire features/training is to add the Top of Mind Blog to your Google Reader.  We’ll also be communicating updates in your weekly Top of Mind Activity Report.

Why Did We Develop Surefire 2.0 and What’s It Gonna Cost Me?

Our philosophy at Top of Mind for the past seven years has been quite simple:  build a great product, price it fairly and give top shelf customer service.  Today’s Surefire 2.0 release is just another extension of our original value proposition.  If you’re an active Surefire client, we’re upgrading you at no charge.  Hopefully, you’ll love us even more.  And if you’re REALLY happy, we hope you might even refer some friends our way.

Is That All?

Well, no.  We’re also about to officially release our Lenderama mortgage websites and blogs.  Some of you have already seen the beta – and it’s pretty sweet.  We’ve got about 65 new articles to populate into the master template and we’ll be ready to roll.  If you’re stuck with one of those plain vanilla websites, you may want to drop me a line and/or get into the queue.  These websites will be the best in the industry.  And oh yeah, they’ll be free for active Surefire 2.0 clients too.  No s&#t Jack.  We’re not screwing around over here.  We want to be the best mortgage marketing company on the planet.

Once we put a little polish on our new Contact Management System, we think we’ll be there.  Thanks to you – our clients – for inspiring us and pushing us to continue getting better.  We’ve only just begun.

Seth Godin on Lifetime Value

November 22, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

When the godfather of Permission Marketing speaks on lifetime value, there’s only one thing for an aspiring mortgage CRM blogger to do:  let the master do the talking.

Embracing Lifetime Value

If you walk into a company-owned cell phone store to sign up for a contract, what are you worth?

Given the huge gross margins at AT&T and Verizon and the standard two-year contract, I think it’s easy to figure on more than $2000 in lifetime value.

If you ran a business where a customer represented an additional $2,000 in profit, how would you staff? How long would you make someone wait? If staff costs $25 an hour, how long would that extra person take to pay off?

Few businesses understand (really understand) just how much a customer is worth. Add to this the additional profit you get from a delighted customer spreading the word–it can easily double or triple the lifetime value.

So, a chiropractor might see a new patient being worth $2,500, easily. And yet… how much is she spending on courting, catering to and seducing that new customer? My guess is that $50 feels like a lot to the doc. Instead of comparing what you invest to the benefit you receive from the first bill, the first visit, the first transaction, it’s important to not only recognize but embrace the true lifetime value of one more customer.

Write it down. Post it on the wall. What would happen if you spent 100% of that amount on each of your next ten new customers? That’s more money than you have to spend right now, I know that, but what would happen? Imagine how fast you would grow, how quickly the word would spread.

Here’s how you’ll know when you’ve really embraced this–a good customer at your podiatry practice (or supermarket or tax firm) walks out the door in a huff and you turn to your partner and say, “There goes $74,000.”

Seth Godin blogs every day here and I think everyone should subscribe to his RSS feed.  He is, quite simply, the best.

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