By Jackson Middleton, Special to CMT
If you’re just getting started as a mortgage broker, I hope I’m not the first to tell you that this is one tough business. Success doesn’t come easy and it’s a long way to the rainbow’s pot of gold.
Successful brokers are very well compensated, but they get successful only after years of hard work. While the potential income is considerable, if you lack the conviction to invest endless hours into growing your business, you might as well quit now.
Marketing is one area where time (not necessarily money) is mandatory. Most new agents don’t come into the business with loads of cash to spend on marketing. And that might not be a bad thing.
Time vs. Money
Instead of spending big bucks on promotion, new agents can invest something just as valuable: time. Starting lean, on a shoestring budget, helps you learn two important skills: 1) what it takes to connect with people, and 2) what matters to them.
Secret #1 is to invest time in people. This type of “marketing” has the highest return on investment. The mortgage business is a people business and to generate opportunity you must provide value to everyone who could be a potential referral source—all of the time.
Notice I didn’t say that your goal has to be to sell to every potential referral source. Providing value doesn’t have to entail mortgages.
The challenge with the mortgage business is that clients really only care about mortgages for 30 to 60 days every three to five years, and even then, what they actually care about is home ownership. The mortgage itself is simply a vehicle to that end.
Selling a mortgage is a long, hard road, one that is better left untravelled. Instead of “selling,” connect with people on what matters to them, build trust and develop relationships. This will lead to conversations, referrals and clients. I’m not saying you should hide what you do; just don’t expect people to care about what you do until you first have shown you care about them.
Putting Theory Into Practice
To show what this looks like in the real world, let me share a quick story about what worked well for me when I was a broker.
In 2011, when Twitter was still a place where it was socially acceptable to talk with strangers and marketers hadn’t yet ruined the platform (which is another topic altogether), I resolved to have three meaningful connections with people in my hometown Regina, SK (#YQR) on Twitter every day. I would do a daily search for the #YQR hashtag to see if anyone needed anything.
I came upon a Tweet that said, “I’m new to #YQR and I’m looking for a place to buy Italian syrups for my coffee #help.” So I replied, “Talk to Kyle at Ambassador, he will help you out for sure.” I attached a Google map, followed her account, she thanked me and that was that.
A couple of weeks later, I got a Tweet from her: “Hey @kiltedbroker, thanks for the advice, I went and saw Kyle, and got what I needed, appreciate it.” I responded with some sort of pleasantry, and gave her some space. Then the magic happened. Later that week she sent me a direct message: “My husband and I aren’t in a place to buy a house yet, but when we are, can you please sit down with us to look at our financing options?”
Six months later I closed the deal, which was, at that time, the biggest mortgage in my four-year career.
The Art of Communication
I didn’t get the above-mentioned deal because I tried to sell this person a mortgage. I didn’t reply with, “Welcome to #YQR, when you are ready to buy a home, I would love to help you with your financing.” I got the deal because I provided value with no strings attached.
She then checked me out online, read my Twitter bio (which said, “I’m wearing a kilt right now, I have consumed coffee today and I can help you with mortgage financing”), and decided to work with me—largely because I was nice enough to help her find coffee condiments.
Learning to communicate on social media was how I invested my time. I learned to go where the people are, I provided value to them, and it paid off consistently.
How will you invest your time? Where are your people? How will you provide benefits to them? These are good things to think about.
It doesn’t matter if the conversation is online or offline, with a potential client or a referral partner, with a friend on Facebook or a meeting of business owners at a BNI breakfast, the goal has to be to provide value to keep top of mind. Do this, and the opportunities will follow. You may not see an immediate reward but long-term gain is many times greater than a single mortgage transaction.
Once you’ve spent years investing in people, the deals will flow in. That’s when you’ll have real money to spend on marketing and advertising, and that is where this business gets fun. I hope you put in the work and reach that potential!
Jackson Middleton, a.k.a. the @kiltedbroker, spent seven years as a mortgage broker before founding KiltedMedia.ca, a content marketing and web design company that works exclusively with Canadian mortgage professionals. He is wearing a kilt right now, has consumed coffee today, and lives in a school on Vancouver Island with his wife and four kids.