Lenders and brokers, whether residential or commercial, are now trading in a very fast changing landscape, where competition for business is becoming ever more intense. Classic marketing theory more or less says that when the going gets tough, you need to do more marketing and do it more effectively. So what sort of marketing are brokers experiencing from commercial lenders eager to attract business from them –and how can they make their own commercial marketing more effective?
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We firmly believe that there’s no point investing in marketing unless its success can be measured and, depending on the channel, this can be a very difficult area in which to make objective judgements. Broker marketing – as practised by lenders – is completely different to borrower marketing and must be approached in a different way. All marketing, whether it be direct mail, TV, radio or web should be coded, tracked and recorded in terms of quantity, area, format and response. These results can then be broken down to reveal a clear picture of what is working. Results can be fed back into the strategy and integrated with clearly segmented information, to provide the business with a complete picture of how to maximise the marketing budget and return on investment.
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Feedback from brokers about their views on lender marketing is also very useful. This is a critical area in terms of delivering successful campaigns to intermediary partners and improving response and conversion rates. Marketing is more of an art than an exact science and a crucial part of any strategy must be a willingness to learn and improve gradually over time.
The mix of techniques will depend on the business model, access to and availability of data, budget and commitment. Broadly speaking, a professional letter, follow up phone calls with a view to setting up a meeting, a local brand advertising presence, consistency and a good web presence are all key. E-marketing is increasingly popular as it is low cost and provides for an easy response mechanism or portal to other areas of interest. Advertising on the web is also increasing in popularity with the increase in broadband availability. In fact, according to the Internet Advertising Bureau, online advertising grew faster than any other medium last year – up to a staggering £541 million, and with the web beating TV into second place as the biggest advertising medium, we will see brokers and lenders increasingly turning to this area.
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One of the key areas for any broker wishing to kick start the marketing process is commitment. A strategy and time frame must be put in place and stuck to if any success is to be achieved. A good starting point for smaller firms starting the marketing process is very simple. Every broker at every level will have access to an existing database of clients. The first step should be writing to these clients informing them that your firm can now provide a commercial service.
Communicate to them in some way on a quarterly basis and carefully record the responses, categorising each into, for example, enquiry, active, and declined. You can use this initial method as a springboard into bigger marketing projects as and when your budget increases.
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All existing marketing should contain a commercial message, and you should consider including a banner or commercial message on the home page of your website. You already know these methods work for your core business – why not add commercial onto your list of services? Research, segmentation and experience – will lead to more ambitious projects and greater returns.