Direct Mail Marketing – Can it Really Pay Off? Step 1 – Researching Your Target Market
Maybe you have thought about direct mail. Maybe you have wondered whether it could work for you. Maybe you have done it, but it never really paid off. Possibly you thought there was so much to learn that you didn’t know where to start. in any case your particular ‘story’ is you are reading this. And yes, there are a million and one ways to do something wrong – but there are only a handful of ways to get it right. In this article, I will show you what has brought success to hundreds of mortgage brokers and how direct mail marketing can work for you.
My goal in this article is to help you get started by helping you figure out WHO you should be mailing to and WHAT product to promote to them. In fact – I will be writing a series of articles taking you all the way from the research to the tracking of the results and your return on investment. There will be functional exercises for you to do in between the next issues, so roll up your sleeves and get ready to start cooking – or start rolling in the dough.
I’ve literally dealt with the marketing of thousands of mortgage brokers and one thing is certain… Once you guys start doing really well financially you want to branch out on your own and start your own company. However, most brokers haven’t taken Marketing 101, so they tend to fail. Not because they aren’t good brokers, but because they aren’t good marketers. In fact, it is not only a trend I see in the Mortgage Industry, but many other industries in addition. To tell you the truth, with all that I know about marketing I’m confident that I could make ANY business successful. Sounds pretty cocky but hands down, I could do it. Because I know marketing.
Why do I know that I could make it successful? Because I learned something vitally important: outbound communication is meaningful. It is more important then what you receive. You will generate interest and credibility the more you communicate and the more you communicate repeatedly.
But not just to anybody. Why would you communicate to folks that have no reason to buy a home or refinance their home if you were a mortgage broker? How will you go about defining your target market? What is the scientific approach to choosing your mailing list?
On the outset, that may seem easy. Just advertise your subprime product to a subprime list. Or maybe not. But you do not want to guess on this. You need substantial evidence. The best way to get that evidence is via your own records – your past closes and what it was you sold and to whom. What you are looking for is twofold:
1) Your easiest-to-close customers and
2) Customers that financed with your highest income-generating products.
To recap in mid-stream let me give you four meaningful data to latch onto:
1) Outbound communication is meaningful.
2) Repeated communication is vital.
3) Your easiest-to-close customers should be promoted to first.
4) Your highest income-generating products should be next in line to promote.
Now let’s get started. Research which product you need to market.
When you start researching, you really shouldn’t go off of assumptions. Ideally you’ll go by your client list and tabulate which product you sold the most of. Was it chief? Subprime? Re-fi? Jumbo? Most of the time, you really have to do a sincere survey. You are looking to market the product that makes you the most income the quickest FIRST.
Exactly how should you do the research?
Create a spreadsheet and go by all of your past closes over the last year. List them out: Product X, Product Y, Product Z and so on – find every close you made over the few year and mark down which product it was and what you earned off of it. Also observe down HOW MANY of that product you sold.
Product X: Earned 1% Sold 8
Product Y: Earned $900 Sold 20
Product Z: Earned ½% Sold 12
Using the above example it is easy to see that Product ‘Y’ is what you should be marketing in your direct mail campaign. We’ll consider product ‘Y’ your bread and butter. clearly these are the easiest to close so let’s create as many leads as we can and assume you’ll close them up.
Once you’re grooving right along with that product (and we’ll get to the target market in a few paragraphs) use the same spreadsheet to determine which product yielded the highest commissions. Maybe Product ‘X’ averaged around $2000 per close but with only five sold you’re nevertheless doing better with ‘Y’, economically speaking. BUT if you just increase the number of leads that would need or desire product ‘X’ you could really start raking it in, right?
Do you see where I’m going with this? carelessly, with little or no direct mail – perhaps with referrals only – you’re managing to sell certain products to certain demographics. Of course, in reality, it will be many more than three different products which is why you need to go about this systematically.
However, once you start promoting Product ‘Y’ and you start receiving an abundance of leads, DO NOT stop promoting that product just because you now have some more business. Keep on putting out that communication repeatedly and additionally market to the next product to the target market. We’re going for abundance here. When you’ve got an abundance of business, it is much easier to solve in any case problems arise with that than the kind of problems that come from having a shortagen of business.
Learning a subject is all about wrapping your wits around the meaningful principles involved and building upon those. Wrap your wits around this and you will be on your way to becoming a marketing expert.
Now that you know which product to start with, you have to know who is going to buy it, which comes to our next step.
Research to find who the audience is that you are going to sell to.
Not all audiences are the same. Take for example the TV show, Showtime at the Apollo. Not everyone would want to watch that. Just like there is a totally different target audience for American Idol. (If you never heard of these, then more than likely you aren’t their audience.) Case in point: you have to determine who your audience is, which is called a “market”. A “market” is a kind of audience, a kind of user. Figure out everything you can about that particular market that buys your main (what you sell the most of) product. The good thing is that you already have access to all their data – age ranges, credit scores, income, etc. It is time to add this data to your spread sheet.
Product X: Earned 1% Sold 8
Product Y: Earned $900 Sold 20
Product Z: Earned ½% Sold 12
Once you have the demographics of the people that buy your “easiest-to-sell” product, you can then buy a list of that particular kind of audience. You can go to a list company that you feel good about or have gotten recommendations for, and buy a list of people within those specific criteria. Get a list in a certain zip code or a certain mile radius around your office. (I have found that in more rural areas you will have to do a larger mileage radius than you would have to in a more urban area – it depends on the population.)
The reason you want to do such a thorough job of finding out who you are selling to is that 40% of your marketing campaign’s success (success meaning whether or not you get a good response) is dependent on your list. 40%! That is a big percentage to mess up on at the get-go. Besides, it is your list and the postage that are going to be the most expensive parts of your direct mail campaign. I cannot stress enough the importance of a good list – it makes all the difference in the world.
Here is an excellent case study of a company of mortgage professionals called Priority Financial sets that did exactly what I have been writing about here. They did an exhaustive research of what kind of product they should focus on offering and what kind of consumer would reach for their sets.
Ervin Kowitz and Brian Kowitz are the owners of PFS. Their specialties include “no income qualifier” loans and loans for those without an income. They have a great deal of experience and skill for those borrowers with credit problems including bankruptcy and foreclosure. With over 12,000 loans closed since 1994, they had quite a history that helped them determine the kind of customer that they decided to focus on. Coupling their own internal study with market research and data retrieval from a source of strategic partners, Ervin and Brian were able to focus on a sector of the market whose need was the biggest part of the growing market and truly specialize in it. This will vary for your particular business or area, but you can ascertain your niche in the same or similar way that they did.
The question they asked themselves was, ‘what was the most valuable asset that their business had’. Contrary to the usual answers of inventory, lease or already employees – already though employees are very high on the list, Ervin and Brian determined that their actual client base was their most valuable asset with their employees running a close 2nd. Once they determined this, they were on the right track to calculating their niche.
PFS determined via their client base where their best clients were coming from and also analyzed where they were getting their best return. They saw a tremendous need in their customer base for financing for credit challenged individuals. Being chiefly in the sub-chief market, Ervin and Brian further targeted a highly rare sector of the mortgage business – bankruptcies. They had spent 11 years dealing with the ‘ins and outs’ of bankruptcies, so much that 41% of their business was that specialized market. When this was unearthed, they had found their niche.
Niches can be very selective and they can be very general as Ervin and Brian discovered. already though they researched and found their niche, every issue they are presented with is rare. Though they offer many different products for their specialized market, they have been able to create a “service” niche. by their creativity and understanding of the needs of their credit-challenged clients, they have been able to create literally a road map for each individual customer that is specific to them and in their best interest.
Priority Financial Service’s research may be very different than the research you need to do. The important thing is to comb by your files and take a look for the biggest commonalities and find out all you can about that product, market or trend you discover. You will have your own realization and you’ll be able to better define your target market and what particular products you need to concentrate your efforts on. Being everything to all people doesn’t necessarily communicate in marketing. People want to know what you can do for them specifically and when you are able to communicate that to a specific group – bingo! You just hit the jack pot.
In my next article, “Direct Mail Marketing-Can It Really Pay Off -Part Two”, I will teach you how to create copy (text, verbiage) in your promotional material to really get your message across to your target market in order to get a response. In the meantime, you have some homework to do. Happy Hunting!