Deeper Thoughts
How well are we really marketing the mortgage industry? – May 25th, 2021

Issue #74: How well are we really marketing the mortgage industry?

Say what you want about Steve Jobs. But you can’t deny the man knew marketing and branding. He was a genius storyteller. The funny thing about it all is that, for the most part, he did it without directly marketing his product. 

I recently came across the famous Jobs presentation in which he intoned “To me, marketing is about values.” It had been a while since I’d last seen it. If you haven’t seen it, you simply must stop reading this right now, go back and watch it. I’ll wait.

And, by the way, name an existing housing, real estate or mortgage CEO who could get away with giving a major presentation in shorts. I’m not waiting on that one. The answer is “none.”

Jobs did a great job reminding us that the greats, like Nike, do much, much more to sell their brands than what too many of us do on a daily basis to market our own commodities. When’s the last time you saw Coke do a feature/benefit advertisement? Or Disney explain why Star Wars or Mickey Mouse are better for you than…well…whomever the face for Disney’s remaining competitors is? 

Rather, the greats tell stories that put a focus on values and emotion. They compel feelings for their brands. While they do that in different ways, they create compelling attachments to their brand, all without having to explain why their products or services are “better.”

Yet, for the most part, our industry, for all its strengths, still relies on things like rates, efficiency (vendors) and a vague, almost disconnected reliance on the concept of the American Dream when it reaches out to the American consumer. Don’t get me wrong. The American Dream is a fantastic values-based foundation for modern marketing. Unfortunately, we far too often interrupt that with a lot of chest-thumping or feature listing when we try to rely upon it.

A few lenders and other larger entities have also dabbled in values-based marketing. Unfortunately, their campaigns have ended up being a little cliché and a lot of bland. 

I knew a gentlemen who  once told me he planned to “Steve Jobs the mortgage industry.” Spoiler alert: he didn’t, although I applaud him for at least considering it.

It’s not easy to revolutionize something. Just saying your product or service is “revolutionary” does nothing to make that true. In fact, it probably makes it worse. But I challenge my peers in the mortgage and real estate industry to channel the emotions, experiences and, yes, values that go into what can be a very emotional and fulfilling process for consumers, and learn to express that in a new and more powerful fashion.

Justifiably or not, as an industry, we consistently get low marks from consumers compared to other industries. Whether it’s fair or not, we are called out for our transgressions and mistakes (and even when the issue isn’t caused by us). Like it or not, we don’t have a great reputation with American consumers. 

Maybe that’s because we’re still marketing to them in mid-20th century terms.

Got an idea for Deeper Thoughts or LLL…or an example of good, values-based marketing in the mortgage industry? Email me at