I’m going to take a bit of a different direction with this week’s Deeper Thoughts. But we’re now in a competitive purchase market, which means marketing and sales will be on everyone’s minds as firms compete for share. We’ll all be seeing a lot of it. Good. Bad. And ugly.
Ours is an industry where differentiation can be challenging in and of itself, especially for new or smaller firms trying to compete against established behemoths. We’re heavily regulated and scrutinized. It’s difficult (and in some cases, downright illegal) to try to separate from competitors based on price or with offers, coupons and BOGOs. For tech providers, it can start with having to prove to a reluctant market that technology is even a helpful thing! We’ve been fighting an uphill battle for years just to convince some prospects that technology can help them in any way, shape or form. And, finally, mortgage lending and homebuying are complex processes that don’t often lend themselves to catchy phrases or slogans. Well, at least catchy language that hasn’t been used thousands of times before.
(This also isn’t an industry or process that inspires unique visuals beyond stacks of paper or hands exchanging keys in front of a for-sale sign. But that’s a topic for another time.)
So it doesn’t help anyone—not the prospects, not the brand and not others in the industry—when a business of any kind gets a little lazy with its marketing.
You know the type of marketing I’m talking about.
To prove my point, let’s play a little game. Read the following piece of imaginary marketing copy, and then honestly answer the question that follows…
Brand X provides its customers quality office and information technology products and the expertise required for making informed buying decisions.
Can you tell me what Brand X is selling?
Please don’t get me wrong. We’ve also come a long way in this space when it comes to marketing. Content marketing, some of it really good, is finally a thing. Mortgage firms have discovered SEO. We’re starting to see some really innovative stuff. But we still see so many brands clinging to what they perceived to have worked…in 1982. Buzz words. Stale imagery. Unclear value proposition. Rehashed concepts. “Borrowed” ideas. We’ve seen a lot of this type of marketing in our industry, especially on the tech side of things, for far too long. Even worse, we’ll see brands pick up previously used campaigns or messages, change the color a bit, and then make them their own. Over and over…and over again.
As a result, our prospects become hardened and oblivious to any marketing efforts. They become pitch averse. And those who are putting in the effort to create professional marketing find that they’ve lost the effectiveness of what used to be useful and effective words and phrases.
Just as I’ve stumped for clarity in the mortgage lending process now for years, I’d also love to see more clarity in the way we all present our products or services—whether to consumers or other businesses. Let’s be original. Imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery, but it also has a negative effect on everyone, too. We’re all part of an industry that has much to be proud of. Shouldn’t that, at least, inspire innovation and creativity, even in our marketing messages?
We at LodeStar are grateful to all of our clients, friends and colleagues who take the time to view Deeper Thoughts. Please consider having a look as well at some of our other great content, including our podcast, “LodeStar’s Lending Leaders,” and “A Tale of Two Mortgages: an original webcomic for the mortgage industry, presented by LodeStar.”
As always, your feedback is welcomed and appreciated!