Ten plus years into my career selling mortgages, (3-4 years ago), I found myself at a marketing crossroads. By marketing, I simply mean my communications with clients and referral sources (the wonderful people who refer clients to me and help me build my business). My then-employer sent a monthly newsletter and regularly sent postcards, sports team schedule magnets and other snail mail. But it didn’t stop there. The practice in the mortgage industry (and maybe yours too) is to “build your brand” by giving out pens, pads of paper, coffee cups, tape measures, and so forth. There is no limit to the number of things upon which a logo can be printed. My pen cup is a mini museum of the moribund subprime lending industry. While the pens still perform, the loans written with them no longer do.
So here’s my premise: the mortgage industry wants to inhabit your mailbox alongside your bills, magazines and catalogs; and wants you to remember them every time you write a note, take a sip of coffee or wonder who your favorite baseball team will play on a Saturday in July. I have rejected all of it as wasteful and incredibly presumptuous. I last sent a piece of mail (it was the aforementioned baseball schedule) in 2010 and I got a tepid reaction. Was it too much “me too” marketing or did it fail to pass the junk mail test? The junk mail test is my shorthand for the nightly home from work ritual of asking my wife if we got any mail that day. She nearly always tells me it was all junk that she put in the recycling bin. I use that as a gauge as to whether I should send mail. I ask myself whether a given item would get past my wife. None of my recent ideas passed that test, so I have limited my marketing outreach to a mixed bag of communications that include emails, texts and social media (blog posts/ You Tube videos/Tweets/ LinkedIn posts/Facebook and photos shared on Instagram and flickr). My brand, as it were, is cloud-based, and it is mostly works. The past year (since I arrived at A&N Mortgage) has largely supported this strategy. For clients who weren’t sure where to find me, I have been an easy Google search away – and that works too. But, and it’s a pretty big but, I am preparing to traffic in a bit of personal hypocrisy. Read on.
On March 1, 2012, I took my place at A&N Mortgage, 1945 N. Elston Avenue in Chicago after working for six and a half years at my prior employer. I took steps to let people know I had made the switch. I sent out emails, trimmed in the beautiful blue you see above. I overhauled my website and updated LinkedIn and Twitter. It didn’t take me long to realize that it wasn’t enough. Clients called my cell phone to start new loans and didn’t know I had switched. Some asked if A&N had acquired my previous employer (nope, just me) or if my previous employer had changed its name. So I have decided that I will send a single post card, with a stamp on it, to mailboxes near and far to celebrate my one year anniversary at A&N. Would you like to receive one? If so, please reply to this email with your preferred mailing address. I have mixed feelings about this, but I do feel it is important for people to know where I am and all the wonderful things A&N can do for them. Lastly, if my strategy sounds appealing to you and your business, let me know. I know some great people you should know too.