Startup mortgage brokers face big challenges when creating a marketing plan. Out of 5,210 directly-authorised mortgage intermediary firms in the UK, you’ve got to make your brand and value proposition stand out to your target audience and build a customer base. How do you even get started?
There is no universal “template” marketing plan for mortgage brokers. However, there are common strategic principles which you can consider. You’ll find some of those here in this short guide, helping you identify key steps when constructing your own marketing plan.
One of the most important first steps for a mortgage broker regarding their marketing is to ask yourself where you are right now, and figure out where you want to go. Do you currently have any profitable customers or clients, or are you starting completely from scratch? If the former case, do these people share any common traits? If so, is this the market you want to go after, or do you wanting to target a different demographic (e.g. CEOs in Y part of the country)?
As a startup, your marketing goals are likely to be tied heavily to achieving a certain number of sales. Take stock and ask yourself what is realistic to achieve within 12 months. How many leads could you handle each month, and how many do you need to convert into closed deals? What kind of ratio is realistic regarding the ratio of qualified:unqualified leads you’d be dealing with each month?
Establish strategy, positioning & value
Small, new mortgage broker businesses typically have the advantage of greater flexibility when choosing a marketing strategy (larger firms usually require much more time and resource to change tack). Broadly speaking, you have four options regarding your marketing strategy:
- Go after the same target market with a traditional product/service (i.e. market penetration).
- Pursue a new market with a traditional mortgage broker service (i.e. market development).
- Offer a new product/service to your traditional target market (i.e. product development).
- Present a new product/service to a new market (i.e. diversification).
There are pros and cons to each marketing approach, but you should choose one which suits the specific needs and goals of your mortgage brokerage. Think about it carefully, as you will likely be committed to your strategy for many years. It will cost time, money and effort to change course once you start.
On you have your mortgage broker marketing strategy, however, you need to be confident of your positioning. This refers to how you want your audience to perceive you, and the feelings and association you want them to experience when they see your branding and hear your company name.
For instance, do you want to be seen as the cheap and quick option on the market, or do you wish to use some other basis for differentiation from your competitors? One mortgage broker we spoke to, for example, had managed to successfully position herself as a specialist for Chinese homeowners living in the UK (quite a niche area!).
Finally, consider your value proposition and sustainable competitive advantage. The key questions to ask yourself here, are: “Is what I’m offering seen to be truly valuable by my target market, and how easily could they sole elsewhere the problems I can fix for them?” Here, you need to think especially hard about whether your “competitive edge” is truly sustainable. In particular:
- Is your product/service easily replicable by competitors?
- How necessary is it perceived to be by your target market?
- How easily could they replace your product/service with an alternative, faster/cheaper solution?
Establish marketing resources
How much attention can you or other members of your team realistically give to your marketing? Do you need the help of a specialist financial marketing agency? Also, what resource should you commit?
Every mortgage broker’s needs are different, but as a general benchmark, you should consider spending at least 10% on your marketing. This might include covering costs such as your marketing agency’s costs, pay-per-click advertising spend and print costs (for brochures etc.).
It can be tempting to cut corners with your marketing budget, especially as a small business owner with other costs to factor in. However, it’s important to recognise that marketing ultimately serves to provide your business with brand exposure and leads, which provide sales and revenue. Neglect your marketing spend and risk cutting off this vital supply of lifeblood to your business.
With all of these steps in place, it’s time to implement your marketing plan. Now, you should have a much better idea of the kinds of tactics which should be appropriate for your mortgage broker business. Perhaps your plan should focus heavily on search engine optimisation, for instance. Others might have a target market which justifies focusing primarily on social media channels such as LinkedIn or Pinterest.
Be careful not to focus too much on one marketing channel (which leaves you potentially exposed if it suddenly dries up as a source of leads), or to try and juggle too many at once (which spreads you too thinly to leverage each channel effectively). Quite often, it works well to focus on two or three tactics (e.g. email, SEO and LinkedIn) over at least a 6-12-month period to compare performance.
A successful mortgage broker marketing plan is never a case of “set it and forget it”, however. Similar to an investment portfolio, your plan needs to be continually monitored and adjusted over the months to keep things on track towards your marketing goals. If a particular marketing tactic is not working, for instance, is this because it is not being used correctly, or is it because of a strategic error (e.g. the target market does not, in fact, inhabit or engage in this area)?