For What it's Worth - Don't Forget about Marketing in these Busy Times
Articles from The Massachusetts Focus
Newsletter of Stewart Title Guaranty Company, Massachusetts Offices
Spring 2003, Volume 2, Number 2
For What it's Worth — Don't Forget about Marketing in these Busy Times
by Gregory Donovan, Agency Account Manager
Unfortunately, in law school they do not teach you how to effectively cultivate and market prospective business relationships. It is something that is often learned on your own and everyone has a different opinion on how to go about it. During these busy times many real estate attorneys assert that they either do not have the time to get out of the office to network or that they simply cannot possibly take on any more business. Like many industries, real estate is cyclical. Slower times will come and at some point most of us will need to start fingering frantically through the rolodex again for leads and prospects. It goes without saying that the more contacts we have, the greater the chance we'll succeed in attaining new or more business.
You cannot be involved in everything when it comes to marketing because you wouldn't be back at the office closing loans so that you can pay for your son's or daughter's education. What you can do is to at least give thought to the marketing options that are available to you. So, for what it's worth, here are a few ideas to think about in order to maintain a networking presence in the real estate market and to help you network effectively.
- Go to the Source! Join Industry Groups
The Massachusetts Mortgage Bankers Association (MMBA) and the Massachusetts Bankers Association (MBA) are two organizations that come to mind right away because the membership consists mostly of mortgage professionals. A conveyancer's business flows directly from Mortgage Brokers and Loan Originators who often times have the sole discretion where to send the title order. In addition to having a well organized and informative educational agenda geared toward the mortgage industry, they also have terrific networking/social opportunities throughout the year. Golf outings, holiday parties, and dinner cruises are perfect scenarios from which you can walk away with a few business cards that can lead to potential closings. Buy a few tickets to an event, inviting a couple of your current key sources of business as a courtesy. This not only goes a long way with the loan originators who take care of you, but also gives you the chance to meet others potential clients at the same time - killing two birds with one stone.
- Act Locally
Perhaps you have a good deal of business relationships, but find that many of your contacts take you farther beyond the area of your office than you would prefer. In other words, you'd rather be closing at your own office, local bank or nearest Registry of Deeds most of the time as opposed to two or three counties away. Closing loans near home base is more cost and time effective and is less wear on your mind, body and car! So how do you network with the locals? Your geographic area almost always has a Chamber of Commerce or similar local business group that can be a great option for meeting local area business people. Membership comes from a very wide range of business areas, but has a good share of bank executives, mortgage brokers, attorneys, insurance agents, and local merchants. For example, The North Shore Chamber of Commerce has monthly events like breakfast forums with featured speakers and "After Five Networking" with cocktails and appetizers at a chosen location - not to mention various dinners, golf outings, and legislative forums which provide additional opportunity to meet those in both your geographic and business areas.
Another option is Business Network International (BNI). BNI is an intense networking group that has local chapters as well. A chapter of BNI usually limits the number of people from a given profession to one. Then the idea is to only refer members of that group to others who may be seeking their services. It's like having your own local sales team, and conversely you are also part of the other members' sales teams - a good concept that seems to work if it is done enthusiastically and taken seriously.
- Educate and be Educated
Do you know what the hottest topics are in your industry right now? What's being done about the crises at such and such Registry of Deeds? (OK, Middlesex South). Do you really know how or to what extent the prime rate really affects mortgage rates?
For those of you getting by on your looks, that's great. For the rest of us, it is imperative that we stay on top of our game and know what we are talking about when it comes to our livelihood - especially when we are out and about marketing potential prospects. Industry periodicals are one way to go. National Mortgage News keeps its readers abreast on cutting edge mortgage products, opinions from experts on where the market is going and different trends in the mortgage/closing business. Banker and Tradesman is a real estate, banking and commercial weekly for Massachusetts, with a popular section that lists every transaction in every Registry of Deeds in Massachusetts. Boston Homes and MetroWest Homes are examples of residential real estate broker-sponsored weekly newspapers that either show up on your doorstep or are free of charge at your local market. These contain informative articles on the local markets, open houses, question and answer, and case law updates. Read the Boston Sunday Globe and Boston Herald real estate sections religiously. And don't forget Stewart's own quarterly, The Massachusetts Focus, which if you have read this far (thanks) you have a sense of what your title insurer is trying to accomplish for our agents. Get involved in our teleconferences, too - listen and ask questions.
By the same token, it is a good idea to not only educate yourself, but also educate others with what you know from your own practice and experiences. A real estate broker, mortgage originator, and yourself for example, make for a great panel of experts at your own seminar for potential home buyers. The real estate broker may get the deal, the mortgage pro gets the borrower's loan, who in turn sends you the closing. Does it always work like this? - of course not - but it may be worth the shot for the few times it does. Maybe even try to get a short term teaching gig or be a guest speaker at the MCLE or at a course at the Adult Center for Education. And if you don't feel comfortable speaking in public, then volunteer to write articles or answer consumer questions for related publications. The bottom line is that you get your name out there.
- Be Good
The best marketing technique of course is to do a fantastic job with what business you have and more business will always follow. You can even go above and beyond what is asked of you if you would like. Does that mean conducting closings at every borrower's house for all of Saturday afternoon? It can, but it doesn't have to - it's totally up to you. That's the great thing about successful marketing - YOU can ultimately decide who makes up your client base. There are lots of ways to stand out, but the best way is to keep the clients that you work well with and give them and their borrowers the most outstanding service possible. End of story.