If you’re a residential broker looking to expand your product offerings to include small commercial mortgages, marketing yourself appropriately will be a key factor in determining your success. You need to prepare yourself to become a competent and skilled commercial broker. If you don’t devote any time or effort to developing and promoting your skills in this regard, you won’t be doing much commercial business.
Transitioning — or simply expanding — your origination focus is all about selling yourself to potential borrowers, referral sources and lenders that you’d like to do business with. That involves a number of crucial steps. In particular, consider the following commercial mortgage marketing tactics:
Market yourself anew
To attract new business while also keeping your existing customers and referral sources interested, you should learn how to market your business. The first thing to do is let your current contacts and any prospective borrowers know that you are in the commercial mortgage business. You can do this via several means.
- Label your materials. Start by adding the word “commercial” to all of your communications and marketing materials. Make sure that your business cards, e-mail signature, website, social media sites, letters and ads all state that you handle small commercial mortgages. It’s important to leave a consistent fingerprint.
- Search out sources. Once all of your communications materials have been updated, you’ll need to begin networking to secure new referral sources as well as commercial borrowers. Be sure to reach out to accountants, attorneys, Realtors and bankers to form new business relationships. These financial professionals will likely have clients looking for small commercial loans or might even be looking for financing themselves.
- See and be seen. Make yourself and your products visible to referral sources and potential borrowers. Visit the commercial district of your town or city and let small-business owners know how you can help them. Pass out fliers or take out an ad in the local newspaper.
- Revisit all the loans you did for self-employed homeowners. Some of these former borrowers may own their commercial buildings and need your help.
Making sure that your print-marketing materials reflect your ambitions to broker commercial loans is an important first step toward success. It’s also crucial, however, to connect with prospective sources and borrowers online, which brings us to our next point.
Success in any business in the digital age depends heavily on embracing the current technology. Having a company website and posting actively on social media are great ways to promote your brand and to connect with lenders, referral sources and borrowers. Social media in particular is a very useful tool for interacting with your customers.
Even so, it’s important to do your research and develop a strategy when marketing via social media. With that in mind:
- Plan your social media use. Before you get started marketing yourself via social media, you need to decide which sites you’re going to use and establish a schedule for your posts. Research sites like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn to see if they would be helpful to your marketing strategy. It’s also good to learn each site’s best practices for posting; most social media sites have a usage guide for businesses.
- Post to your channels consistently. Once you’ve selected the social media channels you’re going to use and have decided on a schedule, stick to it. You shouldn’t flood your followers with posts all day, but you also don’t want your posts to be too few and far between.
- Post helpful and interesting content. One of the best ways to engage your followers on social media is to post relevant and educational content about the commercial mortgage industry. Consider posting news articles or blogs about different facets of the commercial industry and loans that you’ve recently closed to give potential referral sources and borrowers more insight into the business. Today’s consumers are very research-oriented, so teaching them about the business will earn you credibility and trust.
- Interact with your followers. Social media sites are a great way to open dialogues with both referral sources and potential borrowers. If one of your followers asks a question or comments on a post, be sure to respond. Starting these conversations allows your connections to learn more about the industry and your skills.
Finding success with social media marketing is a matter of keeping your sources and customers interested by posting relevant content and engaging with them regularly. Following these tips will help you to build your online presence. If you really want to succeed, however, it’s important to align yourself with commercial lenders that are committed to helping you realize your potential, which brings us to our final point.
Many commercial lenders rely on brokers to bring in business. These relationships, therefore, should be symbiotic; your lenders should be as invested in your success as you are. If you’re a residential broker looking to work with commercial lenders, it’s a good idea to work with lenders that are willing to help you thrive.
- Seek out lenders that educate. Lenders that are willing to teach you the basics of commercial lending and walk you through the process are a valuable asset. Talk to lenders that you are interested in working with and ask if they provide any educational tools or materials.
- Ask about marketing support. Some commercial lenders provide marketing support and advice to their brokers so that the brokers can spend less time worrying about their advertising materials and more time focusing on bringing in business. Speak with your lenders’ marketing departments to see if they provide this kind of service.
- Find lenders that handle processing. Handling the processing and closing of a loan may be a time-consuming endeavor for brokers. Some commercial lenders, however, handle all of the processing work for you and will schedule closings so that you can focus on bringing in new borrowers. As with the previous two points, be sure to talk with lenders about how their companies will handle the loan once a borrower has committed to a deal.
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Residential brokers looking to close small-balance commercial loans should understand the importance of marketing themselves. Print and online marketing helps get the word out that you can help clients with their commercial needs, as well as promote your skills and products.
Whatever your process, it’s important to develop a comprehensive marketing strategy. If possible, work with lenders that are willing to help you achieve your full potential as a commercial broker. By expanding your product offerings and marketing yourself well, you’ll be able to close more loans each year and increase your income.
A version of this article originally appeared in the September 2014 residential edition of Scotsman Guide.