Online marketing is essential, but it does not replace old-school, in-person communication. Few marketers in the commercial mortgage business need to be convinced of the importance of Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter. But those social media platforms work best when they are combined with trade shows, seminars and community meetings that emphasize traditional in-person contact.
In the age of instant connection through social media, it’s easy to forget the benefits of traditional boots-on-the-ground marketing. Although social media platforms are incredibly valuable tools for commercial mortgage brokers seeking leads and referral sources, they are not a replacement for face-to-face meetings and discussions.
Whether your mortgage brokerage is a large-scale national operation or a locally oriented one-person shop, it’s important to take some time to meet with potential clients and referral sources. These in-person meet-ups are an ideal opportunity to discuss the challenges that small-business owners, as well as your referral sources, face, and how your services as a commercial mortgage broker can benefit them.
If you’re unsure where to get started, the following tips are some great places to connect in-person with potential borrowers, sources and other industry professionals.
One of the best places to meet referral sources and lenders is at industry trade shows. Whether you’re exhibiting at the show or simply walking the floor, it’s important to take advantage of every opportunity to make connections with others involved in the industry. To develop new business contacts, commercial mortgage brokers should interact with as many of the other attendees as possible.
Everyone is at the show to develop connections, so don’t be shy. Be prepared to answer any questions about your business and how your services as a commercial mortgage broker help your clients.
“Whether you’re exhibiting at the show or simply walking the floor, it’s important to take advantage of every opportunity to make connections with others involved in the industry.”
It’s important to come prepared to each show. If you’re only walking the floor, have business cards to hand out to every connection you feel has business potential. If you’re exhibiting, business cards are still necessary, but so are giveaway items and literature about your business.
Before the show, plan a follow-up strategy to get in touch with potential sources and lenders. Collecting business cards is a great way to remember all of the people you came in contact with, or maybe were unable to speak with during the show.
You also can code the back of each card to remember your level of interest in the company or individual and when you’d like to follow up with them. An “A” code, for example, could signify that you’re very interested and should contact the person within a week of the show. Stick to your follow-up plan so that you don’t miss any lucrative opportunities.
Chambers of commerce
The local chamber of commerce is a great way for mortgage brokers to meet small-business owners in the community and to explain the value of their services. The members of these organizations may be looking for commercial financing for their properties, or they may be professionals with clients seeking a commercial mortgage.
Joining a chamber of commerce is a great way to see potential borrowers and referral sources regularly. Even if you cannot devote the time or the resources to full-time membership, discuss scheduling regular presentations for the group. Use the opportunity to explain the benefits of commercial financing and how your services will benefit both borrowers and referral sources.
Remember, taking an educational approach to these types of presentations instead of going for the hard sell is often the best tactic. People are more likely to remember you and want to reach out to you if they feel you have helped them in some way.
A great way to earn the trust and respect of potential borrowers and referral sources is to host seminars to educate them about aspects of the commercial mortgage industry. People are generally more willing to work with someone who has proven to be a helpful and credible industry expert.
It’s best to choose your audience before preparing a seminar and tailor the content to best suit that audience. If you’re planning to host an educational meeting for potential borrowers, for example, it might make sense to host a seminar about how to apply for a commercial mortgage, or what to do when the bank turns down a commercial mortgage request. If you’re looking to connect with referral sources, however, a seminar about how to help both bankable and non-bankable clients secure commercial financing would be a better topic.
Regardless of your audience and your discussion topic, make sure your seminars include information about the benefits of working with a commercial mortgage broker and your contact information, in case there are any follow-up questions.
Commercial mortgage brokers should consistently seek out new referral sources, and it’s important to take the time to schedule meetings with those sources who seem most interested in your services. This is fairly simple: If the banker, accountant or attorney is local, you can simply meet up for coffee or lunch. If there is a considerable distance between you and your source, technology can play a very important role. A phone call is great, but there are many video-conferencing services available that will allow you to achieve something closer to the face-to-face effect of an in-person meeting.
A steady flow of new referral sources is important, but so is maintaining your relationship with your current referral network. The fact that you have obtained business from them in the past is no reason to neglect your relationships with referral partners going forward. Scheduling regular meet-ups throughout the year lets your sources know they’re an important part of your success and that you value their contributions.
Whether you’re meeting with a new source or an older contact, make sure to keep the focus on them. Ask them questions about their business and about how you can help them. Focus on how your services as a commercial mortgage broker will make their lives easier and their clients happier.
It’s easier than ever to contact and build relationships with potential borrowers and referral sources through the power of social media. It’s important, however, to supplement your digital marketing by finding ways to connect with your audience.
• • •
Taking the time to attend industry trade shows allows you to discuss your business with industry professionals and build valuable relationships, as does addressing your local chamber of commerce. Hosting educational seminars solidifies your credibility among borrowers and sources as an industry expert and a trustworthy broker, while one-on-one meetings allow you to address the needs and concerns of individual sources.
No matter how you choose to connect with borrowers, referral sources and other industry professionals, remember that focusing on their concerns is the best way to earn respect and their business. At the end of the day, you are providing them with a service, and it’s up to you to explain why they should work with a commercial mortgage broker — and why they should be working with you.
This article originally appeared in the September 2016 commercial edition of Scotsman Guide.