Inventing a Better Wheel – Part 2
In the first part of this series, we explored the value of developing a strong niche with home buyers and refinancers and how connections in the real estate sector can help. In this next part, we discuss elevating your marketing for success with these real estate partnerships.
As the real estate landscape has changed, agents have had to adapt to the times as well. Before diving more into our process, let’s talk about marketing. If you cannot get yourself top-of-mind for referral sources, the process doesn’t matter.
ELEVATE YOUR MARKETING
We realized early in this journey that social media was an incredible resource to market our agency to the real estate community locally. A strong presence on Facebook and Instagram in particular, helped raise brand awareness within the real estate world. At the onset of our digital marketing strategy, we were trying to create content and value for consumers, and had a hard time gaining any traction. But soon we realized that there is one demographic, who are extremely active on Facebook and Instagram – Realtors and mortgage lenders.
According to the National Association of Realtors, 75% of Realtors use social media for professional use. Just like us, they are salespeople at the end of the day, and understand the value of using social media to promote their business. I don’t have the data to back this up, but I would say with the exception of hyper-political nutjobs, and proud grandmothers, the most active group on Facebook is real estate professionals. It’s a space where they can market their personal brand for free and share their story with their network and potential clients. This is what it looks like when I scroll through Instagram:
These folks are spending a lot of time on social media, which means, there is a good chance they will see YOUR content if you start making friends with local real estate professionals on these networks. For more on that, check out one of my previous posts on Agency Nation.
IMPROVE YOUR PROCESS, AND MAKE YOUR PARTNERS’ PROCESS BETTER
Just as a great process means nothing if people don’t ever reach out to you, great marketing means nothing if your process sucks. We hear it all the time: We are not the only insurance agents around, but what keeps our referral sources coming back, is an efficient and consistent process that makes the home buying process smoother. The biggest compliment we get is “Sarah was bragging about how great you were – I’ve never had a client thank me for referring someone for insurance.” Rather than insurance being an after-thought, it becomes top of mind.
The first thing we focused on with our process, was timing. We realized that mortgage lenders in particular, can be demanding, because, well, buying a home is demanding! Just as we are under the gun because of online providers, mortgage lenders face intense competition from their peers. Rates continue to be at an all-time low, and so the differentiating factor for the best lenders, is a quick, easy loan process. According to Ellie Mae, processing speed is the most important factor while applying for a loan online. Mortgage loan statistics show that 29% of people taking out loans online prioritize speed. Other important factors include security at 28% and simplicity at 20%. Other factors rate much lower, making it clear that borrowers prioritize these three factors above everything else. Realtors expect the lender to move mountains for their client, and if deadlines are not met, nobody gets paid.
Improving our timing took a culture change. It was not uncommon for staff to roll their eyes, frown, or verbally cuss when they got an email from a mortgage processor asking: “Hi, can you please add the client’s middle initial to this binder, change the date 2 days, and resend it to me?” Ok, I’ll admit it. We still do that sometimes. But what we realized was that this is a big pain point for lenders, and something that can hold up, or even derail a closing entirely. Some of the larger lizards–I mean carriers–will tell lenders that an updated binder can take 24-48 hours to do something as simple as adding a middle initial.
Our staff had to re-learn the importance of being punctual, and even adopting a mortgage lender’s mindset. Much of our sales model mirrors the process that lenders have. Our agency employs an entire team dedicated to real estate closings. We even have full-time staff dedicated to issuing and editing binders/EOI for real estate closings, it’s that important!
In the third and final part of this article we will explore the importance of leveraging all of your relationships—among staff, clients, carriers, and referral sources—for success in carving this real estate niche in insurance. Watch this space in the coming weeks!
John Lapointe is the executive VP for Lapointe Insurance. Through social media marketing and a careful balance of participation in local networking organizations, John has built a virtual network of referral sources within the housing industry in MA, RI, and CT. The strategy has grown monthly new business commissions by over 600% since joining the agency in 2016. His vision is to be an “agent of change” in a 60-year-old family business, to create an agency that embraces change, new ideas, and where people love coming to work. John and his team subscribe to their core values of teamwork, information, growth, doing the right thing, and having fun.
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