Quick – no hesitation ─ what is the name of your favorite hotel?
Okay, now let’s assume you’re booking a trip and your preferred hotel is sold out. What two other hotel brands would you consider?
Now think of all the hotel brands that didn’t even come to your mind.
Next, suppose you need to rent a car. What is your preferred rental car agency?
Now assume they have no cars available. What is the name of the next car rental agency you would call?
You can play out these scenarios with virtually every product and service, whether it’s a hotel, toothpaste, a hardware store, a mortgage lender or any company in the mortgage or real estate industry.
In nearly every case, one brand, or at the most a short list of brands, will likely stand out and be your preferred choice. Conversely, with a little thought, you could probably identify a fair number of brands you would never buy from or do business with.
If my point isn’t obvious, it’s this: when people need to complete a task, whether purchasing a home or considering new vendors or technology to expedite the mortgage manufacturing process, certain brands come to mind.
And brands that have done a great job make the short list.
What are 7 steps you can take right now to elevate your mortgage or real estate industry brand to be top-of-mind?
- Look into the soul of your company by reflecting on your culture. Many times, the greatest impediment to becoming a great brand can be traced to problems within a company’s culture. Do you have high employee turnover? A bad reputation? Is poor communication, office politics, or a poor work ethic preventing you from getting to the next level?
The easiest way to find out is to do a brand and culture audit and have candid conversations with your people. As part of your culture strategy, start doing exit interviews to find out the real reasons people leave.
- Look closely at your competition. Take stock of your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats in the competitive landscape.
To help you think through this, ask yourself ─ would you do business with your company? Why or why not? That’s a hard question to ask, but one that forces you to be honest with yourself and helps you with this analysis.
- Consider this…if you were going to build a new mortgage or real estate industry company that competes against you, how would you do it? What would that company look like?
Invest the time to create a mini business plan and strategy. Once you’ve done this, you’ll know what to do. Take those top three to five thoughts of what you would do better, or different and put the necessary resources behind them.
- Understand and appreciate why brand development and strategy is so important. The point of me taking you through that little exercise at the beginning of this blog post was to demonstrate that people’s decisions are based on brand experiences and perceptions. What kind of experience do you provide your clients? How is your brand perceived?
Going back to the beginning of this article, think about why you prefer one hotel over another. It’s likely due to an attribute, or group of attributes, you value the most when choosing a place to stay. Whether it’s price, the check-in experience, the cleanliness of the rooms, or the comfort of the beds, , there are brand attributes you value.
Identify those attributes your clients or borrowers value the most and think about how you can make them better. If you don’t know, ask them next time you send a survey or questionnaire. Start getting feedback and do something with what you learn.
- Invest heavily in your people through training. Not just technical, but training on leadership, communication, problem-solving, conflict-resolution, sales, marketing, branding, crisis communication and any other training that prepares them, and your company, to be a force to reckon with and unstoppable.
- Adopt a visionary mindset. Keep a pulse on the trends of your business and industry and think in terms of your next two big ideas, even if you’re working on something right now that you believe will disrupt your industry or change the game.
- Lastly, start courting top-tier people to be a part of your team and vision. It’s tough finding great people who will share your passion and determination to succeed. You and your people should network and be visible at trade shows and industry events. Focus on building awareness of your company and transforming it into a natural habitat for top performers.
The mortgage and real estate industries are highly competitive, so it will take a very strategic and forward-thinking mindset to do well. Think about how your company would look and act if you took all seven of these steps and implemented them. The level of change you create would surely put your company in the very top tier in the minds of your target audience and the industry.
Scott Seroka is the Chief Brand Strategist of Seroka Brand Development