The Art of Differentiation
The art of differentiation comes in a variety of forms. In the mortgage industry it is important to understand that most lenders and mortgage brokerages are offering the same product: money.
Since the consumer sees the product as virtually identical between brokerages and lenders, it is necessary to develop a marketing program that differentiates one mortgage agent from another, whether that person works for a brokerage or a lender. This assists the consumer in differentiating between mortgage providers and making the decision of whom to choose based on those differences.
To be able to achieve this goal, the mortgage agent must understand the competition, the products and services offered and focus on the differences. Some of the factors to focus on are:
Mortgage brokerages have access to products and services provided by numerous non-bank lenders, whereas banks only have access to their own products. While this does not differentiate one mortgage agent from another, it is a major differentiation that needs to be made clear to potential clients. However, since most consumers believe that all money is created equally or that most lenders have the same products, simply stating in marketing materials that the mortgage agent has access to over a vast number of lenders is not sufficient to help the client understand how that is of benefit to him or her.
By using a testimonial, this can be summarized quickly and efficiently. For example, including a testimonial in marketing that says, “I thought I knew what I wanted when I was approved at my bank, but after I spoke with Malik, my mortgage broker, I realized there were many more options available to me than just what my bank had offered. It was a real eye opener,” can clearly differentiate between a bank and a mortgage agent.
Of course, the testimonial must be honest and genuine but this clearly illustrates the power of testimonial-based marketing in illustrating the differences in product availability between traditional lenders and the mortgage brokerage community.
Service can be a major differentiator between mortgage providers if marketed properly. If marketed improperly the word service will simply be another overused word with virtually no meaning. In today’s market everyone professes to have superior service but, unless that service is clearly defined the claim becomes vague. To make the claim important requires knowledge of the competition’s service levels. In so doing the mortgage agent can explicitly demonstrate the differences between his or her service and that of the competition.
For example, if the mortgage agent completes a budget to assist in determining the suitability of financing solutions at the initial consultation stage, this should be focused on since most mortgage sales people do not. A further example would be in ease of contact. The phrase, “I’m available seven days a week twenty-four hours a day” is not only incorrect, but sounds desperate. There are no mortgage agents who will answer a phone call in the middle of the night, but by clearly setting out the hours of contact and if there are other members of the mortgage agent’s team who are available to answer calls, a differentiation can be made. TD Canada Trust had a very successful campaign at differentiating it from the rest of the banks in Canada by clearly stating that it is open longer than any of its competitors. That statement differentiated the bank. If it had simply marketed great service and convenient hours, the distinction would have been lost on most consumers.
Another overused word, it is necessary for the mortgage agent to clearly define how they are professional. This can be done by including professional designations in marketing materials, and explaining those designations when appropriate.
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