A great product or service, industry expertise, and an excellent consumer awareness campaign. These are the keys to business success, right? Not exclusively.
Though it seems “personal branding” has always been an essential component of the small business landscape, Tom Peters (In Search of Excellence) only coined this phrase in 1997. With the explosion of the Internet and, more recently, social media, being branded is no longer the purview of cattle. In fact, if you don’t clearly define your brand, you might resemble another farm animal: sheep.
While demographics and customer profiles provide useful marketing data, social psychology plays a more pivotal role in buyer behavior than even social media — especially if clients are unaware of these subtle influences on their purchasing decisions.
Consider the following when developing your marketing strategy:
- Small Favors First. In one famous experiment, psychologists asked homeowners to place a small sign in their window in support of safe driving. Two weeks later, a different person asked the same group to put a large sign in their yard advocating safe driving. A second group was only asked to place the yard sign. The outcome: more than three-fourths of those who were first approached with the small window sign request said yes to the yard sign; in contrast, a scant 20 percent of the second group agreed to the yard sign.
Marketing message: Start small to gain a foot in the door. An initial “yes” forms a bond with the prospect. Ask if you can share some information about what your reverse mortgage prospect expresses interest in, whether that’s safe senior travel tips, creative ideas for how to live large later in life, or alternative elder dwellings, such as senior cohousing. Once you’ve forged this connection, you’ll have a natural segue to talk about reverse mortgage.
- What Would Nate and Nancy Do? Peer influence is powerful, both personally and professionally. To encourage customers to reduce their energy consumption, one utility company told them, “Your neighbors are reducing their energy use.” This tactic was more effective than simply asking people to lower their energy consumption.
Marketing message: Show prospective clients how their peers have taken a similar action. This is where testimonials from satisfied HECM loan recipients can tip the balance in your favor.
- Home Sweet Home. Environmental cues subconsciously influence our decisions.
Marketing message: Try to meet with reverse mortgage prospects in their home rather than your office. Being at home while considering their long-range financial needs can be a powerful motivator to move forward.
In addition to these social psychology tips, personal branding guru William Arruda suggests a number of trends that will brand you successful in 2015:
- Outsourcing. Don’t try to DIY; focus on what you do best (working with prospects and clients) and bring in support for the rest.
- Video. We recently explored how loan officers can send prospects videos that introduce the concept of a reverse mortgage. Reverse Focus president Shannon Hicks uploads two weekly videos to enhance your knowledge base and business, so you already grasp video’s value as a marketing tool.
- Coaching. Coaching is now becoming integral to corporate leadership development. Hiring a business coach might be a good way to hone your brand’s focus.
- Blogging. With the advent of LinkedIn’s blogging platform, your business has the potential to reach hundreds of thousands of viewers every time you post. And some of them (or their parents, colleagues, friends, neighbors…) are going to be in the market for a reverse mortgage.
- App-solutely Accessible. Mobile will be the name of the game in 2015 as never before, says Arruda. Are you prepared to “brand on the run”?
- Personal Website. While LinkedIn, Facebook, and a number of other sites already provide a platform to create a personal web page, Reverse Focus enables you to create a branded site that’s focused on your business as a reverse mortgage professional.
Finally, when you give a talk at a senior center, Rotary Club, or other professional setting, be sure to bring branded products as leave-behinds or for back-of-the-room sales. You can provide postcards, pens, fridge magnets, or whatever other logo products you deem appropriate for your target market as giveaways, and offer your book (if you have one), DVD, or other products for sale. Be sure every item contains your contact information, logo, and business card.
Now you’re branded for 2015!