One of several articles written for a west-coast mortgage broker magazine.
How to Get your Brand Inside your Client's Head
A brand is a symbol, name, logo, or some other identifiable trait that differentiates competing products or services. How can your turn this definition into a business tool?
Set yourself apart from the pack by using one of the most important aspects of branding: positioning. When a brand is well-positioned, it occupies a unique space in the mind of the consumer. Think about cars. An automobile is a means of getting from point A to point B: all of them provide exactly the same service. Yet to the loyal owner of a Chevrolet (or Toyota or Ford), his car is unique. He'd never buy the competition.
Do the same for yourself.
Start by looking for a unique way to position your product. Do you have a one-of-a-kind loan to offer customers? Oftentimes, financial products are so similar that consumers have a hard time understanding how your products are different. Make it clear to prospects how you are different. Sometimes, a company specializes in low rates, higher loan amounts, longer terms, helping businesses, working in specific parts of the city, etc. If your company has a special niche that the competition doesn't, make it part of your "brand."
Maybe you don't have that unique product. Everyone may be selling 15-year fixed-rate mortgage money at 6.65%, but make that product different because you know the numbers better than anyone else. National financial marketers (or even the company across the street) may be able to shave a few basis points off your rates, but that doesn't mean they have the best deal for consumers. Your expertise in rates, points, terms, and other nuances can set you apart. In-depth knowledge of your product can put you in a unique place in your prospects' minds.
The other area to look at is what you do: service. Often, this is an easier way to "brand" yourself. Make it a point to know your market area, the business community, and what your competition offers better than anyone else around. Use this knowledge to give prospects the kind of service they didn't know existed. Look among your coworkers and competitors for their service tips and tricks. Pick out the ones that will work best for your office, location, financial products, and prospects. Put together a unique package of services for your market that will position you as the best Mortgage Professional for every person who does business with you.
Once that you have identified the product and/or service that sets you apart (or will set you apart), use them to brand yourself. Remember, a car buyer doesn't know how a Chevy is different from a Toyota until someone convinces him that there really is something special about Chevys. That's what you need to do. You don't want to be known as "Joe, a great guy down at the bank!" or "Sally, the loan officer who's really sweet." There are lots of great, sweet people who sell mortgages. You need to be more than a good one among many; you need to be unique. If you're the "mortgage master," get the word out. It can be on your business cards, your stationery, and in your sales pitch. You can even introduce yourself that way ("Hi, I'm Sally Smith. I'm a loan officer at People's Finance, and my specialty is the lowest fixed rates on the planet..."). Say that with a grin, and even people who aren't in the market will ask you for more.
Put yourself in a unique place in their minds and memories. GM may make a million Chevys, but your brand should be one-of-a-kind.