WE’RE HEARING a lot about the upcoming NFL season, with the first real games right around the corner. We have sat through the preseason games, where the competition is light and even the subpar performers do pretty well. Sort of like going through a refinance boom. I think it’s appropriate that I do a series of columns where football serves as the metaphor for mortgage banking—after all, football is our national pastime (apologies to baseball which was our national pastime) and following your favorite team is almost as popular as following the Fed, and much easier to keep score.
First let’s talk about how we watch football. This past week, the great folks at DirecTV released their newest version of the “Sunday Ticket” with a promotional video on YouTube.com called Football on Your Phone.
First off, the video that DirecTV released is very funny. And so is the mortgage industry (At least it is to me!). The video stars the QB Manning brothers, so obviously they are both struggling to get endorsement deals and are now relegated to YouTube. Actually, the fact that this product was launched with a YouTube video shows the importance of the Internet as a tool for communication. Since it was released—only two weeks ago—it has been viewed 7 million times! That means that if every one of my blog readers click the link it could climb to 7,000,005.
Just kidding! I am making fun of myself. And that is the first part of the reason this video works. It’s funny, and the Mannings are having a good time. And the humor makes the viewer want to share the video, which is how it went viral to 7 million (and maybe five) views in only two weeks.
So, the first lesson for the mortgage industry is to be original and be funny. I can give you an example of why this works. I was in North Carolina last month and was trying to get a meeting with a mortgage executive there while I was doing college visits with my daughter. I was doing all the normal outreach and getting no response. Then I reached out to him via LinkedIn.com with the message that I needed a rescue from college visits with my family before holistic application processes and excessive family time drove me insane. He immediately responded, and we had a nice exchange about his kids also going to college. He took the appointment, primarily because I was personal and I was a little witty (just a little) in my outreach. And the use of LinkedIn managed to get past his huge inbox of business correspondence.
The second reason the video works is that it is very simple. The product itself is a highly technical one that allows current DirecTV subscribers to get access to NFL “Sunday Ticket” streamed to their smartphones if they have subscribed to the package (Small print: The offering is available at a premium and must be booked a full season in advance. Viewers must have data plans that support streaming on their phones and some charges may apply. Contact your local cell provider for details.) How does that pitch sound to you?
Isn’t this exactly how we pitch mortgages to consumers? We hand them a folder filled with disclaimers filled with jargon, technical terms and confusion. Sure, this gives us what we require for the mortgage (and compliance) but has nothing to do with they are trying to accomplish.
Now take another look at that video (maybe we can push it up to 7,000,010 views!). What do you hear? You hear the same refrain—“football on your phone”—over and over again. You see the goofy Manning boys (and a brief cameo by dad Archie), and all sorts of cultural references and jokes. But over and over again you hear the slogan. Guess what? Now I know I can get football on my phone. And I want that. Sold!
What if we as mortgage lenders used a similar approach in our businesses? What if we developed a slogan and stuck with it?
Early in my career as a loan officer (yes, I did that for the first several years of my career) I would often use a technique with home purchasers to try and get them moving on the loan. I used to stress the need to get started on the mortgage process, to stress that no matter what happened with finding the right house, or making a final decision on the right loan, they needed to do the paperwork and get the loan set up. I did this to try to overcome the natural inertia the borrowers feel when faced with such a complex process. I would often use the slogan, “Let’s get the loan waiting for you, instead of you waiting for the loan.” What I was trying to do was get them to get started, to take action and to avoid the last minute pitfalls that often come up. I was trying to transform my part of the relationship from rate slinging lender to solution oriented partner. I would relate nearly all discussions and objections back to this issue—for example:
“Rates are often less for shorter term locks and so we should have the loan waiting for you instead of you waiting for the loan.”
“Loan product options could be narrowed down once the loan is waiting for you instead of you waiting for the loan.”
“The loan approval process is complicated, and I know that they will feel better having the loan waiting for them instead of them waiting for the loan.”
“The seller may be willing to work with you if they know that you have the loan waiting for you instead of you waiting for the loan.”
“If you get me the documentation that the underwriter is looking for then the loan will be waiting for you instead of you waiting for the loan.”
I was also trying to align my efforts with the interest of the referral source, who wanted to be sure the deal was ready to go. On a purchase loan, there is a lot of complexity that comes with trying to align all the interests of buyer, seller, listing agent and selling agent. I tried to be sure the borrower knew that starting now—getting the loan waiting for them instead of them waiting for the loan—was the best course of action.
Alright, maybe that’s not as clever as a video featuring the Manning brothers, and I was certainly not a celebrity endorser, but it was effective because it was simple, and I could repeat it over and over. In fact, just imagine the slogan “loan waiting for you” but with me singing it to the DirecTV jingle.
So, how else is the mortgage industry like watching football? I bet you know. Write me an email (or send me a note on LinkedIn) and tell me what you think. I’ll turn it into something that might make you chuckle for a future column. I’ll keep it simple so it’s worthy of repeating.
For example, how is a mortgage application like Mark Sanchez?
It only takes one a** to drop the ball.
Garth Graham is a partner with Stratmor Group, and has over 25 years of mortgage experience, from Fortune 500 companies to startups, including management of two of the most successful mortgage e-commerce platforms. He was formerly with Chase Manhattan Mortgage and ABN Amro, where he was a senior executive during the sale of its mortgage group to Citigroup.