According to a survey conducted by Edelman in 2013, "financial services" is the least trusted industry globally with only 46% of respondents indicating they have trust. In the U.S. by comparison, only 43% of respondents indicated they trust financial service providers. Even though the numbers have gone up a couple of percentage points in the past year, they're still woefully low considering the importance of a trustworthy financial sector.
Your mortgage marketing strategy and brand must evoke trust.
The fact is that the housing meltdown has cast a dark shadow on the mortgage industry. Because mortgage lending is a boom and bust industry, many new lenders tend to jump in when they see the sector is booming and they do very little to try to establish a brand worthy of trust.
They don't have to. They're making money and pushing their refinance deals through the system.
When the bust occurs, they're out. They may try to hang on and form relationships with referrers, but operationally they're not set up for purchase transactions and have very little if any credibility with Realtors because they've ignored them. The trust factor isn't there.
No matter what business you're in, the only thing you’re really selling is trust. Consumers want to know they can trust their lender to do the right thing, give them a fair deal and make it to closing. On time.
Mortgage companies want to form business alliances as well with product and service providers they can trust to do the right thing by them and in turn for their borrowers. Those who prove to be the most trustworthy and have a widespread reputation as such are the winners.
According to the same survey by Edelman, the two leading factors for distrust are corruption and fraud and the wrong incentives driving business decisions.
These are followed by such items as poor performance and transparency issues or simple incompetence. You can conclude that these factors which cause distrust could be applied to any business.
Now, here are some not-so-surprising findings from the same survey. Key trust-building attributes in order of importance for businesses include:
- Listening to customer needs and feedback
- Taking responsible action to address issues
- Placing customers ahead of profits
- Transparent and open business practices
- High quality products or services
- Ethical business practices
So, how can you leverage this information to drive trust in your brand? Here are eight ideas to consider:
- Acquire certifications, awards and participate in continuing education classes. For example, through the Mortgage Bankers Association, you can earn your Certified Mortgage Banker designation. Earning this designation places you in the upper echelon of professional success in the industry. The next two levels of achievement are the Executive CMB and the Master CMB.
If you’re a mortgage broker, NAMB-The Association of Mortgage Professionals offers three levels of certification tied to experience: General Mortgage Associate; Certified Residential Mortgage Specialist; and the Certified Mortgage Consultant. Each level has continuing education requirements.
If you're an underwriter, technology company, appraisal firm, title company or any other product or service provider, there are opportunities to acquire awards and certifications and make them known to your target audience. Examples could include the Mortgage Technology Awards for technology providers and the Accredited Senior Appraiser designation for appraisers.
Additional examples could be the Better Business Bureau designation or an award for "best places to work" or "fastest growing company."
- Leveraging social media is a great way to build trust. Social media engagement is unique in that it works for small start-ups and well-established behemoths alike.
There are still some out there that don't buy into this because they don't know how it works or the power that it has.
Here's a statistic you should be aware of if you're one of the naysayers. In a report from eMarketer, 82% of consumers trust a company more if they are involved with social media. This means that if you're active on Facebook, Google+, YouTube, LinkedIn, distributing helpful information and writing blogs, your ability to build trust among your target audience is greatly accelerated.
This statistic is not far behind friend and family recommendations. Being social accommodates many of the key factors listed earlier from the survey that build trust.
- Be careful not to overstate. We've always been told as children and adults that if something sounds too good to be true, then it probably is. Consumers are much smarter and more discerning than ever before especially when it comes to financial services, so if you feel you can offer something special, be sure to show proof that you're offering is real.
As for companies that offer business-to-business products or services, those who are in the position to make purchase decisions make them carefully and are not impressed by grandiose claims that are just filler copy commonly found in sales materials.
These claims of greatness are frequently not backed up and not worth anything at all to the reader. They tell your prospects that you really don't have any real differentiation and that you're "grasping at straws" to try to create it.
If you say it, then you must prove it. No empty statements allowed.
- Be on time; just do what you say you're going to do when you say you're going to do it. Yes, I know that sounds really simple, but surely you know people who are always running just a little bit late. And then, they want you to trust that they'll deliver needed documents and other key services on time after you hire them. Put yourself in the clients' position. Don't you get annoyed when people aren't on time when you're on a busy schedule?