I sat down with John Seroka, vice president of Seroka & Associates, a public relations and marketing firm based in Waukesha, Wisc., while I was attending the MBA's technology conference in San Diego last week. I was impressed.
He's young and perhaps a bit too hip to hang with bankers (but then he's based in L.A.), but he certainly understood their problems in a down market.
"Rates are up and their probably not coming back down anytime soon," he said. "It's just that part of the cycle. But we at Seroka have some recommendations for banks, from the marketing perspective."
Seroka said that mortgage lenders face a quandry every time the market dips. It doesn't seem to make sense to spend money on marketing and promotion when you have so much less revenue coming in. And you didn't need to spend that much to promote when business was waltzing through your doors. He calls it a Catch-22 that could force some companies out of business if they don't take action now.
"The key to longevity lies in building a brand," Seroka said. "You have to go beyond just advertising in the newspaper and sending out direct mail. You need PR."
He says this is even more important right now for mortgage brokers, especially those that were too busy shopping for new sports cars during the last refi boom to develop their brand equity.
Two ideas Seroka was talking about at MBA Tech were the company's ePersona offering and its Tarketed TV media buying.
ePersona is a website tool that involves the company's spokesperson walking right into the website to speak directly to web site visitors, with no download time. Seroka says the tool will allow prospects to connect with a website as human beings in the way that only a human can.
Target TV is an approach that helps companies get more milage out of television advertising through media search and optimization strategies.
"The market is collapsing," Seroka said. "The only way a lender can grow is by getting more market share. That can be accomplishing by putting together a good plan with a good message that will stimulate people to do business with you."
Find out more by contacting John Seroka at firstname.lastname@example.org or by visiting the company's website at www.seroka.com.