Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Martopia: New tool for brokers

Marketing is key to what brokers must do to keep business rolling in the door. It's tedious, expensive and essential. In today's market, events are beginning to conspire (I say beginning because housing starts rose again last month, which flies (again) in the face of pundits who say the market is cooling) to make marketing more important to brokers, even as brokers are becoming more important to wholesale lenders.

Lenders are competing for broker attention now as they realize that third-party originators are key to softening the fall as mortgage applications continue to decline. Lenders are offering all kinds of things to brokers to win their loyalty. Some of their ideas actually benefit brokers.

What brokers really need right now is co-of advertising, i.e. their message out to their target market financed by a lender. Lenders have offering to help brokers market loans in the past, but mostly its their loans and (more importantly) their brands. Part of the reason for this is that lenders need to advance their own national brands, but a lot of it is that it's just not economical to pay for print runs for brokers all over the country. Paying to have customized post cards printed for every originator the lender wants to work with is prohibitively expensive. Or is it?

Martopia will be marketing a new program to wholesale lenders who attend the National Association of Mortgage Brokers annual convention in Philadelphia later this month. In partnership with a high-tech print production company, Martopia will help lenders print up massive runs of high-quality direct mail marketing material that can be customized on the fly for different originators in the wholesale lender's broker network.

According to Michael Hammond, vice president of business strategy at Martopia, "The Broker Marketing Engine program enables authorized brokers to utilize a password-protected website and customize marketing materials with their colors, photos, logos, contact information and text choices."

I'll be hanging out with Michael at NAMB as he pitches this new program to lenders and brokers at the show. I'll let you know how it is received, but I anticipate it will represent a welcome opportunity for many.