We sat down with one of our TOTUS subscribers, a privately-owned mortgage firm in Texas. They were operating in over 40 states and had approximately 150 loan officers in the field. They were in a pivotal position of growth and were looking for technology to help them scale easily. Their recently hired Marketing Director quickly realized that their current systems were both antiquated and time-consuming. In short, they needed needed to find a new system that would automate the marketing process and maximize resources both in the corporate office and in the field. Below is part 2 of our 3-part series on how TOTUS became that solution. Click for Part 1.
Q: We left off in Part 1 at the point where you have built out your platform, populated it with some templates/materials and are beginning to think about promoting it to your intended user base. What’s next?
A: That’s correct. Before I move into that, I want to reiterate that each of those stages took time and each of them are equally vital to the success of your launch. I wasn’t kidding when I said that building out a marketing automation platform is a marathon, not a sprint. If you’re like me and aren’t a super “techy” person, the project as a whole can quickly become overwhelming. Not to mention the fact that your field team is probably anxious by this point to start using it. Keep your eye on the end goal during all of this and remember that you can’t skip over any of these stages – you need to walk through them and make sure you’ve laid the foundation correctly – take a little time at this point to stop and look back and make sure you haven’t missed anything. Yes, it might add a few days to your launch schedule, and yes, you can keep adding materials to your library after launch, but ensuring that your fundamentals are covered will ensure that you make a good first impression with your users.
Q: Yes, that’s a great point. Once you get to the stage of launching, you must feel confident in the platform that you have created. How were you feeling about your launch. Anxious? Concerned? Excited?
A: Yes, yes and yes. I had been working on this project for months, putting the majority of my time into it every day. I watched it morph from being a pain point, to an idea, to a real solution. This platform was my personal project and I was determined that it would be a success. So yes, I was anxious, nervous and concerned but only because I was so passionate about it. I knew I had done my due diligence in the early stages – we had a well-planned IA and we had branded our site to be user-friendly and intuitive – and I also had an incredible team helping me get to the finish line. I was excited to finally get to the point of launching and letting my field team enjoy the benefits of marketing automation.
Q: You just mentioned “IA” or “Information Architecture”, how does that play a role in marketing automation?
A: When I mentioned earlier that you need to make sure that you lay a solid foundation before launching your platform, I am referring to your Information Architecture. I know that term is used mainly in terms of IT projects, not marketing, but that’s exactly what this is... a new technology. You have to lay out your plan before you build, just like you would a house before you break ground.
Q: Tell us a little more about how you planned out your IA. What did you look at in order to determine the needs of your users?
A: I knew that the main function of my marketing automation platform was to present our materials to our loan officers in such a way that they could quickly and easily personalize what they needed. This meant that I needed to focus on keeping things simple, consistent and organized. I tackled my IA planning in 3 stages:
- I started off by looking at how our current materials were organized – what was working well and what needed to be improved?
- Then I spent some time talking to key stakeholders. This included high producing loan officers, our internal compliance team and other internal departments such as IT and HR.
- Finally, I did a little research on what systems our competitors were offering. Mortgage lending is a highly competitive business. If a loan officer is unhappy with their current company, they can easily move on to another. I had to make sure that we were building out a system that met or exceeded the capabilities of our competition.
Q: So once you were confident that your IA was solid and that you were ready to launch, how did you go about doing that? You mentioned in part 1 that training is paramount, but can you give us some specifics.
A: I was fortunate (depending on how you look at it) to have our annual sales meeting coming up about the same time that I planned to launch the platform. So my plan was to hold a big reveal at that event where I could announce the platform and do a live demo in front of the field team so that they could see it in action and get excited about it. I would then followed up with more targeted, one-one-one training.
I had already gotten the word out to some of our high performers, and even asked some of them to beta test as we were building out the platform, so that had already generated some buzz. It got a bit stressful trying to get all of our ducks on a row before the sales meeting, but having that hard deadline ended up being a good thing. It was incredibly rewarding to see the looks on the loan officers’ faces when they realized just how much the platform was able to do for them. I got so much positive feedback and so many thank you’s after that event, which made it all worthwhile.
Take a look at A Mortgage Marketer's Journey to Marketing Automation for the first part of this journey.