Building a personal brand has never been more important in the new digital age but it can cost time, effort and money. The good news is aggregators can lend a considerable hand to help you
There is no end to the ways in which to market your business. Starting at a local level with community engagement to building up the SEO profile of your brand online, aggregators pride themselves on using their scale and experience to drive business your way with targeted marketing campaigns.
Branding is a large part of any marketing strategy and brokers must decide whether they want to build their own independent brand or switch to a large, more
established group like Aussie or Mortgage Choice.
Over the past 23 years, Aussie has invested hundreds of millions of dollars in building and promoting its brand – its brokers benefit from more than two decades of marketing investment.
The strength of the brand helps attract new customers, which in turn attracts many brokers to the group each year.
“Working with this brand is important and if, as a broker, you don’t see value in this billion dollar brand, then you’re better off not working with the Aussie brand,” Aussie chief executive James Symond says.
“A quality broker alongside the quality brand should equal a better-than-quality result that they wouldn’t be able to achieve elsewhere,” Mr Symond says.
The Aussie CEO believes that on the whole, aggregators provide similar software and commissions platforms and it is difficult to find a key point of difference or unique selling point.
“It’s really a commission game for most of them,” he says. “Whereas for the branded brokers out there, including Aussie – which would be the biggest branded broker in the country by far – it’s certainly the brand, the support, the software. It’s the whole package.”
Listed mortgage broker and diversified financial services group Mortgage Choice has been steadily ramping up its technology to help brokers market their business.
One of the most powerful tools the group provides for its franchisees is its ‘mini-site’.
This tool allows brokers to showcase their business online, says Mortgage Choice CEO Michael Russell.
“Those who use it effectively rank well for local organic Google searches and generate leads for themselves,” Mr Russell says.
“We provide training, best practices guides, consulting services and content in order to assist our franchisees in this ever changing, dynamic space.”
However, not all mortgage brokers want to be part of a branded group. For those after more tailored marketing support, it might be better looking beyond the big names.
While it does include a branded option, mortgage aggregator Choice also provides best practice self-help.
The group harnesses its Podium technology to better understand opportunities for brokers within their existing client base.
“That’s where the real power of CRM comes in – with marketing material, stuff that’s resonated well with consumers we know,” Choice chief executive Stephen Moore says.
“It is a very simple process to then tailor up and send out – newsletters, letters, updates to clients and then tailored advice specifically on how to market, for example, online presence, how to maximise your marketing at a local level,” he says.
“That’s something we do a lot of, especially in Choice Home Loans where we certainly believe that what we deliver is a combination of strong online presence backed up with local marketing.
“That’s a bit of a broader consumer trend as well – people shopping online, for example. “Given the relatively anonymous world of online, we’re also seeing a flight back to business at a local level, that sense of belonging to a community, so we’re really doing a lot of work to market business locally,” says Mr Moore.
All aggregators focus on platforms. For brokers, they can make or break a decision concerning which group to join.
FAST has certainly invested in its Podium platform, as well as sourcing information about how brokers target particular niches in the marketplace, whether it be investor home loans, first home buyers or small business owners.
“Podium was a good win for us,” says FAST chief executive Brendan Wright. “We’re very proud of Podium: it is a key differentiator in the marketplace and there’s more to come.”
When I took over at FAST two and-a-half, three years ago, fewer than 30 per cent of our brokers used Podium,” he adds.
Initially, FAST had a strong relationship with another independent platform provider, but when Mr Wright joined the group almost three years ago, the aggregator began to articulate to brokers how they can add value to their business.
“Every aggregator needs to have a strong platform – Podium was being the difference and we get regular comments about our brokers, not just about bringing the brokers who want to join FAST but our existing brokers that have been around for some time, have been delighted on how and some work by listening to them,” he says.
PLAN Australia also uses the platform, which has been universally embraced by its brokers. The key to harnessing the technology is the effective use of a broker’s data, says PLAN chief executive Phil Quin-Conroy.
“There’s a lot of quality data sitting in a broker’s database,” he says. “We assist them to access that data to provide post-settlement servicing … so a lot of it is based around how they leverage the powerful data that they have sitting in the CRM component of the Podium technology solution.”
The aggregator has developed a series of automated marketing campaigns in the target module of Podium that enables a broker to communicate with existing clients as well as follow up prospects whom they may not have heard from for a while or customers who, for example, have loans expiring in the near future.
“So there are a lot of different avenues that we support a broker on from a marketing perspective,” Mr Quin-Conroy says.
“Increasingly, a lot of it is off the back of digital marketing programs – having said that we’ve also got some traditional marketing programs available to brokers as well, because they can be equally as effective,” he says.
James Mitchell has over eight years’ experience as a financial reporter and is the editor of Wealth and Wellness at Momentum Media.
He has a sound pedigree to cover the business of mortgages and the converging financial services sector having reported for leading finance titles InvestorDaily, InvestorWeekly, Accountants Daily, ifa, Mortgage Business, Residential Property Manager, Real Estate Business, SMSF Adviser, Smart Property Investment, and The Adviser.
He has also been published in The Daily Telegraph and contributed online to FST Media and Mergermarket, part of the Financial Times Group.
James holds a BA (Hons) in English Literature and an MA in Journalism.
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