Have you ever read a blog post and thought “Yes, that sounds good, but it doesn’t apply to me”?
Or perhaps you’ve started to read a marketing email, but half way through lost interest because it is not relevant to you.
Your lack of interest is probably caused by the writer’s failure to tailor their marketing material to you. It doesn’t matter so much if it is a general piece of advice – a “post and hope” type of article – but if you have paid to specifically target an audience, it does matter. No one wants to pay to hit a target and then miss.
I’ve spoken in previous articles and videos about the importance of niching your mortgage business rather than looking to serve everyone.
Having decided which niche you’re going to serve, you then need to make sure you really get to know and understand the audience in that niche so you can:
- deliver content that will best help them
- tailor your marketing message to their specific situation
You will note that I am talking about serving and helping people rather than selling to them. No one likes being sold to.
Which would you rather receive: an email saying “Buy my stuff” or an email which says “You know that problem you have? I’ve got the solution to it.”
But if you are going to offer your help you need to know why that person needs your help. We do that by creating a customer persona, thinking about the sort of person who will need help, their characteristics, their wants and their needs.
You may also see people using the terms customer avatar or buyer persona. They mean the same thing.
As a mortgage broker, you are likely to have more than one type of client that you can help. The needs of the young first time buyer will be different from the needs of the more mature couple looking to downsize. You will therefore have more than one customer persona.
The more you know about that person, the more you can create content that is relevant to the reader, and the easier it becomes to persuade the reader that you are the person they need to solve their particular problem.
I’ve written in a previous article about how to create a customer persona for mortgage advisers, so in this article I’ll briefly recap how that’s done and then talk in more detail about what you need to do once you’ve created your customer avatar.
Creating a customer persona is about trying to imagine your ideal customer as a real person, and giving them real attributes, for example their marital status, children, income and location. Sometimes these personas and avatars will look at interests, magazines and books they read. Most customer personas will stop at this point, but stopping here can cause a few problems.
I’d like to take a commonly used example of how a persona can be misleading and perhaps unhelpful if not created with some thought.
Imagine our ideal client was born in 1948. He
- Has been married twice
- Has two children
- Is self-employed and wealthy
- Likes dogs
- Holidays in the Alps
- Enjoys fine wine
- Drives classic cars
How does that sound as a customer persona or avatar?
This customer persona fits both Charles, Prince of Wales and Ozzy Osbourne, Prince of Darkness. You can readily see that marketing materials suitable for one are unlikely to be a good fit for the other. Quite possibly neither Charlie nor Ozzy would be a good fit as your ideal client.
So how can we take our customer persona further to make it more relevant to our ideal client?
Solve your client's pain
Research shows us that we are more likely to spend money on avoiding pain than we are on gain or pleasure. We will spend more on dealing with the pain of a toothache, for example, than on avoiding the pain altogether by going to the dentist once a year for a checkup.
Remember our primary aim in creating all of this marketing content is not to sell to our prospects but to demonstrate that we can solve a problem or a pain from which they are suffering. If you do not address those pain points in your marketing, your prospect is less likely to be attracted to you.
The customer persona framework
I have a six point framework I like to use when building a customer persona for mortgage advisers, and I think it is just as relevant for pretty much any business.
- Pain points
Let’s say for example that your ideal client is a partner in a business in which he has a 70% share and who wants to take out a mortgage to buy his first home.
Your client (let’s call him Simon) is going to be aware that it is more difficult to prove his income to a mortgage lender than it would be for someone who is employed. His bank were not too helpful when he spoke to them and he’s read some stuff online about the issues business owners face getting mortgages. He knows it is going to be challenging.
Simon is frustrated because he has a higher income than his brother who is in regular employment and qualifies more easily for a mortgage.
Simon’s pain points will include all of the additional hoops that he is going to have to jump through and the extra information he is going to have to provide, such as audited company accounts, details of future contracts, or sources of income. His accountant may have downplayed his profits so that he is paying less in tax. He is expecting to have far less choice of mortgage than his employed brother.
Simon still has goals and emotions and we need to appeal to these. He wants to own his own home, and to feel secure and perhaps confident about having made a good choice of investment. He may want the flexibility of a variable rate with the ability to overpay, or the certainty of a fixed rate.
He may also have fears or objections around taking out a mortgage or dealing with a broker. Do you understand what those are, and how would you address them?
The main reason your client, Simon, is coming to you and not, for example, his bank is that you are positioning yourself through all your marketing as the person who can solve his problem of successfully obtaining a mortgage even though he is self-employed. You will guide him through the documentation he needs to produce. You have the best range of products to fit his particular needs.
By going through the exercise of creating a customer persona, not only will you have a better understanding of who you are helping and how you can help, but you’ll also be creating a framework for the sort of content that will resonate with your target audience – in this case, Simon.
There is a really well-proven copywriting formula in marketing known as PASO, which stands for
We highlight a problem or a pain point. We emphasise or agitate that pain. We then show the solution that we have and the opportunity to take that solution from us.
PASO works best, and is easier to deploy, when we can have a really clearly drawn pen portrait of our ideal client. If your attractive solution doesn’t solve a problem that Simon is acutely feeling then your marketing, however well-worded, is not going to resonate with him.
How to use a customer person to get more mortgage leads
Let’s look at an example of how you might use my six-point customer persona framework and the PASO formula to build a landing page for a Google Ads campaign to generate mortgage leads from people like Simon.
Simon is self-employed and wants a mortgage. What are the problems that he is going to face? What are the problems that previous clients like Simon have had?
We need to find real problems, something that will make Simon sit up and say, “Yes, that’s me.”
Then how can you stir that pain up a bit more? Perhaps it is by talking about the additional paperwork that takes up so much time. Perhaps it is by describing what’s involved in showing that that new contract Simon has really does increase his income.
Now you can show the solution that we have: access to a wider range of mortgage products, the personal relationships you have with lenders leading to better rates. Simon can feel reassured that he has an expert in his corner, going that extra mile to get him the best deal.
And you finish off with the opportunity or offer. Call me on this number. Click this button for more information.
The more you understand about your customer persona, the more you will understand the problems he or she has, and how you can help them.
This will mean that you can write better blogs and emails. Your social media content will stand out because you are writing about something meaningful to your ideal customer and how you can help, rather than focusing on you and the financial services you have to sell.
Your customer will want to download your lead magnet because they can see how it is relevant to them. And once you have started helping them with something that’s causing them a problem, why would they not pick up the phone to you?
You don’t need to sell to your ideal client when you get all this right because they’ll be approaching you for your help.
Developing your customer persona is a difficult exercise if it is to be effective and if we are to avoid a “Prince Charles” pen portrait, but there are some simple exercises that you can follow to make it more realistic
How to create a mortgage broker customer persona
If you are on social media today, you will almost certainly see someone grumbling about something – maybe their professional adviser, or the ridiculousness of something, or how this and that is unfair. Is any of this relevant to your customer personas? Remember, you have more than one. Social listening is a very important source of information.
Testimonials and reviews can be a goldmine for information, whether they are good reviews or bad, and whether they are for you or for your competitors.
There might be things you’re already doing in your business without thinking and which are designed to address the pain points your clients have. Could those things be emphasised to draw out the benefit to the customer?
For example, in his book Talk Triggers, Jay Baer talks about a dentist who made a difference by ringing his clients to talk about their treatment and reassure them before the appointment rather than waiting until they were strapped into his chair. The first contact most patients have with their dentist is when they get to the surgery. This dentist read about patients’ unease, and adapted what he does. He puts his patients at ease before they get to him.
What do your current and past clients think? What problems did you solve for them and what aspect of your service helped them the most? You can ask them or provide them with a survey. Their answers may surprise you.
The more of this you do, the more data you’ll have to help you understand what makes your ideal client tick.
Having collected our information and data, we have to analyse it. Some may be relevant to all of your personas and some only to specific personas. Some might warrant a full-blown blog post, others just a mention on your social media.
Now you might be thinking, “David, this is a lot of work, and I am going to have to keep doing it for it to be a meaningful exercise.”
It is, and it is not easy. But, like everything else, it does get easier with practice and the rewards it brings in terms of increased business are well worth the effort.
Next steps to define your ideal mortgage client
I hope that I have demonstrated in this article the benefits to you as a mortgage adviser in having a very clear idea in your head exactly who you can help and how you can help them.
There are some pitfalls to avoid, particularly if you do not explore those personas far enough, as the Prince of Wales and the Prince of Darkness show us.
So if you need some help with creating reliable and effective customer personas and how they can help you target your ideal client, you could check out my Marketing Fundamentals for Mortgage Brokers & IFAs course where I cover this.
The course covers everything you need to create a proper mortgage marketing strategy - from creating a customer persona, through to selecting a niche and developing a strong value proposition that will help get you more mortgage leads.
And just to make sure that you fully understand everything and know exactly how to implement it, the course currently includes a free coaching call where I will make sure that you have completely nailed everything.
Mortgage Marketing Fundamentals Course Bundle
Learn how to improve your marketing and start generating more mortgage leads even if you have zero marketing knowledge!