There are over 44,000 mortgage brokers in the UK according to the FCA. So even if you're a whole of market broker with access to products from all of the UK's 200+ mortgage lenders, you're still competing against a hell of a lot of other mortgage advisers who are all selling the same products as you are.
So what makes you different? How are you going to stand out from the crowd?
Ooh, I know! Maybe you offer a mortgage product which no other broker has access to?
No, I didn't think so.
In which case, why should I get my mortgage from you rather than from one of the other 44,000 brokers out there?
That's a question I often ask when a mortgage broker wants my help to grow their business. And typically they'll tell me that they're different because they offer "a personal service" or they "really care about the client" or they've "got years of experience".
It's the same on mortgage websites too. Here's a selection of headlines and supposedly unique selling points that I found by looking at a number of mortgage brokers' sites today. Click on each one to read my reaction to it.
We pride ourselves on being a bit different, we take time to fully understand our customers needs and circumstances
But that's not actually different, is it?
Individually tailored mortgage solutions
So you're saying I'll be the only person in the country with this particular mortgage product?
The main difference is that we work on your behalf, not on behalf of the mortgage company
Ah, I see. You're a mortgage broker then?
All our mortgage experts are qualified, experienced and friendly. In other words we're totally professional.
Oh good! All the others I've spoken to didn't have a qualification between them.
The mortgage brokers that care
That's good. The last one I spoke to said he didn't give a s**t!
I found plenty more but they all said pretty much the same things.
So if being qualified, working on the client's behalf, and caring aren't going to make you stand out then what's the answer?
You need a nice niche!
What is Niche Marketing?
Niche marketing is all about targeting you marketing towards a specific and narrow audience. It's about specialising.
So instead of being the mortgage broker who helps anyone get a mortgage, you could become, for example, the mortgage broker who specialises in finding mortgages for IT contractors.
A lot of people worry that by choosing to niche their business they will be missing out on lots of potential customers. And I get that. I had the same concern when I was first thinking about niching my business to focus on working with mortgage advisers, IFAs, insurance brokers, and other financial services professionals.
But it turned out to be a really smart move. And that's because there are so many benefits to niche marketing.
The Power of Niche Marketing for Mortgage Brokers
Here are some of the reasons why niching your mortgage advice business will pay dividends.
People love a specialist
I own a classic car - an old Alfa Romeo Spider. When that needs a service I don't take it to the local Kwik Fit. Instead I drive a 50 mile round trip to take it to a specialist mechanic who only deals with Alfas and has been working on them since he was a boy.
If you wanted to go out for a curry, would you choose your local Indian restaurant or would you go to the local pub where they had all sorts of different dishes on the menu including one generic curry?
Whether they realise it or not, most people prefer to buy from a specialist because they perceive them to be more of an expert in their product or service.
Earlier on I told you there are in excess of 44,000 mortgage brokers in the UK. That's a lot of people for you to compete against.
But how many mortgage brokers are there who specialise in (for example) mortgages for military personnel? A lot less than 44,000.
So by niching your business you will reduce the number of other mortgage brokers who are in direct competition with you.
People who specialise and are seen as experts in their field can generally charge higher fees. Don't believe me? Well, think about this.
If you had chronic pain in your knee, your first port of call would be to go and see your GP - someone who has a good general knowledge of all areas of medicine.
After asking you some questions, taking a look at your knee, and doing some initial diagnosis your GP would probably refer you on to see a specialist knee surgeon at the hospital.
And who do you think gets paid the most? In nearly all cases it will be the specialist consultant.
It's an old saying but a true one - people buy from people. Specifically, they buy from people that they feel comfortable with.
Therefore, in any selling situation, things become much easier if you can build a good level of rapport with your potential client. And that becomes much easier to do if the two of you have something important in common.
A lot of business owners choose their niche based on their own past experiences. For example, I used to own an IFA firm and that's why I decided to niche my digital marketing consultancy business to focus on helping financial services professionals. It means I understand the kind of marketing challenges my prospective clients face and I understand what they mean when they talk about CeMAP exams, GABRIEL returns, and proc fees. All this helps build trust and rapport right from the start.
A number of successful mortgage brokers use this same strategy. For example, I know someone who used to be an IT contractor, who retrained as a mortgage adviser and now specialises in arranging mortgages for other IT contractors.
Referrals from existing clients are a great way to grow your business. And if you niche your business it becomes easier to get these referrals.
To understand why that is, let's imagine you're a mortgage broker who specialises in arranging mortgages for school teachers.
Who do teachers spend all their time with? Children, yes. But also other teachers. So they are extremely well placed to recommend you to your target market by talking about the teacher-specific issues you helped resolve for them. And they can tell their colleagues that, because you specialise in mortgages for teachers, there's no point talking to any other brokers.
It's always difficult trying to market a business that's trying to appeal to everyone. Messaging that resonates really well with one group of people might be irrelevant to another section of your audience or, even worse, alienate them.
When you tightly define who you're trying to attract to your business, it becomes much easier to come up with a marketing message that will appeal to them.
And that means that all your marketing becomes more effective - whether that's your website, a flyer, or even your LinkedIn headline.
Targeting a specific niche also makes it easier and cheaper to get your business found on search engines. As soon as you start to niche your business you'll find that the search terms you want to be found for on Google will tend to be the ones nearer the bottom of the keyword funnel.
When I start talking to people about all these benefits of niche marketing, they often think that niching means they are going to have to turn business away if it doesn't fit their chosen niche.
That's not the case. Having a niche just makes it easier to define what sort of prospective customers you are going to actively seek out. It doesn't mean you have to turn away clients from outside your niche if they happen to fall into your lap.
So, for example, if you had niched your business to focus on providing mortgages for teachers, you wouldn't market yourself to lawyers. But if one of your past teacher clients recommended you to his sister who was a lawyer then you could still take the sister on as a client.
How to Choose Your Mortgage Niche
Now that I've hopefully convinced you that you need to niche your mortgage business, how are you going to choose a niche?
Broadly speaking, there are five types of niche you can consider.
Income Type Niche
Not everyone who needs a mortgage is paid a monthly salary on a PAYE basis. The rise of the gig economy means there are an increasing number of people who work as freelancers or contractors, or who have multiple sources of self-employed income. These people often earn good money but have difficulty convincing a lender that they can afford a mortgage. If you know how to give these people the best chance of getting a mortgage this could be a good niche to choose.
Do you have a particular connection with a particular trade or profession? Maybe you used to work in that sector yourself, or maybe you've got a lot of existing clients who do. Examples could include: police, armed service personnel, doctors, barristers, dentists, teachers, etc. Even if it's a profession where the mortgage requirements tend to be straightforward, you can still make a name for yourself as the go-to mortgage expert for that sector.
Property Type Niche
Some types of property are harder to get a mortgage for than others. For example: flats above a take-away, self-build houses, properties with unusual construction, listed buildings, etc. These can present opportunities for niching, especially if you work in an area where a particular type of non-standard property is quite common.
Mortgage Type Niche
The days when everyone had a variable rate repayment mortgage are long gone. The many different types of mortgage available present opportunities for you to carve out a niche in a specific type of product such as: guarantor mortgages, large mortgages, buy-to-let mortgages, lifetime mortgages, interest-only mortgages, etc.
If you're happy to work solely or mostly with clients from your local area, then you can niche your business around offering a face-to-face service and being an expert in the local property market. At the other end of the scale, if you're comfortable working with clients from around the world, then you could make a niche for yourself arranging mortgages for British expats living overseas who need a mortgage on a UK property.
Within these five broad areas, there are a huge number of mortgage niches which you could use as the basis for transforming your business. If you'd like to get some more ideas, click here to book a free strategy call and request a copy of my Ultimate Mortgage Niche Guide.
Got an idea for a niche that I've not covered here? Or got a question about niching in general?
Leave a comment in the box below!