Is it possible to be a mortgage broker and a thought leader? It might seem like a strange concept – after all, what “new” information can one offer in this industry?
The main reason anyone wants to become a thought leader is to get noticed. Everybody says they’ve got the lowest rates, everybody is such-and-so area’s “leading expert” and everybody assures customers of their trustworthiness.
If you’re going to be noticed in a crowded market, you have to be different.
Let’s say you are a successful mortgage broker. You’ve been in the industry for a while and know it inside-out. You have created a niche market. You genuinely want to help people.
Let’s say I’m a customer. In fact, I’m a newbie. A newbie property investor/developer. I’m working with a great real estate agent, and I’m learning everything there is to know about the market, which areas are ripe for development, what type of development I should focus on, what ROI I can expect, and all that fun stuff.
So what can you – the money guy (or gal) – teach me?
Well… I don’t fully understand the scope of property development. I’ve been told it’s never as straightforward or as predictable as I envision, but that’s all I know. I don’t know exactly how much contingency funding I will need. I don’t know the best type of loan I need and how to manage the distribution of funds.
Sounds good, but not exceptional. With everybody claiming to be the leading expert, everybody can give me that info.
But you can give me something different. You can educate me on my money mindset.
My wha–? Exactly. Based on our conversations and my financials, you can tell me what my relationship is with money, and how I can put it to use in the best way for me, in a way that makes me comfortable, and helps me achieve my goals.
So you’re telling me I have a relationship with money, huh? That’s a new one.
When it comes to my money, I’m either an achiever, an intuitive, a balancer or an experiencer. And when you explain these concepts to me, you help me understand that making the best investment decisions is not just about numbers on a screen, but about my attitudes and goals. In other words, you put my fledgling investor/developer biz into a real-life scenario so I know exactly what I’m getting myself into.
And then I’m going to do something I won’t necessarily do with someone who says “trust me” on their homepage. That’s right, I’m going to trust you. I’m going to see that you have taken the time to really understand me, my money habits and preferences, my money beliefs, and my goals – and somehow through the magic you possess, you have put together a formula for real estate investing and development that works for me in a real-life situation.
You were able to give me vital information that up to this moment, I did not even know I needed. You took your time to get to know me, and know what information I needed most. And you handed it to me, explained it carefully in words that I fully understood. That made you different from everyone I met who claimed to be the leader.
What kind of information is going to set you apart? Your hard-won lessons. Your earned wisdom. Your experiences. In other words, what makes you, YOU.
So how do you become a thought leader/go-to-guru? Share information:
- Blog. Focus on value, and on sharing something new that will benefit your customers. If you wonder how or if your own blog is ever going to get traffic, boost your credibility and drive traffic to your site by guest blogging on other people’s sites, for example real estate professionals, architects, contractors, developers, etc.
- Contribute to your local newspaper. While paper news is going away, people do like to catch up online and small local papers typically enjoy a loyal readership.
- Create a podcast or vlog. If you’re a better talker than writer, put your face out there in video form! You can add guest speakers to your podcast for more interest and value, and share helpful tips in 2-minute video clips.
- Boost your social media presence. Many businesses are too “business-y” on social media and end up being unfollowed. Of course LinkedIn is business-oriented and you will want to share content there – but don’t dismiss the power of Facebook and Twitter. Search for questions relating to your expertise and share your answers, as well as fun and entertaining nuggets of information that your main audience will appreciate.
- Write an ebook. Distill your knowledge into this one format that you can gift to your customers, or use as lead generation on your site.
- Join forums… but do more listening than talking. People love to give opinions but it’s easy to get caught up in arguments about who has the best approach. Soak up the wisdom, and periodically post an article. If you do post commentary, make sure you always back up your opinions and statements with facts, always with the customer’s benefit in mind.
- Become a speaker. Speaking at events, seminars and conferences is a great way to build your reputation. People are more likely to remember you if they heard you telling your stories in person than if they glanced at your online presence. Start local at chamber of commerce events, business groups, and so on.
Not all of these methods will work for everyone, and your time is limited – but consider this a form of marketing that will yield a much greater ROI down the road than paid ads. Whatever gets you noticed and remembered will get you business.
Choose the method that you feel works best for your communication style and the way that your target audience likes to consume content… and start sharing your expertise.
Becoming a thought leader is a journey of interactions with people (through various media) that moves you into a position of authority.