The Death of AIDA and the Rise of Personal Branding

Recently, I discussed how today’s selling environment requires originators to form a tribe of followers because they are providing important information to improve their customer’s lives. Selling has moved from pushing products to being a valued educator and leader. Smart originators recognize that hawking mortgage products doesn’t create trust; what does is sharing personal passions, values and expertise.

Tribe leaders in sales focus on what interests their customers at a particular point in their life’s journey — not what benefits the lender. This mindset is much different than viewing a potential customer as just another opportunity to make a commission. Obviously, the big questions are how do you start your own tribe as an originator and does traditional marketing give originators any insight on how to do it?

For years, sales and marketing groups have followed the AIDA model (Attention, Interest, Desire and Action) which describes the steps that occur from the time the consumer becomes aware of a product to the purchasing decision. The problem is that this model follows a linear progression which doesn’t happen anymore because today’s consumers have 24/7 access to information.

The AIDA model was effective when product knowledge was hard to get and dished out through advertising campaigns and speaking to a salesperson. This linear approach was reasonable since the seller controlled access to their product information.

This approach doesn’t work as well today because consumers have access to nearly infinite amounts of information at their fingertips. This easy access to information has put the consumer in control of the buying process and not the seller. This change in a consumer’s buying journey is a recent phenomenon estimated to be about five years old. While this change was happening, the mortgage industry was still in the midst of a large refinance market and many lenders and originators didn’t even notice that it had occurred.

Today, a consumer’s buying journey starts with a Google search, reading reviews, watching YouTube videos and asking friends for their opinions. During this new process, the salesperson doesn’t even know that the individual is in the market to purchase a home and might need a mortgage.

What this means for originators is that the buying process is now so much more complex than the previous four-step AIDA approach. It is like the consumer is in graduate school and many sales organizations are still in first grade!

This new buying journey requires lenders and their sales staff to recognize that it is critical to get in front of the consumer early on and not wait until a prospect is ready to discuss their financial needs. Too often, producers who wait for a customer to find a house means entering a price war that typically only has one winner — the lowest priced.

Getting in front of a consumer isn’t just the responsibility of a lender anymore but is required by all originators to establish their personal brand in their marketplace. This requires originators to be proficient with social media and explaining why buying a house makes financial sense today; how the process works; and how the originator makes the process easy.

Because originators must enter the selling process much earlier than before, they must provide important and interesting information that is personal and relevant to their territory and their tribe.

Unfortunately, many originators don’t see that as their job.  From their viewpoint, marketing is a lender’s responsibility. This is flawed thinking. The reality is that an originator’s personal brand is more important than ever because consumers are less likely to believe a company’s marketing pitches. There is a reason why people speed through commercials and belong to do-not-call lists. Think about it. Over 70% of consumers have registered for do-not-call lists and still, companies keep calling them. Many companies still believe that if they advertise enough, the consumer will select them. This isn’t the field of dreams anymore. Today, the key brand driver is the originator and it requires them to establish their local tribe and lead it.