What an “Attention Economy” Means for Originators


Today, consumers have easy access to an unfathomable amount of information on every imaginable topic under the sun. Moreover, that information is being published at an astonishing rate. Consider that in 2020, YouTube users uploaded 500 hours of video every minute!

Who would have thought 40 years ago that 2021 would be characterized by information overload with consumers struggling to keep up? Michael Goldhaber, a former theoretical physicist, did. In the mid-1980s, Goldhaber cautioned that one of the most finite resources in the world is human attention. He noted that an information glut would cause a rise in what we classify today as influencers, who for better or worse, help individuals discern what information is important.

In a terrific New York Times article, “I Talked to the Cassandra of the Internet Age,” by Charlie Warzel, Goldhaber shared his insights on our current predicament. According to Goldhaber, attention span is a zero-sum proposition. He believes that an individual who pays attention to one thing must by definition ignore something else. Therefore, it is impossible for individuals to pay attention to everything they receive or be aware of all the information available to them. In an attention-based economy, influencers help filter information and let followers know when, what, and to whom they should direct attention.

Selling in the age of information overload presents formidable challenges for lenders and their originators. Need proof? Input the search term “mortgage” in Google and more than 700 million results pop up. How can originators convey their unique story and create a trusting relationship with prospects and referral sources amid such a vast sea of information? Originators who want to get noticed must become influencers in their respective markets.

Staying Relevant

During our current refinance boom, being known in the marketplace has not been particularly important for originators because lower interest rates are driving consumer demand. But, as the market inevitably moves to purchase money, originators who are unknown in their territories will become irrelevant.

This is a monumental shift from the traditional sales model where the salesperson controlled the process and the information. In the past, it was enough to be a product expert. The faster the salesperson mastered the products, the better he or she did financially and the company benefited from the employee’s expertise. Customers depended on the product expert who knew how things worked.

Today, consumers want advice on the best home loan options in a world of unlimited solutions. They want to know, “Should I rent vs. own when the economy is suffering from a pandemic? Why should I borrow when things are so uncertain? Is purchasing a home in my family’s best interest?” When information is everywhere, prospects value honest financial recommendations from people they trust. Originators who make the effort to stay top of mind in their marketplace can step into the role of influencer and win new business.

Lenders, do your loan officers possess the social media marketing and influencing skills needed to capture the attention of prospects and referral sources?