As a loan officer, finding your niche can be the key to standing out in a crowded and competitive market. Many borrowers see loan offerings as commodities, with little differentiation beyond interest rates and terms. To truly set yourself apart, it’s important to identify a specialty and market it effectively. Here’s how to find your niche as a loan officer.
Your lending niche could be a specific customer base or a unique value proposition. For example, you could specialize in lending to California restaurants or New Jersey infrastructure projects. Or, you could differentiate yourself based on low closing costs or white-glove service. Rocket Mortgage is a great example of a mortgage lender that specializes in efficiency. They have become known for their fast and easy online application process.
Take a cue from banks who have found success by honing in on their specialty niches. One example is a bank that caters to rural businesses. They spent years trying to avoid being branded as such and instead painted a picture of lending widely to nationwide borrowers of many varieties. Eventually, they embraced their rural specialty, and as a result, became a top performer. Mortgage brokers now had a go-to lender for competitively priced funding for rural employers and entrepreneurs.
Once you’ve identified your niche, it’s time to market it. Brand-building efforts are essential, as competing on interest rates and terms alone is not enough to win market share. Take a cue from the insurance industry and invest in advertising to gain brand awareness. In 2021, Geico spent $2.1 billion on advertising, while Progressive dished out $1.9 billion. These companies have each homed in on a single differentiator to create a finely tuned message.
It’s essential to be something stellar for someone specific, rather than trying to be all things to all people. As a loan officer, you want to be the go-to choice for a specific customer base or value proposition. By focusing your marketing efforts, you can gain traction with a specific audience and create a strong brand reputation.
During difficult economic times, marketing is often one of the first expenses to be cut. However, this is precisely when market share is up for grabs. Consider the example of Kellogg’s and Post during the Great Depression. While Post cut back on ad spending, Kellogg’s saturated the abandoned space with marketing efforts. Three years later, Kellogg’s had grown its profit margin by 30%.
In the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, automakers were among the hardest hit as consumers tightened their discretionary spending. However, General Motors bucked convention and leaned into its roots as a company that had survived two world wars and the Great Depression. They blanketed the airwaves and newspaper pages with ads declaring interest-free financing and a bold declaration: “Keep America Rolling.” Other automakers were forced to follow suit, with Ford pledging to do its part to “move America forward.” The incentive-laden business of selling cars has never been the same since.
In today’s competitive lending landscape, finding your niche is essential for success as a loan officer. By identifying a lending niche and marketing it effectively, you can stand out from the competition and become the go-to choice for a specific customer base or value proposition. Don’t be afraid to invest in advertising, even during difficult economic times, as this is when market share is up for grabs. By being contrarian and focusing on your niche, you can grow your market share and build a strong brand reputation.
If you are a loan officer looking to find your niche and provide top-notch service to your clients, consider partnering with AHL Funding. Our innovative programs and experienced team can help you specialize in a variety of niches, such as commercial, residential, and hard money lending. We offer competitive rates, fast turnaround times, and flexible underwriting criteria. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you build your business and succeed in your niche. Apply now and experience the difference with AHL Funding.