Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Back To The Beginning - Marketing 101

I believe that marketing your notary signing business is an ongoing process. I'm always keeping an eye out for opportunities to grow my services with other companies. But whether you're a signing agent, a mortgage broker, a title company, or a Realtor, you know it's been a challenge trying to stay afloat and stay busy in these difficult times. Like most others in this industry, my volume isn't what it once was.

So, I recently decided to go back to the beginning. When I started as a notary signing agent, marketing was a full-time job. I contacted hundreds of title companies and signing services, I listed my services anywhere that I could think of, I called, wrote, emailed, and knocked on any door I could to drum up business. I networked and I asked for referrals. But after about six months of heavy marketing, I was able to focus almost all of my time and energy on handling closings. For seven years, my marketing has been about maintenance. But for the last few months, I've felt the need to do more. If you've seen your business slow down as well, maybe my plan of attack can help you too.

For starters, I felt it was important to remind my current clients that I greatly appreciated their business. You can never go wrong with simple, personal, handwritten thank you cards. Every one of my clients called or emailed me to say thanks.

Next, I made sure to update and freshen up my profile at the different sites I list my signing business. Nothing says "out of business" more than a profile that hasn't been updated in a year.

Sometimes I'm so focused on this blog that I forget that it's also important to participate in other places. Working by yourself, working from your home, it becomes so easy to isolate yourself. Forums like those at Notary Rotary, 123 Notary, and Notary Cafe are great for networking, being a part of the community, and just making yourself visible. So, I've increased my activity a little at a few of these sites and will continue to do so. I encourage everyone to do the same.

Here in Michigan, many purchase closings are "split closings." The buyer and the seller are both represented at the closing table by their own title company. It can make for some, um, interesting challenges. But it's also an opportunity to shine in front of another title company. If the other closer is an employee of the title company, I'm extra motivated to make a great impression. And after the closing, I make it a point to find out if they ever use contract closers. This has recently provided me with an exciting potential lead (fingers crossed).

And if the other closer is also a contract closer, it can still be an opportunity. Most contract closers that handle these split closings are the cream of the crop. There's just too much potential for disaster with an inexperienced, unprepared closer. So it can be an outstanding learning tool to watch how other quality closers handle their signings. I feel like I'm always learning something. Conversely, I did recently have the misfortune of sitting across from a closer that was sadly and painfully over their head. In that case, I later contacted that title company to offer my services as a contract closer. And no, I would not and did not mention that I watched one of their closers go up in flames. It should NEVER be about anything except what you can do for them.

Next, I browsed the forums for companies that have gotten positive feedback or that are actively looking for notary signing agents. I signed up with about 10 new companies in the last three to four weeks (at MY fees). I also followed up with companies that I signed up with in the past that have never called me for a signing. Two have already used me.

Finally, in all the above cases, I made it a point to emphasize what I think is a unique selling point for using my services. The Michigan Notary Network. Not only did I offer my services as a notary signing agent, I also stressed the fact that if I wasn't available for a closing, I could provide them with the name of another experienced, quality signing agent in the Metro Detroit area that could. Florida, Texas, California, Wisconsin, and Ohio all have networks. If you aren't networking with other great closers in your area, you should.

So, does an effective marketing blitz work miracles? Maybe not, but I can tell you that last week was one of my best weeks of the year. I don't think that's a coincidence.

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