Integrated Marketing Communications System – PEI Mortgage Guy
Integrated Marketing Communications System – PEI Mortgage Guy
An integrated marketing communications plan is devised to promote the corporate brand of PEI Mortgage Guy, which has relied heavily on the personal brand of its owner, Soubhi Abla. The plan seeks to increase the brand awareness of the firm, through an aggressive and targeted promotional campaign, which is expected to translate to increased new clients. The overarching message of the promotion and brand is ‘you can dream it, I can finance it’, which will be communicated coherently and consistently using all corporate artifacts. The IMC plan employs a multichannel approach comprising of personal selling and social media marketing, while leveraging advanced digital technology, like pipeline analytics to determine the effectiveness of the promotional campaign and IMC plan.
Homeownership remains a priority to many Canadian families and the mortgage industry aims at fulfilling this demand. The Canadian mortgage market continues to exhibit modest growth amid a sluggish global recovery process since the financial crisis of 2007-2008. Although this market is dominated by large banks in the country, mortgage brokers play a critical role in linking prospective homeowners with the financial institutions and residential properties in the country. Therefore, many aspiring homeowners continue to seek the services of mortgage brokers to realize their dreams, thus marking the mortgage brokerage industry highly competitive.
PEI Mortgage Guy is a mortgage brokerage agency that was established in 2017 by Soubhi Abla. Abla is the brand personality of this firm, based on the expertise and professional network he has consolidated over time (The Mortgage Group, 2020a). However, as a sole proprietorship, PEI Mortgage Guy needs to spruce up its brand image to positon itself favorably in the mortgage brokerage market. The company is already being weighed down by the low customer retention and referral rates, along with inadequate online engagement and market visibility. In this regard, PEI Mortgage Guy’s clients are switching to other brokerage firms and the company is not gaining new clients, which is endangering its revenues, profitability and growth. Although, Soubhi Abla is a self-made mortgage broker, he realizes the need to have a sound and solid marketing strategy to hoist and cement the position of his firm in the mortgage industry.
To this end, the existing integrated marketing communication (IMC) strategy and activities at PEI Mortgage Guy is assessed with a view of identifying its gaps and deficiencies. The information gained from such an evaluation will inform the redesigning of the overall meeting strategy and specifically, the integrated marketing communications (IMC) system to elevate the corporate brand of the firm. Several analyses related to the communications market are conducted, and thereafter, the corporate strategies that should be employed by the company are explored. Finally, a comprehensive integrated marketing communication plan is developed and recommended for the firm.
2.0 Communications market analysis
Market analysis is a critical component of the industry and environmental analyses because it focuses on the dynamics and attractiveness of a specific market within a given industry. In this case, the mortgage market in the financial industry in Canada is analyzed, to unearth the firm’s competitors and their strengths and weaknesses, a SWOT analysis to reveal the internal and external factors affecting the attractiveness and positioning of the firm, and a target market analysis to describe the targeted segment of the Canadian population.
2.1 Competitive analysis
The mortgage industry in Canada is fairly competitive due to the numerous players, such as brokerage firms, banks, deposit-taking institutions, and credit unions. Although major banks in Canada, such as Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, Banque Nationale, TD Bank Financial Group, Royal Bank Financial Group, Bank of Nova Scotia, and Bank of Montreal, dominate the mortgage market in the country, brokerage firms present direct competition to PEI Mortgage Guy because of their close engagement with customers and favorable rates (McLister, 2018). However, the close association with TMG Group, which is an established brand, would help the firm compete favorably with other mortgage brokerage firms in the country, like Capital Direct PEI, Citi Financial, Premiere Mortgage PEI, INVIS PEI, Mortgage Alliance Atlantic, and The Mortgage Group. In this regard, mortgage brokers have an edge over commercial banks because of the lower rates, which range between 1% and 2%.
Outside the formal financial institutions, families avail a significant proportion of financing to homeowners. Specifically, parents offered loans to their children, accounting for 15% of the financing avenues for homeownership in Canada, while other homeowners used savings to purchase homes (Huebl, 2020). However, Canadians’ home-buying behavior is influenced significantly by word-of-mouth, physical or electronic, considering that strong emotions and trust levels are involved. In this regard, financiers that forge an intimate relationship with clients enjoy higher client enrolment and retention.
2.2 SWOT/Opportunity Analysis
The SWOT analysis identifies the internal and external factors that influenced the performance of PEI Mortgage Guy, and consequently, the attractiveness and positioning of the company in the mortgage brokerage industry.
Table 1. SWOT analysis of PEI Mortgage Guy
|Internal factors||Strengths Corporate brand associated with the ownerBrand name highly positioned in search engines (2nd in Google Search)Well-networked owner||Weaknesses Lack of a marketing strategyAbsence of an IMC systemLimited assets and financial resourcesMisalignment between personal and corporate brandLow corporate confidence amidst competitorsBrand invisibility due to association with The Mortgage Group|
|External factors||Opportunities Expansion into markets beyond Prince Edward Island Positioning of PEI Mortgage Guy as a corporate brandIncreasing brand visibility Differentiation of product offerings||Threats Limited supply of homesEconomic headwinds due to the coronavirus pandemicAlternative home-buying options (parent-funded)|
From the SWOT analysis, PEI Mortgage Guy is well-positioned to establish itself as a corporate brand in the mortgage brokerage industry by leveraging the personal reputation of the owner and his diverse professional network. Moreover, the firm has an opportunity for expanding its reach beyond Prince Edward Island if its brand can be more visible to Canadians. However, although the company lacks a solid marketing infrastructure and cohesive marketing strategy, its biggest threat lies in the lackluster performance of the mortgage market and the economic challenges presented by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Therefore, due to the weak home-owning but promising environment in Canada currently, PEI Mortgage Guy can capture a significant segment of the mortgage market through an aggressive and cohesive marketing strategy.
2.3 Target market analysis
PEI Mortgage Guy targets first-time homebuyers and investors wishing to acquire commercial and residential property. The two sets of targets have different characteristics. Specifically, the first-time homebuyers are young individuals and couples aged between 25-35 years that are starting their families and secure their future accommodation. In turn, the investors are mature adults aged between 35 and 45 years wishing to either enter into entrepreneurship or exit the declining housing market. This is a significant proportion of the 4.82 Canadians that are still tenants rather than homeowners, and the scores of real-estate entrepreneurs, considering that 6 million of the 9.91 million Canadian homeowners, have ongoing mortgages (Huebl, 2020). Despite high mortgage uptake, Canadians still desire to own homes and commercial properties, which is expected to drive demand in the coming years.
The property market is still recovering from the financial crisis of 2007-2008, and therefore, the demand is modest and outweighs supply marginally. Spurred by the slow 2.1-percent growth of the Canadian economy, the demand for real-estate dropped drastically by 19% in 2018 and the property price increased have decelerated as well (Delmando, 2019). Consequently, the central bank has raised the mortgage down payment requirements and shortened amortization periods to stem the rising property prices.
3.0 Corporate Strategies
3.1 Corporate image strategy
Although PEI Mortgage Guy has no corporate image strategy yet, it relies on the reputation of the owner and his association with The Mortgage Group (TMG). The Mortgage Group has cultivated a valuable corporate brand identity by availing diverse services to the Canadian mortgage market. The company has diversified products and services that not only educate clients and addresses their diverse needs professionally and ethically, but backs this up with a large, highly-skilled workforce that are available for the client round the clock. While the corporate brand of TMG is enviable, PEI Mortgage Guy needs to differentiate itself as a dependable mortgage brokerage brand, without severing its network with TMG. In turn, the association with TMG is expected to endear trust, professionalism, ethical behavior, and dependability to the clients of PEI Mortgage Guy.
3.2 Brand development strategy
PEI Mortgage Guy relies on the reputation of its owner, Soubhi Abla, and therefore, lacks a brand development strategy. The company’s brand revolves around the person of the owner, who is associated with reputable mortgage brokerage firms in Canada. Therefore, investments are yet to be made towards developing a brand image for the firm. As part of the brand development strategy, the line extension strategy is recommended because it focuses on a unified brand name, while diversifying product/service offerings by the firm under the same brand (Sinapuelas, Wang, & Bohlmann, 2015). This will enable to company to offer several services under the same corporate brand.
3.3 Brand positioning strategy
PEI Mortgage Guy should be positioned as a standalone brand to avoid being subsumed by the TMG Group brand. In this regard, the firm positions itself as a mortgage brokerage firm that promises a seamless mortgage experience to homeowners and investors. To this end, the marketing objectives of PEI Mortgage Guy are:
- Increase brand awareness
- Enhance brand image and presence
- Increase mortgage uptake by 25% annually
- Increase customer referrals from 40% to 50%
- To increase new service segments by 50% annually
3.4 Product and pricing strategy
The mortgage products are dictated by the mortgage providers and brokerage firms do not have much leeway to adjust them. However, PEI Mortgage Guy focuses on delivering the best mortgage deals to each customer and making the mortgaging process pleasurable and stress-free. PEI Mortgage Guy will connect prospective buyers to mortgage plans and provide affiliate services that make the signing up and servicing of mortgages convenient. Therefore, the firm will access residential and commercial property mortgages, along with helping the clients with the mortgage negotiations and signing-up paperwork.
Industry pricing standards will be used, with PEI Mortgage Guy charging between 1.5% and 2% of the mortgage value. The price is dependent on the value of the property and the adjoining services required by the client. The firm is able to undertake all the processes involved in identifying, signing up, and servicing a mortgage, as well as any segments of such services. Therefore, the pricing is graduated by the services rendered.
Considering that PEI Mortgage Guy does not have a corporate marketing strategy, it is recommended that it commences the journey of establishing one with an integrated marketing communications (IMC) plan. The IMC plan, which will be based on the marketing objectives described earlier, will promote the achievement of the marketing strategy of the firm, by delivering well-structured, cohesive, and consistent marketing messages.
4.1 Integrated marketing communications management
Managing the integrated marketing communications (IMC) at PEI Mortgage Guy involves the development and dissemination of consistent and cohesive messaging across diverse marketing channels (Payne, Peltier, & Barger, 2017). To this end, an IMC system that promotes the firm’s brand among the targeted market is critical. In this regard, the brand mantra, ‘you can dream it, I can finance it’ will be communicated to the targeted clients consistently and coherently. This single-minded message captures the aspirations and concerns of prospective homeowners and real-estate investors. Specifically, while Canadians value home and property ownership as family security and investment assets, the mortgage market has several players offering different products, which complicate the decision-making process. Therefore, PEI Mortgage Guy aims at providing a one-stop-shop for mortgage purchasers, thus reducing the inconvenience of looking for the best mortgage deal in the country, while guaranteeing a comprehensive and individualized service of prospective mortgage buyers. To give character to the brand messaging, the IMC strategy is to transfer the brand equity of the firm’s owner to the corporate entity. In this regard, the brand character will communicate friendliness, trustworthiness, reliability to endear the clients’ emotional attachment. To this end, the IMC objectives of the firm include:
- Improve website utility by increasing website visits by 300% within a year
- Increase client engagement on social media by 300% through increasing content creation and user reactions by the same proportion in one year
- Enhance client relations by increasing the ratio of positive reviews from 10% to 50% within one year
- Increase client referrals by 25% within a year through incentives such as referral rewards and gifts upon closure of a mortgage deal
- To recruit 400 new clients in the next year from attending six public events, including community and real-estate related events, which will facilitate networking
The brand artifacts, including the corporate logo and colors, images, and audio and visual messages, will be directed towards achieving these objectives.
4.2 Integrated marketing communication methodologies
A multichannel approach will be adopted to disseminate the marketing messages to the targeted market. The channels used by the owner, Abla, such as social media marketing, will be extended to encompass the entre corporate brand. In turn, traditional and digital communication methodologies such as personal selling, loyalty programs, public relations, will be integrated into the IMC strategy.
An advertising campaign will anchor the promotional program for promoting brand awareness for PEI Mortgage Guy, as articulated in the creative brief. The brand statement is, ‘you can dream it, I can finance it’. The rationale of this brand statement is that PEI Mortgage Guy decided to integrate the personal brand of the owner with the corporate brand. Canadians dream to own homes and real-estate properties as a social and economic investment, yet they are concerned by the financing complexities and diversity. Therefore, brand statement intends to position PEI Mortgage Guy as the ultimate link between the dream of Canadians and financing of real-estate property in the mortgage brokerage industry. The advertising campaign aims at increasing the brand awareness and demand for the mortgage brokerage services of PEI Mortgage Guy. This campaign will target Canadians aged between 25 to 45 years, with the younger demography comprising potential homeowners while the older one consists of predominantly real-estate investors. The driving idea behind the consumer message is, ‘the provision of comprehensive mortgage solutions to all kinds of real-estate buyers’. This message will be disseminated using content that captures consumers’ attention and invites their engagement. In this regard, a combination of informational and emotional content will be incorporated in the advertising design of all the facets of the multichannel advertising campaign (Payne, Peltier, & Barger, 2017). Besides, the advertising tone will be warmth, friendliness, trustworthiness, flexibility, and reliability. The advertising media will comprise social media, direct selling, word-of-mouth, content, and search engine optimization.
4.2.1 Consumer promotions
An office premise will be set up to centralize the promotional campaign activities. The office will be the command center for the advertising campaign, providing a physical premise from where consumers can visit for face-to-face meetings with the owner, along with coordinating the diverse promotional activities. Such meetings are pertinent considering that Canada still relies of manual reviewing of customer documents before mortgages can be approved (McLister, 2019). Besides, the website will be refurbished to present a cohesive brand that integrates the personal and corporate elements. The cost-savings from the website upgrading project will be directed towards establishing the central office, which is expected to cost $10,000.
4.2.2 Personal selling
The personal selling strategy remains critical to the branding campaign because it enables physical interaction between the firm and its customers. Personal selling enables the deployment of personalized promotional activities that are tailored to address individual needs. It allows the firm to persuade the prospective mortgage buyer to engage it in the mortgage shopping, negotiation, and application processes, while allowing the consumers to express their needs comprehensively and obtain immediate feedback on their concerns. To this end, the firm will take advantage of the scheduled public events in the annual calendar to interact directly with prospective clients. These interactions will reinforce the friendly, personalized, and trust-building brand perception that the firm intends to communication to its target audience. However, in the prevailing circumstance occasioned by the coronavirus pandemic, these events are likely to recede to online avenues, due to the prohibition of movement and physical crowds (Enberg, 2020). Therefore, the firm will engage in telemarketing by participating in the online forums and availing videoconferencing opportunities for those that cannot access the firm through such forums. The revamped website with web conferencing capabilities will support this strategy (Baran & Galka, 2016). Consequently, clients can hold a one-to-one meeting with Abla or any other firm-accredited official.
4.2.3 Database programs and customer relations management
Client and market data plays a critical role in narrowing down the prospects and realizing a return on investment from the promotion campaign. By focusing on the narrow end of the marketing funnel, pipeline marketing will be used to enhance the conversion of leads and prospects into customers (LeChasseur, 2017). Precisely, the leads generated during the public events, personal selling activities, and social media marketing, will be analyzed digitally, to determine the cost per opportunity. The pipeline management activity will use digital analytics to analyze the data and help refine the advertising campaign by optimizing the communication channels that convert most leads into customers, and therefore, most revenue in every quarter of the campaign year (Yan, et al. 2015). Data-based marketing metrics will reveal the effectiveness of the promotional campaign in measurable terms.
Similarly, the offline and online interactions with consumers with be analyzed using predictive analytics and machine learning technology to help improve the quality of customer relations (Yan, et al. 2015). In this regard, the consumer relationship management system, customer data will be collected, stored and analyzed to help tailor individualized relations with customers. These digital analytical approached will reinforce the marketing message and promote the forging of lasting relations with clients, which in turn, will encourage their referencing behavior. Consequently, this will generate more referrals, which will increase the recruitment of new clients.
4.2.4 Distribution channels: Trade Promotion Selection
Online distribution channels will be emphasized to overcome the limitations of physical interactions occasioned by the ongoing lockdown in Canada. Social media marketing will play a critical role in reaching and engaging the target audience. Social media platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, and WhatsApp will be used to supplement face-to-face meetings at the company office. Live streaming capabilities of the social media platforms will be used to disseminate the corporate marketing message, while blogs will be used as discussion forums for interacting with clients and addressing their concerns promptly. Besides, the firm will have podcasts that can be accessed through its website to inform the targeted audience and assist them to make mortgage-purchasing decisions.
PEI Mortgage Guy can revamp its brand image by developing a comprehensive integrated marketing plan that is derived from the marketing objectives of the firm. The company has relied extensively on the brand identity of its owner, and thus has not corporate brand equity. To enhance the corporate brand awareness and increase new clients, the brand equity of Abla must be integrated into the corporate brand, without losing the emotional and intimate attachment of clients. The laid out IMC plan responds to the high need for brokerage services in Canada that helps clients navigate the complex mortgage market. In this regard, Canadians demand mortgage brokers that are informative and friendly, and are sensitive to the individual needs of home and property buyers. Therefore, the overarching marketing message emphasizes reliability, trustworthiness, and flexibility, which can be disseminated using a multichannel approach. Digital channels will be especially used in the promotional campaign because of their wide reach, cost-effectiveness, analytical opportunities, and ability to circumvent the limitations of the current pandemic-induced lockdown.
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