March 28, 2023
John Porrini

How to Build a Magnetic Personal Brand That Lasts: Advice from a Top Producing Loan Officer

With over 350,000 loan officers competing for the attention of potential clients in the US, it can be difficult to distinguish yourself.

If that isn’t enough, industry giants like Zillow are dominating social media, Google search, and other channels. This makes it even more challenging to capture the attention of homeowners and new buyers.

What's the secret to rising above this sea of competition as a loan officer? The answer lies in building a lasting personal brand that resonates with your target audience.

When it comes to building a magnetic brand, we turned to top-producing loan officer Jeff Van Nostran, who generously shares his invaluable tips and tricks on how to make a lasting impact as a loan officer.  

Jeff Van Nostran ranks among the top 1% of loan officers, having built a thriving career during his successful tenure at Movement Mortgage. By mastering the art of creating a magnetic personal brand, Jeff has risen to the top of his field. Hear his insights in the video below:

In the sections below, we’ll cover some of Jeff’s top tips. Ready? Let’s go!

1) Be more relatable to stand out from the crowd

Being relatable is one of the top things that you can do to stand out from other loan officers.

For instance, in the book: "Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion," Dr. Robert Cialdini explains that people are more likely to be influenced by or say 'yes' to requests from individuals they like or find relatable. 

Cialdini defines the psychological phenomenon as The Principle of Liking, which states that we tend to be drawn to people who share our values, interests, or experiences. As a result of demonstrating commonalities with others, it becomes easier to foster a sense of connection, which therefore increases the likelihood of persuasion.

When it comes to relatability as a loan officer, Jeff is at the top of his game. 

One of the first things that you’ll notice about Jeff is that he always has a hat on and it’s usually a baseball cap.

And this is completely intentional because Jeff wants to be relatable to clients and agents who also like sports as he explains below:

“I've established myself as a team sports guy. I've always got a hat on and it's usually a baseball cap and it's usually some sports team. The hat and the sports logo have really become a part of my brand, and it goes in line with who I am as a person in so many ways.”

Jeff is being relatable by highlighting shared interests through sports. Other examples include hobbies, values, or experiences that will resonate with your clients.

Here are six additional ways that you can be more relatable as a loan officer:

  • Share your story
  • Be your authentic self
  • Show vulnerability
  • Use humor
  • Show empathy
  • Be transparent

2) Compete on value, not price (it’s not all about rates and fees)

Whether you’re competing against hundreds of loan officers or even just a few, it becomes easy defaulting to competing on price in an attempt to attract more clients. Loan officers typically compete on price by offering lower rates, reduced fees, or other financial incentives.

While this approach may seem like an effective way to stand out in a crowded market, Jeff feels that discounting the services and competing on price as a loan officer is a big mistake.

“If it’s just all going to be about rates and fees, and we're just going to beat up our service provider to the point where they're looking for the Walmart of mortgage lending then I'm not meant to be your service provider. You can't get Nordstrom-level coddling by paying a Walmart price. You can't get these two things together. So there has to be a middle ground.” 

Here are four additional reasons why you shouldn’t make it all about price:

  1. Lower perceived value: When a loan officer consistently promotes lower prices or discounts, it may inadvertently signal to potential clients that their services are of lesser quality. This could undermine the perceived value of the loan officer's expertise and the overall client experience.
  1. Eroding profit margins: Competing on price can lead to a race to the bottom, forcing loan officers to continually decrease their rates and fees to stay competitive. This can result in significantly reduced profit margins and may ultimately be unsustainable for their business.
  1. Difficulty in differentiation: If multiple loan officers in the market are competing on price, it becomes increasingly difficult to differentiate themselves based on their unique offerings. This makes it harder for potential clients to recognize the true value of their services.
  1. Short-term relationships: Clients who are primarily attracted to a loan officer because of low prices may be more likely to switch providers as soon as they find a better deal. This can lead to shorter-term relationships and less client loyalty, making it harder for loan officers to build a stable clientele.

Instead of competing solely on price, you should emphasize your unique value proposition, which could include your experience, niche market expertise, exceptional customer service, or your products.

Bringing value to your clients

Alternatively, Jeff suggests finding ways to bring value to your existing database of clients. You can do this by sharing personalized financial insights to help your buyers make informed decisions about their property and mortgage.

For instance, you can keep clients informed about market trends and neighborhood developments, providing them with a deeper understanding of the local real estate landscape. You can also offer guidance on increasing savings for down payments, reducing private mortgage insurance, and other financial strategies. By consistently delivering useful information, you wll build trust and establish yourself as a trusted advisor, ready to support your clients when they decide to buy their next home or make other real estate decisions.

The easiest way to start providing your clients with the valuable insights mentioned above, is to upload your existing client database, as well as uploading buyer leads into Homebot. 

Upon adding your clients, they will begin receiving Monthly Digest Reports, containing valuable information about their homes to help them better understand, leverage, and grow their equity, while positioning you as their go-to home wealth expert. 

3) Dial up your success by using the phone to your advantage

We’re living in an age when more buyers are starting their search from the comfort of their homes and on the go. This means that your phone is a great tool for helping you connect with your clients and rise above the noise. 

In fact, Jeff states that your talk time on the phone has a direct correlation to your compensation as a loan officer. 

“Something that I always try to stress with  my team members throughout all my years doing residential lending is your success and your compensation in this line of work is going to have a direct correlation to your talk time. Life's busy... traffic is atrocious in a lot of different metro areas throughout the country, so getting from A to B to do a face-to-face interaction with someone is very difficult. And the easier way to connect and go deeper into relationships with people is to use these silly little things called cell phones.”

But, what if you don’t know what to say? Or, what if you’re having a case of call reluctance? 

Jeff notes that this is where using Homebot helps.

“By using a tool like Homebot, call reluctance is just out the window when you're picking up the phone and calling somebody and talking about the house that they own, and you were the one that closed the mortgage on that house. That's a welcome conversation.”

You can use the data from your client’s Home Digest to help give you a starting point in the conversation when you’re calling your past clients. Think of Homebot itself as an icebreaker for your initial conversation to reconnect with clients by simply asking, "how have you been enjoying your Home Digest reports?"

Other LOs in the industry are catching on too as Homebot is growing in popularity. Check out this story about how loan officer DJ Roberts quickly closed two transactions that he otherwise wouldn’t have had by engaging his database with Homebot. 

4) Elevate your personal brand by joining forces with real estate agents

Jeff knows that a key building block to creating a magnetic brand as a loan officer is agent partnerships. 

As he points out:

“Real estate agents can't do business without mortgage people and mortgage people can't do business without real estate agents.”

By having strong partnerships with agents, you can rise above the competition and strengthen your market presence. 

Here are three big ways that partnering with real estate agents can take your brand to the next level:

  1. Referral opportunities: Real estate agents interact with buyers on a daily basis and can refer clients who need financing to their trusted loan officer partners. This increases your potential reach and creates a steady stream of new business opportunities. At Homebot, this plays into the Trusted Triad, which is the relationship between the Client, the Lender, and the Agent. Homebot’s data is sent through the Lender/Agent to the Client, making it easy for the three to establish a personal relationship based on loyalty and trust.
Homebot Trusted Triad
  1. Enhanced credibility: By partnering with reputable real estate agents, you can enhance your credibility and trustworthiness in the eyes of potential clients. 
  1. Collaborative marketing efforts: As a loan officer, you can work with real estate agents to combine your marketing efforts to reach a wider audience. For instance, you can co-host events, create joint promotional materials, or engage in co-branded advertising campaigns. 

When it comes to positioning yourself in front of agent partners, Jeff is a big fan of Homebot’s co-sponsorship feature. 

 ”There's a co-branding feature to Homebot,  and so you can invite your partners in as partner agents, and it's very inexpensive for them. You are sharing in that expense together because you're both getting your name and your brand out in front of these people.”

As Jeff points out, Homebot's RESPA-compliant Co-sponsorship feature allows loan officers and real estate agents to collaborate by sharing the cost and branding of the Homebot digest for their mutual clients. 

As a final note — when collaborating with your real estate agent partners, strive for a mutually beneficial relationship. Contribute your lending expertise and knowledge so it’s not all one-sided. Top Producing Loan Officer Kelly Rogers from Fairway advises, "Act as a coach to your agent partners." Read more of Kelly's insights on agent partnerships.

5) Maximize your presence by aligning with a strong lender Brand

Jeff had a long tenure with Movement Mortgage, a Scotsman Guide Top Mortgage Lender that built a reputation for its customer-centric approach and commitment to streamlining the mortgage process.

According to Jeff, one of the biggest branding hacks that you can take is aligning yourself with a company that has a strong brand, and one that aligns with your own.

“When you couple a strong company brand with a strong personal brand, I think it 10X and amplifies the impact that you can have. And so when you couple those two things, a really strong company brand, with your personal brand, it's like the sky's the limit.”

If Jeff didn’t convince you already, here are some additional reasons to align with a company that has a strong brand.

  • Increased credibility and trust
  • Access to resources and support
  • Greater visibility and reach
  • Networking opportunities
  • Stability and growth potential
  • Shared values and culture

Next steps — start crafting your ideal personal brand

Are you ready to take your personal brand to the next level but don’t know where to start? 

Before you update your website, swag, and post on social media, Jeff has advice for you — start with a brainstorming exercise.

“I would just encourage you to brain-dump onto paper. You know, just a simple exercise of pulling up a notepad and dumping all the ideas of what you want to be known for and what you have weighing on your heart. Like who are you at your core? And then bring that out in video, in your social media content, in your branding, in your messaging, in your emails, in your text message, in your phone calls, and in your attitude.”

That’s some pretty deep advice, which will ultimately help you establish a brand that’s aligned with who you are and where you’re heading. 

What questions should you ask yourself as a loan officer?

Use this list to get started:

  • What are my core values and principles that I want my personal brand to reflect?
  • What is my niche or specialization within the mortgage industry? Are there any specific loan products or client segments I want to focus on?
  • What are the key characteristics I want my clients and colleagues to associate with me (e.g., trustworthy, knowledgeable, reliable, friendly)?
  • What is my unique value proposition? How do I differentiate myself from other loan officers in the market?
  • Who is my target audience?
  • How can I demonstrate my expertise and credibility to potential clients? What types of content or communication channels should I leverage (e.g., blog posts, social media, webinars)?
  • What is my personal branding statement or tagline that encapsulates my unique value and appeals to my target audience?
  • How can I create a consistent and professional visual identity for my personal brand (e.g., logo, color scheme, fonts)?

Want more content to help grow your mortgage business? Check out this post: How Fairway Loan Officer Kelly Rogers Grew Her Business by 400% (5 Tips for 2023).

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