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Surefireside Chats: Ian Nixon, Essex Mortgage

Feb 26, 2021


Surefireside Chats is our monthly series where we sit down with mortgage marketing leaders to hear their top strategies and secrets for success as they raise the bar one campaign at a time.

This month’s Surefireside Chats guest is Ian Nixon, director of marketing at Essex Mortgage. Ian shares with us his top takeaways from 2020 and his best tips for success moving into 2021.

Top of Mind Networks:

How did you get started in marketing?

Ian Nixon:

My degree is in film production, but there wasn’t much demand for it in Indiana when I graduated, so I landed a job at a non-profit instead. I wore a lot of different hats there but always gravitated towards the marketing functions, like designing graphics in Photoshop, making videos, event planning and fundraising. Five years later, I moved into a marketing position at an agency in Indianapolis and joined the Essex Mortgage team after that.

Top of Mind Networks:

What does the marketing team owe the rest of the organization?

IN:

In my mind, marketing departments exist to help salespeople find new avenues for their voices to be heard. At Essex Mortgage, the marketing department helps bring in business or loan officers who may not be as versed in technology or marketing — to supplement what they are already doing to sell and build relationships.

Top of Mind Networks:

How do you draw on your company’s existing tech stack and data partnerships to enhance the marketing effort? 

IN:

Essex Mortgage gives me the freedom to increase our efficiency by implementing the latest and greatest technologies. I lean on automation and use tools like Zapier constantly, which automates our marketing platform and allows us to seamlessly tackle anything from day-to-day requests to onboarding new talent.

Open APIs let us connect tools like Top of Mind’s Surefire CRM, our 1003 platform SimpleNexus, and MobilityRE to enhance the way we interact with each other and make it feel like we’re still at the office, even if we’re working in different places.

Top of Mind Networks:

How do you keep the marketing outreach of a distributed origination team on-brand and on-message? 

IN:

As soon as I joined the team, I knew we had to get in sync by using the same tools company-wide. Switching to Google Drive helped make our brand standards more cohesive and universal, regardless of where we’re working from. Without universal brand standards in place, it’s difficult to make sure that everyone is on the same page. My goal for 2021 is to take things up a notch with a sizable rebrand, and with the help of these tools and a new graphic designer, we’ll be in great shape for that.

Top of Mind Networks:

What kinds of industry trends do you keep your eye on as a marketer?

IN:

I mainly focus on SEO, social media trends and automation and take every opportunity I can to incorporate them into our day-to-day marketing. SEO is the key to gaining exposure, so we’re redesigning our website to keep us on top of the trends. I’m always reading articles and researching platforms to enhance our SEO even further now that we have a more responsive website.

Our loan officers are salespeople first — not tech or marketing people, so it’s important for me to keep track of social media trends and ad spends, as well as the latest automations and integrations on the market that might give us a leg up on the competition.

Top of Mind Networks:

Have your tactics changed at all this year in response to the pandemic or interest-rate environment?

IN:

COVID-19 has changed the entire landscape of how things are done. Though the mortgage industry has been booming this year, we can’t overlook what’s happening around us and have pivoted our messaging accordingly. Discounting or dismissing what’s happening to millions of people across the globe would be a huge big mistake for any mortgage company. We’re here for our clients whenever they’re ready and are committed to their success.

Top of Mind Networks:

What are some ways you measure the success of marketing activities?

IN:

Our success has been both quantifiable and not. Watching our new team members hit the ground running and maintaining open lines of communication between the marketing team and the loan officers are major wins thanks to our systems that give them what they need. The success I’ve seen over the last three and a half years has not always been quantifiable in the traditional sense, but it’s certainly been tangible.

Top of Mind Networks:

Can you share a top marketing trick or success story?

IN:

One of my favorite tricks is adding tags to a customer or client in Surefire. Whether you’re selling loans or clothes — if you’re building relationships, the process must be as personable as possible. We’ve all been hit by sales tactics that felt impersonal and lost our attention. The tagging feature helps originators keep track of their clients’ preferences and communicate with them on a more personal level, which is so important for standing out from the crowd and achieving success in sales.

Top of Mind Networks:

What are five productivity-boosting tools you can’t live without/use every day?

IN:
  1. Coffee — I’m so dependent on it that I now have a manual press as a backup for my coffee pot.
  2. A whiteboard — This allows me to easily jot down my rapid-fire thoughts and return to them later.
  3. Airtable — A game changer for project management that reimagines traditional spreadsheets.
  4. Zapier — One of my favorite automation tools that also links with Airtable.
  5. Google Suite — I don’t think I’d make it through the day without Drive, Sheets and Docs.
Top of Mind Networks:

You’ve just won an Oscar. Give us your top-3 acceptance speech shoutouts. 

IN:

I absolutely have to thank my family. I owe most of what I have to them.

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