For as long as we've engaged with the finance marketing space we've reluctantly kept our mouths closed when it comes to criticising the actions of our competition. However, we can't sit idly by for any longer while there's an army of individuals providing a service to the finance community that is deceptive in delivery and lackluster in execution. We routinely pick up the pieces of a "program" put together by our competitors only to completely disassemble it and implement a solid future-proof framework that makes everything previously built redundant.
While this rant might seem a little self-serving and driven by ego - it is not. Out of a genuine and long connection we have with the finance industry we're simply sick of the contempt we're seeing from some of our peers. Some brokers that simply don't know any better, or aren't able to measure the value of financial marketing, are being persuaded into lackluster programs with a price-tag that isn't close to being consistent with the quality of service or solutions provided.
We're normally a very inward looking company... and we rarely look towards those low-performing programs in the market because they've never been a product we've ever considered "competition". However, when the experiences others have had with these people reflect on our industry and our program we have no choice but to call them out on their incompetence.
Brokers are often drawn towards a 'system' that provides the promise of 'lead generation' (rather than "opportunity generation")... and the problem is that they'll often 'work' - just not very well (or even barely). Any advertising or other marketing is better than none... so even a poor program will often perform better than nothing. The problem is that the solutions we're seeing being pushed into the marketplace are fundamentally flawed in virtually every respect... and they're usually a carbon-copy of an entry-level DIY solution unsuitable for the demanding financial digital space. The inept marketers are easy to spot: they're the pretenders that will sell you on a system that includes lpages or any ClickFunnel style website, they'll use third-party calendar tools, and they'll provide a linear and generic landing experience accompanied by an inadequate template-driven email marketing campaign. The same crooks will sell you on the concept of ignoring traditional forms of marketing in favour of Facebook Marketing (in isolation) in an attempt to assign more value to their services. The experience described above is now commonplace, and the flawed and deceiving messages are so ubiquitous that its easy for brokers to be confused by the competing information.
The marketing industry has long had a rate of incompetence that well and truly exceeds that of any other industry... and the finance space, in particular, is let down even further by representation that borders on fraud. We can only assume one of two conditions apply: Dunning Kruger bias or intentional deception. From Wikipedia, "... the Dunning–Kruger effect is a cognitive bias in which people mistakenly assess their cognitive ability as greater than it is. It is related to the cognitive bias of illusory superiority and comes from the inability of people to recognize their lack of ability. Without the self-awareness of metacognition, people cannot objectively evaluate their competence or incompetence. The cognitive bias of illusory superiority results from an internal illusion in people of low ability and from an external misperception in people of high ability; that is, 'the miscalibration of the incompetent stems from an error about the self, whereas the miscalibration of the highly competent stems from an error about others'". In short, those who are inept have little insight into their incompetence... and their subjective opinion of their work isn't matched by the objective reality. So, those that claim to represent the broking market are either delusional or intentionally deceiving (and the latter group does exist).
The Dunning Kruger bias isn't unlike the illusory superiority bias. Illusory superiority is a condition of cognitive bias wherein a person overestimates their own qualities and abilities, in relation to the same qualities and abilities of other persons. While it's become commonplace in the digital marketing world for "Facebook Marketers" to promote themselves as experts and providing superior business outcomes, the truth is that they're almost always selling carbon copies of bottom-of-the-barrel products discarded years ago by high-performing agencies.
Some of those that are intentionally deceiving the industry are actively engaging in unethical practices are focused on what they describe as 'lead generation' - not creating genuine Opportunities. For example, one Brisbane-based charlatan will use the same Facebook tracking pixel for all clients; this abominable practice invariably produces a flow of low-value leads... but it also means that you're competing against everybody else represented by the same immoral marketer (returning low-quality leads and far fewer conversions). After inheriting one of this gentleman's clients we quickly established that - for those of his clients that were using their own pixel - he'd used the audiences garnished by others as a common custom audience - an action that is not only in violation of Facebook's guidelines but a clear abuse of client trust. There's another character selling an atrocious $2000 'course' that provides less information than a simple Google search. The truth is that the industry is full or those that are returning garbage 'leads' as a guise when they are in fact returning no real value whatsoever. The sad thing is that brokers cannot easily identify quality because it's an industry that is somewhat foreign, seriously hyped, and hidden behind a veil of lies.
In order to appreciate why the experience associated with Facebook and other marketing is so poor it's important to understand how modern-day hype is rooted in history. The nasty old squeeze page (the precursor to the 'landing page') was historically used to 'squeeze' contact details or a sale from an online user at any cost. The page was full of bold testimonials (fake, of course), inflated worth, and false promises. The squeeze page and the potential income that was derived from their use gave birth to a new wave of unqualified "digital marketer" that was in it to make money at the expense of their soul. They'd push 'magic potions' that had no value whatsoever, and they attached an arbitrary price to a product that promised "secrets", leads, and opportunity – none of course which was real. These charlatans dragged parts of the legitimate digital marketing industry into a realm of disrepute akin to used-car salespeople. So, while the old Squeeze Page might have intentionally over-promised and grossly under-delivered, the modern-day landing page and funnel journey (with its associated lead magnet) is (or is meant to be in the case of the pretenders) a means to slightly under-promise and then overwhelm. The entire funnel journey should be an opportunity to set yourself apart from your competition and clearly identify you as the business of choice. In fact, as far as our landing pages are concerned, we're the only digital agency that provides a fully integrated and true two-page calendar-based conditional marketing experience. Because our proprietary products are designed around the user experience they're the only systems that resemble a modern-day conditional funnel excursion... and they're part of the reason why they convert at a far higher rate than anybody claiming to offer a competing service.
The same snake-oil salesman we see selling the 'system' as described above (often for around $10,000) don't provide basic editing of bookings, they rarely (if ever) integrate into aggregator CRM systems, they'll never associate their systems with post-settlement referral programs, and they provide entry-level email features that aren't filtered into broker workflows. The pretenders will rarely integrate the social experience and they don't provide other online applications to assist with business workflows. Further, their advertising copy is atrociously poor (usually based on boring templates).
As a means of indicating what our product feels like, we're the only company in our space to host our own powerful social marketing software, the only company to provide high-performing conditional redirects, the only to provide a split-test enabled and highly trackable AI-based landing page experience, the only agency to provide intermediate client questionnaire-to-PDF features, the only to integrate with aggregator CRM systems, the only to provide geographically relevant and custom website content (supplemented by our complimentary Bronze SEO service), and the only to provide post-settlement technology to support our program. As we'll say over and over, generating leads is easy; creating opportunities is where the new challenge lies. Any program orientated around nothing but leads is sharpening the wrong end of the stick. We'll tell brokers over and over that online 'lead generation' isn't about qualifying leads - it's about qualifying you as the broker of choice... and the non-exhaustive systems listed above are designed around this trust-building customer experience.
Simply put, the typical pedestrian broker product is transient in nature and doesn't normally result with any tangible asset or purpose-built technology once the program is complete (an absolute necessity if you choose to enjoy continued success without costly oversight or management) - the worst kind of marketing is the product that requires costly managed support to provide a service... and we're the only company that provides a truly integrated product and continued support.
The marketing industry does have a tendency to elevate their own antiquated service over another as a selling technique (and this isn't what we're trying to accomplish here). However, as the only company serving the finance industry that takes a genuine holistic approach to broker growth (and broad marketing strategies), and the only company that integrates true self-hosted and high-performing technology supported by genuine finance and marketing experts, we're in a unique position to provide an editorial on the state of the industry. We'd like to see the MFAA and FBAA introduce genuine benchmarks for any company that claims to provide a service (rather than 'endorsing' any product that may happen to exist). Not unlike brokers' Custom First obligation, we'd like to see the same for "marketing" agencies, and would ideally like to see marketing representation have high quality accreditation requirements that aren't entirely dissimilar to that of mortgage brokers' own qualification requirements. While it might seem backwards to encourage 'regulations' that may limit the operating scope of the financial marketing industry, it seems like it's the only step that would immediately eliminate the low-performing programs that are introducing worst-practice into the industry... and having a seriously detrimental impact upon broker's well-being.
We see adverts pop up in Facebook every day from others that share our space and we’re genuinely concerned about the quality of representation some brokers are receiving. We hear these "marketers" talk about Conversion Rate Optimisation when their entire online experience is a roadblock; we hear them talking about "Artificial Intelligence" built into their systems when we're the only company to employ such techniques; and we hear them talking about their "proprietary tools" when they have none (they usually do so after they've listened to one of our webinars). One of the most disappointing tactics we see is when marketers diminish the value of traditional offline sales and referral strategies in order to assign value to their mediocrity. If traditional lead generation is ignored you're potentially ignoring the most significant source of business income. Of course, virtually every "Facebook program" available to the industry is a carbon-copy of the entry-level 'solutions' used 20-years ago. The irony of marketing in the finance space is that you'll usually be better off sourcing a reputable agency that claims no specialty in finance to see a better product.
If it feels like were angered by the industry-wide deception it's because seeing brokers waste their hard-earned cash on mediocrity is - for lack of a better word - heartbreaking.
Our perspective on the industry is shaped from founding and building our own award-winning brokerage (one of the highest volume independent brokerages in the country), working with some of Australia's fastest growing brokers, and having excelled in the digital space for over 20 years. While we return around 15'000 leads for our brokers every month on the tail end of the most sophisticated and affordable funnel-based product in the market, our focus is on converting clients, providing an exceptional and personalised digital experience, providing automation via a sustainable and self-hosted product that manages online growth, and supporting the best post-settlement digital systems in order to support a client-retention and referrer program. While we consider our product to be one of the best in the country (if not the best) we'd like you to compare it against other similar offerings in order to determine the real value of competing products.
In our twenty years of providing the highest-yield services to the industry we've never seen the market flooded with as much sub-standard representation as we're seeing today. The mediocrity and deception absolutely has to end.