Mortgage Secrets "They" Don't Want You To Know About - Part 2
You Can Buy Trophies
"I used to play sports. Then I realized you can buy trophies. Now I am good at everything" - Demetri Martin
This one could strike some nerves. But it's important for consumers to know that in the mortgage industry (and the broader real estate industry), things aren't always what they seem when it comes to awards and accolades. Within these industries, there's an entire subindustry of PR, and part of that PR and marketing is awards and publicity packages for sale.
Your friend on social media was just interviewed by "Top Agent Magazine", or was recognized as a "Five Star Professional" in their market? What that means is someone purchased a publicity package that included social media posts. Was there a nomination/vetting process? Yes, it's likely there was. Was it intensive? Did it ask any questions or require any proof of production, service levels, or any comparison to other local professionals in the market? Not likely.
Most "best of", "5 star", and "top (insert job title here)" awards are, in fact, either purchased trophies, or publicity campaigns. The other common "winners" are often those who get their friends/family to submit online "votes". These votes often have no vetting, no proof required that anyone voting has worked with (and in many cases, no proof those voting even know) the person or business being voted for, and sometimes boils down to "who has the most friends". Ah, yes, marketing and networking are powerful tools!
PR and marketing are a part of every successful business and play a role in every industry, but in the real estate and mortgage industries, this PR is often intentionally misleading. Some of these firms tout "Less than 7% of local professionals win this prestigious award!" or something along those lines. When, in reality, it's a pay to play platform and the truth is less than 7% of a given market pays these particular PR firms.
How can you differentiate between the trophies people purchase or win via popularity contests, and those earned? It's pretty tough! Most company awards require production - President's Club, Chairman's Circle, and similar individual or office awards usually require a high level of performance (which in itself warrants some level of competency and success), and of course, if you see an individual agent with signs all over the marketplace, and those "for sale" signs are changing to "sold" signs, you can surmise they're doing a darn good job. But if you haven't noticed someone is particularly successful in the market but suddenly have professionally branded awards being touted (especially vague awards with no specific achievement noted, such as "5 star professional"), there's at least a solid chance a PR package was purchased, and in fact, this professional has learned they can buy a trophy.
Many winners of local "best of" competitions and media spotlights are very deserving, high level businesses in the community. But others are simply buying the PR and hoping no one asks too many questions about how they won their award. And of course, you can always ask about numbers - how many homes in this neighborhood have you sold? How many mortgage transactions have you completed this year? The numbers don't lie. But sometimes, the trophies do.