AN INTERVIEW WITH MASANA NOMA - REVOLUTION MORTGAGE

We find out key marketing strategies & insights from one of the top marketing directors in the mortgage industry.

Masana Noma

Hi, I am Masana Noma and I oversee all of the marketing for Revolution Mortgage. I started with Revolution Mortgage about three years ago. They were in Inception before I joined for about six to eight months. When I first joined Revolution Mortgage, there was zero marketing presence, the logo that you see today was not what it was before.I have over 15 years of mortgage marketing experience.

Luke:
Your brand director at MAXA said that you're an especially innovative client and that you've inspired many of MAXA’s current compliance features, as well as providing great ideas for the design of the 2.0 dashboard for MAXA. So what gives you the inspiration for your design and marketing direction?

Masana:

So, for one, I'm very different. I'm not your conforming marketer, so I think that plays a huge role in how I see marketing, especially in the mortgage industry. With that being said, one of the inspirations that I had was when you look at all mortgage companies, they basically all look  the same, right? You could probably guess the similar color palettes, or what the logo looks like, or having a house incorporated with it. To add to that, our consumers right now are very different. Consumers have evolved over the years, so we wanted to make sure that we brought a relevant brand presence to our company. One part is the visual aspect, consumers just do not go to a mortgage lender or buy a pair of shoes because it's just something that you wear that protects your feet, right! Similar thing with mortgages, it's not just about the products and pricing.It does have some relevance to the decision making process, but it's also about the look, the feel and what the brand represents. We really wanted to dig into the brand component, so that's how we form Revolutions brand and the way it looks. Also, one of the things that I love about MAXA is that you guys are very open to ideas and inspiration and that aligns with our company. Revolution Mortgage means change - making a positive change and being open to feedback. So one of the things that I love, like I mentioned, was the fact that I was able to be a part of the collaborative effort to providing feedback because UI and UX is huge for me. Being in this industry for over 15 years, loan officers are all very different, because we're all different people. So adaptation and ease of use is really important to me. And I think that's why I was really impressed when I gave the feedback about changing some of the visual aspects on the MAXA platform and having the MAXA team be receptive to those changes. But not only be receptive, because I've worked with vendors where they take forever to make or implement changes, or they'll acknowledge - ‘that's a great suggestion, we'll add it to our queue’ and nothing ever happens. But with the team that you guys have at MAXA, you are able to listen, you are very agile and you are able to expedite delivery of what we're looking for.

Luke:
I really love that Masana, it's refreshing to hear you talk about marketing in that way as well, especially in the real estate industry. Actually, something that popped in my mind as you were talking, is it's a fast and evolving industry that moves quickly day to day. And the way I see it, with a younger demographic coming through and their inspirations and interests being very different to what an older demographic or what, say, the industry was in the early 2000s. How do you see that adapting and changing with Gen Z and Millennials coming through wanting to see something that's different and more unique in the industry from a brand perspective?

Masana:

So you definitely see that across all demographics, right, which is really interesting if you think about it, I'm going to use my parents, for example. They did not grow up with cell phones, but when they were first introduced they were bulky and it was analog looking, not very digital to where they are now using iPhones, very fluidly. And it's a lot easier for them to understand how to navigate an iPhone than it is probably their old cell phone. So I think marketing and the visual user experience applies to any demographic.
The interesting thing about Gen Z or Millennials, they are the disruptors, they're the early adopters and innovators.
So it's really interesting and it's really important to listen to what the Gen Z and Millennials are wanting from a daunting place like the financial industry and the mortgage space.

Luke:
Tell me, how important is it for any mortgage lender and their sales associates to really stay on top of their marketing initiatives?

Masana:

Yes, that's what sets each loan officer or company apart. Whether it's the visual component or the non visual component, like the brand voice, what the company stands for and represents. That's where you differentiate. And I think for us, it's not about having our loan officers push our brand forward first. It's being able to provide a complimentary brand to our loan officers because we want them to basically be like the Michael Jordan of our company and represent who they are with their name, image and likeness, but have a really cool brand that they can utilize and that they can be a part of as a complement to their personal branding.

Luke:
I couldn't agree more with that. What would you say is your favorite feature on the maximum platform?

Masana:

I think it's the ability to really bring out our branding.I worked with so many other platforms in the past where you're really restricted to the design process and the templates that you're able to offer. For me, as a marketer, that is a huge thing. I think for the end users, the ability to create pieces on demand without having to go through the traditional marketing channel of requesting a piece, having each one be designed by a designer and then in turn go through the compliance approval process. This is what makes the MAXA platform special and how user friendly it is. It's all customizable on demand for users. And in terms of compliance, it's easy for us right on the back end to navigate and document what's necessary.

Luke:
Thank you. Can you tell me something that you do consistently in your marketing and communications that's extremely important to the key for your success?

Masana:

I think what is important to us is one, understanding what our sales team would like to advertise. But also being able to translate so that the consumers are able to understand what it is that the salesperson is trying to elaborate.I think at times in our industry and one of the nice things about my marketing team is that most of them have not purchased a home yet. They're either in the phase of getting ready to and doing their investigation. So I get a lot of great feedback, real examples of folks who do not understand, even if they work for a company, they don't truly understand the jargon etc. So one thing that we always focus on is the content and what we're advertising, is it easily understood by the consumer or is there going to be any consumer confusion? We're always thinking about being consumer friendly in our advertisements. And that can also include visual components too, how the advertisement is laid out, how does it speak and what is the CPA? So those are the things that are really important to us.

Luke:
Fantastic. I really love the visual part of it as well, that's super important.Tell me, is there something that you're working on right now that really excites you?

We are redoing our website right now, it's in the inception period. I had to quickly whip it up within like a month right after I started. So it's not a perfect fix, but right now we are going through website revisions.
So that'll be an exciting project that we will hopefully be able to launch. And then in relation to MAXA, I would say there are items that I've kind of expressed to James that I would love to see. So I'm really excited to see if those will come into fruition.

Luke:
Okay, great. Can you give us some advice or a tip for other mortgage lenders or even real estate brokerages and their sales associates to implement into their marketing and branding?

Masana:

Yeah, absolutely. I think one thing is that I look at a lot of brands and I'm like, I see the brand visually, but how does that translate to what they actually stand for? Right, so I think first and foremost the core foundation is trying to find an authentic brand value, brand culture, their mission and then developing a brand around it.Once you have the core, the heart beat, then you can put together the visual components to really express that in a visual way or pull that information into your written content.I think that's really important to identify first and foremost is who the brand is or who the loan officer is and what's important to them.

Luke:
Yeah. Authenticity, definitely.I love that. Where do you see the future of marketing and communications going in your industry?

Masana:

Oh, my goodness. I think it's going to be very interesting. I am a huge fan and I get inspired by not just other mortgage companies, but mostly through other verticals and other industries. So looking at what other brands are doing in terms of marketing, I'm excited to see where it's going to go for the mortgage industry. I think in the past we've been kind of slow when it comes to marketing. I always joke and say we're about ten years behind from what everyone else in a regular industry is doing right outside of mortgages. So I think it'll be really interesting in terms of the digital space and how we communicate with our consumers. There's been a huge change, obviously, in the social realm. It'll be interesting to see how other mortgage companies adapt to how our average consumers are consuming information or doing their research or starting the loan application process. What are they expecting? I can tell you from my personal experience using other verticals, whether it's an app to buy stock, or check my bank, or to buy clothes. The experience is really important for our consumers.

Luke:
I can't agree more. And actually listening to you say that, Masana, can you give me a brand or company that inspires you? It can be either in your industry or in another industry. Inspires you in what they do in their communications and marketing.

Masana:

Yeah, absolutely. So I'm a huge sports person, so obviously I gravitate towards Nike.One thing that I love about what Nike has done that I am trying to incorporate in the mortgage space is with Nike - they are the brand.But they highlight their athletes as a spokesperson and each athlete has a different message or brand to them. And they're able to, even though Nike is one brand entity. They're able to elaborate and express each athlete's uniqueness or authenticity. And I love that because ultimately, when you think about Michael Jordan, you may think about the Nike Jordan shoes, which I love. But they do such a phenomenal job standing behind their athletes and being able to advertise them. And I really do think that's what's missing in the mortgage industry. And that's what kind of sets our brand apart, is we want our loan officers to truly be the stars. Using their main image and likeness and being able to use us as a backup. So Nike is a really inspiring brand for me.

Luke:
It definitely translates as well to what you just said. And it's very refreshing to hear it. I think that if you can empower the loan officers to grow their own brand but still be a part of the bigger picture at the same time, I think that's great. How big a role and importance does tech apps and APIs play in your day to day marketing?

Masana:

Huge. It's in everyday life when we're talking about API, what it allows us to do is streamline the process and automate and make things efficient. And that's really important, especially when I'm trying to run a very lean marketing operation.
My background, like I said before, I'm not a typical marketer who went to a college for marketing. I actually went to school for supply chain management. So lean efficiency and automation is the core of what I do in terms of business. So API integration, being able to communicate from one system to another platform is huge in terms of other tech pieces, that's literally one of my differentiators personally is that I am a tech person. Yes, I'm very creative and artistic and I have that visual creative component to it. But one thing that sets our company apart and what I've kind of incorporated in this company is leveraging technology to streamline the process for our sales team in our branches.

Luke:
Very cool. Let me just ask you this final one. What do you feel are the top benefits for you and your team from working with the MAXA marketing design platform?

Masana:

Being able to want to deliver collateral to our loan officers on an on demand basis is huge. Being able to be free with our creativity and not being limited to how the layout of the pieces is huge for us. The other main component that's really important for a C level marketer like myself is being able to also report and analyze, rate what marketing pieces are moving, how long has a piece been sitting if we need to approve the process for compliance. So these turn times, KPIs and SLAs are very important for me as a leader in marketing to make sure that we're able to deliver the service that we can for our sales folks. So that's really a very nice feature on the back end.

Luke:
Amazing. Anything else you wanted to say at all?

Masana:

Yes, I've had a great relationship and experience with MAXA design. It's definitely a game changer compared to most marketing platforms that I've used in the past, and I still do my research from time to time right when there's new vendors on the market. But so far, nothing has really come close to MAXA and I think it's really because of your agile capability, but the fact that you guys are a design first business, which is different because everyone else is just providing the tech piece and they missed out on the design part.

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