The lending industry has always been competitive, even before the housing crisis or the pandemic. Today, borrowers can find lenders online nationwide, not just in their local area. To compete for the business against other alternative lenders, you must know how to get clients as an alternative lender to get the new business you desire.
The trick is to showcase yourself as an authority in the industry. You want to show your audience that you are the right solution to their financing needs. When consumers or businesses look for alternative lenders, they may feel vulnerable and unsure, so it’s your job to make them feel confident and comfortable in their decision to trust you with their financing options.
How to Get Clients as an Alternative Lender
There are many ways to get the right borrowers as an alternative lender, starting with narrowing your audience and understanding your target market and their loan needs. Next, you’ll build your brand, show your authority compared to traditional banks and other alternative lenders, and narrow your content strategy to find the ideal borrowers.
Use the following ten steps to learn how to get clients as an alternative lender.
Define Your Target Market
To have a successful alternative lending business, you must not waste time marketing to just any audience. Instead, you must narrow your target market and focus your marketing efforts on the demographics that could help you get more borrowers. For example, if you have higher interest rates than other banks, you need to find a way to show the value of what you offer.
The key is to know where your clients spend time, what types of advertisements they respond to, and how they prefer to communicate to grow your alternative lending business.
For example, if you work with small business owners, you’d focus your marketing efforts in places they spend their time, like LinkedIn and Facebook business groups. But, if you primarily lend to consumers, you’d use different marketing strategies to advertise your loans.
The key is to narrow your audience as much as possible to meet your demographics where they spend the most time.
Build Your Brand and Presence
Your potential clients want to get to know you before they talk to you, so it’s your job to show you are a confident and trustworthy character by providing relatable content online to get future business.
Most consumers and small business owners do their due diligence and look online before deciding which potential alternative lenders to call to see if they are a good fit. To reach your niche client, you must use digital marketing, building a brand identity that future customers can identify with and remember when they need online lenders.
To offer alternative financing, you must build your brand with the following:
- Have a professional alternative lender’s website with information about your loans
- Be present and active on the social media platforms your audience uses
- Use proper SEO tactics to get your website and social media sites found at the top of the search results over other companies
Any marketing materials you create should have the same brand presence. This allows your audience to get familiar with you and to be able to recognize you whether they find your website, social media accounts, or a flyer in the mail, just like they would identify big banks.
Develop a Content Strategy
A content marketing strategy is the key to getting new lending clients and sets you apart from others in the alternative lending industry. As we said earlier, most people use the internet to research before contacting a new lender for loans. If they can’t find you online, it’s as if you don’t exist, whether you are an existing or new alternative lending partner, and it will be hard to get new clients.
However, this doesn’t mean slapping together a website or making sporadic social media posts, as it won’t help you find more clients.
You need a strategy or a method to your madness. Your content marketing should have a strategy with relevant topics so you become the thought leader in the industry. A few ideas to include it in are:
- Create an alternative lending blog – An up-to-date blog with current information helps potential clients find you. If your blog post contains relevant and helpful content, utilizes a keyword strategy, and helps current and future clients learn something about loans, you may show up on the first page of the search engines, increasing awareness of your alternative lending business. Your blog posts could be on anything from basic lending tips to complex topics that show you as a leader in the industry.
- Consider videos or podcasts – Consider implementing videos or podcasts into your content marketing strategy about topics that may be easier to hear than read. Some people respond better to these materials than written blog posts, mainly to save time, giving you another avenue to get more borrowers.
- Network – Networking for alternative lenders means talking to anyone who comes into contact with individuals or owners of small or medium-sized businesses who could use your services. Connect with other professionals online on LinkedIn or Facebook and individuals on Instagram. Also, attend networking events to find potential clients who need help with consumer or business loan options.
Engage With Your Target Audience
Many lenders set up a social media page but don’t give it the attention it needs. They don’t engage with their followers to get new borrowers. To be a successful alternative financing lender, you want to show that you are the expert your audience needs, whether they are an individual or small business owner.
One of the best client engagement tips to get more clients is to give your social media pages a personal touch by showing behind-the-scenes footage or pictures of you getting involved with the community. Show your audience you are a real person who cares about your borrowers and the community, too.
The best way to do this is to interact with your audience. Most platforms like LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram make responding to comments or direct messages easy. This is another way to get personal with your audience and let them know you are responsive.
This is important for most people when choosing a lender because they want someone they know they can communicate with easily and who will be easy to work with during loan processing.
Referrals are one of the best ways to find future clients. You can get a successful referral from satisfied existing clients, other business owners, friends, family, word-of-mouth, and even social media. Never be afraid to ask for referrals.
- From existing clients – If you have happy clients, they are likely to refer you to other business owners or individuals. Create incentives for your current clients to provide referrals to their friends and family for your services and watch your client referrals increase.
- Business owners – Let business owners in the community know of your services. Even if they don’t use your services, other professionals may need other bank loan options, and they can refer you, or you can trade referrals to increase your client list.
- Friends and family members – Make sure everyone you know knows what you do and offer. You never know when they’ll come across someone who is a good fit for you and can refer them your way so you get a new client.
- Social media – Anyone can share social media posts, which will spread the word about your services without you trying. Create meaningful posts that people want to share, whether an existing client or someone who follows you, and you’ll get in front of a much larger audience without much effort and help you find new clients.
Network and Establish Relationships
The key to growing your client base is constantly networking. You can network online and in person if you attend networking events. In both areas, you want to create and maintain relationships. The key is to know your audience’s contact expectations and use that to your advantage.
Here are a few ways to reach more leads:
- Cold calling – Even today, cold calling is a popular way to build alternative lending businesses. If picking up the phone and making a cold call isn’t something you enjoy, focus your efforts on search engine optimization so your blog posts and other content marketing pieces reach the right business owners.
- Email marketing – Emails are the equivalent of cold outreach, but electronically. But just like you need a well-thought-out script for phone calls, your email marketing strategies must be strong to ensure your audience opens and engages with your emails. Just sending emails isn’t enough; without a strategy, they’ll likely end up in spam.
- Follow-up – Relationships aren’t built on one phone call or email. After the first contact with a potential client, you must keep up the relationship by following up. This doesn’t mean following up and asking for the sale. Instead, continue providing value to your leads so you become a natural choice, and they possibly choose you over traditional banks or other lenders.
Utilize Targeted Advertising
The internet and social media make it easy to target your advertisements. It’s different from the old days, when you would create an ad to throw on the radio or TV and hope it eventually reached the ideal client. With online advertising, such as Facebook or Google ads, you can target the right demographics so only the people most interested in your services will see the advertisements.
You can also watch the analytics to see how your advertisements do, making changes to ensure the right audience sees your message.
Collaborate With Strategic Partners
Become the leader in a community, company, or anywhere else so you become the ‘go-to’ lender who provides what borrowers need. For example, create partnerships with other local businesses you can collaborate with and help each other market.
The key is to build authority to show your audience you are one of the best alternative lending partners in the industry that will provide them with what they need.
Speak at Business-Focused Seminars and Industry Conferences
Take advantage of opportunities to speak at events and speaking opportunities to get in front of people within your demographic. Use the opportunity to show the value of what you offer without selling. Provide sneak peeks of your services while providing valuable tips to your audience. You can also use this strategy online and offer a webinar to reach a larger audience.
Be Active in the Community
Community involvement is one of the best ways to show that you care about the people around you and that you aren’t just in business to make money. Attend as many local events as possible, offering free services, providing advice, getting your hands dirty, helping the community with a common problem or concern, and showing that you have common interests.
You can use the opportunities to volunteer your time or even offer free consultations to build relationships within the community. This works best when you join groups and get active in your community.
How Do Alternative Lenders Prospect New Clients?
Alternative lenders have many ways to find potential clients, including email or content marketing, social media campaigns, and asking for referrals. The key to finding new borrowers is understanding your audience and who fits your target market best.
How Many Borrowers Should an Alternative Lender Have?
Since borrowers are a one-time sale, you should always have a working pipeline of active leads. Some months will be better than others, but continually marketing to individuals, small businesses, and even medium-to-large business owners will help you keep a running pipeline that always delivers.
What Type of Feedback Should Alternative Lenders Seek From Borrowers?
Ask current customers what they think of your process, loan options, and whether you offer reasonable interest rates. Take the information they offer and use it to perfect your offering. This will get you new business, help increase customer loyalty for repeat borrowers and your referral business.
What Are the Most Effective Ways to Market an Alternative Lender’s Services?
There isn’t a one-size-fits-all way to market an alternative lender’s services. The proper method depends on the target audience. However, most lenders benefit from online marketing, including a solid content strategy and email and social media marketing.
What Platforms Should Alternative Lenders Use to Reach Potential Clients?
Most professionals find borrowers on LinkedIn and Facebook groups, but you can also find them on Instagram occasionally. It’s also important to focus on platforms like Google Ads to get the word out to the right audience. The key is to narrow your niche and figure out where your target audience spends their time.
Knowing how to get clients as an alternative lender is important as the industry grows. The stronger your marketing tactics become, the easier it is to be the authoritative figure in the industry. The key is setting yourself apart from the others and showing value to your new borrowers to help them choose your loan options over other bank loan opportunities.