It’s time to think about how you market your business

Paul Adams, sales director at Pepper Money, looks at how brokers can utilise marketing and customer segmentation to maintain business levels in the current lending climate.

Related topics:  Marketing
Paul Adams Pepper Money
22nd August 2023
mortgage tech fintech

The learning objectives for this article are to:

  • Learn the basics of marketing and customer segmentation
  • Understand the marketing channels that will best suit your business
  • Have a working knowledge of some of your compliance responsibilities when you are marketing your business.

These are challenging times for brokers. UK Finance says that mortgage lending fell to the lowest level since Covid in the first three months of 2023. Lending was down by 25% on the previous year with lending to first-time buyers and homeowners falling to the lowest level since Spring 2020, during the pandemic. In fact, excluding the pandemic disruption period, first time buyer numbers fell to their lowest since 2009, during the global financial crisis.

On top of a subdued market, according to the latest Specialist Lending Study from Pepper Money, fewer customers with adverse credit and some other credit related specialist needs are turning to the advice of a broker, with just 24% of customers stating they would seek the advice of a broker. This number is down from 44% in 2021 and 66% in 2020.

For brokers, this means that over the coming months and years, you are likely to find it harder to maintain your business levels. So, what can you do to combat this?

A broker survey by FSE last year found that the biggest challenge cited by brokers was sales and marketing. This may not be a big issue when lending volumes are high and the market is growing, but when the squeeze is on, addressing this challenge could be the key to maintaining, and even growing, your business levels.

Marketing 101 – Getting started

Marketing also doesn’t just mean advertising. It’s much broader and probably includes lots of things you are already doing on a daily basis:

• Market research – What type of customers are you targeting?
• Product design – What services do you offer?
• Pricing – Do you charge fees, and if so, how much?
• Promotion – How do you raise awareness of your brand and services?
• Distribution – How do you deliver your service to your customers? In person, online or over the phone?

The first thing to think about is who are your customers? Knowing exactly what type of people you are talking to and what it is you want to say to them is the most important element of any marketing activity.

At Pepper Money, for example, we segment our target customers into the following groups and we use these personas to help us more accurately target our product development, marketing and customer communications:

• Hopeful Homeowners
Younger couples in their first home, starting a family, and others who are at an early stage of their career.

• Recent Recoverers
Couples, families and individuals who may have had difficulties with money in the past and could well have county court judgements, but they have since turned the corner and are on their way back. They’re likely to believe their financial history will stop them from getting a mortgage and would benefit from professional mortgage advice.

• Almost Primers
These customers may have stretched their finances in the past but have learnt a lot about managing credit since then and they haven’t had any record of missed payments for a number of years.

• Affluent
These customers may have benefited from significant increases to the value of their property in recent years. They may be exploring the possibility of taking out a second mortgage to finance home improvements, help one of their children get on the property ladder or to purchase a holiday home.

• Comfortable Consolidators
Young or settled families who are living comfortably but may be managing several credit card balances and unsecured loans. By consolidating their debts into one monthly payment, they can get to grips with these additional costs by leveraging the potential of a larger mortgage and higher LTV.

Think about your customers and what segments they might fall into. For each of those segments ask yourself:

• What makes your customers tick?
• Where are they?
• How can you reach them?
• What can you offer them?
• What makes your business different or better?

There are many ways of promoting your business and not all will be relevant or affordable. What is important is knowing your options so that you can find the most effective way of reaching potential customers and communicating with existing ones.

Have clear objectives

Before committing to any promotional activity, you should be clear about what you want to achieve. If you have clear objectives, your marketing will have a greater chance of succeeding. A typical objective might be, for example, to generate 50 leads.

You can have more than one objective but be specific and realistic about what you want to achieve over a particular timeframe will help you to identify the most appropriate approach.

Ways to promote your business

The first thing to consider when you start to promote your business is does your website give the best impression or your brand and capabilities? Your website is your shop window and, as demonstrated by our Specialist Lending Study, most mortgage customers start their journey by carrying out research online. So, make sure that you are happy that your website sells your business as well as you can.

• Advertising
• Billboards and outdoor advertising
• Banner display advertising
• Press advertising
• Search engine advertising
• Direct Mail
• Email
• Leaflets and door drops
• Social Media
• PR


Compliance is an important consideration, and you should ensure that you understand and apply the relevant rules in the Mortgage Conduct of Business sourcebook (MCOB). It’s recommended that you seek professional advice to ensure your promotions are compliant. If you are a member of a network or mortgage club, they may be able to offer help or guidance.

Here are some general points to consider:

• Is the promotion clear, fair and not misleading?
• Is the name of your firm and the address of point of contact included?
• Have you used plain language and is it easily legible?
• Are all statements of fact accurate and can they be substantiated?
• Are any assumptions clearly and prominently disclosed?
• Does the promotion include details of any fees charged?
• Does it include the required health warnings?


Increasing your exposure through advertising comes in many shapes and sizes and there is usually something that will fit, depending on how much or how little you can afford to spend. Here are some of the options to consider:

Billboards and outdoor advertising

There are many opportunities for outdoor advertising, including outdoor poster sites, bus and taxi advertising and underground advertising. The primary objective of doing this type of activity is to promote your brand to a wide audience, but there are also some challenges. Can you communicate your message in just a few words and is your message engaging enough to draw attention?

Banner and display advertising

Many websites offer advertising options on their site, and it is possible to buy online adverts that specifically target the types of customers that you want to attract. You can also choose to serve banner and display advertising directly to people who have already visited your website. Online advertising can be very targeted, which can be more efficient. However, making the most of the options and analytical tools takes time and can be a steep learning curve, unless you choose to work with a specialist agency.

Press advertising

Press advertising covers newspapers and magazines that are distributed locally, regionally or nationally and can include specific trade magazines, specialist interest or lifestyle magazines or local papers. You can usually scale your exposure to your budget and there is option to get in front of a wide audience, although large adverts and adverts in popular publications can be expensive.

Search engine advertising

There are two main ways of helping your website to become more visible on search engines.

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is making sure your site ranks as highly as possible on search engine listings without paying a fee. This would generally involve the way you structure your website and the content you host on it. There are a number of specialists who can help you to optimise your SEO.

Pay Per Click (PPC) is paying for advertising on the search engines that will appear upon specific search terms. You pay every time someone clicks on your ad.

Targeted Marketing

Targeted marketing and direct mail can help you reach your audience more efficiently than other forms of advertising. Addressing specific leaflets, letters, brochures and branded items directly to those you want to target will make your messages stand out.

It can also be a particularly effective way of communicating with existing customers, but it is important to be mindful of GDPR and make sure that you have the correct permissions to do so.

An email can be treated as an online version of direct mail in that you can send a targeted message to a specific group of people. Email campaigns can take the form of simple e-shots or more detailed newsletters and there are a variety of platforms to help organise, send and monitor your email campaigns, including MailChimp, Dotmailer, Campaign Monitor, Pure 360 etc.

These platforms will usually design your campaign so that it automatically resizes to fit the device that it’s being viewed on.

Leafleting and door drops are another popular marketing method for small businesses that want to grow awareness in the local area. The coverage of a campaign can be tailored to scale, from one house or one street to every house in the country.


Public Relations (PR) aims to put favourable coverage of your organisation in appropriate media. This can include sending press releases and providing written content for publications and websites. There are PR agencies that can help you to manage PR activities and you can undertake it yourself.

As a broker, one way you could engage in PR is by offering to write a personal finance column for your local newspaper or community newsletter.

One of the benefits of PR is that it can help to reach people who are sceptical about advertising and help you to build trust amongst your audience and demonstrate that you know what you are talking about.

Journalists are overworked and keen for people to help them fill their pages and websites, so there often plenty of opportunities for PR.

However, you should go into PR with your eyes open and be aware that you never have complete control over what an independent publication writes about your business. It can also be difficult to measure the impact of PR through direct leads, although it can support other activity through raised awareness.

Social media is another effective way of getting your messages directly to potential customers and there are a series of platforms that allow businesses to share content and interact with customers and prospects. These include Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram.

It’s worth noting that despite being a more relaxed format of communicating, social media still requires you to adhere to the same rules and regulations as standard advertising and so it’s important to ensure that you understand and apply the relevant rules of MCOB.

Taking your next steps

These are just some of the opportunities and considerations in marketing your business. The likelihood is that you will not be able to, or need to, do them all. Start by deciding which types of customers you want to talk to and work out where you can best reach them. You can then pick the methods that you think would be best suited to this and give it a go. Marketing is all about testing and learning and the best way to start is just by getting started.

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To recap, this article has helped you...

  • Learn the basics of marketing and customer segmentation
  • Understand the marketing channels that will best suit your business
  • Have a working knowledge of some of your compliance responsibilities when you are marketing your business.