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September 27, 2023

The power of personal branding in local marketing

with Krish Dhokia
SVP of Marketing & Business Development at Kind Lending

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In the competitive world of real estate and mortgage marketing, building trust and engaging with customers is crucial. Join Justin Ulrich on the Local Marketing Lab podcast with Krish Dhokia, SVP of Marketing and Business Development at Kind Lending, as he reveals the secrets to local marketing success, the power of authenticity, and the importance of a strong online presence.

Compelling advantages of local marketing
Local marketing plays a crucial role in the real estate and mortgage industry. This approach enables professionals to establish strong connections and build a level of trust with potential customers. These relationships, developed through personalized strategies, often pave the path for successful client engagement and higher conversions.

Power of authenticity in personal branding
The power of personal branding in local marketing comes from authenticity — it provides a unique edge to professionals in the crowded real estate and mortgage market. Displaying sincerity not only draws a clear distinction but also forms deeper connections with the target audience. Such an authentic and relatable persona helps foster loyalty and amplifies the chances of word-of-mouth recommendations.

Handy marketing strategies for real estate agents and mortgage experts
Effective marketing strategies for real estate agents and mortgage experts combine both digital and traditional tactics. This hybrid model ensures a wider reach and high resonance among the target audience, addressing their pain points and needs efficiently. A strategic approach, rather than focusing solely on standalone tactics, guarantees that every aspect of the branding aligns and works towards the bigger picture.

Key Takeaways

In this episode, you’ll learn:

  • Tools for local marketing — specifically in the world of real estate and mortgage
  • How to add personal branding in local marketing to increase your marketing effectiveness
  • The balanced blend of traditional and digital marketing to boost local growth
  • Why incorporating strategy and consistent branding influences marketing success

Authenticity and fun are key in marketing. Meet your audience where they’re at, be yourself or even slightly embellish who you are, and infuse your personal brand into every aspect of your marketing efforts.

Personal branding in local marketing


Other shout-outs


Krish Dhokia
Oh gosh, you’re going to get me into a tizzy just talking about it. It needs to happen, but it hasn’t happened. And we’ve all got very complacent and comfortable over the last two or three years.

Justin Ulrich
What’s up everyone, and welcome to the Local Marketing Lab, where you get real-world insights from industry pros to help you drive local revenue and local for growth. This podcast is brought to you by Evocalize – digital marketing tools powered by local data that automatically work where and when your locations need it most. Learn more at evocalize.com.

What’s up, everyone, and welcome to the Local Marketing Lab. Today we have a super exciting guest with us. He has 20 plus years in the mortgage and real estate space. He was awarded 2023 Marketing Leader by HousingWire, 2022 Most Connected Mortgage Pro by NMP, awarded the 40 under 40 Award by Atlanta Biz Chronicles. He’s everything. He’s an entrepreneur, mentor, speaker, and a former DJ. 

Amongst other things, we’ve got the SVP of Marketing and Business development of Kind Lending. Krish Dhokia, thanks for joining us in the Lab.

Krish Dhokia
What an incredible intro, Justin. I’ve been on so many podcasts in my career, and I’ve never really had the DJ piece come up. But hey, now I’m just an Apple Music player is all I am today. But again, appreciate the intro.

Justin Ulrich
You bet. I avoided doing ba ba ba – the sound, but we got it. Well, awesome. I think it would be great, Krish, if you could just kind of kick us off with letting the listeners know a little bit about maybe your background or your role over at Kind Lending.

Krish Dhokia
Sure. So, as you mentioned, I’ve been in real estate and mortgage. I did a little legal marketing, which is all literally the same. There’s a lot of lead generation that happens, a lot of conversion and metrics and so forth. But what’s been interesting about my career throughout the years is that it’s just evolved so much. Not just my career, obviously, right, in that trajectory, but marketing as a whole, right. 

Once upon a time, you could be a marketer and do it all one hat or one person multiple hats. And now it’s truly become more of a siloed segmented type of marketing world where folks only do a certain thing and that’s all they do and you know as well, right? I mean, it’s been very different. And coming into Kind Lending, it’s been kind of an amazing experience because of the level of support that leadership and just everyone gives marketing, right? 

Marketing here and most organizations is typically a cost center, right? They spend, spend, and they don’t bring and contribute back to the organization. And it’s not always about lead generation, right. You are able to contribute by building just an amazing, sticky brand that people can relate to. And that is what Kind Lending has done and sets itself apart amongst all of its competitors, is that we’re a fun brand, we’re not that boring brand. 

Now, I wouldn’t say we’re the bar stool of mortgage, but I would definitely say that we’re not this stoic, stiff and stuck up brand as a company with multiple channels, we kind of really deploy, I feel, some of the most creative things I’ve ever seen in mortgage, and so that I’m very thankful. 

And one last piece I want to add to that is when I tell people that I’m in marketing, whether I’m an SVP or marketing manager, whatever for a mortgage company will just don’t want to talk to you about it anymore. They’re like, oh, that sounds really interesting. And it’s like you can still get away with the excitement factor if it was any other part of finance, right? 

Hey, I’m marketing at whatever big hedge fund or whatever, that might be more interesting. But when people ask you what you do as like, yeah, I work in marketing for a mortgage company like, okay, see you later. It’s very interesting. It’s not fun thing to market, let’s be honest. Right. How do you market to people, consumers where you are saying, hey, why don’t you pay for the next 30 years? It’s really tough to market. And then all the regulatory compliancees and overlays.

Justin Ulrich
It makes me think of something like insurance. For the most part, it’s a commodity that everybody needs, but it’s like, how do you differentiate? And insurance companies have actually done a really good job of creating funny, engaging content.

Krish Dhokia
You got the Geico and you got Jake, right? 

Justin Ulrich
The Liberty Mutual ones, those ones crack me up, man.

Krish Dhokia
Oh, yeah.

Justin Ulrich
So I guess that was one of the things that was appealing to me and made me excited about bringing you on as a guest, is the fun things that you guys are doing from a marketing standpoint. But I’d love just knowing that.

I’m sorry. If you could just like, given your experience across real estate and mortgage, if you could give us a little bit of insight into what you think moves the needles for brands, branches, or even LOs with regards to local marketing.

Krish Dhokia
Yeah, there’s just this across the industry that be inclusive of both real estate and mortgage in this right. Is that we are in this very weird time where there’s all these economic impacts that are kind of putting a stop to a lot of expense, if you will. Right. But that doesn’t mean that you stop marketing. 

And what we know is always going to be true for both realtors and mortgage loan officers and mortgage brokers even, is that while they may have a license to originate or sell for a realtor in their entire state or multiple states, in many cases the community appeal, the local appeal, is something that will never go away. Right. These conversations are happening nonstop. 

I’m actually doing some other trainings and things like that internally and externally around that very piece. Local is where the money is at right. Local is where you can truly establish a relationship. And you and I, when we first started talking, was talking about sales and relationships. And we have someone in common that we know that built a relationship out of a sales. It wasn’t just a sales cycle for him. Right. 

And that’s what’s true for any real estate agent or anyone that’s really in sales and mortgage loan offices. So it’s really infiltrating the community infiltrating those relationships because there’s a lot of stats out there. 

And I personally am part of that statistic, right, is that I bought multiple properties throughout my life, and I’ve never used the same lender twice. I’ve never used the same realtor twice. Right. And I’m in the industry, so I should probably remember their names, but I don’t always remember their names. They’re not always in front of me. They’re not there when I need them, right. Or not present when I’m thinking about it. 

And so how do you really infiltrate that? And so the statistics out there is that I make the number up because I like to do that. Say 90% of repeat customers are lost with that second transaction. And it’s because that your neighbor didn’t know what you did. You go to church and they don’t know what you do for a living. You go to the coffee shop and you see the same barista and boat there, and you talk to them, say hello. You probably even know their name. 

And so the local marketing, and it can be solved in so many different ways, digital and social, email, but then the door knocking piece of it, right, or being there, gosh, you’re going to get me into a tizzy just talking about it. It needs to happen, but it hasn’t happened. And we’ve all got very complacent and comfortable over the last two or three years.

Justin Ulrich
Yeah, I can attest to some of the stuff I’ve seen out there that totally aligns with my experience and what I’m seeing. But I guess from your standpoint with successful marketing tactics, what are some things that you’ve seen kind of stick out?

Krish Dhokia
Yeah, I had a conversation with someone the other day, and this is all through experiences, right. And they said, I need to be on social media. You do. But have you laid all those fundamental pieces of it right? Do you have consistency in your personal branding? Do you even know who your audience is? Do you even know who you are? 

Because like I said earlier, nobody thinks mortgage is sexy. Nobody. And so you could create your own TikTok or Facebook or Instagram, Reels, whatever you think you’re going to do, but you better be sure that you’re mixing up that content. So I think that’s a really successful strategy. 

But laying out those fundamental pieces on who is it even you want to talk to? Because there’s billions of people in the world, right? And whether you’re doing ad spend or whatever you’re thinking you’re going to do, stop and think about it again, really put thought and strategy into those tactics, and people just jump right to tactics, and it’s like, okay, great. You’re posting ten times a day on social media to the same 55 people. They’ve tuned you out.

Justin Ulrich
Yeah, for sure. Like you said, if your content isn’t resonating, if you’re creating generic content and you have an audience that’s relatively small, you’re going to lose them relatively quickly. You have to understand your audience, know what their pain points are, know what makes them tick, identify the messaging that resonates with them, and create content that aligns with that messaging so you know that your content is going to be engaging because it takes a long time sometimes to create different content pieces and stuff. 

It’s worth doing a little bit of legwork beforehand to ensure that it’s successful and engaging.

Krish Dhokia
Yeah, I think that with all of the influencers on social media, specifically on social media, because it’s such a widened, right. You got celebrities and macro, micro, nano influencers out there who have set a trend of authenticity, right. Your consumers, whether they’re ready to purchase a home or looking to sell a home with a real estate agent, they’re looking for authenticity and they’re looking for fun. They’re looking for energy. 

You have to meet them where they’re at. And just going on is like, hey, these are the rates. Well, you know what? There’s about 100,000 other people on social media right now reporting the same stuff. When I say authenticity, don’t be someone you’re not. Right here at Kind, we do a lot of work on personal branding. We’re launching some coaching programs internally for all of our salespeople and find out who you are and be that person or maybe embellish it slightly. 

And it’s not just social media. It’s how the tone of voice that you write, it how you answer your phone. Come on, man, people answer the phones. I know people that want to answer the phone if the number is not saved, but they answer the phone and it’s like, what’s up? Whatever. What is your thing? Make it yours. I mean, maybe that’s not always too professional, right? But you have to have some level of personal branding in every output and deliverable that you’re working on. 

Justin Ulrich
And you have to align because how they align is your brand, and it’s how people are going to perceive you. So like you said, if you’re authentic, it should align relatively easily. But if you’re presenting yourself one way on one medium and another way on another channel, it’s going to come off as confusing and disjointed inauthentic. Yeah, very cool. 

So we talked a little bit about authenticity, creating content that aligns your personal brand. What would you suggest would be one tactic that someone could do today to help drive local growth at the local level?

Krish Dhokia
Yeah. I mean, god, it’s hard to say it’s just one tactic because every tactic is part of the entire strategy. Right. So start at that strategy. Don’t start at the tactic. That’s my honest advice. 

But the tactics that work, those are the ones you want to go for specifically, again, to real estate and mortgage. Because that’s what I know is if you’re going to go digital, pick a digital and a fundamental, right? When I say fundamental, back to the grassroots, I’m not saying go get a Rolodex and start cold calling from a Rolodex. Right. I don’t even know if they make those anymore. 

But what I am saying is, if you are going to knock on doors, then have some systematic way of then sending some print deliverable, have a systematic way of targeting them based on that neighborhood through targeted ads. So it’s the complementary tactics. Right? 

Because you and I both know that what hasn’t changed in marketing is that seven touch, right? Those seven touches, how are you going to implement them? Make it a mix of digital and traditional. And that is truly my advice. Right. A really good example is when a loan officer wants to invite a number of renters to a first time home buyer class, and maybe even a real estate agent wants to do the same. 

Well, you have a lot of tools out there that allow you to do that. Right. From every door direct right. Picking a community and zip code and sending them a postcard. That’s a touch. Hey. Sponsoring their community event. Touch by events. Right. Oh, hey. Leaving a comment on Next Door and making an ad on Facebook or Instagram or whatever. So cumulatively, you should be able to then create ROI. 

And it’s not always about spending money. Right. You can do a lot of these things without spending a ton of money, but it takes more than one touch. So you’d be foolish to think that only one tactic will deliver the results that you want.

Justin Ulrich
That’s right. Yeah. From a marketer’s perspective, on the demand gen side, you have to nurture people along. Like you said, you have to have those multiple touches. And I do like what you said earlier about laying out your strategy first before you just start doing. 

A lot of times when you just start doing, you’re going to get to a goal, you’ll get somewhere. But it may not necessarily be the best way or the best place to go. But if you say, hey, this is my goal, this is where I want to get to map out a strategy and kind of work backwards from where you’re trying to go, you’ll get your direct path of these are the content pieces I need to create. So you have minimum lift, but you can get started as soon as possible.

Krish Dhokia

Justin Ulrich
I think a lot of times, marketers or anyone who’s trying to do marketing, they kind of get in their own way of maybe the fear of, oh, it’s going to take so much energy to put into creating all of this stuff. I don’t have the time for this. I just don’t get started. That’s typically what happens.

Krish Dhokia
Yeah. I’m sure you remember when whole A/B testing became a thing, right? Or at least it became a thing outside of it, right? We deployed it through email marketing and all these other kind of deliverables and things. But guess what? In 2023, if you are an individual or business owner or whatever, you don’t have to relearn it. You don’t even have to test it. The homework has been done at this point, right? 

I mean, 99% of all strategies have been tested, and most marketers, right, we’re a different breed, let’s be honest. We’re happy to share the experts’ intel on how things work. And so you don’t even have to learn it anymore. 

So to the famous lines of Mark Zuckerberg and Social Network, you don’t have to recreate the chair. You can just create a better chair. The fundamentals are already there, so whatever you want to do. And again, I’ve worked with so many, and I have consulted in restaurants in years past as well. And it’s funny. It’s like they’ll try something on their own and they’ll spend some money on ads or whatever they’re trying and it doesn’t work. And then the fail is they’ll never try it again. Right?

Justin Ulrich

Krish Dhokia
But it’s because they try to do it on their own. The interwebs have just this resource out there. I learned a lot of my stuff when I go to Barnes and Noble and just read about it. And now you can just search it and send your fingertips and they’ll tell you how to do it and how to do it. Right. There’s so much help out there for anyone that wants to figure it.

Justin Ulrich
Exactly, yeah. I always say that Google’s my best friend. You could Google how to do anything from a marketing standpoint. YouTube, there’s videos that show you exactly how to do it. You just got to get started. 

And I had another guest. His name is Shawn Walchef. He told me one time, the best thing that you could do is just start creating content as much as you possibly can and just get it out there. If you have a thought to create the content, create it, put it out there. If anything, you’re just accelerating your learnings so that you can identify quickly what’s most engaging as opposed to what’s not.

Krish Dhokia
In addition, in layman terms, also the credibility factor. You do not want to have an organization or company that’s out there that you’ve started or as an individual started a social media account or anything that doesn’t have anything that’s backdated. Right. 

And so the credibility is like, hey, okay, yeah, great. You’re a real estate agent and you’ve got four posts. They look at consumer that’s consumer intuition. Right. We look at that as a consumer and say, okay, next, I want someone that’s got 100 posts.

Justin Ulrich
Exactly. Because I think subliminally, you just align that with what they’re worth and the value they’re going to bring. If they don’t have followers, they must not be that good.

Krish Dhokia
Or they’re lazy about it.

Justin Ulrich
Yeah, that’s a good point. One thing that I had learned about you, Krish, is that you used to DJ. But also, I’m sorry, used to DJ. But you’re also a huge Bulldogs fan.

Krish Dhokia
Just a little bit. I did consider I was looking for my Georgia tie today, just for you, Justin. And I typically change out my background up there. I had the masters one up during the masters, and I have a Georgia flag, but it’s outside on the front yard in front of the house right now because it’s game season. 

Painted my house white. Black shutters, red door. All my cars match. My children, when they were born, I grabbed the baby right. And I put them in a Georgia onesie and indoctrinated. Both of my kids went to school today with game day gear on. My one year old, she really doesn’t have a choice, but she was wearing something different when mommy left. When I took her to daycare, she had the Georgia gear know? And we even have a golden doodle named Stetson.

Justin Ulrich
Oh, my goodness. Well, I did happen to dig up a picture of you online. I’ll share it with everyone here. It may not be real, but it looks like you stopped off at a Georgia game to throw on a quick set before getting right back to work.

Krish Dhokia
My wife’s birthday was this past weekend, and I tried to get her to go to the Georgia game for her birthday, and she was not having it, so we went to the beach instead.

Justin Ulrich
Nice. Well, cool. We’ll get this image over to you so you can show your friends what an awesome time you have between your meetings at work.

Krish Dhokia
Yeah, I will. Thank you.

Justin Ulrich
Well, cool. Another thing we like to do, Krish, is just have our guests give a shout-out to someone who they think they are doing something really cool or really interesting from a local marketing standpoint. Is there anyone that you have in mind?

Krish Dhokia
You know, I can give a shout-out to every single one of my salespeople here at Kind Lending that are just killing it. You know, I want to give a shout-out to two of my actually three people on my team, starting with Nolan Sisk, who was recently promoted to our creative director. And he is the man behind what everyone sees visually. I mean, it’s just incredible, the output and the level of care and thought that goes into everything that we would produce. 

And then, of course, we have two major channels. We have our TPO wholesale channel, which is led by our own Mackenzie Higgins and she’s incredible. She’s been with company for, I think three and a half years or so now. She’s one of our OGs, if you will. 

And then on the other side, Shelby Hole or Shelby Farrell, she got married last year. We still haven’t gotten used to updating her name when we say it, but again, just the level of precision and execution of campaigns and of deliverables as a company, we launched, I want to say 40 some OD products and programs in the last within like a six month span. And so it was literally like two or three a week, if not more. 

And one thing in the mortgage industry, and you hear this from mortgage companies, is launch a product or program, but salespeople can’t market it. I mean, I’m sure that’s true in a lot of industries. They can’t market it until marketing is done with it and the alignment at an organization. 

So the last shout-out, of course, goes to our leadership team. Our entire executive team as well, is marketing has a seat at the table with the entire executive team. We know about things when they’re happening in real-time. And so that allows us and I talked to recruits and I talked to a lot of different people about this specific piece. And I’ve worked at other mortgage companies, which doesn’t work or hasn’t worked because of the red tape. Right. 

We are able to launch the product and the marketing deliverables on the same day. And we have not missed a beat once out of almost, whatever, 50, 60 products and programs, we have not missed it. And that’s something that to anyone outside of the mortgage industry that’s like, whatever. But within the mortgage industry, that is a huge factor for talent that wants to join.

Justin Ulrich
No. Very cool. Yeah, like I said, I’ve seen things that you guys have done and it’s all impressive work. So shout out to your team as well.

Krish Dhokia
Can I show you this? I don’t know if you can see this. And I keep these. We have a lot of these, right? And so in our company store that we just launched, you’re the best poop emoji in the best way possible. We send these to people, they don’t expect it. Right. I’ll probably send you one. It’s kind of like you know why does mortgage have to be boring? It doesn’t.

Justin Ulrich
Very, very well put. I think it’s a solid note to end on. Krish, if we could tell our listeners how to follow you, how do they follow you or Kind Lending?

Krish Dhokia
Sure. @kindlending is pretty much all of our handles across social networks, including TikTok and Threads and all of those things. And then myself, it’s @KrishDhokia spelled on the, I’m sure, the title of the podcast. And I’m also on all the social platforms as very cool.

Justin Ulrich
And Krish, you mentioned to me earlier you also have a couple podcasts you want to tell us about.

Krish Dhokia
Yeah, we do have some really good podcasts. Of course. Our CEO founder Glenn Stearns and his wife, Mindy Stearns, the founders of Kind Lending have a podcast called Grit Happens, and it’s available on all the podcast platforms. 

Del Talk, which is now it’s in its fifth season, led by our SVP of TPO production, Delfino Aguilar. And we just launched our fifth season yesterday. Or is it today? This morning. Sorry, this morning. Fifth season. And it’s available on both YouTube and Spotify.

And then our retail channel, our SVP of retail sales, Orlando Gutierrez. And I love the naming of this one. It’s OG talk. And OG Talk is available both on YouTube and Spotify as well. And it’s in season one. So, yeah, we’ve got three and probably have more by the end of the year, I’m sure, because it’s a lot of fun, right? Just talking to people?

Justin Ulrich
It is a lot of fun. And I think it also is a testament to what you said, like, how hardworking and awesome your marketing team is. That’s a lot. I know. Just with the one podcast, we don’t have very many episodes yet, but it’s a lot of work to have three. That’s incredible.

Krish Dhokia
We only have five people on our team. I worked at an organization where I had 110 people on the mortgage company, and to me, I feel like we’re able to produce and I mentioned Nolan and Shelby and Mackenzie. We can produce more with five than you can and maybe with 50 or even 100. And the reason why is it’s just a level of expectations. You got these systems. But, Justin, what’s really cool about all of that is the red tape. There’s none. Yeah, right.

Justin Ulrich
I experienced the same thing. If there’s no red tape, you can fly in terms of being able to launch things and get stuff out. So very cool. Well, Krish, it was a ton of fun having you in the lab. Great insights for our listeners. Thanks again for joining us.

Krish Dhokia
You’re very welcome. Go Dogs.

Justin Ulrich
As always, thanks for joining us in the local marketing lab. This podcast was sponsored by Evocalize. To learn more about how Evocalize can help you grow your business, visit evocalize.com

If you learned something from today’s episode, don’t forget to subscribe on your favorite podcast platform and follow us on LinkedIn and Facebook at evocalize. That’s Evocalize and on X at Evocalize. 

And remember, keep innovating and testing new things. You’ll never know what connects with your customers best unless you try. Until next time. Thanks for listening.

Krish Dhokia

SVP of Marketing & Business Development at Kind Lending

Meet Krish Dhokia

Meet Krish Dhokia, with over 20 years of expertise in the mortgage and real estate industry. Serving as the SVP of Marketing and Business Development at Kind Lending, Krish combines creativity with practicality, driving innovation in an often-stagnant sphere.

His trend-defining approach has led to accolades such as HousingWire’s 2023 Marketing Leader and NMP’s 2022 Most Connected Mortgage Pro, making him an appreciated mentor and speaker.

Host of the Local Marketing Lab podcast, Justin Ulrich - Headshot

Justin Ulrich

VP of Marketing at Evocalize

Meet the host

Justin is a seasoned marketing leader known for his creative expertise and innovative go-to-market strategies. With vast experience spanning both B2B and B2C landscapes, Justin has made his mark across a spectrum of industries including software, POS, restaurant, real estate, franchise, home services, telecom, and more.

Justin’s career is steeped in transformative strategies and impactful initiatives. With specialties ranging from channel marketing and brand management to demand generation, his strategic vision and execution have consistently translated into tangible results.

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