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April 24, 2024

Rethink everything you know about mortgage marketing

with Brian Vieaux
President & COO of FinLocker

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Summary

In this illuminating episode of the Local Marketing Lab, mortgage industry veteran Brian Vieaux shares a fresh perspective on how loan officers can effectively reach and nurture the next generation of homebuyers. With over 34 years of experience and as the COO of FinLocker, Brian offers a wealth of insights on mortgage marketing and how the industry is changing. Learn tips and strategies to foster local connections and build credibility in your community.

Leveraging technology to guide first-time homebuyers – Brian discusses how his company FinLocker uses personal finance apps to educate and prepare consumers for the homebuying process, building trust long before they’re ready to apply for a loan.

The power of community-focused content – From starting a local podcast to creatively engaging with businesses in your area, Brian unpacks strategies for loan officers to position themselves as trusted experts and stay top-of-mind.

Adopting an abundance mindset through collaboration – Brian is the co-author of the Amazon bestseller “Rethink Everything You ‘Know’ About Being a Next Gen Loan Officer,” a collaborative effort that exemplifies the power of sharing knowledge to uplift the entire industry.

Packed with actionable advice and innovative ideas, this episode is a must-listen for any mortgage professional looking to rethink their marketing approach and better connect with the next generation of homebuyers.

Key Takeaways

Here are some topics discussed in the episode around mortgage marketing:

  • Strategies for reaching and nurturing early-journey, first-time homebuyers
  • The role of local loan officers as trusted financial educators
  • Leveraging social media and podcasting to build a personal brand
  • Repurposing long-form content for maximum impact
  • The value of a collaborative, abundance-driven mindset

The local loan officer is the best and most trusted resource for financial education and preparedness as it relates to home ownership.

BRIAN VIEAUX
Mortgage marketing: House for sale

Resources

Other shout-outs

Transcript

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? And welcome to the Local Marketing Lab. Joining us in the lab today is a guest with 34 years of experience in mortgage and banking. He’s an avid Michigan State athletics fan. He’s a gardener. He’s a co-author of the number one best seller on Amazon right now, Rethink Everything You “Know” About Being a Next Gen Loan Officer, president and CEO at FinLocker, Brian Vieaux. Thanks for joining us in the lab, my friend.

Brian Vieaux
Thanks for having me, man. I’m excited. Glad to be here.

Justin Ulrich
You bet. No, we’re super excited to get you on. You know, I’ve noticed, you know, a lot of, a lot of buzz around your book lately, so I definitely want to jump into that. But before we, we talk about your book, maybe give us a little bit about your background and maybe what it is that FinLocker does.

Brian Vieaux
Sure. So as you said, you aged me. I’m a 34 year veteran. The good news is I didn’t have any other years in a career before that. So my entire professional career, post colleges in the mortgage banking business, I spent 30 years on the primary mortgage production side. So as a lender and really saw all kinds of cycles. 

I was part of an institution that was seized by the FDIC in 2008 as part of the housing crisis. All those cycles, whether that was the lowest of the low, by the way, I’ve been able to ride some of those high cycles as well. But all those cycles, I think, gives me a unique perspective in my current role outside of direct mortgage lending. 

But as a, you know, running a fintech that supports, primarily supports the mortgage business. And I’ve been here at FinLocker for a little over four and a half years as president and chief operating officer.

Justin Ulrich
Very cool. And what is it that FinLocker does and who do you target?

Brian Vieaux
Yeah, so we’re hyper focused on helping early journey, first time homebuyers. And what does early journey, first time homebuyer mean? Basically the way I think about, you know, the first time homebuyer cohort, they don’t just magically wake up on a Saturday morning and say, I’m going to go buy a house today. Right? They go through, and frankly, all homebuyers go through this, but first time homebuyers especially go through this emotional and financial preparedness process. 

And so what FinLocker does is we help lenders and loan officers with our technology reach, assist, engage, and nurture these early journey, first time homebuyers way up the funnel. And so the best way to think about our app is most people are familiar with Credit karma and Mint.com and Rocket Money and Zillow. And each of those apps has a set of features, you know, principally personal financial management features that consumers use for various reasons. 

We brought all that functionality into one app, and then we brand it to our client. So it’s a white labeled solution, and our client then has a product in the App Store that they can market and point people to. And then on top of the data that a consumer connects to, like their credit and their financial account data, we then create a journey that basically assesses in real time and in perpetuity where a consumer is in terms of being ready to apply for a mortgage. 

So we’re not doing pre-quals or pre-approvals. We’re really an education and preparedness tool that gives consumers confidence when they’re ready to buy a home and apply.

Justin Ulrich
No, that makes a lot of sense. As a first-time home buyer, it’s like you’ve never been through the process. There are a lot of hurdles and barriers that get in the way. And just like you said, the emotional piece itself, the fear of the unknown, I’m sure presents plenty of hurdles to folks that keep them from actually pursuing the buying their first home, at least sooner than later.

Brian Vieaux
Yeah, I think there’s a lot of. Well, I know there’s a lot of myths, right? There’s a lot of myths out there around homeownership and specifically the financing of buying a home. And believe it or not, there’s a lot of people that still believe in order to buy a home, you have to have 20% down payments, and that’s not true. Would it be, would it be potentially ideal if you did? Maybe, maybe not. 

But you can buy a home for as little as 3.5% of the down payment. And if you’re a veteran, if you’ve served in the armed forces and you’re a veteran, you can actually buy a home with no down payment. So there’s benefits out there, there’s products out there. And what I really am passionate about is this concept that and belief that I have that the local loan officer is the best and most trusted resource for financial education and preparedness as it relates to home ownership. 

You know, most early journey, first time homebuyers are younger in their life and younger in their financial life, so they may not have amassed enough assets to get on the radar of a financial planner or a private banker. In fact, I joke that most first time homebuyers consider their private bank or their ATM or the banking app on their phone. So who better to educate and prepare that cohort for home buying than a local loan officer?

Justin Ulrich
100%. And what’s great about your product, from what I understand, is that you provide educational assets that provide long, like, over a long period of time value to the client. So, like you said, when they are actually ready to make the purchase, you have been their trusted resource or advisor in the scenario and have given them what they need to be able to feel ready to make the purchase. And they choose you over trying to find someone else because you’ve been there holding their hand all along the way.

Brian Vieaux
You nailed it. That’s exactly right.

Justin Ulrich
Very cool. So I love that your mission to educate as much as possible, your wealth of knowledge you’ve been in. I don’t need to age you again, but you’ve been in the industry for a long time. Right? But you have this knowledge and you want to pass on as much as possible, you know, and it aligns with my mindset of, like, a rising tide raises all ships. 

There’s no value in withholding this knowledge base at all. Right? As much as you can share. Share. And you’ve taken this kind of mindset, and now you’ve co-authored this book. I’d like to hear a little bit more about that and what it is that you touch on or the things that the book’s about.

Brian Vieaux
Yeah. So the title is Rethink Everything You “Know”. And we use air quotes around the word “Know”. So Rethink Everything You “Know” About Being A Next Gen Loan Officer. And I’ll start with the title. Right? 

A lot of people might look at that title and say, oh, next gen loan officer. That means a younger loan officer. And what I would say is, to me, the title is more about loan officers positioning themselves to be best positioned to serve the next generation home buyer. And in order to do that, they have to think differently than maybe what made them successful 5-10 years ago. And so I’m 55, so I just aged myself directly there. So that’s out there.

Justin Ulrich
You look great for 55, by the way. I can only wish.

Brian Vieaux
Thank God for the video only being, you know, chest up here. 

There’s a lot of seasoned, experienced, extremely knowledgeable loan officers that, like me, have gone through all kinds of different cycles, who I believe, if they use the right tools and they’re in the right places, and I’ll come back to that in a minute, if they have the right tools and they’re in the right places, they may be the best loan officers to serve the next generation homebuyer. 

Because I think, you know, the younger cohort may, and I’m not saying they absolutely do, but they may look at someone with, you know, evidence of experience, who has knowledge, who’s been through cycles, and maybe trust them a little bit more, much like they might trust a parent or even a grandparent. I’m not a grandparent yet. 

And so when I say, you know, being in the places where this cohort is, one of the places where the next generation homebuyer is, is on social, right? They’re learning from financial influencers on Instagram and TikTok and even YouTube. They do still rely on family and friends for advice, but more often than not, they’re starting right here. And they go down the wormhole of learning from somebody about buying a home and financing a home and flipping a home and all the things that are happening out in that social space. 

So the book, and you talked about this mindset of abundance, really in kind of a rising tide, lifts all ships. We, Kyle Draper and I, you know, we’re the co-authors on the book, but we’re really the co leaders of a collaboration of 39 of us. There’s 37 experts across the industry that were willing to selflessly share their knowledge, expertise, experience, and best practices with the readers, which are loan officers, principally. 

And so there’s several loan officers that wrote a chapter in here that could have kept all the good stuff to themselves. Right. But instead, they shared what works for them in their business. So the way the book is structured, it’s six sections. There’s 37 total chapters. And each section kind of has a theme that we follow. 

So we start, the book starts with this concept, and we titled the section Mindset Matters. And we have five or six experts around mindset. These are some of the best minds in loan officer coaching and leadership that, again, have offered their expertise for free, well, for the cost of the book, and are going deep into what they believe the right mindset is for a successful loan officer. 

And we started that, the book with mindset purposely. Right. We wanted everyone to kind of engage this book and get in the right headspace as they go deeper in. And one of the unique things that we do in the book, I don’t know if you can see it, but we use QR codes. Each chapter has at least one QR code. So not only are you reading the words of the expert, but then you get a chance to go deeper and actually see a video of the expert. 

Our longer term goal and hope with this book is that every reader forms a relationship with each contributor, because now that you’ve read their words and you’ve seen them on video, we want you to go engage them on their socials, connect with them on LinkedIn, and start. And we really want to build a community around this book that, to your point earlier, lifts all boats. 

And ultimately, if this thing does what we want it to do, the ultimate beneficiary of this book are all the consumers, all the first-time homebuyers, that readers of the book are going to serve and serve better because they’ve learned from these experts.

Justin Ulrich
Very cool, man. That is a, from a marketing standpoint, that is a really cool idea. The QR codes within the reading that link to videos to give you more info. Like, I’ve never seen that.

Brian Vieaux
So there’s another book over my shoulder. It’s purple. I don’t know if you can see it.

Justin Ulrich
Yeah, I see it. A little edge of it.

Brian Vieaux
I’m all backwards here. There it is. So that purple book is called Rethink Everything You “Know” About Social Media, and it was authored by Kyle Draper. So Kyle is my partner in the green book, we’ll call it. And he was really the inspiration for the idea by his first book. Kyle’s a social media coach. I think he calls himself a social media therapist. And so he helps people find their voice and, you know, build their personal brand on social, and ultimately to help them further whatever their objectives are on social. 

In this case, it would be building a brand, building more awareness, and hopefully generating business through social. So, in that book, that’s the first time I’ve seen the QR code. I call it the modern day scratch and sniff effect. Right. You get to read the words, but then you get to pause and then listen and see a little deeper, you know, story behind the words. And so Kyle did that beautifully in his first book, and we just tried to carry that through with this one.

Justin Ulrich
Well, what’s interesting is that not everyone is a reader. Like, I personally, I don’t like to sit down. It’s not relaxing for me to sit down and read a book, but I like watching videos, and I can consume it more easily or more quickly. It’s just how my brain is wired. And I think that higher percentage of folks are more visual learners. So having that other medium in there is really genius.

Brian Vieaux
Yeah, it’s been a lot of fun. The project, pulling it all together was a little bit like herding cats when you have 37 individuals who, by their own right, are high charging, top producers. But the package, the final product, is just to me, it’s unbelievable. And all I did is write the introduction. So I had a very, very small part in what I think is going to become a very important book for loan officers going forward.

Justin Ulrich
Yeah. So with the book being around, like, how do you better engage your sphere and how do you nurture folks along? What are some key callouts that maybe you might want to highlight on this call to say, hey, here are some things that you can maybe do this week or even today to start engaging?

Brian Vieaux
I think there’s a section in the book that’s kind of around social media as a strategy. And one chapter in particular is authored by a guy named Dustin Owen. And Dustin has a podcast, The Loan Officer Podcast, TLOP, The Loan Officer Podcast. And Dustin talks about his start and how he got started in podcasting, but basically challenges the reader that every one of you could have your own local podcast. Right? 

And so what you’re doing and what we’re doing here is an example of what just about anybody can do. You’re sitting at your desk. I’m at my desk. We’re not in a, well, maybe you are in a studio. I’m not in a studio.

Justin Ulrich
I’m in my closet, dude.

Brian Vieaux
There you go. You could do this anywhere. And all of us have the tools that we use every day anyway, right? And so, you know, this concept of a loan officer creating a local community-based podcast, and maybe they talk very little about buying homes and financing homes, but instead talk about cool places, cool businesses, cool areas of their community, right?

Justin Ulrich
Oh, man, that is such a good idea. And here’s why. Not only are you engaging with individuals who could potentially be prospects, but they are local to your community. They’re going to give shout outs to local businesses, which are also going to help you to make connections with them, to say, hey, you were called out on the podcast. Just wanted to give you a shout out, maybe on social, right. 

Drive awareness to their business locally, and then also maybe bring them on as guests. And now they’re going to shout people out and it just snowballs. I mean, it’s a fantastic idea from a loan officer perspective.

Brian Vieaux
Yeah, I think of it as kind of the more modern version of the old B&Is – the business networking groups that existed out there. I mean, to your point, if I’m a local loan officer and I’m shouting out a local contractor in my market on a podcast, pretty sure that local contractor is going to appreciate that. And probably when someone in their sphere is asking about who they should get a mortgage from, they’re going to send them my way. Right.

Justin Ulrich
That is, I mean, I’m going to probably talk about this idea on every other podcast episode going forward. It’s incredible. And I mean, it’s kind of why we do a podcast from some standpoint, but I had never applied it to the local piece. And the other reason why I think it’s so important is you’re nurturing folks along who may not be ready to make a decision for a year, two years plus. 

So if you can find a way, like through a podcast or a channel like this to deliver value where you’re, maybe you’re calling out, like you said, key local events this week or things to look out for this quarter or, you know, things to go try and do whatever it might be, you’re giving insights and you’re giving ideas and your people are tuning in to figure out, hey, what should I go to this weekend or what should I go check out? Or is there a winery nearby or whatever it might be, right? 

It’s just like you’re staying top of mind, providing that value. And when it comes time to make the purchase, they think of you.

Brian Vieaux
And I’m guessing you do the same thing with your podcast. I have a podcast I host, but whether or not ten people or 1000 people end up watching your episode, you now have a piece of content that you can curate into 10, 12, 15, 20 smaller pieces of content and repurpose and use those across other mediums as well. 

And so it’s a very efficient way to create content that you can then use across other platforms and again, within the effort of helping to build your personal brand in your market.

Justin Ulrich
Yeah. And it doesn’t have to be overly produced. You don’t have to make it difficult. It’s as hard as you make it, right? So if you just get, sit down and get started, that’s a good start. Like you said, that long-form content, there’s tools right now that are available where you can upload a long-form piece of content. It’ll crank out the 1-minute snippets, your YouTube shorts, your social posts, your text, your blog post that goes along with it all in literal minutes.

Brian Vieaux
Right.

Justin Ulrich
It’s incredible what you can do now with AI tools.

Brian Vieaux
Yeah, I’m a big proponent of podcasting and repurposing the content. And it’s just a great way to meet interesting people that you otherwise probably wouldn’t have these types of conversations with.

Justin Ulrich
Yeah, 100%. So, one thing that we like to do for our guests, Brian, is highlight interesting facts about them. And I called out a couple trivia pieces that you’d sent over earlier. You like to garden. Uh, you know, you’re a big, you’re a big Michigan fan. Spartans.

Brian Vieaux
Michigan State. 

Justin Ulrich
Yeah, Michigan State. So, but your son, he plays pro ball?

Brian Vieaux
He does, yeah. Yeah. My oldest son is, as we record this today, he’s in Laredo, Texas, and he’s in his 9th season of professional baseball. He spent his first eight season in the minor league system and a little bit of major league time here in the US and signed as a free agent this offseason in the mexican league. But yeah, he’s been, he’s been grinding away at it. This again is his 9th, 9th season of professional baseball.

Justin Ulrich
Yeah. That’s awesome. He’s a left handed pitcher, is that right?

Brian Vieaux
He’s a lefty. Made his MLB debut two summers ago with the Pittsburgh Pirates. There’s some cool footage of that and of me going a little crazy when he struck out Evan Longoria, the first hitter he faced. So that was pretty wild.

Justin Ulrich
Awesome. So you’ve been pretty involved in athletics. I know that you’re also on the board of – is it the Downtown Boxing Group?

Brian Vieaux
Yeah, Downtown Boxing Gym. It’s a, a lot of people are like, oh, sweet, you’re a boxer. Never, never, never intentionally boxed in my life.

Justin Ulrich
Intentionally…

Brian Vieaux
The gym is actually an after school education program. And so it’s, downtown Detroit, the schools, the public school system has been challenged for a long time. And so the gym was created by the founder, Khali Sweeney. He was inspired by the fact that he graduated. He got through 11th grade, into 12th grade and couldn’t read and then dropped out. He basically, if you google him and watch some podcasts on him, he basically calls school a scam. 

He’s like they just kept passing me along, passing me along. So he dropped out of school in 12th grade. He could have just finished it out and kind of had this path that in his mind, he was either going to be in jail or dead. Those were the paths that were ahead of him. And so he kind of started running like that was going to be his life. 

And he was lucky enough to find a mentor that basically this guy was into boxing. And Khali’s like, I need to learn how to fight to protect myself. And this guy said, I’ll make you a deal. I’ll teach you how to box if you learn to read. And so the trade-off was, Khali would get hours of training, but then he would get hours of tutoring to learn to read. 

And, as he tells it, as he started to learn to read, his world massively opened up, right? And he was so inspired by that, that in his mid to late twenties, he wanted to give back to his community and do the same thing. Now he wasn’t going to be in a position to tutor kids, but he was in a position to help them on the physical side. And then he brought people in around him that could handle the tutoring. 

And so, fast forward to today. The gym has 200 plus students that come in typically right after school. And part of the magic of the program is we go pick the kids up from school, we have transportation, we go pick them up from their school. And we’re not just going to one school, we’re going to dozens of schools across the city picking the kids up. 

They come into the gym, they have to earn their physical time, so they earn it by first going through an after-school education curriculum. And so depending on what their interests are or where their needs are, you know, there’s typically an hour and a half, 2 hours of pretty high, intense education. And then we feed them a full hot meal, they get a full dinner, and then they also get that physical fitness piece of it. And then we take them home, we transport them right to their doorstep. 

So we’re proud that we in the, gosh, almost 15 years, I think now they’ve been at this, we have 100% graduation rate. We’re in a massive capital raise as we speak to expand our footprint in Detroit. We serve 200 plus kids, but there’s almost 2000 kids on our waiting list. So we want to open it up. 

And then we’re about to take this playbook that our team has perfected to other markets where going to soon be in Buffalo, New York. And so there’ll be a franchise version of what we’ve built in Detroit, in Buffalo. And so super excited. It’s one of those inspirational things that I get to do just to be around. The kids especially. It’s so inspirational.

Justin Ulrich
Yeah. That is incredible. Yeah. I boxed for a few years growing up and it was so many lessons learned in the gym with regards to discipline. There’s one story I like to tell. I’ll keep it short and sweet. I was like 17 and I have kind of a soft heart, but I was sparring with this guy who I was clearly keeping him back in my jab. 

His nose was bleeding and stuff. And I felt bad for him and he was a little bit on the shorter side, so my reach was much longer. And I’m like, I just have to let this guy come in on me just, just a little bit. Make feel a little confident. He blasted me in my solar plexus and knocked my soul out of my body. Like, I was like, time out. You know.

Brian Vieaux
Lesson learned there.

Justin Ulrich
Lesson learned for sure. Well, awesome. Given your involvement with athletics, I thought it might be cool, and since you’re such a Michigan State fan, maybe throw you on the field and show what your life could have been had you pursued a different career.

Brian Vieaux
Look at that. Wow. That’s amazing. You got it, dude. You got to send me that picture. I’m going to.

Justin Ulrich
Yeah, I’ll send it. Those guns, man. Watch out. Geez Louise.

Brian Vieaux
Again, I’m going to keep them below the camera so you can compare and contrast. No, that was back in my playing days.

Justin Ulrich
Yeah, that’s right. That’s right. Awesome. Yeah, I’ll get this over to you for sure. I like to say it’s just like an NFT without the value. Before we jump off, how can folks follow you? Follow your brand, get your book?

Brian Vieaux
Yeah, yeah, yeah. I’m very active on LinkedIn, so if you see my name there, I think I’m the only Brian Vieaux spelled that way on LinkedIn. So I encourage you to connect with me on LinkedIn. You could check out FinLocker at finlocker.com. And the book, Rethink Everything You Know About Being A “Next Gen” Loan Officer is available today on Amazon.

Justin Ulrich
Like I said, number one bestseller in the category. So go check it out. Brian, it was a ton of fun. I will also encourage listeners to check out your LinkedIn feed. You have tons of posst. You must post three, four times a day. There’s so many videos, it’s insane. And you answer questions. And it’s high-quality content, so follow Brian. 

Brian Vieaux
Thank you so much. I appreciate that. I appreciate you having me on. This has been a blast.

Justin Ulrich
You bet. Yeah, thanks for joining us. It was a ton of fun.

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 @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.

Brian Vieaux headshot photo

Brian Vieaux

President & COO of FinLocker

Meet Brian Vieaux

Brian Vieaux is a seasoned mortgage industry veteran with over 34 years of experience. As President and COO of FinLocker, a consumer-enabled financial data platform, Brian oversees the strategy, operations, and product development of the innovative technology that streamlines the mortgage origination process.

Outside of his role at FinLocker, Brian hosts the Fintech Fridays podcast, where he showcases the latest trends and solutions in the financial services industry.

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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