In this generation, social media is where you find everyone immersing themselves. It has allowed everyone to widen their community socializing on different outlets like Instagram, Facebook, and even TikTok. In this episode, Justin Brown of Nuhome Team shows how he utilizes social media to his advantage with direct-to-consumer marketing, impacting his path to wealth building. He shares the missing link that helps him convert his audience to closing and the important role of delegation in his success. Tune in to this conversation as Justin shares more of the wisdom that earned him thousands of followers!
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Utilizing Direct-To-Consumer Marketing On Social Media With Justin Brown
I am tickled blue to have my guest in this episode. My guest has been in the business since 1999. He spent most of those years as an ops manager learning the business before deciding in 2009 to have his own hand in the mortgage business as a loan officer. In that year, he made more money than he had ever made in his life. Help me welcome from Southern California my good friend Justin Brown. Welcome, Justin.
Thank you so much. It’s a pleasure and honor to be on.
I like to call you the TikTok King with 80,000 followers and social media star. That’s one of the reasons I wanted to have you on. Before we get into that, I’m sure our readers would love to know a little bit more about your background and how you got into the business, Justin.
When I was younger, my stepdad had a branch in the mortgage business. His family had a mortgage company. My mom was a paralegal. When I was in high school, she was doing the paralegal thing, and he was doing the mortgage thing. They decided to move up to Arizona and open a branch there. My mom quit her paralegal job and went to help him learn the business with him and build their deal together. I stayed behind because I was not leaving my senior year of high school in Southern California to go to Arizona. I’m good. I stayed behind and started painting houses on the weekends, delivering pizza at night, and renting a house with some friends. We all paid rent, partied, and did our thing.
Eventually, after a little bit, I was like, “I have no direction with this. I don’t want to keep painting houses at night.” I’d hit up realtors for business for painting houses. It was funny because I was already a realtor prospecting back then, but I hated it. I remember I painted one house, and they’re like, “This isn’t the color we agreed on for this.” I’m like, “Yes, it is. I have it written down right here. You signed it.” “No, it’s not. You’re not getting paid until it’s done.” I ended up losing money on that job. I had another job where equipment got stolen and another job where they didn’t pay me even though there was no disagreement. They just ghosted me. It was like, “I’m over this. I’m going to figure out something else.”
How old are you at the time?
I turned eighteen my senior year, so I was seventeen doing this. By the time I was nineteen, I was like, “I got to figure out something else.” I moved out to Arizona. I was a troublemaker, so my mom was like, “No, you’re not going to work for us. You need to become responsible first.” I’m like, “I am responsible for whatever.” I ended up finally getting them to bring me on as an assistant, making copies, taking out the trash, and stuff like that. She’d have me call and do order outs, call and update this mortgagee clause, call this appraiser and tell them we need an invoice, do this and that. That’s when we were getting appraisals with Polaroids on them still if you remember that.
Those were the old days in ’99. Nothing was digital at that point. We were overnighting packages.
I was running Trans-Box all day.
Trans-Box was like our FedEx in Arizona. I don’t know if they had it or where else they had it. There were Trans-Box locations. We had the envelopes, and we’d shove the docs or whatever in it. I was running stuff around and getting it delivered.
Before, there were seven documents for them to sign. Nowadays, we have 50, but it’s all digital.
I worked there for a few months, but it was like that old TV show Orange County Choppers with the dad and son duo at each other’s throats nonstop. That was us. I got fired twice a week. It was cool because it was like getting suspended from the school where I got the day off and knew I was going to be back the next day. It was chaos. After a little bit, I was like, “I like this business because the days go by so fast. It’s a problem-solving.” I liked it, and I saw the money people were making. I got a resume dialed in. I put that I had been doing it for two years, even though it was only like six months. I started sending it out and got who we both know, Randall Mills, when I was 19 or 20 at the time. He picked up my resume and called me in. He was okay with my lack of experience. It was because I was a low salary requirement at the time, like minimum wage.
What year was this?
This was in 2000.
Were you in Arizona?
I was in Arizona. I was still out there. I went to work for him and learned a lot there. I was with him for quite some time, on and off. From there, I moved back to California years later. I got a job out here running a processing department. When the market was crashing in 2007, I was an ops manager at a company. I saw we were taking losses every month, but we ended up surviving until December of ’08. He couldn’t make payroll and let everybody go. Everybody left that day, but he kept two other people and me, paid us, and said, “I need you guys to help me wind down.” We stayed on board until January ’09.
I was like, “Make it so that I could get unemployment. Let me go.” He offered me, “Come with me. We’re merging with Skyline Financial. I know Bill Dallas. We’re going to go over there. We’re going to do this thing. I’ll make you the VP of this.” I’m like, “What do I get paid?” He’s like, “It’s going to be commission only.” I’ve never worked commission only. If I’m going to do commission only, I’m going to give it a go on my own because he had a call center setup type of deal. That was rough. I ended up going on my own. I was like, “I’m getting unemployment.” I moved back in with my in-laws at the time, which wasn’t fun.
It was scary back then. You’ve had a salary your whole life. What brought you to that point where you’re like, “I’ll just go on my own?”
I was looking for a job, and nobody would pay what I was used to. I was making six figures as an ops guy. As I’m putting my resume out, people are offering me $20,000, $30,000, and small bonuses. I’m like, “I can’t live off that. I have a newborn, am married, living with my in-laws. I can’t do this.” When I finally gave up on finding another ops job, I talked to my wife then and was like, “Let me give it a go on my own for a few months. If after 3 to 6 months there’s no traction, I’ll go to the police academy. I’ll start over.” I put ten years into this business. I don’t want to start over if I don’t have to. Let me at least try on my own.
During that time in ops, I worked with a lot of LOs. I was like, “I think I could do it. I should be able to do this one day.” I went for it. I didn’t make any money for about three months. It was my 4th month or the end of my 3rd month that I ended up making $40,000 to $45,000 more money than I had ever made in a month, let alone even over that few months was good money.
Was your wife working at the time?
I’m the sole breadwinner.
It takes a lot of courage to jump out on your own without knowing what the future holds. It’s $45,000 your next month.
The rest of that year, I ended up closing 40 or 50 loans. I made more money that year than I had ever made in my life. I never looked back. I kept originating since then and growing. Within six months or less, we ended up moving out and getting our own place again. I was still worried about being commissioned and being on my own. I was like prepaying my rent for six months at a time and trying to live frugally.
I opened a small office location and wouldn’t hire anybody. It was just me. I’m working crazy hours building my business. The money was coming in, and I was building something. After a few years of me being at the office until midnight every night, going in early, and working crazy hours even though we had bought a house and things were going good, I knew I couldn’t live like that anymore. I went to the Vegas Mastermind. You were on stage with Shayla and Rick. Were you on stage at the Vegas Mastermind at that time?
I don’t think so.
It was one of the early years that they were there. I saw everybody on stage and was like, “I closed X amount of loans and worked 40 hours a week.” I was like, “There is a way.” I signed up with the core. I was with the core for seven years. Through that time, I learned how to build a business that could run without me for the most part. I got to the point where I built a good database and a good team. I was able to spend most of my time working on the business versus in it and working 40 hours a week and all that. COVID hit, which changed everything. A lot of people were saying they ignored refis because they wanted to focus on purchases. I honestly, by that time, was like, “I built a solid database. I’m good at marketing to them. Even if the market shifts or whatever, I should always be able to close a decent amount of loans a month out of my database alone.” I honestly got burned out on chasing realtors. I was done with it.
Let me ask you about your database. Many loan officers, even young loan officers, don’t keep track of their database. It’s such a valuable tool. Did somebody tell you to do that?
Over those ten years of working in ops, I worked for some good loan officers and some bad ones. When I started originating, the one thing I did right away was getting a database. Every person I talked to and every lead I ever got were going in it and marketed to. That’s something I knew from every successful LO I had ever worked for. They were part of the old LoanToolbox and By Referral Only. I saw those successful LOs having a database and taking care of their database. I did that for me.
Did you ever follow Joe Stumpf?
No, but I worked for LOs that were with the By Referral Only group. I was watching the LOs do their thing and saw who they were with that they were with Joe Stumpf and By Referral Only coaching. I was in the background, seeing what it was doing for their business and knowing the mechanics of it all where having a database and taking care of them.
We met a few years ago when we did an Amplified Event. I remember what struck me was how many followers you had on TikTok. It’s almost 100,000 or 80,000 out of date. I’m curious. When did you embrace social media? A lot of people, including myself, do not necessarily subscribe to social media, but it looks like it’s had a good impact on your business. It sounds like you work on your business more than in your business.
Yes. Prior to COVID, I was doing 60 to 80 realtor calls a week. I had 120 leads a month coming from agents closing 20 to 30 loans a month with purchase and realtors. No matter how great a team I had, it was still nights and weekends. It was tough. It was a grind. After doing that for years, I got burned out on it. I have over 2,000 people in my database. If at least a couple percent of them a year I get them to do business with me, I could live on that. When COVID hit, I saw a lot of LOs working crazy hours, and I wasn’t because my team was taking care of everything going on during COVID about all the refis and stuff.
If I turn into a refi guy now and everything changes, and I get screwed on these purchases and ignore them, that’s okay with me. During this time, I want to figure out how to go consumer-direct. At the end of the day, when the dust settles, if my business goes down, I know how to turn it back on. I know how to roll my sleeves and make it happen. I will if I have to. In the meantime, if business slows down but I have a much better balance in my life, that’s okay too. I make good money.Figure out how to go consumer direct so that when the dust settles and the business goes down, you know how to turn it back on. Click To Tweet
I was like, “Let my team run the refis, but I’m going to figure out how to go consumer direct. If at the end of the day it falls apart, then I will roll up my sleeves and make it happen.” During that time, I started diving into YouTube, marketing coaching, marketing courses, and marketing books and trying to learn marketing because I also figured if I got good at marketing, I should always do okay.
I was trying to do YouTube, and one of my buddies was like, “Why don’t you try TikTok?” I’m like, “TikTok?” He’s like, “Give it a try.” He showed me what it was, and I saw that guy Scott Bentley on there, and that guy crushes it on TikTok. I saw some interviews from him at the time because he was crushing it on TikTok. In his interviews, he walked through his process and how he did it. I started following him. I’m like, “I’ll give it a go on TikTok,” and I did. Honestly, within a couple of weeks, I had a video go viral. It hit a couple of million views. All of a sudden, my followers went crazy on there too.
What’s in the video?
It was on doing a custodial Roth-IRA, which is for your kids. If you put a couple hundred a month in there from this age until they’re eighteen, and at eighteen, they take over, they could retire a millionaire. Start them young. I went viral. It wasn’t mortgage content. When I started figuring out what content am I going to do, we, as loan officers, were always talking about building wealth. This was a journey I was on for myself and my family anyways. I was learning personal finance. I was buying out-of-state rentals. I was diving into how to set up my own retirement accounts, how investing works, and taking control of those finances myself.
People who want to buy a home are buying a home because they want to build something for their future. Why not mix in other knowledge there? At the end of the day, they’re going to be interested in that too. That’s where I started with it. As that grew, I did start getting way too many inquiries and stuff around things that aren’t going to make me any money, like the personal finance stuff. There was a lot of learning involved on how to convert that audience into closings because I did get a big following pretty quickly. During those first 6 to 8 months of building my social media and being busy on social media, I wasn’t getting a lot of closings from it still, but I was hooked on it like, “There’s got to be a way to make this work.”People buy a home because they want to build something for their future. Click To Tweet
What was the missing link for you to take it from having a decent following to converting that to closed loans?
For anybody reading this that wants to go down this path, you have to figure out content, start posting, and grow your audience, but that alone doesn’t do it. The next thing you have to do is convert that audience. Whenever you sign up for something, start the checkout process, or click to get more info from any good company that has good marketing involved, what usually happens is you start to get follow-up emails. You start to get trips. You start to get like, “Do you want to finish what you started?” You have to learn to follow up. You have to have an opt-in.
You have to get those people into your database. You have to figure out, “How do I capture Heath’s cell phone and email?” My call to action can’t be just, “Call me. Do this.” It has to be giving you something to get something from you. I started figuring out having what’s called a lead magnet, having my Calendly on this, “Click here for a free consultation. Download my free home buyer guide. Download my free calculator on how to calculate rental property income.” I put some lead magnets in there to where, “If you want something, put in your email and phone number, and I’ll give it to you.” Once I have that, which is my database, I start following up via text, email, and all that stuff.
Your lead magnet was being able to book time for you. It was being able to use your calculator.
I did have my free home buyer guy, but I didn’t have any follow-up on it. It’s having something they could download that gives them more information on what you’re talking about but capturing their info and turning on automation. I’ll get 150 leads in a month or more. I’m not going to follow up with all those internet leads, but my system will automatically for me. As soon as they raise their hand saying, “Yes, I have more questions,” my team takes over from there.
In the beginning, like content, what were some quick lessons when you were coming up with content that you said, “I got to remember to do this?” that you feel had an impact on the people? What’s some advice on content?
Finding content is figuring out what the audience wants, not what you want. To do that, I would look at TikTok and see what type of contents are already performing. I would start looking at what mortgage content got the most views and has the most engagement. What was the topic about? What were they talking about? I would repurpose that and make it my own. I’ll put my own spin and voice on it. You could go to websites like AnswerThePublic.com, which will show you the most searched questions around a topic.
You could put in home buying, and it will show you the most searched questions around home buying. You could put in different topics, and it will tell you the most searched questions around that and use that. Instead of you thinking you have a good idea, if you get common questions from your clients around the same thing, use that. Go online, look on YouTube, see what videos on mortgages on YouTube got the most views, and use those topics.
It’s by being aware of your daily activity when you’re with clients, either point of confusion. Any incident that happens can create daily content through being aware. One of the things we talked about earlier that I’m super impressed with is you work 35 hours a week. You spend Fridays on your mountain bike. You rely a lot on your team to convert these leads. You’re not that involved in the process. Your team is handling it. What’s the data that you’re looking at to make sure that your team is taking care of your business? Do you have daily or weekly numbers that you’re looking at? When do you know, “I need to get involved?”
We do daily team meetings. I still meet with them every day. We go over all the leads that have come in. We use Jungo heavily. They put in notes and all of that. For every lead that comes in, my CRM will text them automatically for me. I could get a report of any leads that responded, and I could see what our responses were. I could look at the leads every day. We do a quick meeting, “What’s going on with this and this?” If a lead doesn’t get responded to, I could see that. There was heavier accountability at first, but now they understand the requirements and what the expectations are.
I don’t have to handhold them as much with that stuff, but we still check on it every day. I’ll look at how many sets of docs we’re getting in a week. We’ll look at the leads that are coming in and make sure the numbers stay in line. If the numbers aren’t in line or start dropping off, we have to dive into the analytics, “What’s going on here? How come our numbers are declining?” We used to get 50% of the docs in would turn into an escrow.
That changed at the beginning of 2022, but as we looked into it, what changes was there’s no inventory, “How do we improve this? What are offers getting accepted? It’s the ones where we know the agents or the ones with larger down payments. Let’s start marketing more on agent happy hours and agent networking and start doing more investor content on social media because investors put more money down.” I look at the analytics all the time. I coach my team on analytics. We figure out our marketing around the analytics. For the most part, having very clearly defined job roles, duties, and metrics to track helps manage all that.Figure out your marketing around the analytics. For the most part, having clearly defined job roles, duties, and metrics to track helps manage all that. Click To Tweet
I love that. You are letting go of the everyday activities and allowing your team to perform for you. What I heard you say as far as creating is it’s not just about content. It’s about creating an audience, but it’s also about conversion and converting that client. Is your team looking for a phone call? What’s the conversion? Is it a phone number? Is it just an email? Is it on the phone?
A conversion for me is getting docs in an application. Sometimes people will DM me. If they DM me, I will answer the question. The only leads I’ll really talk to are the ones that DM me directly. I’ll answer their question. If they want to take it further, I push them to schedule a time on the calendar on the Calendly link using Calendly. Once they schedule it, it pushes them into my CRM. It sends them a reminder and lets my team know, and then my team will call if they don’t make that appointment.
My team takes it over from there and pushes to get an application and docs, or they’ll download stuff online from the link in my bio. If they do that, my CRM will automatically text a follow-up, “Heath, I saw you downloaded my home buyer guide yesterday. Did you have any questions at all about it? If you do, feel free to text me here anytime.” A couple of days later, “Did you plan on buying a home this year? Is there anything we could help with?” It will go until they reply. Once they reply, my team will see the reply, and they could either disposition it long-term drip and leave them alone, or they’ll start taking it from there and follow up and try to get them to apply and get on the phone. All those downloads aren’t us having to do anything until they raise their hand saying, “I have questions. I want to buy a home.”
When they book the link with Calendly, they probably think that they’re going to be meeting with you. What does your team say when they hop on and don’t see you?
I always put the message, “My team,” and everything. I’m DMing people like, “My team would be happy to help you.” Every once in a while, somebody’s like, “It’s not going to be you directly?” “No, it’s going to be my team. They’re awesome. I’m still here to help if something comes up.” My team says the same thing. They’re like, “We’ve been following Justin. Are we going to talk to him at all?” “Absolutely. He’ll check in or whatever.”
They’ll give me a heads up on those ones, and those ones, I’ll check it like, “How are you doing?” or whatever, and I’ll do a little touch on it. A lot of times, I’m putting out the message of helping build wealth, helping analyze and find rental properties and run the numbers, and giving more guidance than they’re used to from a mortgage company, like guidance on personal finance, investing, budgeting, and all that stuff. My team is trained to do all that. If they need me to jump in, I will, but it’s very few and far between.
We’ll get hit up by realtors too on social media, “Are you working with agents?” “Absolutely. Here’s my team.” “What’s your number?” “I’ll have Yuri on my team call you right away.” “It’s not going to be you?” “No, it’s not, but Yuri’s awesome. He’ll take care of you.” “Have him call me.” I’ll see leads start coming from that realtor that I never spoke to. I’ll talk to my team like, “Yuri, is so and so sending leads, that lady?” “She is. She sounds good. I got docs in on this one.” “I love it. Take care of her.”
At least myself, and I don’t know about the readers, would be like, “We think that we’re the only ones that can take good care of both clients and realtors.” What advice would you give to those loan officers who still feel they need to control that process or the transaction?
You don’t need to. It’s about setting the right expectation upfront. If you’re prospecting realtors, and you finally get them to meet, and you’re afraid to tell them no, you’re never going to do business on your terms. I’m not afraid to tell them no. I’m not afraid to hold onto my terms even if I lose the business because I know I’ll get other ones. I have a database now. I’m okay with losing and not doing as much business because the business I do is all on my terms, and I get to have the balance in life I want.
What are 2 or 3 expectations that you set with your team, and they understand, “This is the expectation that you all need to be meeting on a daily or weekly basis?”
They know that my role is to drive business in the door. My role is to keep the phones ringing, keep the leads coming in, and keep us busy. That’s my job, and that’s what I’m going to spend my time doing. If I don’t, none of us have jobs. If it’s just me doing it, it’s going to be a different setup. They understand that. My junior LOs understand it’s their job to convert these things so that they make money. My juniors get paid well. If they want to make a good living and make some money, they’re going to have to convert the leads. My LOAs understand the same thing. They need to support the juniors, keep them on the phones, and keep them converting by putting the deals together, taking the deals through closing, and all of that.
It’s them understanding this is how the machine works, having them buy into the machine, and having it be a good balance for them. If you set up a process and a system that you’re constantly undermining and micromanaging, they’re never really going to be bought into it. They’re never going to feel like they have freedom or job security that makes them happy. My team culture is good because I give them a lot of freedom and flexibility because they execute. They understand that if you execute and keep me doing what I want to do, I’ll keep you guys doing what you are highest and best doing, and we’ll all love our job.
I love that. I appreciate you sharing your ideas, how you got into social media, and the impact it’s having on both you and your team. I’d love to hear before I let you go a quote, a book, or an idea that you’ve heard that our audience might be able to take with them.
The biggest thing that has helped me be successful was learning how to run a business, learning how to delegate to my team, and spending my time working on it, not in it. I know that’s a big struggle for loan officers. My number one tip or book around that is to pick up the book Traction by Gino Wickman. That book is an amazing book. It lays out the foundation. The core picked up a lot from that book or has a lot of the same principles that I learned from that book.
That would be my number one book recommendation for any LO who wants to build an actual business. From the E-Myth, there’s something they talk about where you could be a great cook, and because of that, open your own restaurant, but if you’re the cook in your own restaurant, it’s never going to grow, and you’re going to work until your old age. You’re going to be grinding away for a long time.
It’s called the difference between a business operator and a business owner. You’re a business owner, not a business operator because you’re allowing your team to take the reign. I sincerely appreciate you being with us, Justin. If our audience wants to get ahold of you, what’s the best way for them to do that?
On Instagram, it’s @LoansByJB.
Thanks again, Justin. I’m sure we’ll see you around the corner here real soon.
Awesome. Thank you.
About Justin Brown
Hi and welcome to Loan Advisor Group Inc DBA Nuhome Team! My name is Justin Brown and I am honored and excited to work with you in your home ownership journey. It’s important to me that you know who you are working with so I wanted to tell you a little bit about myself.
I started my mortgage career in 1999, working as a loan processor, underwriter, and operations manager. This back-end experience has given me an extensive edge in understanding the best programs available for you and the best ways to overcome obstacles. I bring over 18 years of expertise in residential lending to work for the benefit of all of my clients. I am dedicated to providing top-notch service, the best rates, and creating a relationship for life that has made my clients and their referrals the backbone of my success. My main priority has always been and will always be to put YOU first. I love my job and I hope that my service shows it.
One of the main reasons to work with us is our #1 rating on Yelp for all Lenders in Southern California! I hope my reviews demonstrate my commitment to my clients. My dedicated team is here to communicate with you throughout the entire process so that you are always in the know! The home-buying process can be stressful as it is. We strive to eliminate all of the guesswork so that you can have a smooth, stress-free experience with our team!
Thank you for giving us the opportunity to exceed your expectations. I look forward to getting to know you and assisting you with this very exciting milestone! As always, feel free to reach out to us with any questions!
Justin Brown & Loan Advisor Group Inc DBA Nuhome Team.