Survivor’s Lessons For Your Mortgage Web Site


Well, now that we have survived the Survivor series, let’s take a few minutes to review what we have learned from the ‘real world’ and how it applies to your digital mortgage web site.

Have A Strategy

“Begin with the end in mind,” is an often repeated strategy. Most of the survivor castaways showed up on the island without a strategy and they were kicked off early. Some survivors ‘winged it’ and created a strategy as they went along; but the winner appeared to have a strategy from the onset. You need to have a strategy as well; and you need it before you start your web site to truly succeed.

Get A Name Easy To Remember… And Spell

The Survivors were divided into two teams with names something like ‘Pagong’ and ‘Tagi’ and ‘Rattana’ (is that two “t’s” and one “n” or vice versa). Some say these were ‘cool’ names. But if these were web sites you would have to spell those for most of your customers. The same holds true for your domain name. If you get a name that is hard to remember or hard to spell, then you lose some customers who can’t find you. Conversely, the web site, – a software development firm was inundated with hundreds of thousands people looking for information on the Survivor show. I guess they have an easy-to-remember name.

Have The Right Tools

The Survivors had very few tools and could only create basic shelter. If they had more tools they would have built something more elaborate and safer. It is the same with your web site – quality software is easy to find; use it. Don’t design an unprofessional looking web site.

You Have To Fish For Food – It Takes Viewers To Be Successful

When your web site first opens for business, often (always) you are not receiving the traffic you expected. The most common misperception we hear from our clients is that visitors are going to flock to their web site. If you want clients, you have to go get them. The fish didn’t jump on the fire in Survivor; someone went and caught them. You have to market effectively and bring potential clients (fish) to your web site.

Sometimes You Have To Eat Grubs

At the inception of most sites, you will find you have to eat a few grubs, if you are going to stay in the race. Include a little extra ‘staying power’ in your web budget. And you may not always get those “A paper” clients, but it is better to eat a little sting ray than to go hungry.

Make It Personal (First Names) How Many Last Names Do You Know On The Show?

Any interesting occurrence on the TV show was that most of America ONLY knew the first names of the Survivors, but not the last name. If you have online loan applications, you may want to ask your customers how they preferred to be addressed: Mr. Farris, Robbie, Robert etc.

A Good Mud Bath Is Good For The Team

It takes a lot of effort, coordination, and talent to build great web sites. The politics from the various departments of your mortgage company often create stressed situations. The PR department wants ‘wu-wu’ graphics, the marketing wants to capture the email of each visitor, the IT department wants a fast loading site, and the owner wants a site that will generates profits.

When tensions get high, it may be good to assemble all the ‘competing’ parties together for a “mud bath,’ where they have a chance to interact together.

A Tribal Council Occurs With Every Visitor; And You Don’t Have A Vote

One of the more compelling features of the Survivor series was the ‘Tribal Council’ where at the end of every show, someone was voted off… oh, the suspense. A form of ‘Tribal Council’ occurs with every visitor to your web site. Your potential customer votes with their mouse click – and they vote within minutes of meeting you. Either they stay and fill out a form, send an e-mail, pick up the phone and call you, or they leave. At least in the Survivor show, those ‘voted off’ got to get a hot meal and shower…you don’t get anything.

Moral of the story: give people what they want (interest rates, content, information), and they may vote for you.

If You Ask For Feedback, You May Not Like The Results

On the last Survivor show, Sue gave Kelly a bit of feedback. Kelly didn’t like it or agree with all of it; but she may have become more aware of some of her traits.

Many web sites have customer feedback forms. Take the time to read the remarks you receive and re-evaluate your web site, especially if you have comments such as:
· Takes too long to load
· Hard to navigate
· I am not giving you my name and address until AFTER I see the interest rates
· Your interest rates are out of date
· I can get the same loan a half point cheaper at a hundred other web sites.

If You Win The Game, There Is A Big Prize

Survivor was called a ‘reality’ show. Here is another bit of reality… there are thousands of home loan web sites on the net. It is likely that only a few are going to be very successful. Some will do well but most mortgage sites are going to struggle. However, if you have a professional looking web site, obtain optimal rankings in the search engines, have a marketing strategy that works, great customer service, competitive rates…you could win the game. The survivors in the virtual world receive a substantial number of closed loans.

Can Your Company Survive On The Net?

Too many mortgage companies contact us with a lackluster attitude like, “We just want to see if this Internet thing will work”. These uncommitted companies will never be successful on the Net.

It is one thing to ‘survive’ the Survivor show. It is another (more grueling task) to ‘survive’ the future of online mortgage lending.

Rod Aries and Robert Farris are co-founders of, a leading Internet marketing provider to corporate mortgage clients. On request, they conduct nationwide training seminars covering Internet marketing strategies, lead generation, web site development techniques and more. Web site:

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