This week in my A to Z of lenders' intermediary marketing material I've been looking at Northern Rock and Norwich and Peterborough. N&P may not have the reach of the Rock but it still looks to the intermediary marketplace for a good chunk of its mortgage business and both have dedicated websites for mortgage brokers. If you're using the internet to support your distribution strategy you have to review the content, layout and even design of your site on a regular basis to make sure it's continuing to deliver what's required. In the case of N&P, if it wants to exit from providing paper versions of product guides and rely on the website only, the formats will have to be more intermediary-friendly than this. Tell me what you think by emailing me at email@example.com.
When I reviewed Northern Rock's website back in June last year I described it as “definitely one of the better sites”. And the Rock still has strong online functionality for intermediaries with quotes, AIPs, full applications, case tracking, lots of information and a full set of downloads. And it's still in the same striking black and aqua colour scheme. So when the intermediary product guide came in the post the multi-colour design was a bit of a surprise. But not as surprising as the complexity of the product portfolio – all those products, offers, LTVs and rates! It tries to overcome the profusion of products by using different background colours for the different product groups – e.g. a wishy-washy yellow for Together – and then makes it worse by using different tints of the same colour in the same group – e.g. for whether you take the arrangement fee save option or not on the discount, tracker and cashback mortgages. Argh! I ended up shouting at the material. Calm down, Jeffrey, calm down. If you can find the product you want, at least the details are set out clearly, plus key features and, in the case of Together, some strong benefits. There's also an online user guide – which I didn't shout at.
Norwich and Peterborough
Norwich and Peterborough's preference is for intermediaries to use the dedicated intermediary website rather than issue pre-printed material. The head office message is that the site “has all the necessary information and product details” (true) “in a simple and clear format” (not quite the words I would choose). Nevertheless, a pack of printed material did turn up in the post and this highlighted the problem of pre-printed paper versus printing from web-pages. Yes, all the product/rate information is on the website and, yes, it will always be up-to-date. But while some intermediaries do check website information to make sure they're quoting the latest rates, many brokers who are meeting clients away from their offices are not in that position and so rely on paper copies. Ah, I hear you say, but on the N&P intermediary website, you can 'optimise text style' for paper. Have you tried it? You get eight pages of product/rate information and the right-hand edge is still missing. Compare this with the two-page pre-printed guide, which may not be the glossiest piece of material you've ever seen but certainly has all the necessary information and product details in a simple and clear format. Which is more than you get from the website.