Interview with Founder & CEO of Total Expert – Joe Welu



“I think we’ll see marketing technology evolving quickly beyond simple automation and into artificial intelligence.”

1. Tell us a little bit about your role and how you got here. What inspired you to start a martech company?

I’m the founder and CEO at Total Expert, a SaaS company that created the first web-based, enterprise-level marketing and sales software solution built specifically for banks and mortgage lenders. I’m passionate about empowering producers to bring personal relationships back into big financial purchases. Somewhere along the line, banks and mortgage lenders started focusing more on the transaction instead of the customer relationship, and I want to restore that focus on the relationship. I spend a lot of time talking to our prospects and customers, CMOs and loan officers alike to understand the needs of our customers and ensure that Total Expert is giving them the tools they need to serve their customers and grow their business.

Before starting Total Expert in 2012, I co-founded and led one of the most successful real estate teams in the country. I also served as an advisor to real estate brokerages and lenders and developed marketing programs that generated more than $1 billion in residential and mortgage sales volume.

As a Realtor, when I looked at real estate transactions as a whole, I was fascinated with the lack of companies solving industry-specific challenges. This led me to start Total Expert and the Marketing Operating System (MOS), which empowers producers to personalize and automate their marketing and communications efforts, giving them more time to build relationships face to face.

2. Given the massive proliferation of marketing technology, how do you see the martech market evolving over the next few years?

I think we’ll see marketing technology evolving quickly beyond simple automation and into artificial intelligence. In the financial services industry that we serve, marketing technology has to support the unique relationships the enterprise and the producer have with customers. Banks and lenders need to constantly be looking for new ways to improve their reach and their customer experience. If they fall behind, their customers will take their wallet elsewhere.

That said, the customer experience has and will evolve the most. Companies like Uber and Amazon have raised consumer expectations around online commerce. However, while consumers expect a seamless online experience, research shows that when it comes to complex financial transactions, they also prefer face to face interaction. It is critical for marketing technology, especially in the financial services vertical to remove friction and make it continually easier for consumers to interact with brands across all channels – and, free up time for producers to cultivate customer relationships in-person.

3. What do you see as the single most important technology trend or development that’s going to impact us?

AI is the trend to watch. It will make a huge impact on the way messaging and consumer interactions are developed and handled. If done correctly, it will really be a game changer, particularly when it comes to how banks and lenders turn a lead into a customer – and a customer into a customer for life. AI will allow relationship managers to personalize and automate their marketing and communications efforts, so they can customize their messaging and educate their prospects and customers alike.

4. What’s the biggest challenge that CMOs need to tackle to make marketing technology work?

The biggest challenge for any CMO is identifying the right technology that can meet the needs of their customers and grow sales. The problem is martech is an extremely crowded field with lots of competing products that are mostly different versions of the same thing. Identifying the technology that is a true differentiator is very difficult. Plus, the product you choose needs to be able to evolve and change as your organizational needs evolve and change.

5. What’s your smartest work-related shortcut or productivity hack?

I’m a fan of the minimally viable product (MVP), which is the strategy of putting out a technology solution quickly that may not be perfect but satisfies early adopters. Everybody wants perfection right out of the gate, but technology moves so quickly that perfection isn’t always realistic. By starting small and creating a product quickly that is imperfect yet still useful, you can go to market quickly and then take the feedback to adjust, tweak and reiterate. I’ve found the MVP strategy has enormous value, especially in the ever-evolving world of SaaS. We work very closely with our customers to understand their challenges and needs, and then ensure that as we iterate and improve our product, it continues to meet their evolving needs. Our mantra as a company is “Move Fast and Innovate,” so we are committed to quickly delivering great features and capabilities and we continue to make them better with future enhancements.

6. How do you prepare for an AI-centric world as a marketing leader?

The main concern marketing professionals have with AI is whether they will even be needed anymore. However, in our particular market, things are a little different. As I said, research shows that when making complex financial purchase, people want human interaction and expertise. For banks and lenders, AI will mostly work behind the scenes to enhance and improve their marketing and communications efforts, making them more efficient and impacting the bottom line. Our job is to have the right developers and programmers on our team, so that AI is as easy as possible for our customers to embrace.

7. What is the core marketing technology capability of your company that you bring to a marketer? Where does your product fit in vis-a-vis the customer life cycle?

The Total Expert MOS is our core product. It uses automated intelligence to empower relationship managers at banks and mortgage lenders to connect with customers and prospects quickly with personalized messaging. The MOS has marketing, co-marketing and CRM capabilities and can be integrated with a customer’s existing CRM and loan origination system, which is the primary technology most banks and lenders use to generate loans.

Our solution is unique in that it also ensures a company’s marketing, sales and compliance organizations are aligned in a single system of record. This is of huge importance to banks and lenders that are regulated by multiple agencies at the federal, state and local level. There can be serious repercussions for things as small as not disclosing the right information in an email. The Total Expert MOS was built with these safeguards in place. We empower organizations to elevate their marketing and sales efforts and still remain compliant with complex regulations.

8. Are there any new features or upcoming upgrades that you’re excited about and would like to give us a sneak peek into?

We recently added a new feature to the Total Expert MOS called Expert Content, a complete content and campaign strategy designed to help banks and lenders amplify marketing and increase sales velocity. It’s a robust collection of customizable content and campaigns that marries targeted web, social, email, print and video with best practices and cutting-edge intelligent automation. Expert Content is also industry-specific for banks and lenders to be able to drive results with content that is authentic to the recipient, timely, relevant and in context. The content is fully customizable, allowing users to change verbiage, select campaign cadence and supplement with their own content. Expert Content will free up producers’ time to build and maintain profitable partnerships and customer relationships.

We’re always working to “Move Fast and Innovate,” so there are definitely more product enhancements on the horizon. Be on the lookout.

9. What is your take on the massive explosion of martech across so many categories? Do you see competition, opportunities to partner and/or integrate?

It’s an exciting time to be in marketing technology, for sure. The technology landscape is ever-evolving and companies must continue to innovate to stay ahead. So, the increase in marketing technology across many industries and categories is really no surprise.

The opportunities for partnerships and integrations are abundant. I think martech companies need to be open to integrating with other companies that ultimately benefit their customers. Just as the tech landscape is always evolving, so are the needs of our customers, and so one thing we’re really proud of is our open API to allow integrations with today’s best of breed technology providers – and tomorrow’s. For example, earlier this year, we partnered with Blend, a technology leader that provides digital mortgage workflows to improve the loan application process for loan officers and consumers. This integration – and all of our integrations – empower our customers to better serve their customers.

In terms of our own technology, there’s no company that does what we do specifically for banks and mortgage lenders. However, we have to continue to challenge ourselves, listen to our customers and expand our services to meet their needs. If we don’t, someone else will.

10. Could you share for our readers an infographic or description depicting your marketing stack (various marketing software products or platforms your team uses or subscribes to)?

11. Can you share a screenshot of the homepage of your smartphone (iOS/Android/other)? It would be interesting to see some of the apps you personally use on a daily basis to get things done and stay on top of your day.

Joe Welu is the Founder and CEO of Total Expert, a venture backed Software-as-a-Service technology company based in Minneapolis, MN. Total Expert currently serves 8 of the top 15 lenders in the nation and was recently recognized as Minnesota’s Most Promising Startup by the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal. Prior to starting Total Expert in 2012, Joe co-founded and led one of the top-selling real estate teams in the U.S., achieving over $1 billion in sales volume.

Total Expert is a software platform for the Real Estate and Mortgage industry. Leveraging deep industry experience by its core executive team, Total Expert has delivered the industry's first enterprise grade Co-Marketing platform for Lenders + Real Estate partners to collaborate and deploy marketing throughout the life cycle of the customer. Compliance, sales, and marketing work together in a seamless system to create, deploy, and track marketing and co-marketing.
For more information please visit our Website

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