CUSO Home Lending

Empowering Homebuyers in a Transforming Market: CUSO Home Lending’s Strategic Response to Rising Rates and Prices.

The Background

CUSO Home Lending, a leading home lender in Maine, has consistently adapted to serve the dynamic needs of consumers and business owners, working hand in hand with the credit union community. However, the housing market has been undergoing rapid changes, pushing back the onset of the lending season.
In early 2023, interest rates continued to steadily rise, with the 30-yr fixed mortgage rate nearing 7%. The median home value in the US jumped to $362,500, a 17.9% increase from early October 2022, and Southern Maine’s housing costs rose by 12% YOY. With homeowners retaining their locked-in rates and banks becoming more conservative in lending, the market saw reduced demand for home loans and refinances. These factors, among others, resulted in 35.5% decrease in mortgage origination nationwide.

The Challenge

The changing dynamics of the housing market presented significant challenges. The year began slower than anticipated due to a delayed lending season, intensifying the pressure to meet objectives. Mortgage rates, which have been on the rise since March 2022, sometimes exceeded 7%, creating barriers on both the supply and demand sides. In this challenging backdrop, CUSO, being a trusted client of The Lee Group for three years, sought innovative, responsive, and results-driven strategies to generate additional leads and boost loan volume.

The Solution

Recognizing the shift in the market and the decreased desire among many to buy homes, we saw the need to adapt our strategy. Focusing on a more defined audience segment, we targeted first-time homebuyers and those seeking affordable housing options, leveraging insights from CUSO consumer behavior studies. This led us to reevaluate our channels and refine our tactics.
To address the delayed lending season, we expedited the rollout of a digital campaign to increase lead volume for CUSO. This campaign was based on an in-depth analysis of the company and market trends. The strategy included targeted display ads, SEM, and paid social campaigns, emphasizing CUSO’s personalized guidance, diverse loan programs, and the credit union advantage.
We crafted a narrative that resonated with the aspirations of potential homeowners, showcasing CUSO’s commitment to enabling their dreams despite economic challenges. The strategy, initially a short-term fix subject to testing and optimization, proved so effective that it became a long-term component of our marketing strategy.

The Results

The digital campaign exceeded our 20% lead increase goal, particularly among homebuyers seeking affordable housing solutions. CUSO’s industry presence was strengthened, with the campaign positioning them as thought leaders. Overall awareness grew with a 258% increase in impressions, and the campaign’s success was evident by a 34% improvement in cost per lead.

Year-over-year digital tactics showcased:

  • Digital Campaign Clicks: Surged by 126%.
  • Cost Per Lead: Improved by 23% improvement YoY.
  • SEM: Click-thru rate increased by 63% and cost-per-click improved by 23%, outperforming industry benchmarks.

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Alan Babb

EVP of Creative

What are you looking for in an advertising agency?

While most agencies lean on their “unique” culture, funky office space, cleverly named process, or walls of awards to attract clients, we take a more thorough, thoughtful approach.

After all, consumers are only getting savvier. These days, effective advertising not only takes clutter-cutting creative but also solid, intelligent strategies that rise to the demands of an overly saturated hyper-focused marketplace.

The Lee Group embraces this challenge by simply focusing on being smart. We believe an intelligently devised strategy clearly defines the target audience, informs and inspires great creative, drives the CTA, and ultimately converts prospects into buyers.

In other words, intelligence delivers results.

Of course, entertaining ads have their place, but a clever headline or being irreverent for irreverence’s sake doesn’t necessarily mean your customers will convert. It’s the intelligence behind the creative that counts — the critical thinking, the experience, the expertise, and above all, the strategy. That’s what The Lee Group brings to the table, and it’s what sets us apart.

Ann Lee

Founder and CEO

There’s a sign that hangs on my wall with a quote from advertising great David Ogilvy. It reads: “It’s not creative unless it sells.”

This sign has been my constant companion through four decades, in half a dozen different offices, and while producing countless award-winning campaigns for more than 850 clients across 48 states.

It’s my eternal beacon of truth. And it has never been more relevant than it is today.

To move the needle in today’s omnichannel, over-communicated, fractured, and highly competitive world takes far more than it did a decade ago—or even last year.

Today, it takes strategy born from data and insights, concepts brought to life through creative brilliance, and integrated media and channel planning that’s on target and optimized to reach customers when and where they are.

It takes intelligent marketing. And it’s what produces marketing that sells.

I’m immensely proud to have a team that’s the very best at what they do and is willing to put their individual egos aside to make our clients and their products the heroes.

I’m equally blessed to have clients who are willing to share their knowledge and provide the uncensored candor it takes to forge great partnerships.

If you’re ready to partner with an intensely strategic team that’s invested in your bottom line, let’s put intelligence to work!