April is National Home Inventory Month: Find out more
11 May 2022

Marketing Minute – Repurpose Your Blog Posts

This Marketing Minute is provided by Associate Member Mary GillenMary Gillen

Since the 3 most recent courses that were added to our Library address how to create and develop a successful blog, we thought these tips would help you re-use your blog posts. Be sure to keep a file of them and track where you posted them to avoid missing an opportunity or to prevent duplication.

Re-purpose Your Latest Email Newsletter Content

Many Web marketers re-purpose their blog content as email newsletter articles. Take it a step further and publish links to these articles on Twitter, Facebook, and other social media sites where you have a presence. Utilize the great content you create for your blogs!

Promote Blog Posts on LinkedIn

Share the blog post URL as a Status Update on your Profile.

Share with Others

Develop relationships with symbiotic industry professionals and offer to provide them with some of your blog posts that would be a good fit for their industry. It’s a great way to get in front of others’ newsletters and blog readers.

29 Apr 2022

New Course – Search Engine Optimization

bloggingThis course will be available within the next few weeks. Just check the NICA website at this link and you will find it alphabetically. Of course, we suggest taking the Introduction to Blogging and Blogs – Creating and Marketing Content courses first, as they will give you a great foundation for the Search Engine Optimization course.  

This third course in the blogging series discusses that SEO is a process of optimizing your website and blogsite with the goal of improving your rankings in the search results and getting more organic (non-paid) traffic.

The history of SEO dates back to the 90s when search engines emerged for the first time. Today, it is an essential marketing strategy and an ever-growing industry. Search engine optimization focuses only on organic search results and does not include Pay-Per-Click (PPC) optimization. Both SEO (Organic Results) and PPC (Paid Results) are part of Search Engine Marketing.

The search engines are used by internet users when they are searching for something. You want to provide the answer to that something. It doesn’t matter whether you sell a product or service, write a blog, or anything else – search engine optimization is a must for every website and/or blogsite owner.

To put it simply: SEO is all the actions you do to make Google consider your website and blogsite a quality source and rank it higher for your desired search queries.

The topics presented in this course are:

Module 1 – Introduction to SEO

  • Key Aspects of SEO
  • Useful Vocabulary
  • Learning SEO

 Module 2 – Keywords

  • Keyword Research
  • Keyword Tools
  • Keyword Difficulty

 Module 3 – Basic Site Setup for SEO

  • Setting Up Your Blog
  • SEO Plugins for WordPress
  • Meta Descriptions and Page Titles

An addendum is also provided via a link at the end of this course. It is a detailed, step-by-step instruction guide for those who want to build their own blogsite. This information is not included in the exam. And, if you choose not to develop your own blogsite, our Associate Member Mary Gillen is an excellent web developer and will create a professional one for you.  

17 Mar 2022

Marketing Minute – 3 Unusual Marketing Ideas and Tactics

This Marketing Minute is provided by Associate Member Mary GillenMary Gillen

1. Educate the Captive Audience with Audio
The average commute for some folks in large US metropolitan areas is three hours every workday. 15 hours a week! Cheez, the commute’s a part-time job, isn’t it? Associations in the Washington, DC area provide their print newsletter content as audio podcasts for their members who are already strapped for time and stuck in the long commute. You can do the same for those who sign up, sharing your content from blogs, presentations, your website, etc., being heard during that long, boring drive to work, and back again. Why not have them listen to you?

2. Deliver the Job Early
Without notice, deliver your completed inventory one day early. They never forget it. You will look like a champ. And it’s likely your clients will be more apt to refer you when they are pleasantly surprised.

3. Famous For 15 Minutes
During your next presentation, reveal your most important information in the first 15 minutes. Studies have shown that folks’ attention span starts to wander after the first quarter of an hour.

03 Mar 2022

Everything You Need to Know About SEO

SEOMany members have stated that they want to start a blog, but just don’t know how to begin. So last year we created 2 courses to help you do that: Introduction to Blogging and Blogs: Creating and Marketing your Content. Following up on these 2 courses, we are currently working on the first course for 2022, titled Search Engine Optimization. This will help you develop your own blogsite (or website) through the expertise of the authors of the other blog courses, Associate Member Mary Gillen and Member Tricia Hoekwater. Both have written courses for NICA previously, and we have always received positive feedback regarding the content and thoroughness of the information.

Watch for this new course, which should be available by the end of March. In the meantime, taking the blogging courses mentioned above will prepare you to take that information and develop your own blog – creating a great way to bring attention to your website, establish yourself as an expert in the industry, and promote your inventory business.

09 Feb 2022

Marketing Minute – Do They Know You’re Here and What You Do?

Mary GillenThis Marketing Minute is provided by Associate Member Mary Gillen

Often people will say “I didn’t know a service like this existed!  So let’s make sure people know you do exist, and exactly what you do!

Let Them Know You’re Here: Include Hyperlinks, Video, and Images in Your Press Releases for Better SEO

For each electronic press release you create, add an optimized image, video, and keyword-rich hyperlinks back to your website or blog. Google News reports this information to the Google Search Engine for indexing.

NOTE: Google News only indexes news releases three days old or less, and only indexes it once.

Let Them Know What You Do: Explain Your Business in 60-Second Spots on YouTube

Help prospects and customers understand your business in a series of 60-second video “bites” on YouTube.

EXAMPLES
Explain what happens after a loss, and how inventory documents help ease the claims process.
Share how an inventory is of great help when settling an estate.
Give examples of how small businesses benefit from knowing what they own.
Show the steps of inventorying one item so they have a visual reference.

26 Jan 2022

Is THIS the New Normal?

Yes No MaybeWe certainly hope not, but until then, we will be dealing with shut-downs, restrictions, new rules, etc. Many members have expressed that their home inventory business has experienced a decrease in clients. Unfortunately, people often make the assumption that “everyone” (especially in-house services) chose to stop doing business, or put it on hold.

What to do? Following are some key tips:

Let people know you’re still here! If you have a website, blog and/or social media accounts, post notices that you’re taking new clients. Include that you will wear a mask (and gloves if they prefer). If you’re vaccinated, be sure to include that information as well.

Email or call your current clients. See if they have purchased new items since you created their inventory – remote updates are perfect for those who are very cautious right now. Ask for referrals – people are more inclined to invite a “stranger” in when suggested by a friend.

Stay in touch with prospects and referral sources. Inform them that you are still providing your services, and always ask for referrals!

Call estate attorneys. If they are already referral sources, let them know you’re still providing your inventory services. If they haven’t yet met you, give a quick intro and ask if you can send an email introducing your business. Sadly, estate attorneys continue to get new clients, so this is a sector of the industry that cannot put things on hold.

Call insurance agents. Let them know you’re still providing your inventory services, and ask for referrals. Also, mention appraisal services if you’ve achieved your CAE.

Contact small business owners. If they are shut down, or their employees are temporarily working from home, this would be a good time to do an inventory of their assets and not interrupt the workflow or be in contact with their employees. As an added service, you could offer to create a “location” document noting who has what business equipment in their homes.

Talk to networking group leaders. With restaurants/coffee shops closing, opportunities for a one-on-one meeting have diminished. Even when open, many people are not comfortable meeting with others. Many networking organizations have scaled down or stopped meeting. Encourage these groups to create on-line meetings.

28 Dec 2021

Marketing Minute – Can You Hear Me Now?

Mary Gillen(Editor’s note: The Marketing Minute, provided by Associate Member Mary Gillennormally provides a few quick tips to help you market your home inventory business. Last month, Mary introduced you to an excellent way to market your inventory service and blow your clients and others in our industry away!  Part 2 is below. If you didn’t read Part 1 yet, Titled The Talking Web Page, click here, or click here to read the entire article on her blog.

Hear It for Yourself – Monotone vs. Conversational

As an experiment, I decided to use part of the information from a web page about an e-book I’ve authored called “PDF Accessibility Remediation: How to Fix 40 Common Errors.” You can see the original page here. For this test, I reduced the script to certain sections of the content for a shorter test.

I sent Frank the script and he produced and returned an MP3 file that I could place on the web page using an accessible media player called Able Player, an open-source fully-accessible cross-browser HTML5 media player you can use to embed audio or video within a WordPress page.

I also made an audio recording in MP3 format of the NVDA screen reader announcing the same script I sent to Frank.

Some items to note:

In the NVDA Monotone example, the tone is flat. You can hear the screen reader also announce information about some of the HTML elements it encounters:

  • the words “heading” is announced before a headline is read
  • the phrase “list with four items” is announced before reading the bulleted list of items

There is also an announcement glitch on the word PDFs: The word “PDFs” is read as “P-D-F-S”

In the Conversational Audio Example created by Frank, the tone is enthusiastic. The information simply flows and is more easily understandable due to the emphasis on certain words and pauses. There is a clear call the action that attracts the user’s attention.

(You’ll want to hear the remarkable difference between the Monotone and Conversational examples! Visit Mary’s blog article at https://accessiblewebsiteservices.com/talking-web-page-for-products/ to listen to each.)

An Important Review

Yesterday I demoed the Talking Web Page test for John. When he heard the screen reader version of the audio, he was not impressed. But when he heard Frank’s version, John clapped his hands and exclaimed, “Yes, that is what I am talking about! I have no need for your PDF remediation book, Mary, but now I understand what it offers. Such a simple process. And I didn’t have to read a word.”

Give It a Shot

Remember: the senior population is growing. By 2030, people over the age of 65 are predicted to make up 20.6% of the population of the US. Vision loss is by far the most common disability reported by elderly individuals.

If seniors can make use of your products and services, make it easy for them to hear about your offerings via Talking Web pages.

You’ll be outsmarting your competition and increasing your business.

09 Dec 2021

Blogging – Are You Ready?

BloggingEach year we add new courses to the NICA curriculum. This year, we focused on blogging with Introduction to Blogging, which provides you with the framework and tools to create and write a blog. and recently we added Blogs – Creating and Marketing Your Content that includes the framework and tools to generate content and market your blog. 

Knowledgeable resources for ideas and information can be fellow NICA members. Read others’ blogs to learn from them, and periodically share one of their articles (remember to follow our Associate Members’ blogs, too!). Reading others’ material helps in many ways: 

  • Meet fellow members!
  • Possibly refer business to others throughout the country.
  • Gain information you might not have known.
  • Using someone else’s articles means you didn’t need to research and write it yourself.

Of course, when using others’ blog posts, always include a link to that specific blog article. This is a plus, also, as it gives good back-links for your blog, helps spread the word about their blog, and most likely they will reciprocate and occasionally use some of your articles, along with a link to your blogsite.

If you haven’t yet earned your 5 CEUs to retain your certification, these 2 courses will provide you with the CEUs as well as great knowledge to help your start and maintain your blog!

30 Nov 2021

Marketing Minute – The Talking Web Page

This Marketing Minute is provided by Associate Member Mary GillenMary Gillen

(Editor’s note: The Marketing Minute normally provides a few quick tips courtesy of Mary Gillen to help you market your business. This month and next, she is sharing an excellent way to market your inventory service and blow your clients and others in our industry away!  And now … Part 1.)

Great ideas are all around us. You just have to listen.

Case in point: a chance meeting with my neighbor John last week when I was out walking my Black Lab Gracie.

“My vision is not what it used to be, Mary,” John told me as he bent to pet Gracie behind her ears. A retired business executive in his mid-70s, John was diagnosed with diabetes a few years ago and has been dealing with low vision for the last few months.

According to folks at The Cleveland Clinic, low vision is “vision loss that can’t be corrected with glasses, contacts or surgery. It isn’t blindness as limited sight remains. Low vision can include blind spots, poor night vision and blurry sight. The most common causes are age-related macular degeneration, glaucoma, and diabetes.”

John told me he was having a difficult time reading online content…especially product information so he could make informed purchasing decisions. I suggested he give a screen reader such as NVDA or JAWS a try. “Cheez, Mary,” he replied. “I am so ‘old school.’ Every time I try to install something new on my laptop, it messes everything up. A friend of mine has a screen reader, but the voice sounds so monotonous I find it difficult to understand what is being announced. Some people I know have those Alexa gadgets, but, to me, they feel intrusive. I don’t want all this confusing technology in my life.”

So what can be done to help a not-so-technically-savvy Internet user who is in the process of losing his/her sight?

“I just wish I could push a button on a product page and have the content read to me,” John said as he turned to walk back to his house.

Hmmm…interesting.

In his article Voice Content and Usability, product architect and strategist Preston So writes: “There’s one significant problem with screen readers: they’re difficult to use and unremittingly verbose. The visual structures of websites and web navigation don’t translate well to screen readers, sometimes resulting in unwieldy pronouncements that name every manipulable HTML element and announce every formatting change. For many screen reader users, working with web-based interfaces exacts a cognitive toll.”

And remember that conversations mean business. According to Michael McTear, Zoraida Callejas, and David Griol in The Conversational Interface, we start up a conversation because:

– we need something done (such as a transaction),
– we want to know something (information of some sort), or
– we are social beings and want someone to talk to (conversation for conversation’s sake).

Enter The Talking Web Page for Products

Inspired by John’s wish, I contacted marketing audio pro Frank Pival of Never Alone On Hold, a Washington-state-based company specializing in the scripting and production of on-hold marketing messages. My thought was if an audio message could be professionally produced in a conversational tone, then it can also be embedded as an audio file on a web page so the content could be easily played and understood. Successful human conversation has many nuances: emphasis of certain words, pauses that attract attention and so much more.

“Conveying your content message clearly to customers is imperative in these challenging times,” Frank told me. “Providing a unique economical way your “voice” can be gently amplified over the din of your competitors is the key to continued business success. The on-hold audio messaging concept can certainly work for web page product content. You are providing the user with an easy way to comprehend the product’s info and your call-to-action message. This is something your competition has probably not even considered.”

Be sure to watch for next month’s NICA News for Part 2 of this great blog article. If you can’t wait, just visit her blog here: https://accessiblewebsiteservices.com/talking-web-page-for-products/

03 Nov 2021

British Columbia Multi-faceted Entrepreneur Achieves Home Inventory Certification

Congratulations to NICA member Maureen Frost for adding this accomplishment to round out her packing/new home set-up, estate sale auction, and downsizing services.

The National Inventory Certification Association (NICA) is pleased to announce that Maureen Frost, owner of West Coast Downsizing Solution Inc, has recently earned the designation of Certified Inventory Specialist (CIS). Achieving this designation confirms that she has gained knowledge to provide professional residential and small business contents inventory services.

To earn the CIS designation, Frost successfully completed the required courses developed by NICA, agreed to conduct business according to the asset industry Code of Ethics, and accumulated a minimum number of Continuing Education Units. She then passed the Certification Exam, which is the final step in achieving this designation.

There is an increasing awareness of the necessity and benefits of having a prepared photographic and written record of one’s personal property. This knowledge and the ever-increasing busy lifestyles of homeowners and business owners alike create a growing demand for a professional inventory service provider. 

Having an industry certification is not required for the contents inventory industry. However, choosing to invest in continuing education shows a desire to learn and excel as a personal property inventory professional. Earning these credentials informs clients that Frost has gone the extra mile to ensure that she provides quality inventory services for homeowners, renters, and business owners. 

Frost stated that her interest rounds out the multi-faceted list of services she provides for her clients. Adding home inventory knowledge and services to her estate auction, downsizing, and moving services allows for a one-stop-shop for those who seek assistance in these areas. 

West Coast Downsizing Solution is located in Vancouver, BC, Canada. For more information, visit https://www.westcoastdownsizingsolution.com