April is National Home Inventory Month: Find out more
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

21 Oct 2021

New Course Added to Curriculum – Creating and Marketing Blog Content

Writing a blog can be one of the best strategies you can use to market your personal property inventory business. People will get to know and trust you through your writings; trust is essential when hiring someone to come into their home or business to document their belongings.

The goal of this course is to provide you with the framework and tools to generate content and market your blog. You will be introduced to a variety of sources, learn different strategies you might want to try, and how to generate content. Educating and informing your readers will help promote your business as well as the home inventory industry in general.

This course will help you to prepare and plan properly and set up a solid foundation from the beginning, as well as establish good habits so you can maintain a successful blog as you move forward.

The topics presented in this course are:

Module 1 – Creating Your Blog

  • Content Marketing
  • Generating Content Ideas
  • Effective Types of Blog Content

Module 2 – Content Promotion Strategies

  • Choosing Your Strategies
  • Creating Content
  • Influencer Marketing

Module 3 – Being Productive

  • Make A Plan
  • Sources
  • Take Productive Breaks
14 Oct 2021

Marketing Minute – Lead Generation

Mary Gillen

Lead generation is essential to growing your business. There are many processes you can use to attract prospects and referral sources with the intent of gaining their interest in your business. Each endeavor is with the end goal in mind – gaining a new client or nurturing a referral source who values your service and will refer their clients to you. Two proven activities in lead generation that Mary Gillen suggests are:

Post Comments on Industry/Niche-Specific Blogs

Process:
a) Offer advice on other industry/niche-specific blogs by posting your own comments
b) Most blog comment forms allow you to post links back to your own site or blog. Add your link too. This generates traffic and prospects.
c) Be helpful! You do not want to be accused of spamming another blog.

Write a LinkedIn Recommendation a Day

Get noticed by more prospects on LinkedIn by writing one recommendation a day for one of your Connections. Draw attention to yourself. Start the recommendation with an explanation about what you do.

EXAMPLE:
As a home inventory service professional, I provide inventory services to John Smith’s insurance policyholders. I hope you get the chance to work with John, as his customer service is exceptional.”
_____________

This Marketing Minute is provided by NICA’s Associate Member Mary Gillen. Are you ready for an upgraded website? Maybe a completely new one? Mary Gillen, Associate  Member, will create YOUR site to represent YOUR business. She is also an excellent writer so she can create professionally written content as well.

05 Oct 2021

Add Appraisal Examination Revenue to Your Inventory Business

HandshakeValuePros, a National Leader in Appraisal and Valuation services, is one of NICA’s Associate Members. We are very excited to share the news with you about the opportunities they are offering to our members! In anticipation of a national rollout of their appraisal app (free download on Apple App store and Google Play store), ValuePros is aggressively growing into new markets for their onsite appraisal service.

The ValuePros appraisal app will enable someone to capture an item’s description and images virtually anywhere, anytime, while out shopping, at a friend’s house, in a resale store – anywhere. However, there will always remain a need for an onsite examination by a trained examination professional (inventory professional) or appraiser, for ValuePros to generate an independent USPAP compliant report.

ValuePros is looking to align with NICA members, as independent contractors, to perform onsite examinations. They have recently added examination contractors in Milwaukee, Houston, and Las Vegas. These Inventory Professionals now provide Appraisal Services, as they serve the one critical role in the appraisal procedure – Examination:

Appraisal Procedure

  1. Examination
  2. Item Identification
  3. Market Comparable Research
  4. Report Production

As we tell inquiring clients often, “the appraiser does not need to see an item with our own eyes to identify, appraise, and produce a qualified appraisal report.” You, the Inventory Professional, examine; ValuePros appraise – together providing an appraisal service in your market.

As Ray Nugent, owner of ValuePros, says, “Let’s get to work together!” Achieving your Certified Appraisal Examiner designation will help you obtain general knowledge of the appraisal industry. Contact Ray today to receive summary information on this opportunity. ValuePros prefers to use an exclusive examiner in each market. CONTACT: Ray Nugent, ValuePros @ (888) 353-7152.

28 Sep 2021

Marketing Minute – Positive vs Negative

This Marketing Minute is provided by Associate Member Mary GillenMary Gillen

Be Positive!

When writing a newsletter, a blog, or even just an email, it’s best to avoid using negative words in your headline copy. It can leave a negative impression on some prospects. Giving a positive reaction will encourage people to return to your social media posts and your blog, and to continue to read your newsletters.

Examples of how you can change a negative into a positive headline:

NEGATIVE: “Your business is falling behind.”
POSITIVE: “Get ahead of the competition.”

NEGATIVE: “Why are you so fat?”
POSITIVE: “Drop 10 lbs. by summer”

NEGATIVE: “You are losing your customers.”
POSITIVE: “17 ways to find new business.”

NEGATIVE: “A fire can destroy everything you own.”
POSITIVE: “How a home inventory can help you recover from a loss.”

16 Sep 2021

Project Management

CurriculumMany people have commented in the past that doing an inventory really requires a keen sense of organization and the ability to manage a project. These comments inspired us to develop the course, Project Management.  Written by fellow NICA member Tricia Hoekwater, she not only has her CIS designation, but she is also a Credentialed Project Management Professional. Written with the home inventory sector in mind, she applied the project management skills required to achieve success for all types of inventory situations – small, large, collections only, estates, small businesses, etc.

Every inventory is a “project” that must be managed. Sometimes even small ones can have a unique twist to them, creating a question of, “How do I begin?” or “How do I approach this?” No matter the size or type of inventory – whether it takes just a couple of hours or a much larger job that takes a few weeks – managing it is essential for a professional outcome.

This course is written using the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK) principles from the Project Management Institute and lays down the foundations of project management.

If you’re looking to hone your inventory skills, possibly find new processes, or just learn how to incorporate project management into your already-established system, this course will provide exceptional knowledge. Upon successfully completing Project Management, you will earn 2 Continuing Education Units (CEUs) towards your 5 required CEUs to maintain your inventory designation(s).

02 Sep 2021

September is National Preparedness Month

National Preparedness MonthNational Preparedness Month (NPM) is recognized every September by Ready.gov. Launched in 2003,

Ready is a “national public service campaign designed to raise awareness about the importance of preparing for disasters and emergencies that could happen at any time,” including natural and man-made disasters. The goal of the campaign is to promote preparedness through public involvement.

Their website provides weekly themes, social media posts, graphics, and videos for you to share on social media, in your blog, and in your newsletters. There is no charge to use this information.

The theme for 2021 is “Prepare to Protect. Preparing for disasters is protecting everyone you love.”

As a home and business inventory professional, you are aware of the importance of having documents of one’s belongings. By sharing this information from Ready.gov, you will educate and hopefully encourage people to hire your services to help them be prepared.

Click here for more information and to download visuals as you share this excellent information with your clients, prospects, and referral sources. 

 

26 Aug 2021

Marketing Minute – Niche Keywords

This Marketing Minute is provided by Associate Member Mary GillenMary Gillen

One of the main reasons to use your niche keywords is to find followers who are prospects, not competitors.

Since you provide home and small business inventory services, search Twitter using the terms “insurance agent” or “estate planner” and the other key words related to those who would be prospective referral sources. Start following those folks. They will eventually learn about you and most likely form interest to meet you face-to-face or virtually. Either way, many will most likely become great referral sources, sending you their clients as referrals.

TIP: For search engine optimization, be sure to include an important keyword phrase in your bio that describes the type of inventory services you offer.

19 Aug 2021

Check Out These Blogs!

This post is featuring Associate Members’ blogs so you can start to follow them, learn from them, and possibly share this great information now via social media and your blogs (if you already have one established). If you aren’t currently writing a blog, but plan on writing one in the future, bookmarking some of their posts now will make them available to share as guest posts when you’re ready – and you’ll have a library of articles already prepared!

Mary Gillen WebsiteMary Gillen writes (in her words) a “definitely geeky and technical” blog.

However, she has received great feedback from clients, which has enabled her to learn that customers have gained great, useful information.

One area, in particular, is how to fix accessibility errors. By sharing step-by-step instructions, they were able to gain this knowledge from her blog.

Visit her Accessible Website Services Blog. Though it might be “geeky,” it’s written in common, easy-to-understand language!

ValuePros BlogThe blog that provides super inventory information is from ValuePros. Whether you plan on participating in their Appraisal Examiner initiative or just want this information available for your own edification that will enable you to provide educated advice to your clients. this blog will provide valuable knowledge for you.

The various topics relate to appraisals and valuations, with first-hand information about their work. Want to learn about sports memorabilia, fine art, antiques, coins, and more? This is the blog for you!

Frequent customer questions are also a big part of the content of this blog. They share those answers right here on the Blog page of their website.