April is National Home Inventory Month: Find out more
17 Oct 2019

Marketing Minute – The Importance of a Responsive Web Design

This Marketing Minute is provided by Associate Member Mary GillenMary Gillen

Most likely, your most valuable and far-reaching marketing tool is your website. And equally as likely, people are viewing your website on their desktops, laptops, smartphones, and tablets.

A website should have one codebase to efficiently serve all mobile devices. This is called “responsive web design” (RWD). Responsive Web Design is the approach that a website should be flexible enough to adapt to the various screen sizes and platforms. This is important, as it will best serve your customers and prospects. This also makes the best use of your web development budget because the burden and expense of needing to maintain multiple versions of a website disappear.

Search engine optimization is also important, as 80% of business conducted today starts with a search. Google recommends webmasters follow the industry best practice of using responsive web design. Rather than have sites for different devices that serve up the same content, make use of a single content site that Google can index efficiently. It also helps solve the SEO problem of being penalized for hosting duplicate content.

We thank Mary for her continued and excellent marketing tips. As an associate member of NICA, she knows our industry. Mary has created or updated many members’ websites, but they all have their own unique look. If you are seeking an upgrade or an entirely new website, the staff at NICA want you to be aware that she is excellent in creating responsive websites.

03 Oct 2019

NICA Launches Marketing and Sales Course for the Home Inventory Industry

In our focus to continue to provide quality education to our members and others who are in the home inventory industry, NICA has recently launched the course titled “Marketing and Sales” which has already received positive reviews from those who have taken it.

Tricia HoekwaterThe introduction and outline of the Marketing and Sales Course are below.  Developed and written by NICA member Tricia Hoekwater, CAE, CIS (left) and Associate Member Mary Gillen (right), we are excited to offer this thorough and detailed courseMary Gillen. Tricia is the office manager for a law firm in the San Francisco Bay area and she also provides home and business inventories and appraisal services. Mary is a web developer, professional writer, teaches online marketing, and provides the information for the Marketing Minute in each of the NICA newsletters. We thank them both for their contribution to our association as they share their expertise in marketing and sales.

Here is what is included in this course:

Marketing and Sales

As a small business owner, you wear many hats. Marketing your inventory business sometimes takes a back seat, as there are only 24 hours in the day. One of the biggest challenges you experience is knowing how to efficiently market and sell your services so your business can grow. Do you want to discover how to attract more customers and sales? Are you already trying to market your business but are still not seeing results that meet your goals?

Time to learn something new.

Knowing the difference between marketing and sales is the first step towards developing a professional marketing plan that can help you generate new business or more business from the customers you already have. Understanding your prospect’s “pain points” and how you can help them solve their problems become the foundation of your marketing messages. Taking this a step further, you need to learn how to develop strategies for pricing, sales, and service, based on your ideal customer. To be successful in this online age, you also need to know how to research the keyword terms that prospects and customers use to find your services in the major search engines. By incorporating those terms into a professionally-designed responsive website, you can help prospects discover your services in your local area so you can generate new leads. You will also need to turn those leads into paying customers. To build on your success, you’ll also need to know how to develop and nurture a referral network based on your satisfied customers.

Module One – Introduction
1. The difference between marketing and sales
2. Why do people buy? Discover your customer pain points.
3. Who is your ideal client?
4. How to create your ideal customer profile

Module Two – How to Create a Marketing Plan
1. What info is included in a marketing/sales plan?
– Target Market/Market Research
– Positioning Statement
– Offering to Customers
– Price Strategy
– Sales Strategy
– Service Strategy
– Promotion Strategy
2. Sample marketing plan

Module Three – Building Your Online Marketing/Sales Digital Framework
1. Conducting keyword research
2. Creating a website that works
3. Setting up social media accounts that are best for promoting professional services
4. Best ways to generate leads
5. How to turn leads into paying customers

Module Four – Building a Referral Network
1. The importance of educating new prospects
2. The professionals you should network with for consistent referrals
3. How to ask for referrals

You can purchase this course – along with all the other courses available – on the Professional Development Page, where all courses are listed alphabetically.

26 Sep 2019

Marketing Minute – Expand Your Contacts List

Marketing Minute – Expand Your Contacts List

This Marketing Minute is provided by Associate Member Mary GillenMary Gillen

Growing your list of contacts, meeting new people, and reconnecting with those you’ve lost touch with are ways to increase your list of potential clients. When you go shopping, attend social functions and parties, and any time you have the opportunity, grab the chance to meet someone new.

Use Meetup.com to Make New Prospect Connections

If you want to connect with new prospects, you need to take an interest in what interests them.
Check out Meetup.com, which is the world’s largest network of local groups. Through Meetup, you can organize a local group or find one of the thousands already meeting up face-to-face. Because of Meetup, over 130,729 groups get together in local communities each day.

Always Talk to Strangers

Always make an effort to chat with or sit next to someone you don’t know at a networking function, chamber luncheon, party, etc. With prospecting, it’s “who you don’t know” that counts.

Drum Up the Alum

If you attended a big university and you’re currently living near a large metropolitan area, there is a good chance that there’s an alumni association in your midst. Check with your university for an alumni directory that can help with local prospecting. Also, contact a few of your fellow grads who are living in your area to see if local alumni meetings are held. If not, consider starting one yourself!

19 Sep 2019

Georgia Home Inventory Professional Achieves Industry Certification

The National Inventory Certification Association congratulates member Trace Sargent for achieving the Certified Inventory Specialist designation.

PRESS RELEASE — The National Inventory Certification Association (NICA) is pleased to announce that Tracy “Trace” Sargent, president of Ryker Enterprises, has recently earned the designation of Certified Inventory Specialist (CIS). Achieving this designation confirms she has gained knowledge to provide professional residential and small business contents inventory services.

To earn the CIS designation, Trace successfully completed 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 Trace has gone the extra mile to ensure that she provides quality inventory services for homeowners, renters, and business owners.

The home inventory services that Ryker Enterprises provide fit in nicely with her vast background that includes 20 years in security, law enforcement, training, and executive protection detail, and 12 years of experience with Homeland Security. With the focus of helping others during her extensive professional career, meeting the many needs for a home or business contents inventory is a great fit.

Based in Cedartown, Georgia, Trace offers residential and business asset inventory services in Georgia and Alabama.

29 Aug 2019

The U.S. ShakeOut

The U.S. ShakeOut

As home inventory professionals, we are all aware of natural disasters. Providing awareness of these disasters helps to emphasize the need for a contents inventory, as those affected will need to attempt to recover from their losses.

Every Fall, there is a ShakeOut Drill to provide information regarding safety when an earthquake happens. The U.S. ShakeOut Drill is scheduled to occur on October 17, 2019 at 10:17a.m. There are over 16 Million participants registered for the ShakeOut 2019 Drills worldwide. Wherever you are at that exact time (home, work, etc.), you are encouraged to Drop, Cover, and Hold On. This is to simulate your actions if there were a major earthquake. Stay in this position for at least 60 seconds.


The main goal of the ShakeOut is to get everyone prepared for major earthquakes by knowing how to prepare, protect, and recover. Anyone can participate, from a single individual at home to a major corporation. If you want to participate, you can register here. There is no charge.

To share this information, as well as to promote your inventory services, use your personal or business social media accounts to spread the word on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media platforms, using the hashtag #ShakeOut!  Follow and share their posts:

Click here for additional information regarding the ShakeOut.

14 Aug 2019

Tips for a Successful Newsletter

This Marketing Minute is provided by NICA Associate Member Mary GillenMary Gillen

Following up on the great suggestions from our members (in the article above) to promote your inventory business, this month’s Marketing Minute from Mary Gillen gives some great advice to create a successful email newsletter – a key item many use to market their home and business inventory services.

Use Responsive HTML for Your Email Templates

Is your email newsletter mobile-friendly? Be sure to use a template that is “responsive design.” This means that your email template will serve easily across a wide range of devices: desktops, laptops, tablets, and mobile phones.

Keep Your Email Newsletter Layout to One Column for Mobile Viewing

More and more folks are using their smartphones to view and respond to email. To accommodate mobile viewers, a single column layout for your newsletter works best. Layout column width: a range between 320 pixels (vertical viewing) and 550 pixels (horizontal viewing).

Include Social Media Icons in Your Email Newsletter

You will gain more traffic when you include email and social media sharing buttons within your email newsletter. This reminds readers to share your content via email and the social media platforms you use.

Always Include a Link to the Web Version of Your Newsletter

Provide a link at the top of your email newsletter to the HTML version that is archived on your server, or the server of your email service provider. It will be easy for subscribers to click through to read your content in case they cannot read the email version.

Be Sure to Use Different Email Subject Headers

Are you using the exact same subject header for each newsletter you mail out? Not a good idea. This can decrease open rates. Be sure to use different subject headers for each issue. Also, research has shown that using numbers in your headers can help your newsletter get opened.

31 Jul 2019

Ideas To Promote Your Inventory Services

Light BulbWe asked some seasoned NICA members to share the most successful ideas and actions they take to promote their inventory services and gain new clients. They offered great tips for those who have been in business for a while and looking for a new approach.

This list of online and in-person marketing ideas also provides excellent suggestions for new inventory professionals to follow to achieve success!

Below are their responses. We appreciate their contribution!

  • Strong website presence with keywords
  • Monthly Newsletters
  • Being active and consistent on social media
  • Speaking engagements
  • Networking with local Chambers of Commerce and other networking organizations
  • Network/build relationships with estate attorneys, insurance agents, realtors, financial planners, and fiduciaries
  • Sponsorships
  • Print advertising to develop name recognition
  • Placed an ad in church bulletins
  • Consistent messaging of professionalism, experience, and knowledge to build a reputation as an expert 
  • Promote NICA Membership and Certification(s) for credibility and recognition
  • Promote the variety of specialty services (collections inventory, loss inventory, appraisal examiner, etc.) to help appeal to specific needs


17 Jul 2019

Marketing Minute: You Set Up A LinkedIn Account. Now What?

Mary GillenCreating a LinkedIn profile is a great beginning. However, once you’ve completed it, what’s next? How do people find you? How do you find people you want to meet?

The text under your name on your LinkedIn profile is called your professional headline. To ensure that people can find you, be sure to include keywords and phrases in this headline that they will use to discover you. Also, be an approachable professional. Write your summary in the first person.

LinkedIn’s search engine indexes the phrases in your Profile’s Interests Section. Be sure to add the known phrases that prospects or professionals would use to search for your services on LinkedIn.

In addition to your personal profile, create a LinkedIn Company Page. This is a great way to promote your business, detail and itemize your services, and provide contact information.

This Marketing Minute is provided by Mary Gillen who has 24 years of Web development experience to build responsive, accessible websites for tech companies, associations, non-profits, and small businesses, blending professional design with measurable business results. I am also an experienced Website Accessibility Compliance Auditor, providing website testing & remediation for compliance with ADA, Section 508 and WCAG 2.1 A, AA & AAA Guidelines. https://accessiblewebsiteservices.com/

02 Jul 2019

Structure Inventory Course Released

continuing education creditsOur newest course, Structure Inventory, has been developed and now available for members and non-members.

This is the 2nd-most requested topic for 2019’s course development. During a home or business contents inventory project, you might be asked about carpet, flooring, built-in bookcases, attached fixtures, etc. These items are typically not included in a personal property inventory report because they are considered part of the building.

There are times, though, when one needs to have documentation of a commercial or residential building and its fixtures – sometimes as a stand-alone service and other times in addition to a contents inventory. These structure reports detail the condition of the building interior and exterior, as well as additional buildings on the property, along with other structures such as walls and fences. This service is called a Structure Inventory.

In this course, you will receive guidance on how to develop, conduct, and market structure inventory services. Successful completion of Structure Inventory will provide you with 3 Continuing Education Units (CEUs) for those working on achieving their CIS or for those renewing their certification.

Following are the modules and topics included in this course.

Module 1 – Introduction to Structure Inventory Services

  • What is a Structure Inventory?
  • Purposes of a Structure Inventory
  • Structure Inventory Report
  • Insurance

Module 2 – Preparing for and Conducting the Inventory

  • Preparations Prior to the Visit
  • Inventory Equipment – Materials and Tools
  • The Inventory Process
  • Storage and Updates

Module 3 – Marketing Your Structure Inventory Services

  • Marketing Your Services
  • Business Affiliations
  • Pricing Strategies

Click here to purchase this course.

13 Jun 2019

Marketing Minute – Search Engine Optimization

This Marketing Minute is provided by Associate Member Mary Gillen, who is an expert in SEO, marketing, responsive websites, and ADA compliant websites.

Whether your website was built years ago or is fairly new, it’s a good idea to periodically review the keywords you’re using and evaluate whether you should add new words or edit them.

Trends change, and using the proper keywords will help keep your website an easy site to be found when people are searching for your home inventory service. Following are some tips to help you with Search Engine Optimization for your website.

Conduct keyword research

Determine the words and phrases your potential clients use when searching for your service. Once you find the keywords, build a master list of them to be used in your online marketing. Following are three websites that provide keyword tools:

Wordtracker: https://www.wordtracker.com
Ubersuggest: https://ubersuggest.org
Google Keywords: https://adwords.google.com/select/KeywordToolExternal

When using Google’s Keyword Tool, select “Exact” as the Match Type on the keyword results page. This will filter your results so you have a more concise list.

Search for “long tail” keyword phrases

“Long tail” keyword phrases contain between three to five words. Use a keyword tool (listed above) to find these keyword phrases for the services you offer (i.e., specific to home inventory, collections inventory, loss inventory, appraisals, etc.). Create and download a list (either as a text or Excel file) of these long tail phrases. Be sure to incorporate these phrases in your website and blog content

Add Facebook “Like” buttons to your website and blog pages

As far as the major search engines are concerned, the Facebook Like button acts like a trusted referral. Facebook Likes act as a “link-back” to your Website or blog content, and you receive search engine ranking credit as a result.

Use responsive web design for Google SEO

Smartphone use for business grows every day. How does this affect your site’s search engine optimization? Google recommends marketers use responsive web design, which is the process of serving the same HTML code for all devices (laptops, tablets, smartphones) and using different CSS stylesheets to serve up the correct content formatting for each device (so your website will respond – expand or contract – according to the size of the devise screen). This ensures that all devices are working off the same set of URLs with no content duplication…something that Google likes a bunch. Find out more about responsive Web design by contacting Mary Gillen.