April is National Home Inventory Month: Find out more
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.

30 May 2019

Structure Inventory Course To Be Released In June

NHIM LogoA survey was distributed late last year that asked for input regarding new topics for our Continuing Education Curriculum. In response to members’ interest, a new course is being created and near completion. The soon-to-be-released course is Structure Inventory.

Home inventory professionals are known for documenting the contents of a home or business. Often during an inventory project, discussions with the client turn to carpet, flooring, built-in bookcases, and attached fixtures. These items typically are not included in a personal property inventory because they are, by definition, part of the structure.

There are times, however, when one needs to have detailed documentation of a commercial or residential building and its fixtures. This is called a Structure Inventory. These reports detail the condition of the building interior and exterior, often in preparation for leasing a commercial building, renting an apartment or house, or for vacation rental property, to name a few.

Watch for the course outline and further information about this course in late June.

08 May 2019

Finding New Referral Sources

Mary Gillen

In an effort to grow your home inventory business, you are most likely seeking many ways to locate new professionals who can end up being great referral sources.

Prospecting Directories Are All Over Town

How many times have you walked into a building to meet with a new prospect and totally ignored the building directory in the lobby? Make it a point to check out the directory after your meeting and write down the names of the other tenant companies. Going to drop a last-minute package at FedEx? Have a doctor’s appointment? Have a working dinner meeting for one of your Chamber of Commerce committees? There may be more business under that one roof than you think.

Trade Shows: How to Easily Gather Prospect Email Addresses

Getting folks to sign up for your email mailing list from your busy trade show booth can be a challenge. Here are a couple of options to make it easier on everyone.

1) Have folks send you a text message with their email address from their mobile phones as a request to subscribe. You can add this information to your list after the show.

2) Create a subscription form on your Web site, a page no wider than 400 pixels so it can easily be viewed on a mobile phone. Prospects with “smart” phones (i.e., Web access capability via their cellphones) who visit your booth can complete the sign-up process right away, filling out the subscription form from their mobile. This can save you a ton of work after the show.

Join LinkedIn Groups

Who are your prospects, and where do they hang out on LinkedIn? Spend your time wisely on LinkedIn by participating in Groups where your prospects spend time. Where can you find them? Go to the search bar at the top of your home page and search for prospect Groups.

Example: If your inventory business is located in New York, and one of your prospect groups is insurance agents, search for insurance agents groups New York in the Search Box. Search results give you the options to View or Join a Group. View means that the group is open to everyone. Join means your profile will be reviewed before you are allowed to join the Group.

Use SocialMention.com to “Listen” to Prospect Conversations on Social Media

Looking for new prospects via social media? Try SocialMention.com >> http://socialmention.com. It allows you to track and measure what people are saying about products, services, or any topic across the web’s social media landscape in real-time. Social Mention monitors 100+ social media properties directly including Twitter, Facebook, blogs, YouTube, Google and more.

The author of this article is Mary Gillen, an Associate Member of NICA. If your website isn’t getting the traffic you expect, Mary can optimize it correctly so search engine robots can efficiently index your site content. She is also highly skilled in creating a new or updating your current website so it is accessible and will meet all ADA requirements. https://accessiblewebsiteservices.com/

 

24 Apr 2019

The Goal: A Professional Insurance Discussion

Since this is National Home Inventory Month, we thought a recap of the course Insurance Knowledge for the Inventory Professional would be timely and prove of great value.

The ultimate goal of an inventory professional is to provide and deliver asset documentation for your clients. Knowledge of insurance is important so you can have a basic discussion of the areas of insurance that relate to home and business inventories. Essential information includes claim scenarios and statistics surrounding recent wildfires, floods, and hurricanes in the United States. You will also be able to help your client locate the area of their homeowner policy requiring them to provide an inventory in the event of a filed claim.

The course is delivered in 3 modules:

Module 1: Insurance Coverages and Terms

  • Disclaimer
  • Choosing An Insurance Agent
  • Homeowner’s Insurance Policy Coverages
  • Special Policy Limits
  • Insurance Terms and Definitions

Module 2: Insurance Claims

  • Statistics
  • Scenarios
  • The Process
  • The Inventory Requirement

Module 3: How to Market to the Insurance Industry

  • When Is The Best Time?
  • Relevant Marketing Strategies

In addition to becoming more informed about basic property insurance concepts and understanding the claims process, this course provides tips to effectively market your inventory services to the insurance industry.

03 Apr 2019

Referrals Are Key To Growing Your Business

Mary Gillen

Referrals are key to growing any business and especially important for home inventory service providers.

It Just Takes a Phone Call

A local dentist has built his successful practice one simple way… the follow-up phone call. He spends one hour of his busy day personally calling patients who were treated the day before to ask how they are feeling. This consistent calling campaign has brought him more referrals than any other marketing method.

You can use this same idea by calling your clients shortly after completion of the inventory project to verify that they were pleased with the results. (This phone call also gives you another opportunity to ask for referrals.)

Repeat Referrals

Looking for referral business? Make sure that the Insurance Agents, Financial Planners, Attorneys, and other business professionals in your local area know that your business exists. They can be a major source of referral business, as they are important influencers on how their clients spend money and conduct business. These types of professional referrals can provide you with a consistent flow of qualified business.

Are you ready for an upgraded website? Maybe a completely new one? Mary Gillen will create YOUR site to represent YOUR business. She is also an excellent writer so she can create professionally-written content as well. Content and web design by someone who knows our industry!

20 Mar 2019

Earn CEUs By Participating in National Home Inventory Month (NHIM)

CEU ApprovedWe feel strongly about the benefit of recognition through promoting NHIM. As an association, NICA’s purpose is to provide recognition of our industry and education for its members. Another benefit is that NICA and NHIM provide education for the general public and potential referral sources.

We believe that this month-long recognition and education, created through the efforts of our members, is worthy of assigning Continuing Education Units (CEUs) to those who participate. Our office received correspondence after last year’s inaugural event from members who promoted NHIM. Many stated that they learned quite a bit through educating others.

Last year each participant earned 1 CEU. Some suggested offering tiered CEUs which would reflect the efforts put forth. The number of CEUs to be awarded this year have been adjusted accordingly. There are 2 levels of CEUs that can be earned:

1 CEU will be earned by copy and pasting the provided social media posts on your accounts
3 CEUs will be earned for posting on social media, PLUS any 2 or more of the following:

  • Create branded social media posts (2 sources are Fiverr and Pablo)
  • Post a press release (template provided for members)
  • Promote NHIM when participating in a vendor fair
  • Detail NHIM during speaking engagements

When you submit your CEU form for recertification, all you will need to do is include the number of CEUs you earned and a link or photos attached to support your 1 or 3 CEUs.