April is National Home Inventory Month: Find out more
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.

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/

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.

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.”

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.

05 Aug 2021

The Value of Blogging

Blog TilesBlogs serve many purposes. The number one reason people in our industry blog is to market their services. Being able to educate your readers is a perfect way to gain business. Once people learn the need for an inventory – and the various reasons they would need or want one – many will choose to hire an inventory professional. Of course, they will most likely hire the one who writes the blog they read that is full of helpful information.

NICA encourages you to begin a blog of your own. Our Introduction to Blogging course will help you get started with the planning process and learn some great tips on how to market it. It’s best not to rush into this commitment, but the course will give you plenty of topics to think about and consider.

Writing a blog will help to educate your readers, share information with other inventory professionals, and even include blog articles from local referral sources (who might also include some of your posts in his or her blogs). The bottom line, you will gain recognition which will help grow your business.

The 2nd of 3 blogging courses is in the works now and should be released by early fall. The 2nd course delves deep into how to create content, where to find it, and how to market your blog. The 3rd course will be more technical, teaching you how to create your own – on your own. If you already know that you’d rather have a professional set it up for you, Associate Member Mary Gillen is exceptional in all things technical and we highly recommend a conversation with her before you begin. 

Get started now – if only to learn about blogging and if it’s for you – by taking the Introduction to Blogging course. As a plus, you’ll receive 2 CEUs towards your CIS renewal.

08 Jul 2021

Marketing Minute – Writing Emotional Headlines

This Marketing Minute is provided by Associate Member Mary GillenMary Gillen

The purpose of a headline is to draw the reader’s attention. It is short with the intent to grab their interest so they want to read what follows.

Do your blog articles – and even your Facebook posts and Twitter tweets – use emotion to motivate? Here are some examples that other professionals used, and ideas to get you started for your next writings.

Using emotion (sadness, fear, joy, etc.) is a great strategy to gain attention and also to increase your click-through rates.

Dentist: “We Love Cowards!”
Orthodontist: “Don’t Worry! No Down Payment for Braces!”
Addiction Treatment Center: “Want to Stop? Start By Calling Us”
Hearing Aid Center: “We Listen…So You Can Hear”

And suggestions for our industry:

“Don’t Lose It! We’ve Got You Covered!”
“We Do the Tedious Work So You Don’t Have To!”
“Sirens Screaming! Flashing Lights! Be Prepared for the Worst.”
“The Feeling is ‘Relief’ When You Have a Home Inventory.”

10 Jun 2021

Marketing Minute – Copywriting Tips

This Marketing Minute is provided by Associate Member Mary GillenMary Gillen

How to Handle Long Headlines

If you have a long headline, you can make it easier for the reader to understand your message by setting 50% of the words in a larger font.

EXAMPLES:

  • The Secret of HOW TO BE THINNER
  • ORGANIC FOOD: Now Is The Time To Buy It
  • 17 Marketing Ideas To GROW YOUR BUSINESS

In the body of your copy, you will often have links to sources, other articles, your website, etc. You don’t want too many words in your links, so…

Keep your links short

The easiest way to keep your links short is to delete unnecessary words

TOO MANY WORDS:

Click on these links to find out about Acme Associates’ hours, to get directions to Acme Associates’ office, or to see the Acme Associates contact list.

EASIER TO COMPREHEND:

Visit Acme Associates
Hours
Directions
Contact List

These two tips will draw more attention to your articles and also encourage people to click on your links.