April is National Home Inventory Month: Find out more
21 Jul 2022

Marketing Minute – A Call To Action

This Marketing Minute is provided by Associate Member Mary Gillen

We all know that a call-to-action encourages people to “do something” after reading your marketing message. 

As with everything else in marketing, there are some great words of wisdom to guide you when promoting your home inventory business. These from Mary Gillen speak directly to your initiatives when wanting to use a call-to-action.

Use Only One Call-to-Action Button Per Web Page

Want your visitors to really notice a call-to-action button on your Web page? Here are some tips:

1) Only use one call-to-action button per Web page. Too many messages overwhelm, confuse and distract the user.
2) Place the call-to-action button “above the fold” so the visitor does not need to scroll to see it.

Thank You Page Marketing

A visitor fills out a contact form on your Web site and clicks the submit button. He/she is then re-directed to a new screen that contains a “thank you” message.

Make the most of this precious Web site real estate by placing additional call-to-action messages on this page.

Don’t waste this opportunity to direct your prospect to other pages or offers on your site.

06 Jul 2022

Lazy, Hazy, Crazy Days

There is an old song that was released in 1963 that honors the warm months of the year, singing about the lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer. It’s a time when many people slow down and enjoy the sunshine, take leisurely walks, enjoy a trip to the dairy bar, and so much more.

This is also a great time to promote your inventory service. Marketing now can catch those who are either ready for a cleaning-out of the garage and/or attic while they have more time – or preparing for fall when the hot weather is over for another year. Either way, here are some suggestions for social media posts to garner interest:

  • When it comes to financial planning, don’t forget about the contents of your home and any offsite storage you’re using. A home inventory will help you know the value of your assets.
  • Let me know if you need any help getting your home inventory done this summer. Even if you want to DIY, I’m happy to share tips and resources with you.
  • Knowing what items you have in storage and making sure those items are adequately insured are perfect reasons for a home inventory.
  • Out of sight, out of mind isn’t a good idea when it comes to items in your off-site storage unit. Theft, fire, and other damage happen at storage facilities, too. #HomeInventory
  • Having a garage sale? After that is completed, it is a great time to get your #HomeInventory done or updated, removing items you no longer own.
  • Are you properly insured? Do you have enough coverage? Are you paying for too much coverage? Your #HomeInventory will help your insurer know if you have the right amount of coverage.
09 Jun 2022

Marketing Minute – Website Optimizer

This Marketing Minute is provided by Associate Member Mary GillenMary Gillen

At some members’ request, we have created 3 courses to help you develop a successful blog. Today’s Marketing Minute, Use Google’s Website Optimizer to Test Your Content for Better Conversions, will help you optimize your new blog site.

Google’s Website Optimizer is a free tool that allows you to experiment and test different versions of your Web site’s content to discover which combination results in the highest number of conversions (proportion of traffic that converts into sales/leads).

Have a look at the Beginners Guide at
>> http://www.google.com/intl/en/websiteoptimizer/analytics

NOTE: You must sign in to your Google account in order to use the Website Optimizer.

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.

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.

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.

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.


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

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.

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.”