As the end of summer nears, many of us are getting our children ready to return to school. Back to school brings many challenges for home inspectors (as well as our kids). Quite often, the real estate market slows down in response to the start of the fall semester, as families hunker down for the new school year and are often hesitant to relocate their children during a school year.
With my (amazingly talented) daughter entering her senior year of high school, we spent the last full week of her summer break driving around the country, touring colleges. She’s trying to decide where she’ll be attending school, and we visited several campuses to get a better feel of what it is they offer.
Seeing the different ways that each college decided to market their product to potential customers (students) got me thinking about how each of us chooses to market our inspection company to our clients. Just like these schools, each of us is offering a product that’s quite similar to our competition, and it can be difficult to differentiate ourselves from our competition.
Some schools chose to highlight their academics and the intelligence of their students. Other schools decided to emphasize their athletic departments and their tradition of winning championships in various sports. While other schools chose to focus on campus life, highlighting the feeling of community and social life that their school has to offer.
While there were certainly some similarities between the approaches of each school, each one did its best to appear unique. Each school approached their marketing from a different point of view, hoping to plant a seed in the minds of prospective students (and their parents) and giving them a chance to stand out from the competition.
Marketing our home inspection business can be just as difficult as trying to stand out in the crowded field of higher education. Just like these colleges, each of us is offering a product that’s remarkably similar to our competition.
When we really get down to it, there’s not a tremendous difference between home inspectors. Yes, some of us are a bit more thorough. Some of us may offer a few more services than others. And some of us may have a few more inspections under our belt. But we’re all offering a surprisingly similar product.
So, how do we go about planting that seed in the minds of our potential clients? How do we get them to realize that, unless they choose our company for their inspection, they’re making a grave mistake that can have far reaching negative implications on their future?
One word: marketing.
And how do we define marketing? Exactly what do we mean when we say our marketing is what moves our clients to decide to use us over all the other inspectors out there?
Marketing is all things you do to move your potential customer through the cycle of knowing, liking, trusting, buying, and hopefully recommending your product or services to others.Suzanne Brown
Everything we do in our business can (and should) be defined as marketing. The name of our company. The look of our website. The appearance of our brochures and business cards. The design of our logo and our uniforms. The vehicle we drive and how we use it to promote our business. The sound of our voicemail. (You did remember to set up your voicemail, right?) Our URL and our email address. The greeting we use when we answer the phone. The draft replies we use to respond to emails and texts. The signature line in our email messages. The ease of scheduling an inspection. The way we look when we get to the inspection. The way we interact with our clients. Our pre- and post-inspection messages. The way we explain our findings. How quickly we deliver the completed report. Whether or not we proofread our reports before we send them. The amount of detail we put into our reports. How easy it is to pay us and sign our paperwork. How quickly we follow up after the inspection. How user-friendly our report proves to be for everyone involved. How much content we produce. How often we post to social media and whether those posts provide any benefit to our clients. How much we’re involved in our industry and whether we’re viewed as a thought-leader. How we handle our personal life.
Anything and everything we do, whether related to our business or not, should be viewed as marketing. Everything we do has some effect on how our clients (and our potential clients) view us and our business.
It’s entirely up to us to decide how we’d like to be perceived by our customers. We can decide to play it safe, and simply do the same things that everyone else is doing. Or we can shoot for the stars, trying everything under the sun to convince prospective clients that we’re the one for them.
The clients are out there, trying to figure out where they’re going to spend their money. It’s up to us to convince them that we’re the right choice.
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