Note: For help with sales, visit http://www.nachi.org/convert.htm
Marketing to Professional Marketers
Real estate agents are more influenced by marketing than the general public is. Agents often canít tell a good inspector from a bad one. Many agents donít even know what a joist is. However, agents do recognize strong marketing because theyíre in the marketing business! Because agents are so influenced by marketing, the quality of your home inspection brochure has to be much better than what would be required for other industries. Visit http://www.nachi.org/success_tips.htm for more information.
I am the quality home inspector you want to hire.
Your headlines are often all that are read. If you can say the same thing using fewer wordsÖ do it. The reader is scanning your brochure, so your headlines should read like that of news story. Brochures are nothing more than garbage on the way to the trash can. Your job is to get a message delivered on the way to the trash, so keep your headlines short. If you must break (continue onto a second line) a long headline so it fits on a tri-fold brochure, try to find a natural break, with the second line being longer than the first, if possible, but breaking at the natural pause takes precedence.
Another mistake is to put a period at the end of headlines. Periods stop the reader from going further, which is why newspapers donít use them at the end of headlines.
Words That Sell
The overall impression your brochure conveys is more important than the actual information. There are certain words that sell inspection services:
A picture of you is a must. Visit http://www.nachi.org/promise.htm. You are not selling a productÖ you are selling yourself. You are the product.
You canít judge a book by its cover, but many readers do, so reconsider using your picture if you:
Make sure each picture earns its keep. A picture of a house within a home inspection brochure is a waste of prime advertising space. Each picture should help sell your service. Perhaps the picture could be of you using a specialized meter. Sell yourself. You cannot bore people into hiring you. See http://www.nachi.org/images.htm
Avoid cartoons. Cartoon graphics do not present a professional image. No Sherlock Holmes characters looking at a house with a magnifying glass. Would a professional engineer use cartoons? And donít make up clever plays on words. Strike the right tone.
Make sure every picture or illustration has a caption below it. Each caption must be an ad within itself. If you include a picture or illustration of your report, donít have the caption read: ďOur reporting system.Ē Instead have it read:
ďDetailed yet easy-to-read report!Ē
Each caption must promise the reader a benefit. Also, a picture of a sample report is smart. Ads for cooking ingredients always show a picture of the finished dish.
Add a few quotes from satisfied agents and clients. The use of short references works, but you should always get permission first.
ďABC Inspections did a great job, finding defects even the seller was unaware of. I highly recommend ABC Inspections.Ē
~~Mrs. Jane Smith
Donít include anonymous quotesÖthey must include a full name and city. Only credible testimonials work.
Donít preach to the choir.
Including Reasons to Have a Home Inspection is a waste of prime advertising space. Anyone reading a home inspection brochure is past the stage where they need to be sold on having an inspection. Donít waste your time and advertising budget on helping the entire home inspection industry. Instead of telling the reader why they should want a home inspection in general, tell them why they should want your home inspection service.
Make them want YOU.
Make your list of qualifications as long as possible. Your list of qualifications can be broadened to include information such as your reporting system and schedule availability. Each qualification you have can be broken up and expanded. For instance, instead of stating merely that you are a member of the National Association of Certified Home Inspectors, state something like this:
- I am a member in good standing of the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors (InterNACHI).
- I have passed InterNACHIís Online Inspector Examination.
- I have completed InterNACHIís Code of Ethics Obstacle course.
- I have taken InterNACHIís Standards of Practice Quiz.
- I abide by InterNACHIís Code of Ethics.
- I follow InterNACHIís Standards of Practice.
- I have completed InterNACHI's Safe Practices for the Home Inspector course.
- I have completed InterNACHI's 25 Standards Every Inspector Should Know course.
- I have completed InterNACHI's Residential Plumbing Inspection course.
- I have completed InterNACHI's Residential Electrical Inspection course.
- I have completed InterNACHI's Roofing Inspection course.
- I have completed InterNACHI's HVAC Inspection course.
- I have completed InterNACHI's Exterior Inspection course.
- I have completed InterNACHI's Attic, Insulation, Ventilation and Interior Inspection course.
- I have completed InterNACHI's Deck Inspection course.
- I have completed InterNACHI's Moisture Intrusion Inspection course.
- I have completed InterNACHI's Green Building course.
- I have completed InterNACHI's Wood-Destroying Organism Inspection course.
- I have completed InterNACHI's Mold Inspection course.
- I have completed InterNACHI's Inspecting Foundation Walls and Piers course.
- I have completed InterNACHI's Log Home Inspection course.
- I have completed InterNACHI's Radon Measurement Service Provider course.
- I have completed InterNACHI's Commercial Inspection course.
- I have completed InterNACHI's Septic System Inspection course.
- I have completed InterNACHI's How to Perform Energy Audits course.
- I fulfill 24 hours of Continuing Education every year.
- I own and use high-tech equipment, such as a gas leak detector and Infrared Camera.
- I am available Saturdays.
- I generate easy-to-read inspection reports.
Deliver the message: I am the quality home inspector you want to hire.
Full is cool.
Avoid using the header: What our basic inspection covers. It sounds like an insurance disclaimer. Instead, use: Our full inspections include...
If the list of what your full inspections include is long enough, and few people will read it completely, so make it really long! Rather than listing seven or eight sections of what your inspections include, such as Roof, Foundation, etc., make a longer list. The reader will see the list in entirety without actually reading it word for word. A long list makes it appear that you inspect more. Here is a sample list:
Our Full Inspections include:
- roof, vents, flashing and trim;
- gutters and downspouts;
- skylight, chimney, and other roof penetrations;
- decks, stoops, porches, walkways and railings;
- eaves, soffit and fascia;
- grading and drainage;
- basement, foundation and crawlspace;
- water penetration and foundation movement;
- heating system;
- cooling system;
- main water shut-off valves;
- water heating system;
- interior plumbing fixtures and faucets;
- drainage sump pump with accessible float;
- electrical service line and meter box;
- main disconnect and service amperage;
- electrical panels, breakers and fuses;
- grounding and bonding;
- GFCIs and AFCIs;
- fireplace damper door and hearth;
- insulation and ventilation;
- garage doors, safety sensors and openers;
- and much more!
Review our Standards of Practice at www.nachi.org/sop.htm for complete details.
White space is a tool to use sparingly. Make related item lists compact. Then use white/blank space around them to clarify related items. Be consistent with the spacing and margins throughout the brochure, but donít overdo it. Give your readers enough information to hire you. Direct-mail advertisers use long body copy because it works (and they know it). Your Qualifications list and your Inspected Items list can literally run right off the bottom of the brochure, as if you didnít have enough room to list them all.
My favorite warranty:
If you are not completely satisfied at the end of the inspection, you donít have to pay me.
Do tout E&O insurance if you carry it. E&O insurance is expensive; so try to offset this expense by exploiting it for marketing purposes. If you carry E&O insurance, let everyone know.
The following is something you could add to the inside of your brochure (preferably on the right-hand side). It is a promise. Include a head shot of yourself looking straight into the camera, positioned above the promise. Also, add your signature on a slight angle below it. Few will actually read the promise word for word, but the message will be conveyed nonetheless.
My Promise to You
Choosing the right home inspector can be difficult. Unlike most professionals, you probably will not get to meet me until after you hire me. Furthermore, different inspectors have varying qualifications, equipment, experience, reporting methods, and, yes, different pricing. One thing for sure is that a home inspection requires work -- a lot of work. Ultimately, a thorough inspection depends heavily on the individual inspectorís own effort. If you honor me by permitting me to inspect your new home, I guarantee that I will give you my very best effort. This I promise you.
To see My Promise in use, visit http://www.nachi.org/promise.htm
Use logos demonstrating third-party certification or qualification if youíve earned them. They should go on the back of your brochure.
Certified. The word Certified creates the most positive response from the general public, which is why you should write out the words Member of the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors, not just the acronym InterNACHI. Various InterNACHI logos are available for member-use at http://www.nachi.org/logos.htm
Licensed. The word Licensed, along with your state license number (Texas for example: TREC# 12345), should be included, and its inclusion may, in fact, be required in some states. However, consumers give you little credit for being licensed, as they know licensing is a bare minimum standard and they assume that you are operating legally, even in states without licensing.
Society. Anything with the word Society in it should be avoided, as studies have shown that the general public equates a society with a social club, not a professional trade organization.Training Institute. Unfortunately, the schools or training institutes you attended can work against you a bit. Schooling is sometimes associated with being a novice. Use only their logo (if permitted). Don't write out "graduated from..." Your Qualifications List (discussed above) is the better location for detailing your educational background.Move In Certified logo. Place this logo on the back of your brochure. http://www.moveincertified.comInfrared Certified logo. Use this logo on your IR page if you are Infrared Certified. http://www.nachi.org/ir.htmFirst-Time Home Buyer Friendly seal. Use this seal to attract first-time home buyers and their agents. http://www.nachi.org/first-time.htmIAC2 logo. Use these logos if you are a member of IAC2. http://www.iac2.org/logo.php Membership in IAC2 is free.
Your contact information should be one local phone number and one professional email address. Visit http://www.nachi.org/membersemail.htm for a free professional email address from InterNACHI. Avoid toll- free numbers. Customers will nearly always choose the local inspector with the local area code. Customers want to talk to the actual inspector. A toll-free number implies an impersonal, non-local, corporation who will send someone out. A few very cheap customers dial toll-free numbers first to save a few pennies when buying a home. Let your competitors have those customers. Avoid filler words like Call Today! Every unnecessary thing you include diminishes the important points you are trying to convey. And put your contact information at the bottom of your brochure. Readers will first look for the phone number near the bottom.
Company Name Placement
Put your company name up at the top of the front of the brochure, not the bottom. Brochure display holders often hide company names when they are placed on the bottom. Many inspectors do business under their personal names. If you are going to incorporate, or if you are having trouble thinking of a company name, visit http://www.nachi.org/namesearch.htm.
Nothing says Quality louder...
If your pricing is much higher than your competitors, flaunt it. High pricing is the sure-fire way to convince a customer that you are one of the best. Americans believe that you get what you pay for. If your brochure is making the contention that you are the best home inspector in town, your pricing has to support this contention. Charging too little contradicts this claim. Read http://www.nachi.org/convert.htm.
Avoid complicated or ambiguous pricing formulas. Example: ďBase price + $1 for every $1,000 in home price over $250,000, additional fees and Saturday/mileage surcharge applies, call for quote.Ē Instead, keep your price structure straightforward and respectably high.
Help them read.
People are accustomed to reading in lower case. Using all capital letters is a mistake in that it makes it harder for the reader to recognize the words. All caps tend to be read letter-by-letter. Look how difficult it is to read the all-caps version of InterNACHIís slogan:
INSPECTED ONCE, INSPECTED RIGHT,
as opposed to:
Inspected once, inspected right.
Avoid using many different fonts. It diminishes the continuity of your brochure. Stick to two fonts, one for headlines and one for the body text. "Impact" fonts are best reserved for headings. Impacts command attention, and they help the reader determine what is important. Choose a serif font for the body text. Serifs exist for a purpose: they help the readerís eye pick up the shape of the letter. Bolding or italicizing do not necessarily count as separate fonts. However, only use them to add emphasis and clarity. And never use comic fontsÖyou are a professional, not an entertainer.
Check your spelling and grammar. By the way, piece of mind is spelled peace of mind, and your automatic spellchecker wonít catch that one!
Size your brochure to fit in a #10 envelope. You will want to be able to mail it and encourage others to mail it, so make sure it fits in a standard business envelope. Besides, most brochure display holders are this size.
Use heavy cardstock. Brochures printed on your home printer using 20-lb. paper look cheap and flop over in a display holder. Cardstock is not expensive. Gloss paper with bold colors creates an upscale image. Plain copier paper creates a poor image.
Avoid light-colored ink. It's simply hard to read. When a real estate agent learns a buyerís offer has been accepted, the buyer is usually at work. Under time constraints, an agent will often copy several home inspection brochures and fax them to his client so that the client can schedule the home inspection. Light- colored ink is difficult to copy and fax. If your brochure has light-colored ink, try test-copying and faxing it to yourself to make sure it comes through. Also, avoid reverse copy (white text on a dark color).
If you are having your brochures printed professionally, make sure that, upon final payment, all film, color separations, art work, etc., become your property. This leaves you free to switch printing companies and keeps you from becoming a captive customer.
Use it or lose it.
A home inspection brochure should be:
If you are planning on printing only 1,000 copies of your brochure, you are planning to fail.
More Than One Weapon
Consider having a separate brochure for every target audience. Target specific brochures to:
Remember, your brochure is not likely to be read by the general public. Rather, it is intended for a targeted clientele. Also, if you do create more than one version of your brochure, keep them all somewhat consistent-looking.