by Nick Gromicko, CMI® and Kate Tarasenko
From a marketing standpoint, there is nothing like delivering the right message to the right prospect, at the right time. There is little sense in wasting money on advertising that reaches prospects who have no use for your products or services. To customize messages for your potential clients, you need to have information about them--information that you intentionally gather and store. This information can also be used to create loyal customer relationships, whether those clients are repeat customers or whether they refer you to other new customers.
As an example of how customer profiling works, it's been proven that online purchasing is enhanced when buyers are shown other choices similar to ones they've already made, or from vendors they've already purchased from, or even those whose sites they've simply browsed. These "recommendations," such as those shown while you're shopping on Amazon.com, or the scrolling ads that appear in your free email account window, are the result of mining stored data using cookies and analytics. But just because you may be a one-person operation doesn't mean that you can't do some of this valuable data-mining yourself, old-school.
Here are some examples of things you should consider trying to capture when “profiling” your inspection customers:
- The customer’s age
- Income level
- Education level
- Personality (i.e., Were they pleasant to interact with? Did they attend their inspection?)
- Is the customer a do-it-yourselfer?
- How long has the family been in the home?
- Personal interests and hobbies (as evidenced by items around the home)
- Do they have pets?
- Household size and composition
- Single parent with small children?
- Single parent with school-age children?
- Single parent with teenage children?
- Couple with small children?
- Couple with school-age children?
- Couple with teenage children?
- Couple with children living away from home?
- Extended family in the home (such as elderly parents/grandparents)?
- Any special-needs family members?
You should also compile data about the home itself, such as:
- The age of the home
- The size of the home
- The last sale price of the home (and last assessed taxes)
- Any outbuildings, such as garages or barns?
- Does the home have a swimming pool?
- What type of roof?
- What major repairs are evident?
- What upgrades have been made (and when) according to any permits that were required to be drawn? (This information is often available through the property's tax assessment records.)
Don't forget to track and update information having to do with your own interaction and transaction(s) with your clients, such as:
- Products and services you have previously sold them
- What did they buy?
- Reasons for buying?
- How often do they buy?
- How did they hear about you?
- Review site?
- Friends or family?
- Real estate professional?
- Trade show?
- Print ad?
- Products and services you have previously marketed to them
- How did they prefer to communicate with you?
- What were the results of the Client Satisfaction Survey you asked them to fill out the last time you worked for them?
You can gather all this information from a number of sources, including on the jobsite, from your own client paperwork, and from public records (such as those found in person or online through the county tax assessor's department, and other public sources). Each time you interact with your customer, his/her profile should evolve.
By entering this data into a basic spreadsheet program, you can not only keep track of client data in an organized way, but you can use certain information for occasional targeted campaigns that focus only on certain clients in certain areas or those having specific identifiers or demographics.
Here are some examples:
- New-construction homeowners who need 11th-month Warranty Inspections
- Elderly residents for Aging-in-Place Inspections
- Clients who have a green home or use passive solar techniques to hard-target for Home Energy Inspections
- Families with small children who should have their homes evaluated for specific safety issues (anti-tip brackets on large furniture and appliances, safety gates on pool fencing, deck/stair infill spacing, etc.)
You can take this a step further based on current events or trends, such as:
- Particular service areas where there may have been:
- Recent flooding
- A severe storm
- A new subdivision going up
- Utility upgrades in the area
If you send out monthly e-newsletters to your past clients, you can use some of this information to customize them for your subscribers. This personalized touch will make your marketing memorable.
It's not necessary (and not very smart time- or money-wise) to launch only single-note, generic advertising campaigns and then cross your fingers and hope they reach someone who needs what you're offering. These days, it's easier than you think to actually target clients who want your services.
There is a surprising amount of easy-to-access customer information that you can plug into your own marketing plan, and some of it you simply have to observe or ask for; the rest you can find online, and without paying for it, like the big dogs do. So, make the most of your marketing by customizing the right message to "hyper-target" the right customer at the right time.
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