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  1. #1
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    Default Marketing in new economy

    For those willing to share, I was curious what you're doing today as far as marketing. Specifically I'd like to how you are marketing that has a very low out of pocket cost, but might take some time (aka elbow grease)

    Tuesday and today, I have been popping into banks offering draw inspection services and seeing if they have a list of preferred providers to offer those purchasing (borrowing for) a home.

    I drafted a small introductory letter with my services. I drive to the bank and ask for the mortgage lending officer.

    It gets my face and name out there, plus I get to meet a few people in the process. We'll see if it is worth the time.

    Anyone else willing to share?

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    Bruce Thompson, Lic. #9199
    www.TylerHomeInspector.com
    Home Inspections in the Tyler and East Texas area

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Marketing in new economy

    Keep in touch with past clients, whether it be by phone,, snail mail, or e-mail. You don't want them to forget about you.


  3. #3
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    Default Re: Marketing in new economy

    Get out and meet as many RE agents as you can, see if you can teach at any local home buyer seminars, and increase your web presence, blogging, change/update your website to increase traffic etc. Its a tough economy out...just make sure you are persistent.


  4. #4
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    Default Re: Marketing in new economy

    Quote Originally Posted by Randy King View Post
    Get out and meet as many RE agents as you can, see if you can teach at any local home buyer seminars, and increase your web presence, blogging, change/update your website to increase traffic etc. Its a tough economy out...just make sure you are persistent.
    Quote Originally Posted by Nick Ostrowski View Post
    Keep in touch with past clients, whether it be by phone,, snail mail, or e-mail. You don't want them to forget about you.
    I have been popping in at RE offices too. I have been blessed that in the past 3 yrs I really haven't had to do that. I did 2 presentations; one was not fruitful, the other was. Anyway, I'm not keen on putting my business cards in Realtor's boxes, but I've got to meet a few people in the process.

    I agree wholeheartedly with you Nick. This is something I've neglected. In the past I prepared a referral program, but was told by my state that I could not offer a $20 finder's fee to my previous clients. I disagreed since these people were actual clients, but was told that I could be fined $10K. The state of TX uses the National RE rules.

    Thanks for chipping in. I hope others can benefit from all of our efforts.

    Bruce

    Bruce Thompson, Lic. #9199
    www.TylerHomeInspector.com
    Home Inspections in the Tyler and East Texas area

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Marketing in new economy

    Easy, low cost, low return = email agents, mortgage brokers, banks, etc, etc.

    Time consuming, higher cost, better return (but, still pretty low) = direct mail the same group

    Website, yellow pages and other advertising = even higher cost, likely the best return but hard to justify the cost at times.

    Easy, no cost, high return = economy turning around and people actually buying houses again.

    Hang in there. There's no magic wand to wave to make it busy overnight. Really, anything you do marketing wise will work to some extent.


  6. #6
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    Default Re: Marketing in new economy

    Quote Originally Posted by Matt Fellman View Post
    Easy, low cost, low return = email agents, mortgage brokers, banks, etc, etc.

    Time consuming, higher cost, better return (but, still pretty low) = direct mail the same group

    Website, yellow pages and other advertising = even higher cost, likely the best return but hard to justify the cost at times.

    Easy, no cost, high return = economy turning around and people actually buying houses again.

    Hang in there. There's no magic wand to wave to make it busy overnight. Really, anything you do marketing wise will work to some extent.
    Exactly. Good advice up there. I'm just trying to get the word out especially for those who are struggling.

    Thanks

    Bruce Thompson, Lic. #9199
    www.TylerHomeInspector.com
    Home Inspections in the Tyler and East Texas area

  7. #7
    George Potter's Avatar
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    Default Re: Marketing in new economy

    I targeted agent sales meetings, but they were scheduled so far in advance, (4 to 6 months), and the office managers weren't really too interested in having yet another HI take up their agents' time.

    I also tried visiting RE offices, using the ploy of dropping off a candy dish with biz cards in it along with candy. That gave me an excuse to drop by each week and refill the candy (and cards, flyers, brochures) and have a little face time with whoever was in the office. All I ever seemed to get were fatter agents and little or no business. The agents were also busy doing other things and getting their attention during that time was a no-starter.

    I sponsored a breakfast at a RE agent training session, which gave me 10-15 minutes in front of any of those who attended the training. This is an office of 200+ agents working out of it, and a grand total of 7 people showed up. I'm out $100+ dollars for food that went to waste, and zero business generated.

    The best technique so far seems to be hitting the open houses on Saturday and Sunday, for a little one-on-one time with agents hosting the open house. They are usually sitting on their hands and any company seems welcomed, even if it is just a lowly home inspector. I'm seeing a little business from this, but I'm hopeful I'm sowing the seeds of future activity from them. We'll see.


  8. #8
    Ted Menelly's Avatar
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    Default Re: Marketing in new economy

    It is funny that this has come up.

    I have been doing a lot of research calling all over to find out exactly what is going on.

    I usually get most of my work from the INTERNET. As of the beginning of the year it seemed as if the world died and I was not sure what direction to take. When I first moved to Texas I did go to the Realtors offices and MLS meetings buying breakfast burritos and lunches from anywhere from 100 to five hundred dollars. I did not have much choice at the time because I knew know one and my website was not optimized for the area.

    The rate of return for investment getting a couple of minutes to talk to folks , well, quite literally sucked and sometimes humiliating at spending 500 to talk to folks and was lucky to get 5 minutes with them. Most of the time the meeting leader or office manger just wanted food supplied to the Realtors and really had no care about you in the slightest.

    After my website kicked in I finally did not have to go that route anymore.

    Well, what do you think happened when the market slowed down. No referrals from Realtors with the exception of some I had grabbed hold of and was lucky enough to keep the last for years. Even those folks were slow. The INTERNET has died for me and I had to find out why so the past couple weeks I have been pounding the streets and phone trying to figure it out.

    What appears to have happened on my end anyway was that with all the hard financing concerns and so many folks getting shut down the clients have been relying heavily on the Realtor to figure it out for them and putting their trust into the Realtors. None of the buyers understand this new 8000 tax credit thing. The Realtors are holding their hands and guiding them.

    So, from the technology age and many finding their own inspector on the INTERNET it has turned back into Realtor referrals. I had to completely regroup. Last week I had a couple of inspections thru Realtors and so far this coming week I have 2 for Monday and one for Tuesday.

    I am dreading the brown nosing and sucking up and the sweetsee talk and pushing my business back to the Realtors and depending on them. I truly thought i was done with that as the last year being my forth year things were going pretty good. I figured just more growth from there. It is like starting all over again. I have already run into "we hand out a list from x inspector association and y association. That is killing me as well because I am not the groupie type and all the meetings and such so here we go again having to rely on others. I have been a business owner (self employed) all my life. I have never had to depend on others and always rounded up my own work with out the sucking up and groupie thing. Times have changed once again.

    Oh well. In desperate times one must take desperate measures.

    Yes emailing does work but not the mass marketing emailing. Individual one at a time slow and teadious one at a time with a hello to each and every name of every realtor. It takes time but the return is phenominal compared to the mass email thing. With the mass email thing you will get a percent or 2 if you are extremely lucky and cheap to do but most of those go to junk mail and deleted. Individual emails shows that you took the time and concern and you will get a ten percent return. When I say a return it will be a return email saying to bring some cards buy the office. You still may never hear from them but your percentage will still be way up.

    Just my 2 cents worth. You also have to remember that there are countless inspectors out there that do get there referrals already from most of these realtors. You are now just one of the huge amount of inspectors that are attempting the same thing.

    Wish me luck and good luck to you.

    The emails I have sent out lately tell of my concerns and how hard they work for every deal. They do like real concern and compasion. Don't just pump your bus down their throats. Most of the email (short but substantive) must be a recognition of there hard work and maybe even an apology for pushing your bus on them because you know that all the rest of the home inspectors are doing the same thing. Do not tell a lie as you are busy and so on (they will know). Don't be afraid to somewhat express your concerns about the financing and bad economic times that are going on right now but don't go to far in that direction.

    Oh well. I'm done now


  9. #9
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    Default Re: Marketing in new economy

    Good info Ted. I thought I was reading my own life story at first.

    The good news at least on my part, is that the internet has picked up for me again. I had just started visiting banks. I popped in a few RE offices (I refused to provide any more danishes) and passed out some cards and tried to talk to whomever was there.

    Anyway, I started getting calls again from the internet. I don't know how long it will last, but I'll ride the wave again. The last 2 weeks have been extremely busy for me.

    Bruce Thompson, Lic. #9199
    www.TylerHomeInspector.com
    Home Inspections in the Tyler and East Texas area

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Marketing in new economy

    Ted,

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts. During these trying times it's always nice to hear what others are doing. Trust me, things are no better around here.

    A couple reactions....

    Nothing changes overnight.... I've fallen victum to this many times but, in the end, things just don't change that quickly. What's been bringing you business for years will again.

    My company has always leaned heavily on realtor referals, mainly because we were around before the internet was and that's just the way things worked for years. We don't stick our noses up anyone's butts but let's face it, agents are in a position like nobody else to send us work.

    There is no silver bullet to make the phone ring quickly. It sounds like you guys down in Texas are starting to see some of the drop off that a lot of others have been experiencing for awhile now. Our closed/pendings for 08 were roughly 1/2 what they were for 06. I checked recently and Texas as a whole was still at about 80%.

    I agree 100% that time 'cold calling' offices is a waste. It was marginally bad during the boom 2 years ago. Now, with so many starving HIs out there? You're just one voice out of hundreds. The agents are just all getting heavier and high on caffine.

    We just had our worst week that I can ever remember. Or, at least the worst without a snow storm or a major holiday or something to explain it. Everyone was waiting for the signing of the stimulus (as if something magical was going to happen) and the stock market is still trying to sort things out. We were actually starting to see a somewhat normal uptick in business heading into spring. I'm hopeful that will continue in the weeks ahead.

    It's just all around tough out there.

    I toallly agree with your opinion of making your marketing count. As in, perosnally address the emails rather than just sending out to the masses. There is just so much competition that most things are just falling on deaf ears.

    I'd be curious to hear if the rest of you have had a tough couple weeks. Of course, it's been all around bad but the last week or so was REALLY bad. It's amazing how fast it can change. I was just on here a week ago telling someone how pleased I was and joking that every other time this had happened my phone stopped ringing. Well, that's what happened..... again.

    Hang in there everyone....


  11. #11
    Ron Bibler's Avatar
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    Default Re: Marketing in new economy

    Just a note to all of you... Some time back I was think about all the very fine inspectors that have nothing to insp!!! This hit me very hard...

    I'm Glad to see each of you passing information from one to the other on how to keep things going how to put beans on the table to feed the little ones and keep the roof over there heads...

    Stop and look up sometime guys... He see you just where you are...

    It's the hard times that have a way of showing us what is most Important in life... The wife the kids...

    So just get out and walk in the front doors of the real estate offices and the banks and the escrow offices give out your cards and see if you can't be of help to some one. I fine most of the real estate agents are in a lot of trouble and need a good word for there day...

    Make yourself a great week...

    Best

    Ron

    Last edited by Ron Bibler; 02-23-2009 at 01:11 AM.

  12. #12

    Default Re: Marketing in new economy

    I keep a box of brochures in my Jeep if I pass a reality office I have not been to in awhile I walk in with a hand full, same for mortgage brokers and lawyers. Nothing ventured nothing gained.

    I keep in touch with past clients by sending out magnet football schedules with my card attached.

    Hope this helps, just keep plugging along.

    Steve Reilly
    Owl Inspection Services


  13. #13
    Fred Cleaver's Avatar
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    Thumbs up Re: Marketing in new economy

    Quote Originally Posted by JB Thompson View Post
    I have been popping into banks offering draw inspection services and seeing if they have a list of preferred providers to offer those purchasing (borrowing for) a home.

    I drafted a small introductory letter with my services. I drive to the bank and ask for the mortgage lending officer.

    It gets my face and name out there, plus I get to meet a few people in the process. We'll see if it is worth the time.
    That's a really good idea, thanks for sharing. I might try that here in NY. If you don't me asking what is pricing plan for draw inspections? For example do you charge lets say $100 upfront or do say 4 inspections at $25 each.

    I've Only been inspecting for little bit over a year.. I visit Realtors, go to local home trade shows, do the news letter thing, but so far craigslist has given me the best return.


  14. #14
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    Default Re: Marketing in new economy

    Quote Originally Posted by Fred Cleaver View Post
    That's a really good idea, thanks for sharing. I might try that here in NY. If you don't me asking what is pricing plan for draw inspections? For example do you charge lets say $100 upfront or do say 4 inspections at $25 each.

    I've Only been inspecting for little bit over a year.. I visit Realtors, go to local home trade shows, do the news letter thing, but so far craigslist has given me the best return.
    For my steady punches that do multiple draws in one subdivision, I do $40 per draw. For single draws, it depends on distance. $60-$100.

    Other areas may charge more, but even regular home inspections don't bring as much as the Dallas area. I've done my share inching the prices up to what I believe is decent.

    I'm completing my 3rd year and the Good Lord has provided. Can't complain.

    I didn't have any success with Craigslist. But, I only advertised for about 2 months.

    Bruce Thompson, Lic. #9199
    www.TylerHomeInspector.com
    Home Inspections in the Tyler and East Texas area

  15. #15
    Fred Cleaver's Avatar
    Fred Cleaver Guest

    Smile Re: Marketing in new economy

    Thank you JB.

    I have a small marketing idea that I'm thinking of trying, maybe some of you are already doing it. I'm thinking of placing a sign in front of my home/business. I live off a main rd with fair amount of traffic so I'm thinking it could bring me something.

    I've read on here where that some of you use signs in front of the homes you are inspecting, so I figure if it works their why not try putting one where it can stay.


    Opinions?


  16. #16
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    Default Re: Marketing in new economy

    Quote Originally Posted by Fred Cleaver View Post
    Thank you JB.

    I have a small marketing idea that I'm thinking of trying, maybe some of you are already doing it. I'm thinking of placing a sign in front of my home/business. I live off a main rd with fair amount of traffic so I'm thinking it could bring me something.

    I've read on here where that some of you use signs in front of the homes you are inspecting, so I figure if it works their why not try putting one where it can stay.


    Opinions?
    First, make sure your local sign ordinance allows for that. There may be regulations regarding size, color, location, duration of exposure, and, it might not be allowed at all if you are not zoned business or something like that.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

  17. #17
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    Default Re: Marketing in new economy

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    .
    First, make sure your local sign ordinance allows for that. There may be regulations regarding size, color, location, duration of exposure, and, it might not be allowed at all if you are not zoned business or something like that.
    .
    Signage on the back of a Vehicle might be and alternative.
    * I just park close to the Road.
    .

    It Might have Choked Artie But it ain't gone'a choke Stymie! Our Gang " The Pooch " (1932)
    Billy J. Stephens HI Service Memphis TN.

  18. #18
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    Default Re: Marketing in new economy

    I have 2 mag signs, but I'm tempted to do a vehicle wrap or a partial. What prices are you all finding for that?

    Bruce Thompson, Lic. #9199
    www.TylerHomeInspector.com
    Home Inspections in the Tyler and East Texas area

  19. #19
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    Default Re: Marketing in new economy

    Quote Originally Posted by Billy Stephens View Post
    .
    Signage on the back of a Vehicle might be and alternative.
    * I just park close to the Road.
    .
    Not in our neighborhood, no commercial vehicles allowed for more than 12 hour duration, and not overnight, that allows for 'work' vehicles when doing work on homes, but you would have to park it in your garage if you had permanent signs (or, if you had permanent signs, then blank magnetic ones which covered those and matched the vehicle color ). Of course, then, what would be the reason for having it painted and signed?

    Besides, as fast as I drove ... I did not want signs ...

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

  20. #20
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    Default Re: Marketing in new economy

    Same here and same here....

    My area won't allow commercial vehicles on the street. They don't always enforce it but if your neighbors want to be a pain you can get hassled.

    And, it's nice to be able to take the signs off and have a plain vehicle.... at least IMO.


  21. #21
    Fred Cleaver's Avatar
    Fred Cleaver Guest

    Default Re: Marketing in new economy

    Quote Originally Posted by Billy Stephens View Post
    .
    Signage on the back of a Vehicle might be and alternative.
    * I just park close to the Road.
    .
    but I can't do inspections if I leave my truck home..


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