If you’re an independent home inspector, you don’t just provide a service, you own a business. So you need to market just like any other business would. You might be wondering, what is home inspection advertising?
Advertising is one specific part of marketing that a lot of companies use to get the word out. With ads, you are paying to promote your home inspections to an audience that is owned by someone else. Home inspection advertising is a part of marketing funnel – there are stages to customers deciding buy from you. For home inspections, this process often happens very quickly because of the short home-buying timeline. But it’s still there. If a home buyer sees your advertising at the right time it could increase their chances of working with you.
Just like in all marketing efforts for home inspectors, you have two very different target markets: the agents and the customers. You’ll need separate methods of advertising for each group.
Should you do home inspection advertising, yes or no?
Like everything in business, there are pros and cons, and you need to make the decision for your own business. Since it requires you to pay real money, there’s a lot to consider. What type of return are you looking for? How will you measure that return? Where are your customers looking at ads? How do you reach them there?
Trial and Error
First, I’ll talk about what we’ve experienced in our business. Advertising is one area that hasn’t been easy for us. We tried a lot of things that didn’t work. I’m going to share what did and didn’t work here so you can learn from what we did.
We are going to outline a bunch of different options for you to give you some new ideas to think about. It’s up to you to research and choose which ones work for your business. Keep in mind that testing things out is what will lead you to the thing that works, but it might take some time and money.
You can also include special links in your online ads that can be tracked by your analytics, but that’s a more advanced technique technology-wise. Let us know if you want us to explain how to do that in another article. You can also offer a specific coupon code in each ad. Then you’ll know if someone uses that code online or mentions it over the phone that they’ve seen the ad.
Sometimes in business you have to try things that don’t end up working out.
Tracking your ads
You need to be able to measure how many inspections you get from different types of ads. Otherwise, how will you know if they are working?
For example, we tried softball field advertising. We did it in an area where we wanted to expand, but we didn’t get anything out of it. So we know that it didn’t work because we had no new inspections in that area. Whenever you try something new, it’s a good idea to know how you’re going to track whether or not it works. Especially the first time you try it. With online advertising, like Facebook or Google ads, you’ll get a report that tells you how many views and clicks you got on your ad. But with other types of advertising, it’s not like that. So you need to think outside the box to come up with ways to track your return on investment. That’s why we chose a new area for that field ad. It was easy to tell if we got any new business from it or not.
Another way is to make a habit of asking how people found out about you. Such a simple question can go a long way in letting you know how your marketing is performing.
What didn’t work for us: Offline ads
This is a tough truth, but we have never had any success from any type of offline ad. We’ve tried all kinds of things and really thought they would work, but we never saw any business from any of it.
We tried, community newsletters because we thought something that is oriented around a neighborhood would be more successful, but those didn’t work. We also tried local magazines and home buyer’s guides. We tried realtors’ magazines, thinking we could find new agents, but that didn’t work either. Some agents have file folders that they give o every client and they’ll sell ads on that. No go for us.
We learned a lot from trying all these things that didn’t work. Testing things out is a big part of running a business.
This is a word of mouth industry. Once we figured that out, it really changed the way we think about advertising. Now we only use ads that mimic word-of-mouth. We find that online ads fit that better.
What did work for us: Online ads
We recommend sticking to digital advertising if you want to pay for exposure.
The good thing about advertising on yelp is that you know the people who see you ad are ready to book an appointment. They are doing the final step in researching who they will choose – looking at reviews. You should always strive to be at the top of the yelp list organically, but if you’re not there yet, an advertisement can get you at the top too.
Yelp is at the top of the list when you search for home inspector online. They produce lists like “Top 10 Home Inspectors in Charlotte” and you need to be on that list. Sometimes you can get there organically for free. If you aren’t ranked enough to be at the top of the list yet, paying for that type of exposure is worth it. Imagine if a potential client gets your name from their agent. They want to do some Google research to get a feel for who you are. When they click over to Yelp to check out the top home inspectors, you aren’t on that list. That might change their mind about hiring you. Even if it is a made up list that’s a way for Yelp to get more money, that’s the way it is. The client isn’t going to think about it like that. They’re just going to see that you’re not on the list and make a note.
We have mixed feelings about Yelp. I consider it just something you have to do. More like a necessary evil a bit. They have the audience that you want to be in front of. People are used to going to Yelp. You may not get a direct return on the money you spend, but it keeps up your reputation. The more they see your name, the more legitimate you seem.
Home Advisor is one type of advertising I’d recommend doing, or at least trying. It isn’t very expensive. This advertising was good to us when we were first starting out. The thing with Home Advisor is that you need to answer right away. They send each request to 8 different companies. So you need to be the first one to respond. Which is great in the beginning when you have a lot of free time. You can be available to receive those referrals. Although not every lead they send you will be good, it can be a good place to start. When you are trying to fill your schedule in the beginning, every bit helps.
Facebook is a great place to advertise. Compared to other, more old-school types of ads, they offer a lot of benefits. You can stop and start them at any time – theres no commitment or contract of any kind. You can target your ad to people’s interests, which isn’t something you can do with a billboard or magazine ad. It’s easy to track how your ad is doing while it is running, which is helpful. Not a lot of other (offline) advertising lets you see how it is performing while the ad is running.
Google Adwords is a good way to get in front of people who are searching for your services. You can specify exactly what terms you want your ad to show up for. Setting a daily budget means you’ll never spend more than you expect. Google also tracks how many click your ad gets and how many phone calls (if you have it set up for calls). It’s nice to know people are visiting your site from the ad. Getting a good ranking in search engine results organically can take a while – even up to 2 years. Advertising will place your site the top of the page as soon as you pay. They also offer map ads which is a good thing to try out too as more and more people are relying on the map results as a source of information.
Theres a lot of reviews on the internet about paying to be included in Angie’s List. There are people on both sides of the issue, but it definitely seems to be a hot topic. Angie’s List is a paid service that presents its clients with a list of trusted partners. We feel the same way about this as we do about Yelp. You need to be on that list, but we don’t love that you have to pay for it. But that’s just the way it is, so we do it. I do think it helps with our business, especially since Angie’s List is considered trustworthy.
What we would do if we had it to do over
I’d still start out with Home Advisor. If you use it right and respond quickly, you can get some good leads. I’d put myself in a good position by advertising on Yelp and Angie’s List. If I had money left after that I’d focus on Google. That’s my two cents on home inspection advertising. It definitely takes some trial and error, but ads are a good thing to put your promotion dollars into.