Today, we're going to be talking about a tool that's so powerful, yet under-utilized, that I like to refer to it as the home inspector's 'secret weapon':ess bring to the table.
Video Marketing. Tâ here are a number of reasons why video adds value for home inspectors, but one of the most important among them is it's ability to extend your reach.
Why Video Marketing?
Extending Reach Through Video
In talking with coach William, one thing that he pointed out was that in many cases, when we give an in-person presentation, we limit the amount of people that actually receive our message. If you're in an office or are putting on an event, you can maybe reach 30-40 people, but your total audience is ultimately capped. On the other hand, if you make a video of your presentation and make it accessible online, you're not just confined to that office group to whom you were originally presenting, and your overall reach expands dramatically.
As we mentioned in our home inspection marketing video, if your business is coming from non-top producers and top-producers exclusively, those agents could end up using someone else and leave you in a bad position. Because of this, it's important that you extend your reach beyond them by going direct to the public with tools such as video.
The use of video is particularly valuable when you consider the stats associated with different video portals. Youtube, for example, has over one billion users–almost one third of all internet users–and is especially popular with younger generations. On mobile alone, Youtube reaches more 18-34 year-olds and 18-49 year-olds than any cable network in the US. What's more, while we're on the subject of reach, you can navigate YouTube in over 76 different languages, covering 95% of the internet population. This is really relevant for businesses here in the states, as many potential clients are arriving here legally from other countries that want to buy properties. When these home buyers can watch your videos in their native language, you extend your reach significantly and create an opportunity for greater long-term business. As coach William noted, "Everybody is into long distance Youtube learning these days, so the power of video is a real missed opportunity if you're not jumping on this."
With so many new home inspectors on the market, the ability to differentiate yourself from the pack is crucial. Buyers want to trust that their money is being well-spent, which can be tough sometimes when new home inspectors price themselves as cheaply as they do. By generating a catalogue of videos that clients can access through Google, YouTube, or other portals, you establish the expertise that people are seeking and can maintain your pricing where you want it because consumers will be willing to pay that extra 50 to 75 bucks in exchange for the peace of mind of working with an expert.
Know Me, Like Me, Trust Me
Ultimately the value in video goes back to the "Know me, Like me, Trust me," sales model from bygone days, through which a salesperson made you feel comfortable with education-based marketing and helping you find the product that was perfect for you. When you establish this kind of a trusting, expertise-based relationship with your viewers, they're more likely to do business with you and make pricing a secondary concern.
Attracting Potential Employees
In addition to attracting new clients, having a nice base of videos out there that show up in a search when someone's looking for your company can also attract new employees to your business. Coach William spoke about an employee that has been with his company for a few years now, who cited their online presence and the videos they had created as something that had given him a sense of an honest, hands-on company whose methodology made sense and was practical for buyers in the market. In the end, having videos that came across as genuine rather than fake, or staged Hollywood productions proved to be the deciding factor in where the candidate chose to interview and ultimately work.
Work Once in Training Employees
As your business continues to grow and brings on new employees, the one thing that you want to avoid is having to repeat yourself over and over again each time you train a new hire. To avoid this, you can create training videos that employees can access, which cover all of the important information and ensure that each employee is up to speed. Coach William noted that this tool is valuable in that it goes beyond use for home inspectors alone. "With our office staff and all of the schedulers, there's turnover there. So when you bring that next person in, you're not starting from scratch. You just kick on the video, they can watch and get the basics down, and when they hit the ground with us in the field, they've got a pretty good feel for routine and how things are going to work."
In short, when you're able to use video to help new hires get the base information down, it pays for itself in terms of the time and resources saved, and ensures that you won't be repeating the same information over and over.
Types of Videos Live Videos
Though there are many options for the kind of video that you can choose to utilize to reach your clients, those that are live from the field are absolutely the most effective. One of the main reasons for this is that it allows you to highlight things that most home inspectors wouldn't catch. In many cases, you can use these videos as a brief tool that provides an overview for common defects or other frequently sought out issues, and explain them live in a way that makes sense to home buyers. Because people love short videos, and their watching videos drives traffic to the site, there are many advantages to be had from utilizing this type of video.
Videos that are based on photos of things that you see in the field are also very important in terms of establishing expertise and building trust. Using simple screen capture software, you can showcase a common defect–like a cracked plumbing boot around a vent pipe on a roof–and can quickly amass tens of thousands of views from a very simple video. As you establish a larger collection of videos, you can strategize by creating specific channels within your YouTube account such as "New Construction Blunders," "Shocking Electrical Finds," or anything that you come across frequently in the field, and drive traffic towards particular topics. Beyond that, if you properly optimize these channels for search engines, there's a strong chance that someone looking up home inspection-related content in your town will come across your business' landing page, potentially increasing your client base.
Another way to take advantage of screen capture software is through explanations involving frequently asked and 'should have asked' questions (SAQ). In videos such as these, you can start by brainstorming questions that you receive often, as well as those that home buyers don't always know to ask, and then use the software to go over each of them in short, explanatory videos. Some examples of such questions might be:
- How much does a home inspection cost?
- Can a home fail inspection?
- How do I select the right home inspector; or
- Why should your home inspector have an infrared camera?
Making videos such as these gives you the ability to pose important questions, encourage homebuyers to start thinking critically, and further develop trust with consumers.
Screen Capture We touched on this type of video previously as it can be used in a number of the formats listed above. Screen capture is useful for all kinds of video production, from explanatory videos to staff training, and is especially valuable as many screen capture software platforms are available at no cost. Screencast-o-matic, for example, is a free program that we and many of our clients utilize, that comes with hosting provided and can also be upgraded to remove any watermarks that your videos may initially have.
Finally, it's important to mention the value that endorsement videos can provide to businesses. In using social media as an outlet to post videos that make use of clients, agents, and other affiliated parties that can vouch for your abilities as a business, you continue to establish the trust and reliability that's so crucial to business development and reach. Tools such as these are particularly effective because you're not just using reviews from agents or in support of other agents, but also have testimonials from a number of other parties, which adds to the overall authenticity of a business' image.
As important as the types of videos and video marketing itself are, many businesses struggle with the actual production of the videos because of how hard it can be to get home inspectors to provide you the content that you need in order to help you extend your reach. Because of this, creating a publication schedule, especially when using live clips, is absolutely critical.
Coach William hit the nail right on the head: there's no killer quite like a home inspector that comes back to you after an inspection saying "You should have seen what I just saw," before going on to describe in vivid detail a major home inspection screw-up without any video evidence to back it up. People are really interested in seeing these kinds of mistakes first-hand, especially in attics and crawl spaces–places they don't frequently go.
To ensure that you or your team are always in a position to capture these moments, a publication schedule can be very helpful.
For example, you might take a few moments out to think about the kinds of clips you want to post in a given month–leaking insulated gas seals, clogged gutters, horizontal cracks, etc.–and write them down on an index card that you can pass to an inspector. When the inspector has a physical card of things to look for with them while they're completing an inspection, they're more likely to remember to create the live clips you're looking for so that you can document everything.
Once you've got a schedule set that lists the clips you need and the dates on which you want to have them ready, the question becomes: Where to post them? Often, we get so caught up with making sure that videos appear on our clients' websites when we're handling online marketing for them, that we forget to upload them to our own channels. It's important, though, to post these live clips to different sharing sites, particularly, on specific channels and playlists. Typically when consumers access this content, they end up watching more than one video. So, having this content available and organized on a schedule is a truly valuable step in driving traffic toward your business.
Though not quite as good as live videos, photo videos are still a very effective tool in showing clients how an inspection service can benefit them. These videos work really well in instances where you need to do a presentation, but don't have the resources or time to create a bunch of videos. In such cases, you can take single shots instead, group them together, and add verbiage and music to turn it into a user-friendly video that clearly explains the difference between how a home is and how it should be. With side-by-side images of a defective home–maybe with mold or bathroom exhaust– and a model home, you can further demonstrate your expertise and provide an educational tool that helps home buyers know what kinds of things to look out for.
Where to Host Videos
The ever-growing nature of the internet is such that you could probably take your pick from an endless buffet of video hosting options. At one point, we at the Savvy Inspector were using as many as nine hosting services at the same time. We have found, however, that using that many platforms doesn't get nearly as much traction as paring the list down to only a few. As such, we've condensed the collection of portals that we use to YouTube, DailyMotion, and Vimeo. These options are great for a number of reasons. First and foremost, because they're all free. They charge nothing to open an account and allow you to upload your videos without worrying about duplicate content, while getting your videos ranked so that you can drive traffic to your business.
The ranking is an important thing to mention here. When home buyers do a google search for home inspectors in your area, results will come up for ranked videos under YouTube, but also for those under other major platforms such as the ones listed above. Knowing this, you'll want to do everything in your power to ensure that your videos get ranked as high as possible in relevant search engines.
Tailoring Your Videos for SEO
The first thing to do to in getting your videos to rank higher is setting up a template that can be used to share your content across all three platforms: Vimeo, Dailymotion and YouTube. This template can include spaces for video title, key words, video description, etc. The most important among these, hands-down, are the keywords: the words consumers will type in to search for a home inspector in your market. Because Google isn't a huge fan of organic searches, results that are based on relevance to search terms, you will often have to use AdWords to find the keywords that can help your videos get the highest rankings possible. Here are a few keyword tricks we've discovered that help significantly in getting videos ranked:
- Be sure to include your primary keyword phrase in your video title Ex: Atlanta Home Inspector Discovers Nightmare (keywords= Atlanta Home Inspector)
- Include a call to action in the video title Ex: Atlanta Home Inspector Discovers Nightmare| Call now: (client's number)| Through repeated testing, we've learned that in many cases, people don't watch the videos, but instead take the call to action. This creates business for you and for other local businesses.
- Begin your video description with your sales website URL.
- Make sure that your video description contains your NAP: Name, Address, and Phone Number.
This is critical for local marketing in Google places or Google Maps.
Another note about your address: think very carefully about how you want your business to be listed and make sure that it is consistent everywhere.â This means you shouldn't have your address listed as 300 Main Street in one description and 300 Main St.â in another. Inconsistencies will cause your business to not show up in google listings, which will hurt your business. You can avoid potential mistakes such as these by copy-pasting your address from a template every time that you enter it in a description to ensure it is uniform each time.
- Be sure that your video's description is keyword-rich. This means that you want to have your keyword worked into your description more than once. Three or four times in a lengthy description is fine, and even two or three is ok depending on how long the description is. What you want to avoid is keyword stuffing, which happens when you put keywords in so many times that the text becomes unreadable. Your description should tell what your video is about while smoothy working in keywords when possible.
- List the other keywords that you want your video to be ranked for at the bottom of your description. By using AdWords to compile a list of words that get the most search traffic, you can help your video attain progressively higher rankings over a two to three month span.
- When you upload a new video, make sure to categorize it under 'Education.' Since these are largely how-to videos, you'll find that this is a fitting category that provides your business the most traction.
- Make sure to tag your business name as well as the business owner's name for every video.
By doing this, your videos will come up every time someone does a google search for you business or business owner, which will gain you even more traction.
How to Get it all Done
At last, you reach a point where you know what types of videos to make. You also know where to post these videos and which keywords to use to garner the greatest reach for your business. The major question you're left with is: How to get it all done?
Do it Yourself
One option would be to handle the entire video production process yourself. If you have the expertise to do this–as coach William did years ago when he was still just a one-man shop–this can be a great way to save money. Unfortunately, this can also be very time-consuming.
Have your staff do it
To avoid swallowing up hours or even days of your own precious time, you might also consider delegating the work to one of the members of your staff. Doing this would free you up to focus on the things that you do best, but it may also drag your employees away from important work that they had been focused on in exchange for tasks to which they're not particularly well-suited.
Outsource your work
The compromise within these alternatives–sparing yourself and sparing your staff–is to outsource your video projects to experts that can do the job more efficiently than you or your team may be able to. Certainly, you might have to spend a bit more to get the job done, but in the long-run, you'll actually save money by focusing your availability on things you do best. Think of this example presented by coach William: Why cut your own grass or clean your own pool when you can pay someone a flat hourly rate to do it for you? Say it takes you an hour to cut your lawn, and that hiring someone else to do the same job costs you 20 dollars. Now let's also say that in that same hour, you could be doing work that makes you 60 dollars. By opting to not outsource the mowing of your lawn, you've actually cost yourself 40 dollars, saying nothing of the fatigue you might feel after an hour of dragging a mower through your yard. We should note that even when you outsource the video, you may need to do a bit of collaborating with the video production company to make sure that factors such as verbiage and keywords are arranged to your liking. In the end though, this is a small price to pay for a quality final product, and effectively amounts to telling the people that mow your lawn which kind of pattern you'd like for them to cut.
To summarize, the use of video marketing as a tool to help promote your home inspector business can be extremely powerful and effective with respect to reaching prospective home buyers. Well-done videos establish expertise and help foster the know me, like me, trust me dynamic that is vital between an inspector and their client.
Part of the success in producing these videos is knowing where your consumers are in the first place. In size, millennials are now larger than the baby boomer generation, and make up the largest percentage of home buyers on the market. Knowing this, it's critical that you promote your content in a way that you can ensure it reaching your desired audience. With so many 18-34 year-olds using mobile devices and tablets, portals such as YouTube, Daily Motion, and Vimeo are great places to get your videos published and allow home buyers to convince themselves that your services are right for them.
At the Savvy Inspector, for example, we serve home inspectors exclusively, rather than spreading ourselves thin and trying to pander to a number of different professions, such as chiropractors, doctors, contractors, etc. Because of that specification, consumers that access our videos trust that they will enjoy an experience that's tailored specifically to their needs. In the same way, by pairing videos that highlight your business' expertise with carefully-selected keywords, tags, and categorization, you can demonstrate that you offer a distinct service to homebuyers that simply can't be replicated in your local market.
In the end, the use of video, whether live, photo, screencast, or other offers your business a tremendous advantage over the competition. You can expand your reach, demonstrate expertise, attract new employees, and establish trust with prospective clients. Above all else though, it's just fun. From tinkering and creating to posting content on the site of your choice, videos allow you to put a stamp on the services that you offer in a way that truly reflects everything that your business bring to the table.