Cocktails in hand, Rose gives a deep dive into her marketing specialty (Social Media)... and Brad gets indignant about preferred vendors lists and turning the tables on the pay-to-play schemes popular with larger real estate brokerages.
For the most recent episodes visit the podcast show page on Spotify or iTunes. To reach out to Rose and Brad email them at firstname.lastname@example.org and don't forget to follow them on Facebook for live broadcasts and behind the scenes details.
- Episode Transcription -
Intro: Welcome to inspection connection, the podcast by inspectors for inspectors.
Brad Lowery: Hey, everybody, thank you so much for tuning back into Inspection Connection. I am Brad, back and better than ever here with...
Rose Buckley: Rose Buckley. How's it going?
BL: Going so good, because we just had the most hilarious outtake that we've ever had on the show. And you guys listening will never get to hear it.
RB: That was the best. I am still wiping tears off my face because I was cry laughing so hard.
BL: Yeah. looking behind the curtain. We record many of these in bulk. So, we'll get together on a weekend and we'll knock out like two or three episodes and post them later on down the road. But...
RB: And mind you we are drinking while we do these.
BL: Yes. Yes, we are. And actually, that's a good lead in...so we're talking about marketing today, first and foremost. And we've got a really cool "Inspector BOD" beverage of the day.
RB: Absolutely. Yeah.
BL: What is it?
RB: Actually, you picked it out.
BL: I did.
RB: Yeah because I actually originally picked out a drink that was called the "Networker". I think that's appropriate for a marketing episode.
BL: Sounds like a movie about a guy that invented a social media company.
RB: Oh, very true. Yeah, but...you live in Virginia and I'm not used to the area around here. And I went to the local, you call it ABC store?
BL: Mhm. It's the only place you can buy booze in Virginia. Which is stupid, but yeah.
RB: It's everyone has different rules and so I went to the ABC store and they did not have one of the ingredients that is necessary for the network.
BL: How dare they.
RB: I know and I was really looking forward to I'll have to bring it from Maryland next time I come. But anyway, so we had to work around and you kind of last minute came up with this drink it's actually called "#nofilter", which I think is still fairly appropriate.
BL: Yeah, yeah, I mean, so we both use Instagram for marketing. And you know I don't see people use it so much anymore, but the #nofilter is when you take a picture that was so nice that you didn't have to apply any pre done Instagram settings to it to make it look pretty. Like it already looks great.
RB: Yeah. Or no filter, you can say what you want, right?
BL: Exactly. Which is kind of where we're at here, but we got to be kind of filtered. We're using pop filters on the microphones.
RB: Absolutely. Absolutely. But what are we using in the drinks? How did you make this?
BL: So, the drink looks really good to me. I'm a bourbon guy. I like sitting down in the back porch with a with a nice bourbon and a nice cigar and so any kind of cocktail that doesn't overly mess up the bourbon flavor or overly draw away from it. You know, not too sweet that's a kind of drink that I like. A kind of a cocktail that I like...
RB: Do you know a fun fact that bourbon, apparently per my research... Bourbon is the National drink of the United States. Did you know that?
BL: It's fitting. I feel so American and patriotic now. Thank you.
RB: Yea we're coming up on election day. And you know... 'merica.
BL: I'm going to be drinking plenty on election day by the looks of things. Like lots of people...
RB: Cheers to that, yeah.
BL: So now this one was really good because it was a nice fall forward bourbon beverage. It uses apple cider and it uses bourbon. We use Knob Creek and also Bowman's. Bowman's is actually, and this is kind of getting a little bourbon snobby here, but it uses the same mash bill as Blanton's out in Kentucky.
RB: What is a mash bill?
BL: So um, mash bill is just like the base consistency of the bourbon before they start to distill and age everything. So, they have two different recipes, basically that they'll use for Blanton's and Buffalo Trace. And anyway, Bowman's is actually based in Fredericksburg, Virginia. So, this is a local bourbon and they can still call it a bourbon because they source this mash bill from Kentucky. And yeah, they barrel it and aged here and Fredericksburg, Virginia. It's great stuff. So anyway "#nofilter" for the beverage. It's using a bourbon. It's using apple cider. It's using a little bit of gin. And then it's also using some cinnamon and slices of apple.
RB: I sliced the apple. I helped.
BL: You did great. You're a wonderful apple slicer. Best apple slicer.
RB: I appreciate you making this drink. It is absolutely delicious. And I'm looking out the window right now. And we've got nice fall colors going on out there. And your beautiful wife has the house decked out in fall decor and it smells like...
BL: ...Like a pumpkin farted in our home. [laughing]
RB: [laughing] It does. Yeah, it's very good. You know, that's my jam. This is my favorite season. So, I'm all about it.
BL: Oh, its great! Yeah, you're not sweating your butt off in attics and everything around houses this time of year.
RB: Oh, yeah. And the bugs are dying.
BL: Mm hmm.
RB: Thank the Lord above! I'm so excited for the bugs to die.
BL: No, it's great. So, this was an awesome drink. And yeah, it paired well with the theme being marketing. And I think usually we've been trying to really incorporate more guests into our shows. Experts in the field that we can interview and talk to for an outside perspective, because I don't think you guys just want to hear us. And yet here we have in this home office studio, a mastermind in social media marketing. And I'm not just trying to gussy up my coworker here. She's excellent at what she does. Lots of people follow you Rose, because you have an incredible social media presence online, you market yourself very well. And so, you are the perfect person to interview and talk to about how to advance your profile and how to market yourself, not just to realtors, but also to buyers. So excited to get into this with you today.
RB: Absolutely. Well, I think that first before we get into social media marketing. I think, you know, there's so many different ways to market yourself. And I definitely dove headfirst into doing social media marketing. And that has been the number one source for me for marketing success. But there were a lot of different things I did when I first began home inspecting. And I learned from veterans and everybody has a different way of getting their name out there and marketing themselves. And we're going to talk about many different ways to do that, and what works for us, and what might not be the best. But like, I used to drop off gift baskets to offices and introduce myself and leave literature on the table in the back for the agents. And that's something that a lot of people don't really love doing. And quite frankly, it's kind of expensive, and I don't even know how much you get out of it. Really, I don't know if anybody's called me from those. Have you ever done that?
BL: I've done that some, like the little pop by gifts or whatever? Yeah, I've tried to do the bringing homemade cookies thing or I tried bringing some like baked bread from a local bakery in town to some of the real estate offices around here. None of that's really panned out. I know a lot of tradesmen and contractors and other inspectors; they do the candy basket this time of year.
BL: So like Valentine's, Halloween, we'll fill the candy bowl that's in the front of real estate offices. And you know, you leave some business cards and stuff. But none of that, to me, has been as effective as either person-to-person or just other mediums of marketing, some of which we'll get into here.
RB: Yeah, and one of the things like if I'm in the office dropping by, dropping off one of those candy bowls or whatnot, it gives me an excuse to be in the office and introduce myself and say, "I'd really like to come by and do a performative meeting and do a lunch and learn." Or something like that. And that actually gets you that face to face contact, which has helped me quite a bit. I've gotten a few agents to use me from those. And those are somebody who will call me and say, "I remember you presented about sewer scopes a couple of weeks ago, and I have a question about your scopes." And then I come out and I do an inspection for them. And then we build that relationship from there. So, you never know, what can lead to a successful interaction there. Do you have a lot of mingling opportunities events around here? I know that in my area, a lot of agents will have like mixers or events at baseball games, or Christmas parties or whatnot. And I get invited to come, I pay for a ticket and then I just mingle with people. Do you do a lot of that?
BL: We do some of that. Yeah. So, the company that I work with, we have sponsored brokerage nights at the ballpark that kind of an event or soccer games. In DC here, it's actually been pretty cool. This is getting away from home inspection a little bit, but the city here has become a sports town in the last several years in the last decade, really. And that's been really neat to see. Because back in the day, you had the football team, previously Redskins, but now you've got the Nationals. You have the Washington Capitals. They even have a professional soccer team here now. And so, we've gotten to sponsor a lot more of these other activities. Whereas before, it was kind of a restricted audience. And not that many people cared because the teams all sucked. Now DC wins championships, and people are turning out. So that's been a lot of fun. But for me, like I like that kind of stuff, where it gives an opportunity to allow people to get to know me, and I get to know them in turn.
RB: Now do you find that when you do those things...like everything that we talked about so far, gift baskets, lunch and learns and mingling at these events. We're obviously putting up money to do these things. We're either buying lunch for an office, we're buying the candy and the bowls and things like that. Or in some instances hundreds to thousands of dollars to, as you said, sponsor different local events. Do you get a lot of return? I know that obviously having a face to face interaction with people that helps me too. But I don't know if I get my return on investment with those. Do you find that's the case with you?
BL: I do. Yeah. So, it's, and again, maybe this is just... I'm a people person, I always have been. I enjoy interacting with people, I enjoy not just having a good time with them but getting to know them really digging into who is this person and talking life with them. Because again, I know I've said this on other episodes, but we're not about homes, we're about humans. You know, we're about people. And we're not just about interacting with people like buyers, but also the agents. And we're going to talk a little bit about how agents are kind of that necessary gateway. But when I show up at a real estate office, all they see is somebody in a uniform coming in with literature: brochures, business cards. When they go to a game or an event or a happy hour or cocktail event, they get to understand who I am as a person. They get to understand what I'm about business wise, life wise. And when you can connect in that way, I feel that at least for me, there's a trust factor that's built where they go, "Oh, okay, I enjoy this guy, I have buyers that would click with this type of a personality." And as a result, there's a work relationship that can be fostered there.
RB: Oh, yeah. Yeah, absolutely. It's definitely a great way to put yourself in front of people for sure. I don't know personally, if I've gone to many events, especially when I very first started, I did almost nothing but marketing. And I don't know, I just don't really...I like to think that my effort was people will talk about me and my name kind of got circulated around. And something precipitated from that later down the road, like somebody heard about me, and then hired me later. And I just didn't know that was the connection. But yeah, it can be pretty expensive sometimes.
BL: It can. And I mean, this is where we've talked before about working for yourself versus working for a bigger corporation.
BL: When you have a company that's able to allow you to write off some of these expenses, or reimburse you for some of these expenses, they can actually give you a marketing fund. That's helpful, for sure. But in my mind, it's just yet another step in the long process of name recognition. I've heard it said before that somebody has to see your face and see your name, so many times before they'll draw a connection and make an association with you professionally. And so, this can't be the only thing that I do, there has to be other points of contact as well, that build up to a recognition as an expert in the field. I want to use this individual; they'll remember you; you know?
BL: But I know you've done some of this, because so many people, they know you, they know not just your name, but what you do. And they use you for your home inspection services, because you're so good at what you do. And they've learned that so if that hasn't worked for you...these event types, these more expensive event type marketing opportunities, what has worked?
RB: Online social marketing. For me, that was the number one thing. I can't tell you how many inspections that I've done where the client showed up and said, "I follow your Facebook page, and I love your videos." And things like that. I do online educational snippet videos that are between one and maybe three or four minutes long, where I show a defect that I have, and I explain what it is in a very cohesive way. And everything that I do on my Facebook page has a purpose to it. And it may be outright I'm explaining what this thing is. But there's also the layer of subconscious marketing there. So, you know, for instance, when I do a video and I explained something, obviously, I'm demonstrating that not only do I know what this defect is I was able to find it. But also, subconsciously people think, "Oh, wow, she explained that in a very easy to understand way. I think my clients would really love to work with her because they might not understand everything that another home inspector may say. I like how she presents. I like how she walks around and carries herself." These are things that people see on camera, but even if I'm posting a photo. I think in the inspection industry, sometimes, I get made fun of a little bit because I post what I used to call "roofies".
BL: The roof selfies, yes.
RB: The roof selfie, and I would post "#roofie" until all of those posts were suppressed by social media. Like Facebook, they didn't seem to like that word. And I was like well roof selfies can't shorten that to "roofie" so I'm just going to say roof selfies. But the reason I post those it's not...some people are like, "Oh, you're so vain." Or whatnot. I'm not posting a photo of myself on the roof because I'm vain. I'm posting it because subconsciously people think, "Oh, wow, that's a really tall roof and she got up there. Wow, that's awesome. I want an inspector who will go the extra mile for my clients and who isn't afraid to get on a roof like that." That's one thing and then, "Oh, it's dark and gloomy outside and she still has a smile on her face." There are so many different reasons, subconscious reasons, why I post things on my social media page.
RB: I try and post every day. You know, today we are podcasting. Obviously, I took the day off of home inspecting, and I'm podcasting. I posted a photo of myself podcasting with you so people would know, "Oh, that's what she's doing today. She's still active within the industry." But otherwise I post a photo, either on site or whatnot every day, so that people see, "Oh, she's really busy, I better get on her calendar before I lose a chance." And so, there's always a little subconscious reason for what I do on social media. And I think that has really helped propel me.
RB: Another thing that I did with social media, when I very first started was, I do a lot of charity work. And I know you and I had talked about this previously, I wanted to find a way to give back. And so, I would have a charity giveaway. I would give away 5% of my commission on every home inspection to the charity of my client's choice. And so, it was a really great way for me to connect and have a positive way to end the inspection, whether or not it was a really wonderful inspection, or whether I found a lot of really devastating defects. We would always leave with a smile, because I would say, "Oh, I have these four charities that I'm working with this quarter. And I'd like you to choose who will benefit from your inspection." And I can't tell you, only maybe two people in the entire year would walk away without a smile on their face.
BL: That's awesome.
RB: And everybody was...it was just a great way...a high note to end the inspection on. And I would always give them the paper that had the charities on it. And they would point to the charity that they gave to. So, every single day, I had content, I would have my clients smiling faces on my Facebook page. And you know, people would say, "Oh, people love working with her. And she's generous and things like that." And I still do give to charities, but I'm hopefully going to get back on that soon. But what do you do with your social media?
BL: Well I don't want to talk about that. You made a couple of great points here that I really want to dig into.
RB: Oh okay.
BL: And again, some of this is just out of interest. And I think the listeners would enjoy learning more about Rose behind the scenes here. I want to know, what motivated you? What led you to start that kind of charitable donation effort with some of the proceeds from your home inspections?
RB: Well, I love working with charities, and I do a lot of charity work in my free time. I work with streamlined education to this day. We plant trees in my local area, because the environment is really important to me. I have a friend who was suffering from breast cancer and I did a lot of charity work to raise money for breast cancer and things like that. And I know that everybody has had struggles in their life. No matter who you are, where you're from, you have a struggle in your life. And if I can find a way to connect with you on that level, then we have even more of a connection. And that's just a wonderful way to not only connect with your client, but really give back to the community. So, every quarter, I would switch up the charities that I would choose. I would try and cover a gamut of the world. So, I would have maybe four choices every quarter. And it would be an animal charity, a military charity, a breast cancer or something like that charity, and then a local charity like environmental thing. And so, whatever meant the most to them, they felt like they were doing some good in their community that they're moving into. And that was really powerful for them.
BL: No, that's amazing. Yeah, it really is. Because again, life is about so much more than what we do, you know?
BL: So no, I love that. The other thing, getting back into the social media side of things...What led you to invest so heavily in social media as your primary medium for marketing? Namely, I don't think you have a degree in marketing, right?
RB: No, I do not.
BL: So, when did you start doing this? And when did you start to see the results? And thirdly, we can take this off in pieces here. How do you monitor the feedback and the response coming to your business from social media?
RB: There's a lot of...that's loaded questions.
BL: I know, it's a lot, but it's all important stuff.
RB: Yeah, you're correct, in the fact that I don't have a marketing degree and I am not an expert at it, I just really enjoy it. I love connecting with people and that's all social media is about. And at first, I just kind of wanted to get myself out there being a brand-new person in the inspection industry. I do, technically work for a company that does have a marketing budget, but I found myself sitting at home on like, let's just a Tuesday afternoon. There's no event for me to go to, I've already dropped off gift baskets to every agent in the area. And I wanted to feel productive, but I wanted to do it in a way that was actually meaningful. And going into offices and dropping off candy bowls... First of all, I'm not connecting with everybody. And second of all, I'm not demonstrating my knowledge. I'm just showing you that I'm here to give you food and that's pretty much all it was for. So, I thought, I have this afternoon free let me...There are some videos on my Facebook page that are of my own home. [laughing]
BL: That's awesome. [laughing]
RB: And I pretended. I got dressed in my uniform and I pretended that it was at another house. And you got to do what you got to do.
BL: Fake it 'till you make it.
RB: But I do have defects in my house and I just kind of didn't say that it was my house that I "found" this defect in.
BL: We all know that you should never inspect a home inspector's house.
RB: No. [laughing] Everybody has commented on some of my videos that I take in my office and they're like, "You have a smoke alarm that's dangling from the ceiling with no battery." I'm like, "Yeah, I know...I'm sorry." [laughing]
BL: [laughing] Anyway, continue on though.
RB: Yeah. It's just, first of all, I wanted to really find a way to be productive, even in my free time at my own home. But it was also free.
RB: That's helpful. That's a really great way...now you can boost posts. And eventually, once I became more successful and had my own budget, I was able to boost my some of my posts to get a little bit larger following. But if you put very informational content out there, that is shareable, that people can use and really find helpful in their daily lives, people will share it. And that sharing, you constantly go in and you see who liked it. And there's a list of people who liked your posts. And you can invite them, there's an invite button, and you invite them to like your page. And I just invited everybody to like my page. That's as simple as that, and that's how it organically grew that way.
BL: Yeah, that's awesome. It's kind of like that scene in Steve Martin's The Jerk. Remember that movie? Where he finds his name in the phonebook? He's like, "Yes! Free marketing happening now!"
BL: Anyway, yeah, it's a great movie. So how do you track and monitor the feedback, or at least the business traffic that you get from social media marketing? Do you have a method for that?
RB: That is where it gets a little bit more difficult...because being that I have my own Facebook page, and Instagram, and I don't have Twitter, I don't really do much of that. But primarily Facebook and Instagram, and LinkedIn, it can get a little bit messy. Sometimes I do check Facebook quite often throughout the day, because there are trolls out there who want to attack you and bring you down. I try and be as respectful as I can, but I know that we talked on a previous episode about deciding what is important and worthy of your time. So sometimes I just have to delete it, if it's just going to be an argument that's going to spiral, I just delete it. Not that I don't want...I definitely want constructive criticism and things like that. But if it's going to be in a public forum, and it's just a troll looking for a fight, I'm just going to delete it. I don't have time for that. I constantly do have to monitor it throughout the day. The challenging portion to this is that I have people asking me for home inspections, which is wonderful. That's the marketing working, but I get people, both clients and agents who message me on Facebook Messenger. Then they'll send me an Instagram message, and I will get a message on my personal Facebook. They'll find that and they'll send me a message there. Some people will email me, some people will call me, some people will text me...there's just too many forms. I've incorporated social media so much into my business that I have questions coming in from all different angles. As much as I try, I can't keep up on that many different avenues. That's the difficult thing. That's the only downfall, that I see, as far as social media.
BL: Sure, no, I totally understand.
RB: And I noticed that you started doing videos yourself, too. So, tell me a little bit about how you've been using social media as marketing?
BL: Well, once upon a time, I was trying to figure out ways to get my name out there in the industry around here. And I saw this lady, Rose Buckley.
BL: No, but seriously, I mean, you are so good at what you do. There is an element of that where I was like, I can see how she has a lead in her video, I can see how she has a signature sign off. And these are things that as you incorporate them into your content, people start to build an expectation. People are used to your brand, in a sense. More importantly than that, there's a great vendor, The Closing Guys. They're based out in North Carolina, Brad Williams and his wife, they're great friends of mine. They do a great job with video marketing and they actually had a class at the last InspectionWorld, where it was about nothing but social media marketing. They were talking about how with all the major platforms, whether it be Facebook, whether it be LinkedIn, Instagram, video is being heavily pushed by all of these social media platform algorithms. So, the more video content you do, the more views you're going to get. The more views you get, hopefully, that translates to more work. There are even ways you can hold your phone so that it's going to translate consistently across all of the several brands of social media marketing platforms, basically. It really does mean if I post typed content, just text strictly text, nobody hardly ever responds to it.
RB: Especially if it's like a full paragraph...Ain't nobody got time.
BL: No, nobody, it's all too long, didn't read. Nobody wants to read all that. Even if you post a picture, okay, I'll get a few more views. On my business page, it'll actually show you the number of views or clicks that you get. When you post videos and it's even changed now to stories. Facebook, the algorithm of Facebook pushes stories very heavily.
RB: And live...
BL: And live now for sure, yeah. If you do those things, oh my gosh, your views skyrocket. So there really is a method to it. There are people that put their whole business now into nothing but educating people on how to use social media to market. I'm definitely not that good at it. I'm not nearly as good or consistent as you are, but I have seen the benefit in that consistency is key. So, I want to throw this back to you now. Do you have a rough outline of production that you want to go through? Like, do you storyboard kind of what you want your viewers to see content wise? The message that you're trying to get across, anything like that?
RB: No, not really, you know, some people do, and that's fantastic. But as far as me, when I come upon a defect that I think is an interesting defect, either that's unique, or it's very common. Either one of the one in a million, or a million in a million, like clogged gutters, kind of thing, then I would like to let my clients know about that. So, then I'll make a video about it. It's really when I encounter something. If I have a few days in a row where I don't have an inspection, sometimes I'll go through my phone. I write my reports on my phone, and I'll go through recent inspections, and I'll find a photo from a recent inspection and post that. I do want to constantly keep the algorithm in my favor, so posting constantly is helpful. Even if we have days off sometimes, I'll even post a picture of myself at a park and be like, "I'm taking the day off." Just to keep it going and let people know like, "Oh, that's really cool. Not only is she really great home inspector, but look, she likes to snowboard." Or something like that just to connect on another level sometimes. "Oh, look, she's doing a podcast today. She might not be home inspecting. But that's okay, she's doing something else." So, I don't storyboard, I literally, it's almost like a vlog to my life. That's just how I'm comfortable doing it, but there are some people who have goals and they say, "I need to post three photos a week and one live." And that's completely valid, too. That's completely fine. Personally, it's just not my style. As I come across it, I make sure that I post it.
BL: Sure, that's good and there's kind of two factors. There's the not necessarily quantity over quality, because it's not like there's poor quality in what you're posting. But quantity is helpful because of that whole front of mind concept.
BL: And it just again, if what you have to say and what you have to share is at the top of everybody's feed, people remember you.
BL: So that and then the personal side of things, too. Again, this is just a job. We have lives outside of this and people like to know better who they're working with.
BL: Yeah, that's awesome. Now, all right, so I have one other question here. We weren't planning on this one. But being a woman in the industry of mostly men, I got to say you got some freaking creeps that comment on your pictures and your posts.
RB: [laughing] Yeah.
BL: Some of y'all need to stop it. Like, seriously, I'm just defending my coworker here. Some of y'all are just messed up.
RB: You're a valiant knight that comes to my rescue often.
BL: It's rare, okay. That's not the majority by any means whatsoever. But some of it, I wonder if some of is to be expected because you are a woman in a male dominated workspace, but how do you respond to some of this?
RB: Often if somebody is a creep, and they'll say, for instance, I had somebody recently, who...I posted a photo of myself and they...it's one thing to be like, "Oh, you're so pretty. You're so gorgeous." That's not what I'm looking for. I'm not looking for anybody to talk about...the last thing I want to talk about is my appearance. I want you to say, "Oh, that was really informative. Thank you so much for letting me know that I should have x,y&z maybe clean my gutters." Or whatnot or something like that. The last thing I want to do is have a conversation about my appearance.
BL: I have a hard time telling people to stop telling me how pretty I am.
RB: I know, right? I mean, your beard...it's just magnificent.
RB: And that flannel? Oh man.
BL: Well, no, that's totally joking. But no, okay, get back to seriously though, how do you respond to this?
RB: If it's one off comments, somebody's like, "Oh, you look beautiful today." And it seems harmless, I understand that. You know, sometimes we have people in the industry who are not digital natives who don't realize that's slightly inappropriate.
BL: Completely unprofessional.
RB: I'm just kind of like, "Okay, it wasn't meant in a harsh way. Whatever." If it's a one-off comment, I don't really say anything, but there are some people who will send me private messages and make derogatory comments. Sometimes they're so bad that I do have to delete them. That's frustrating, but it's something that I have to deal with, unfortunately, daily. I'll go to... I think I posted recently that I was at a pre drywall inspection, and I can't tell you how many people whistled at me. And they got really embarrassed when I walked up and told them how they did their job wrong. They kind of like tail between their legs walked away, and they're like, "Oh, I just whistled her and it's kind of embarrassing." That's not my goal, but it's not what women want to hear, you know?
BL: For sure.
RB: So, a lot of times I will either leave it if I think it's innocent enough, and just not comment or like. I'll ignore it as if it's not there. Or sometimes I do hide it, if it's belligerent and if it's bad enough. I've only had to block two people so far. That's good news.
BL: But now, I can tell what you definitely do is you lean on your strengths, and you lead with your qualifications. You show what you know. And that's, honestly, I think that speaks for itself. And so the majority of people that follow you, I think they appreciate you just for that.
RB: Yeah. And I think another thing about online marketing that I've been running into recently, we just had this conversation this morning, is that I'm not perfect, no one's perfect.
BL: Speak for yourself...
RB: And so if I say something in my video that maybe someone doesn't agree with or maybe you find factually incorrect, I am 100% open to have an adult, respectful conversation about how I can do better in the future. 100%...Be respectful and I'm cool with it. And I'm like, "Oh, well I didn't realize that." Or something like that, I'll own up to it if I was wrong about something. But to sit there behind your computer and scream into the ether, "She's wrong! She doesn't know what she's talking about!" Just like blast my page, that's not productive. It's just incredibly frustrating.
BL: No, totally have that.
RB: So you always get the trolls and, yeah, if you think that I was wrong. But I come back and I say, "Well, I see your point, but this is why I do this." Most people are pretty respectful and are like, "Well, that's not how I do it, but cool." And that's how life should be.
BL: For sure.
RB: Move on, you have no consequence on my life. Move on. You're wrong, that's not how I would do it. Fine, whatever we disagree. But there's a subset of people who will not stop until they tear you down. You're going to get that and if you use marketing that way, you have to be careful about that. Because the whole point of it is to educate people and hopefully somebody sees it and wants to hire you from it. But if they see people trolling you, you obviously have to take control of that. Either just outright delete the post, because it's not worth it, or whatnot. But you don't want your potential clients to be seeing you fight with other people. It's just not worth it. It's the opposite of what you want.
BL: Totally counterproductive, for sure.
BL: So, we have gone on for 32 minutes. I'm just seeing the clock here...about nothing but social media. Which we had a whole list of things planned out. I think we're going to have to two-part this thing, honestly.
RB: Are you serious? Nah, I don't think so. No, the rest of it, I mean, I know you get passionate about one of the next things that we talk about.
BL: I do. I do for sure. But I do want to put a pin in that one right there. Not to stop the episode per se, but just to throw out: I want to hear what you guys do for your social media marketing.
BL: So, if you guys don't mind emailing or posting, direct messaging. Except don't DM Rose creepy things. [laughing] But if you want to DM the show, you can totally do that with what you do for your social media marketing strategy. We would love to hear that.
RB: And your general like, what do you do as marketing? Because a lot of people that I spoke to...I went to a couple conventions and there's a big movement, a subculture of people who want to get away from doing the gift baskets and things like that. I'm not saying I'm against that, I'm just interested in hearing what other people have to say about it. Because I do it, it's what a lot of people around here do. But if I could get away from having to buy candy bowls, that don't bring me too much business, then maybe we could do that. So, we want to hear from you guys out in the field. What do you do for your marketing? Get your name out there? And who do you market to? Because one thing that we want to talk about is not only marketing to agents, but also how do you... because some people don't want to see the agent at all. How do you market to buyers, specifically? If that's what you do.
BL: Agents versus buyers? Yeah, that's a tough one. Because again, you don't have direct access to the buyers, the same way that you do through the agents. The agents that are the gateway to the buying community, the home buying can be...
RB: And there are so many inspectors out there who are like screw agents, I'm not going to bow down to agents. And I'm not saying they're wrong. I'm just saying that they're, you know, they get their point of view.
BL: They've got their preference.
RB: Yeah, you've got good inspectors and bad inspectors, good agents, bad agents, you know, whatever. There is a bunch of people who say, "I don't want to have to market myself to an agent when they're not going to be hiring me. It's the clients that I'm looking for." So, you know, as far as marketing yourself directly to buyers, how do you do it? Because I personally, obviously, my Facebook does that for me. But how do you do that? I know that Google presence is really important, because the first thing people are going to do if I'm buying a house and I don't know any home inspectors. I'm pulling out Google and I'm saying home inspectors and fill in the blank town.
RB: So that's really important. Do you know one thing that I do that I think is really helpful? I don't do that very often, I do market a lot to agents, but I would like to start doing more marketing to buyers directly. One thing that I did once, I went to a bridal show.
BL: A bridal show?
RB: Yeah, we all do conventions and things like that. But one thing I got a booth at a bridal show.
BL: Right ok, I've been to exactly zero of those.
RB: Yeah. [laughing] That's not surprising.
RB: But guess what, if you get married, what's the next step?
BL: I can think of a couple things. But I think what you're saying is really buying a house, right? [laughing]
RB: Yeah. Well, you know, maybe some of those things will come along. You know, first comes love and then comes marriage, then comes baby, and then you need more space. So, you're going to buy a house. So, you might buy a house together, you know, you might both live with your parents and move in. I figured that would be really lucrative. And I got a couple of jobs out of that, which was really helpful. So, going to bridal convention and say, "Hey, when it's time to move in, together, and when it's time for kids and union upgrade, give me a call, I'm happy to help you." That helps. It's something that not a lot of people do, but that's one thing that I do, I got to say.
BL: I think you have a unique access to that niche right there, you know?
RB: But do you know how many people look at me, and they don't think I'm a home inspector? Even when I'm at booth, they think I'm the marketing girl.
BL: I believe that.
RB: That's hard. That's the hard part of when I do it.
BL: Yeah, but you're helping to change the industry, and there are a lot of lady listeners out there. Honestly, we would love to hear from you guys, from you girls too, responding to how you handle some of these things the way that Rose has. Again, it's being a woman in a male dominated industry. It's a big deal. It presents its own challenges and you have to tackle those things in different ways. In ways that, me as a guy, I don't have to deal with some of that stuff. So, I don't have to go through the perception of being a woman in the industry and having to confront that obstacle when I'm marketing myself to somebody else.
RB: You look like a home inspector.
BL: I do.
RB: People believe you when you say, "I'm a home inspector."
BL: Right, exactly. So, we've talked about a couple of other things that you can do. You did a bridal convention. There are housing conventions that you can do. I've done realtor conventions, that's been another one that my company's done before and that's been sort of fruitful. But again, technically, we work for the buyers, we don't work for the realtors. And there can be huge legal consequences if you are going about that business relationship with realtors in the wrong way.
RB: And there's one in particular way that they do that...There's something called pay to play.
BL: I...don't even get me started. Well, you are getting me started because you want me to...ooof.
RB: I am getting you started because you had that inspector BOD. And now you're fired up ready to go with that bourbon. And I think it's a really important thing to talk about with marketing. So, pay to play. Can you explain what pay to play is to people who are listening?
BL: So, we are in a very large and very influential real estate market here in Washington DC. The other markets that might be as large as this one would be places like New York City or LA or Dallas, maybe I don't know. Just big cities where you have very influential realtors, right. These are the ones that are aspiring HGTV stars, okay. And I swear some of these folks and I love my agents. Okay, so this is...none of you, my best agents that are listening. I'm not talking about you. I'm talking about the ones that we as vendors do not have access to unless we pay tens of thousands of dollars. I kid you not, just sponsor three events a year. That's the pay to play mentality.
RB: Okay, if you're in your car, you got to turn the volume down.
BL: Yes, I'm sorry. I'm getting amped up here. But this drives me up the wall because I called one of the one of the top brokerages in Washington DC about marketing and one of their events that I saw coming up. They posted about it on social media. They said, "Show up anybody's welcome." I called and I said, "Is anybody really welcome? I'm a home inspector, can I come mix and mingle with some of your buyers?" They said, "Yeah, yeah, you can be on the preferred vendor list. Would you like to be in the silver tier or the gold tier or the platinum tier?"
RB: Do you want to be on the back page? [laughing]
BL: Right. And I said, "Okay, what's the difference?" And it was a spread of, I kid you not, $15,000.
BL: I was like, "Who's got a marketing budget for that? First of all, you're talking about home inspectors, vendors, plumbers, electricians...who's got that kind of money?"
BL: I was just...I was so incensed by it because it's pay to play. It is paying for access to their buyers and there's an unethical side to that. Now they skirt it and they talk to their lawyers and they phrase it in certain ways so that they can work around the legal ramifications of this, but it's pay to play and, technically, it's not right it's not ethical. But I told the head inspector for our regional team here. I said, "You know what? I'm done with this, man." I am done with people saying or with these brokerages saying, "Hey, you need to pay us for access to our buyers. You need to pay us if you want to be mentioned with us." I'm like, "I don't know at what point you got in your head that you were so elite that you had to charge everybody else for access to you for business? But now I'm ready to flip the table on that." And I don't mean this in an arrogant way, I don't mean this in a way of boasting our presence or boasting our brand. That's not it. I don't want to pay a realtor to have to speak or just have a booth at their convention. I want them to pay me, okay? Because we're the experts in our field in the same way that they're the experts in theirs, right?
BL: So, I want us to be respected for our expertise and for the value that we provide to their buyers because they don't make it to the closing table without our inspection report.
BL: Okay? So, I want to get paid for my time the same way I'm paying for theirs, right? It just, it drives me up the wall with this. So, and selfishly, that's one of the goals with the podcast for me, right? We're dealing first with producing this for our wonderful home inspector community. But if there's agents listening, I want you guys to see how valuable home inspectors are to the real estate industry. We are indispensable to your buyers; therefore, we are indispensable to you. So, you get what you pay for with your home inspectors, especially for the good ones.
RB: Yeah. Right. And I think that you hit on a very good point, the real estate agents...
BL: That's the end of my rant by the way, I'm sorry.
RB: [laughing] End rant. No, that was really amazing. And I was sitting back here like preach.
BL: Come on, Hallelujah!
RB: But I think that you touch on a really good point. The agent is the gatekeeper to the real estate industry. If I am, you know, Joe Schmo. And I have nothing to do with real estate, but I want to buy a house...where do I go first? Where do I start? This is so daunting, and it looks like this massive mountain, I have to climb in order to achieve my goal. I'm going to go to a real estate agent, and they're going to be my Sherpa that takes me through this entire process. And I'm going to listen to what they say, if they say this is my home inspector that I use, I'm going to use them. And listen, I have agents who recommend me and me only. And that's their choice. That's fantastic and I'm happy to work with them. That's their choice. But it is something that these agents who choose, these brokerages I should say, that choose to do pay to play. I've actually had a couple approach me because of my social media presence and say, "We want you to come over and be a part of our team. We want to have you be our vendor, because we love the work that you do. But you got to pay us $6,000 for the year."
BL: Yeah, no way.
RB: Yeah. And that's just like, "No, if I'm that invaluable to you, and you find my information that helpful, then why don't you just say, to your clients this is the best home inspector out there for you, or this is one of the best and I recommend them?" There's supposed to be a list of three. And so that's kind of the accepted rule, is that the agent should give you a list of three vendors.
BL: So, there's no perceived partiality.
RB: Yeah, and they can't say you have to use this one particular inspector. They can say, "This is the inspector that I love working with because of X, Y and Z. But here are three that are totally fine. Do your research." And that way it's considered in many circles, that's okay. But I'm not paying to get on that list.
BL: No, you shouldn't have to...
RB: No, you should be paying me for the value that I bring to your clients.
BL: Exactly. Because if they are the Sherpa providing...or shepherding, if you will...
RB: Yeah, that's a better word, yeah.
BL: ...these buyers through the process of buying a home. Moving into a home, relocating. We are the Sherpa of showing you every detail about your house, the good, the bad, and the ugly. And hopefully, there's no bad and ugly, but if there is you want to know and we're the ones that know.
BL: Right? So, this is why I get so fired up about that one anyway.
RB: I think everybody does, because nobody wants to go through and get trained and have all these certifications and work really hard. Do the best job that we can only to then turn around and be denied the option of working just simply because we don't pay someone for it. That's not fair.
BL: No, completely not. So anyway, that's the end of that.
RB: That's the actual end of the rant.
BL: Yeah. But anyway, to the home inspectors that are listening, we love you. That's why we're doing this show. And to the realtors that are listening, we appreciate you too. And again, it's part of what got me going on that rant, there...
RB: We love the agents we work with. And yeah, I think that's great. There are a lot of home inspectors out there who want nothing to do with a real estate agent. And I'm not saying they're wrong, but they're a huge part of the real estate transaction. And we work with them and I find them invaluable.
BL: Yep, exactly. And there has to be synergy there between all different sides of the real estate transaction. We're just part of it, we are part of it, but we're a big part of it. And we want to stay that way because we love what we do. And we love working with the people that we get to work with.
BL: And some of that to you guys. So, thank you all so much for listening, send in your listener stories. Again, we encourage you to do that. We want to hear from y'all. We want to do another social media happy hour sometime in the future here, another Facebook live happy hour.
RB: And I'd love to do a follow up to this episode because we want to hear what you guys out there in the field are doing. How do you market yourself? What do you find is helpful for you? What do you find that's not helpful? We want to hear from you guys so that we can actually do a follow up to this episode. And come back and say, "This is what we're hearing from the field." And either, that kind of vibes with what we said or something a little bit different. We're not the only voices in the inspection industry.
BL: And we still have a lot to learn too. We can stand to learn from some of you guys listening.
RB: So where can they email in their information?
BL: They can email in that information to email@example.com
RB: Great, awesome.
BL: And they can also connect with us on social media.
RB: Sounds good, perfect.
BL: Thank you all so much for listening. We'll be back next time here on Inspection Connection. So, for Rose, I'm Brad saying so long.