Checking In with Gary Smith

The Mississippi-based home inspector uses location-based apps to drum up business.

In real estate, they say that only three things matter-location, location,┬álocation. Gary Smith, owner of SafeHome Inspections in Ridgeland, Mississippi, is proving that the same is true of home inspectors.Smith says that one of the most effective marketing strategies he employs uses location-based mobile apps like Facebook to let future customers know where he works, to get the word out to local real estate agents and contractors and to establish himself as THE home inspection expert in the area. Here’s how he does it.

The Goal: To get his name in front of every potential home buyer and real estate agent that may do business in a specific area.

The Strategy: Check-In Marketing. To target home buyers, home owners and real estate agents in a specific neighborhood, Smith uses Facebook’s location-based apps to get his name out and to show that he has a client base in that locale. When smart phone and mobile device users in the area check into local restaurants, coffee shops or retail establishments through Facebook, Smith’s name and nearby work history also pops up.

The Method: “After I inspect a house, the first thing I do [as far as check-in marketing] is to look on Facebook and see if someone has created a subdivision name of the area I’m inspecting,” says Smith. “If they haven’t, I create that subdivision name and then I post a picture of the real estate sign of the listing agent in that area and any interesting photos of the front of the subdivision. I’m very careful not to list the address of the home or particular information about the home. That’s pretty private, but I do take photos of anything interesting in the subdivision, such as a lake or playground…”

“It only takes me about 20 seconds to take a photo of the subdivision where I’m inspecting a home, but, over time, you wind up with a dynamic that allows you to increase your visibility on Facebook. Now whenever I return to that area, I can check in and every time I do, it allows me to share that information and those pictures on my personal [Facebook] page and on pages of other locations I’ve created.”

“Every time I check in, it posts that I’m there, doing an inspection, being active in that area to anyone who may be looking at that page. I also share photos of other services [real estate service professionals, etc] while I’m in the neighborhood. It’s a co-branding opportunity and spreads the news that other trusted services work that area. Now the next time someone checks in at the Wal-Mart near that subdivision, they will see that there’s a home inspector or other real estate service in the area who’s doing work. It becomes free advertising.”

“Once the page is up and running, anyone involved in real estate in that area can also help it grow by posting their activity on the pages. Pretty soon, we have builders, agents, contractors, anyone who might be involved in property in that area, building the page up and drawing more attention to it.”

The Result: Better web traffic targeted specifically to home buyers in his area without investing much time. “What we’re finding too is that some of the pages are beginning to show up in Google searches for locations/areas [SafeHome Inspections] they weren’t before,” says Smith. “Since Facebook allows all business pages to be seen by search engines outside the Facebook domain, we’re getting free advertising both to people who check in using [location-based apps] and to those just searching on Google…For me, this is local advertising, [a kind] that targets people who live within 20 to 30 miles of my area of focus. If the majority of the neighborhoods in that area have my contact information in the check-ins, I’m certainly ahead of the game.”

Home inspectors who are interested in seeing how Gary’s location-based marketing works can check out the Ridgeland, Mississippi Real Estate page here.

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