In 2004, the Central Illinois Chapter ASHI (CICASHI) was small, with only 15 Members and Candidates. Though we had a strong desire to promote The ASHI Experience in Central Illinois, we had no funds to do so.
On Saturday, July 10, 2004, CICASHI sponsored its "1st Annual Summer Conference." We invited all Illinois-licensed inspectors, as well as ASHI inspectors from surrounding states, to a one-day training conference that offered Continuing Education Credits (CEUs) for Illinois state licensing and ASHI Membership Renewal Credits (MRCs). With almost 100 home inspectors attending, it was a success both as an educational event and as a fundraiser.
Now that the chapter had some money to spend, we were excited and ready to place radio, TV and newspaper advertisements promoting our chapter and The ASHI Experience. I e-mailed Bob Kociolek at ASHI headquarters with questions about the ads available on the ASHI Web site. In one conversation, I reminded him that we were home inspectors with little advertising experience; therefore, we'd appreciate any help we could get.
Asked to take part in trial program
In late summer, Bob asked if CICASHI would be interested in participating in a trial program with ASHI and Buz Buzagony, SAVVY Strategic Resource Partners. Buz would work with our small chapter and with the larger New England Chapter, sharing his marketing and advertising expertise. We provided him with our budget, geographical data, and the names of various publications and radio/TV markets.
Still short for impact and frequency
According to Buz, impact and frequency are probably the two most important factors in an advertising or promotional campaign. It was easy to see we didn't have a budget large enough to do either in the typical media markets (TV, radio, newspapers). We could afford either one really big ad or many very tiny ads, nether of which would be cost effective in his opinion. He told us not to give up, but rather to target our marketing efforts until our budget increased. He suggested we do community projects to gain free press, target smaller publications in specific markets, and do a lot of one-on-one marketing.
Good works get good press
The chapter had unknowingly already completed one of his suggestions. The previous September, we had participated in a workday with the Springfield Habitat for Humanity. (See ASHI Reporter, November 2004.) The free publicity we received in the real estate community was tremendous, and the article in the Reporter built confidence within the chapter. I was invited to share this marketing experience with others during Savvy's presentation at Chapter Leadership Days, October 2004.
Partnering with NIC and Great Lakes part of new plan
Also, while at Fall 2004 Chapter Leadership Days, we were introduced to the idea of joint marketing with two other chapters: Northern Illinois and Great Lakes. By the year's end, the chapter was committed to a 2005 marketing plan that fit our budget:
- Jointly budget with NICASHI and GLCASHI for a full-page, black/white ad for a full year in the Illinois Realtor®.
- a publication that reaches more than 75,000 real estate agents and brokers, lenders and related affiliates in the state of Illinois. CICASHI committed to 20 percent of the cost based on the magazine's demographics.
- Sponsor a booth at the Springfield Home and Builder Show in March 2005.|
- Place a half-page ad for a full year in the local Springfield/Decatur area Heartland Homes publication. This is a real estate "homes for sale" publication with circulation in the areas where the majority of the chapter members work and live.
- Search out and participate in another community project in the fall.
How is our plan working?
The joint advertisement in the Illinois Realtor(r) will first appear in the May issue, featuring the ASHI "Big Bill" ad, and including ASHI web-links to direct inquiries to the appropriate chapters. That issue also will feature an article on home inspectors.
The chapter's booth at the March 4-6th Home & Builder Show was judged a success based on the many positive comments from attendees, especially real estate agents.
Our ad in the Springfield/Decatur Heartland Homes publication began with the March issue. The ads will rotate between consumer-and real estate agent-directed content, and inquiries are directed to the chapter's Web site.
Funds, partnering, plus expert advice add up to marketing success
The ASHI Experience funds the chapter received, plus our profit from the Annual Summer Conference, afforded CICASHI the opportunity to market The ASHI Experience in Central Illinois; however, we all agree that the advice and expertise provided us by ASHI through Buz Buzagony and Savy was invaluable and will help us get the most bang for the buck.
by David Miller, ASHI Member
David Miller is the president of the Central Illinois Chapter. He owns and operates DG Miller & Associates in Jacksonville, Ill.
Marketing One-on-One At Home & Builder Show
The Central Illinois Chapter ASHI (CICASHI) joined hundreds of exhibitors, March 4-6, 2005, at the Springfield Home and Builder Show, Prairie Capitol Convention Center in Springfield, Ill. More than 5,000 people attended the 3-day event.
The chapter used ASHI's table-top booth for consumers, continuously played ASHI's public service announcements, sponsored a drawing for 12 lucky winners to receive a copy of "How to Operate Your Home" by Mr. Fix-it Tom Feiza, and handed out The ASHI Experience brochures, which had been custom imprinted with the chapter's Web site and included an insert with chapter members' names and contact information.
The chapter purchased shirts for those who worked in the booth, and sponsored four 30-minute seminars, "The Value of a Home Inspection when Buying a New or Used Home," delivered by David G. Miller, chapter president. Chapter founder Dana Strumpher, Amerispec Home Inspection Service of Springfield, Ill., created the 15-minute video and the presentation material used for the seminar. He also provided the technical support.
CICASHI will track activity on its Web site as a means of evaluating the success of this marketing venture. The chapter plans to rotate appearances at home shows in various cities in the central Illinois area in the coming years.
Photo: Kevin Zinn, Stan Kupish, Central Illinois Chapter vice president; David Miller, Central Illinois Chapter president; Larry Painter; Brad Kershner.
Other members who volunteered time but are not pictured: Frank Buraski, John Dunn, Terry Drury, Tim Kearney, Dana Strumpher, Mark Teague and Mike Meseke. Photo courtesy of Dana Strumpher and John Dunn.
Don Norman at Ohio Chapter's Spring Conference
ASHI President Don Norman spoke at the Ohio Chapter Spring Conference held on March 5 and 6 in Columbus, Ohio.
Photo:Don Norman speaking to the group.
Photo: Don Norman and Ohio Chapter Conference Chairman Craig Carson
Photo: Dinner with the Ohio Chapter Executive Board
Photos courtesy of Doug Snyder
Candidates-Only night in Illinois
Forty ASHI Candidates and a few home inspection students attended the first "Candidates Only Night,"co-sponsored by Northern Illinois Chapter (NICASHI) and Great Lakes Chapter.
Jack McGraw, an ASHI Candidate/w logo use, is given credit for arranging this expansion of the "Candidates Corner" he's been leading at NICASHI's monthly meetings.
Frank Lesh, ASHI vice president, and Jamie Dunsing, past ASHI Director, delivered the program, which included photographs of defects and more than two hours of questions and answers.
Among those attending the event was Corey Friedman, NICASHI president; Barry Kreiter, NICASH vice president and council representative; Ed Massart, member ASHI Chapter Relations Committee. Chapter Directors Tim Connors, Jack McGraw and Gary Monfeli, as well as several other chapter members also represented NICASHI.
Plans are underway to repeat this event on a quarterly basis.