Don't Punish Your Prospects, Entertain Them-Marketing Real Estate Agents through Video

Don't Punish Your Prospects, Entertain Them-Marketing Real Estate Agents through Video

As an independent, boutique, real estate company our greatest asset is our agents. One of our primary responsibilities is to promote our agents. We do this by getting them in front of potential clients.

Real estate buyers and sellers have become protective about sharing their contact information fearing being overwhelm with unwanted communication. This is understandable, some real estate lead conversion programs advocate up to 43 touches!. This means the real estate client can expect a combination of up to 43 emails, text messages or phone calls. Who wants to undergo this type of digital waterboarding?

Since we don't want to subject people to that kind of onslaught, we decided to take the high road. We built our website to showcase our skills, knowledge and personalities. When it came to featuring our agents, photos and a text description weren't good enough. We wanted people to see first-hand the different personalities within our company. The obvious choice for us was video. Video gave us the opportunity to present the agents in a more authentic and natural light. Something you can't do with still images and text.

We thought going to a professional studio would make the process too intimidating. The agents are not actors and we needed them to come across as relaxed and authentic. We decided to do the agent videos ourselves. Our company, was already doing videos of our listings and we had the equipment.

The Setup:

  • We started with lists of questions. Our marketing staff has a great feel for the individual agents' personalities and wanted that to shine through. They put together two sets of questions, one general in nature about real estate related topics and a second more personal list tailored to each agent about their personal goals and hobbies. The questions were written so the agents could answer without a lot of thought and we did not provide the questions to the agent beforehand. We wanted their answers to be genuine and not scripted.
  • We setup in an office. We used seamless white background paper as our backdrop. We flooded the room with light from several "Daylight Equivalent" LED bulbs. You can find these at any home improvement store. We chose this setup because we wanted a very clean and even look. We wanted the agent to pop out and be the focus.
  • We used a full frame mirrorless digital camera with 55mm lens positioned on a tri-pod about 6 feet in front of the agents. We set the focal length to a shallow f2.2. This setting blurred the background and helped keep the focus on the subject. 
  • For the audio, we used a "Blue Microphones-Yeti". We positioned the microphone about 8-inches from the agent's head, just out of the frame. This proximity allowed us to capture their voices in a warm yet realistic manner. The "Yeti" is a nice voice over microphone and has the added advantage of having USB connectivity.
  • We recorded the audio onto a separate track into the computer through the USB input into "Adobe Audition CC". We then merged those tracks with the video clip in post-production using "Adobe Premier CC". Our company uses the "Adobe Creative Cloud" suite but all this can be accomplished with almost any video editing software.

The Interviews

  • Since it was so important for us to keep the focus on the agent we decided to keep the interviewer behind the camera. We used one person to operate the camera and another person off camera asking the questions.
  • The agents were instructed to briefly repeat or summarize the question before launching into the answer. If the answers sounded phony or out of character we would ask them to answer the question again. We were looking for interesting answers not sound bytes. This was difficult at first. It seemed like the agents can up with generic answers quickly. When we pushed they got a little frustrated but the answers were much better. In retrospect, this made the videos much more interesting.
  • During the interviews each agent was asked about what they do outside of real estate. We know that clients often focus on personal elements about the agents. At some point they assume they have real estate expertise but want to know more. So, we decided to share this in the videos as well. Based on the agents' answer to these questions we shot additional footage of them outside of work. For example, one of our agents has a background in Music Education. She teaches and conducts a string group for the Colorado Springs Youth Symphony. She mentioned this in her video and many of her clients find this interesting. So, we included footage of her conducting her orchestra.

The Results

We are obviously excited about these videos and so are our agents. We consistently hear from them that a client chose to work with them because of their video. We knew clients would appreciate seeing our agent's explaining who they are in a relaxed setting. Because of this we decided to double down this with a glimpse into the agent's personal lives.

From this we have learned that clients appreciate that kind of transparency. When clients are looking for a Realtor to work with, real estate expertise is important. If that were the only factor there would be no explanation for the number of people that simply "Have a friend in the business". We think that clients are also looking for someone that resonates with their values and lifestyle.

This kind of transparency helps build trust. Trust is of course, essential in a Realtor/Client relationship. In an online environment where buyers and sellers don't want to expose their identity until they have some level of comfort, these kinds of videos go a long way in bringing potential clients to actually reach out to us.

The proof comes at the closing table or in the car while looking at houses. Statements like "We picked you because we watched your video and you're just like us" or "We saw in your video that education is important to you. That made up our minds". Statements like these are music to any marketer's ears but the best part is that the comments are based on who the agent really is. We can't think of a better way to reach out to new clients.

 

Here is a sample of how these videos turned out:

 

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Improving Your Winter Real Estate Photos

Winter months create significant challenges for real estate photographers. The days are shorter, darker, colder and sometimes snowy.

Exterior images are the biggest challenge. This is a big deal because this is the primary image for almost every Real Estate Listing create.

Our basic rule of thumb for exterior photographs is to shoot them when the sun is on the front of the property. East facing homes in the morning, west in the afternoons.

This becomes a problem during the winter months when the arc of the sun is further south. During winter, it is not unusual for north and west facing homes to get no direct sunlight on the front of the house. 

Exterior images with no sun on the front of the property result in shadowy or dark images. In some cases when the sun is behind the house extreme lens flare.

wrongtime

In order find the ideal time to take the exterior picture, we use a convenient app. "The Photographer’s Ephemeris". This handy application shows us where the sun will be throughout the day. This app saves us from making unnecessary trips to the property to find the best time for pictures. Here's how it works:

  1. Place the Red Pin in the middle of the scene you want to shoot.
  2. Use the slider underneath the timeline to track the sun's path
  3. Look for full sun on the entire front of the house.
  4. Schedule your photo shoot for that time. It's that simple!

During the winter the Ephemeris often shows us no ideal time (see above). The sun maybe behind the property all day. This creates a real problem if you are trying to get that bright, crisp, even look on your exterior image.

Although "dusk shots" seem like a good alternative, they can feel a little pretentious. Especially on a median priced home. These shots are generally reserved for the "Ultra-Luxury" listings.  

Our solution is to take what we call a “pre-dusk”shot. This is a shot taken just as the sun goes behind the mountains/horizon. We take a set of bracketed images, usually 7 to 9 images. These images are then processed in Photomatix to create a single "Exposure Fusion" image.

Here is a finished "Pre-Dusk" image taken using the following tools:

StoneFence 800

I like this image because it shows the property in the best possible light. This home faces Northwest and never gets full sun on the front during the winter. This technique give us a nice even light so we can get a sense of how the home actually looks. 

I also like the added perspective the drone gives, you get more of a sense of how the Home fits into the neighborhood.

Here’s how I created this image:

  • I used the raw image from the DJI phantom 4.
  • I brought the image into lightroom and output seven bracketed exposures to photomatrix.
  • Once in photomatix I created an Exposure Fusion image. This image is then sent back into lightroom.
  • In lightroom, we make any final adjustments and resize the photo for MLS and websites.

If you have any questions, feel free to get in contact with me (Contact)

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