January 19, 2015 Chris Field

Video for Real-Estate Agents: A strategy guide.

Video is a business tool whose time has come. Internet access is almost universal, fast enough to support video streaming, and consumers are becoming increasingly sophisticated and demanding more from those they do business with. It’s more important than ever to reach out to your potential clients and connect with them on a personal level as well as a professional level, and you need to be building a relationship with them long before they pick up the phone to call you.

Video offers tremendous opportunities to those who do it right, but there are a lot of people spending time and money jumping onto the video bandwagon without really knowing strategically what it is that they’re doing, and exactly how their videos will help them grow.

Over the next 5 years businesses will become increasingly sophisticated in their use and application of video, and video strategy will eventually widely understood. But there a window, maybe only 3 years long, maybe 6 or 7, in which the companies which implement strategic video marketing and communications will stand head-and-shoulders above those who either don’t have video at all, or who do it badly.

So what does an effective video strategy look like for Real Estate Agencies? First lets discuss video strategies that that are already in use, why they’re perhaps not working as they should, and what needs to be adjusted. Then we’ll take a look at what an ideal video marketing strategy would look like for a Real Estate Agency.

Videos which are already being widely used include:

1. The Property-for-sale video.

Some real-estate companies are using video on a property by property basis to assist in their advertising. These videos can be money well spent, but be very careful not to over-capitalise. Most of the time it’s only worth doing a property video on top-end properties because the margin simply isn’t there on the lower value properties. A good rule of video is that if you don’t have the money to do a good job, don’t do it at all. A bad property video is far worse than none at all.

If your presenter is awkward on camera, either spend the money getting them trained up to be really comfortable on camera, or don’t have a presenter in your videos at all. If the lighting inside the house is bad, spend the money to bring in a lighting kit to make the place shine. If the property isn’t worth enough to spend the money on a lighting kit, and a quality camera, and to train someone to present well on camera, then just get photos and leave it at that.

Consider as well that if you’re doing videos on a property-by-property basis then you’re constantly in production, you’re constantly spending money, and given that your potential return on each video is very limited, the costs of production can quickly outweigh the benefits. This really is a specialist strategy for high end Real Estate Agents.

If you can find someone dirt-cheap enough to make it worth your while to churn out a video for every property, then good for you. But be aware that you’re probably going to be dealing with a one-man-band that runs out of their back room, and you risk getting what you’re paying for.

For the right firm dealing in the right kinds of properties, individual Property Videos can be a great investment, but don’t just jump on the bandwagon because everyone else is doing it. Everyone else might be wasting their money…

2. The About Us video. (vs the ‘Welcome’ video)

About Us videos are important, but they do not belong on your home page. If you have an ‘about us’ video then that’s great, but get it off your home page. “But I need a video on my home page!” You say. Yes you do, but your home page video should not be about you, it should be about your client.

I cannot stress this enough. Having a video all about yourself on your home page is like walking up to someone at a networking event and launching into a spiel about how great you are. It’s off-putting! You can tell me all day long about how great your customer service is, but it will do you a lot more good to start asking me questions about me and shifting the focus of the conversation onto me, your potential client. Then when you tell me you’re customer focused, I might actually believe you!

The video you need to have on your home page must welcome your potential client, and then get them thinking about themselves!!! The more time they spend during your video thinking about their dreams, their needs, and their goals, the better! You need to create a home-page video that feels like a concierge at an expensive hotel, who opens the doors and takes your bags and you just know that you’re in good hands, not because he told you all about himself or launched into a sales pitch for the hotel, but because he met your needs and focused on you. That is what your home page ‘Welcome’ video needs to feel like.

The ‘About Us’ video is important to have, but it belongs on a separate page where people who want it can find it. It should never be the first ‘conversation’ you have with your potential clients.

3. The New Development video.

This is one kind of video that the real-estate industry is doing pretty well already. When working on a big development, the Agency selling the apartments / commercial / industrial space tend to get a video done. These videos tend to follow a fairly predictable format, and that’s ok because it works and the current format keeps them cheap to produce, so arguably the ROI is about as good as it’s going to get… maybe.

All I’ll say about these is that there is a lot of room for a developer or RE Agency willing to take a bit of a risk to stand out by being a bit more creative. That would require a bigger budget than most are willing to spend, but for the right development it could prove to be money very well spent.

As a ‘for instance’ of an alternative approach for a ‘New Development’ video, most if not all of us have seen the recent Mercedes ad where they have a male executive driving the car and they go through a range of ‘scenarios’. First they talk about the city they might be in, then who he has in his passenger seat (settling on his very attractive and flirtatious ‘boss’) and so on. The ad isn’t about the car at all, it’s about getting their target market (executive males in their late thirties and early forties) to identify with the ad and to ‘wish it were them’. And it works.

You don’t see much of the car, but the image and lifestyle hits their target market right between the eyes. That is the kind of videos RE agencies should be doing for new developments. Forget about the development itself, think about the dream lifestyle of your target market and sell them that dream, with your development as part of that package of course.

All of the above are videos that in one form or another are already in use in the industry. Typically the production quality is low (not always, but often) and the videos are produced ad-hoc and they don’t really integrate with each other so there really isn’t a lot of strategy behind it.

By contrast, read on to see the strategy that I would recommend for a real-estate agency that is serious about building their business through video in 2015 and beyond:

We want to use video to achieve four main business objectives:

  • Attract potential sellers (lead generation)
  • Convince sellers to sign with your firm (lead conversion)
  • Attract potential buyers (lead generation)
  • Convince buyers to buy one of your properties (lead conversion)

So we have two distinct target markets (sellers and buyers), and we need to do two things with each market (attract and convert). This will require a fairly comprehensive video strategy.

Comprehensive video marketing strategy for Real Estate Agencies:

1. Lead Generation:

An enormous amount of energy is invested in generating leads, and without leads you won’t have a business for long. So lets start here. There are two overall strategies you can use to generate leads with video. These are:

  • Branding / Advertising videos
  • Content Marketing videos

These are two very different strategies which reach very different audiences and are best used in conjunction with each other, although each stands on its own perfectly well.

Branding / Advertising Videos:

Online Video Advertising can be targeted precisely into your target market, meaning that your ad-spend doesn’t get wasted on people who aren’t your target market, and meaning you can create video ads that really hit your market without having to worry too much about anyone else. Online Advertising is active, aggressive, and when strategised right can be very effective.

The one caution I will give for an online video advertising campaign is that you need to be willing to spend some decent money. By which I mean $20K+. Let me explain why.

Think about when you’re online after (or during) work and you’re confronted with an ad, what is your first instinct? To ignore or skip it!!! You’re wanting to watch a YouTube trailer for an upcoming movie, but first there’s an ad, so your mouse pointer hovers over the ‘skip’ button and clicks it the instant you can. Or if you’re scrolling down your FB news feed your eyes skip straight over a post the moment you realise it’s a ‘sponsored post’.

This is why your ad has to be amazing. You have at most 5 seconds (on YouTube) and possibly just a split second (on other platforms) to make your target market hesitate. You have to hit them with something so good that they’re more interested in your video than they are in whatever they were about to watch, or whatever might be further down on their news feed. People think that online video advertising is cheap, and sure it’s cheaper than TV advertising ever was, but you still get what you pay for. A video that fails to grab your target markets attention is a waste of your production budget, and a waste of your ad-spend. If you can’t find that sort of budget for a quality Branding / Advertising video campaign, consider a Content Marketing campaign instead.

Content Marketing Videos:

Content marketing is a fairly passive marketing strategy which makes use of the fact that people are looking for information online. It works because people who find you to be a valuable source of information then start to trust you more than the ‘other’ RE agency they’ve never heard of before, or who they only know through their ads.

In the RE business you are blessed and cursed by the fact that people spend a lot of time searching around online before they ever pick up the phone. People do tend to do a lot of research (for better or for worse) before they ever engage with an agent. That means you have ample opportunity to connect with them online before they call one of your competitors.

Content Marketing Videos are videos which give away information that your target market is looking for in the pre-purchase phase! You need to know your market and the kind of information they’re looking for. If you’ve picked the right topics and keywords for your target market then they will find your videos when they search for information / advice on Google and YouTube (YouTube is the #2 search engine in the world) and they will watch your videos because you are giving them the information they are looking for. The key is that you must provide real value in these videos!

You can talk about all sorts of things, from profiling different suburbs in your area, to demystifying the house-buying process, buying / selling guides, ‘how to sell your house for more’ guides, or even ‘Exposing the tricks of the trade’ used by other, sneaky RE agents (not you, of course) to build trust with your audience, etc. There is no shortage of potential content for an RE agency to give away, and of course none of it hurts your business! You can give away all the information in the world and people will still need to come to you when it’s time to buy / sell. But your videos have to be good, and full of genuinely good information.

Now your prospective clients are building a relationship with you before you even know they exist! They know the sound of your voice, what you / your office / your staff look like, and they already feel they’ve had a conversation or two with you! So when the time comes to pick up the phone, who are they going to call? No, not the Ghost-Busters…

A Content Marketing strategy is relatively low-budget too, we have packages starting from as little as $700 per video for batches of 10 or more (and you need at least 10). It’s important to have a variety of videos covering a variety of topics (and search keywords!) to cast as wide a net as possible and drag in as many leads as possible.

But by far the best part about a Content Marketing strategy is that when people contact you they are already pre-qualified, so you save yourself time in person because the education and sales work has already been partly done by your videos.

2. Lead Conversion:

Now that you’ve brought traffic to your website, you need them to call you, email you, or come in for a visit. Your website (and therefore the videos on your website) need to overcome any and all objections or hesitations which your prospective client may have and walk them steadily up to the point where the only thing left for them to do is contact you.

Your Conversion rate will depend of course on your website itself, the layout, your corporate image, and the actual properties you have listed at the time. But even without changing any of the above, video can help to improve your conversion rate from where it is now, to being substantially better.

A complete Lead Conversion video strategy would be made up of three videos, each designed to do a different thing for a different kind of potential client. These are:

  • Welcome video
  • About Us video
  • What to Expect video

The Welcome and About Us videos were discussed above, but I’ll quickly go back over them to ensure the strategy makes complete sense.

Welcome video:

The welcome video gets pride of place on your home page. Think of it as your ‘host’, who meets people at the door, invites them in, makes them feel comfortable and helps them find their way around. This video must be ‘other’ focussed. It’s all about your potential client! Write the script in such a way that it invites them to imagine, to dream, to see the world and their future as they would like it to be. Don’t tell your clients that you care about them and their future, prove it to them by inviting them to dream with you.

The Welcome video should be short, but by the end of it they’ve been welcomed, they’ve thought about themselves a little bit, and then they’ve been given a super quick tour of the website so that they know where to go as their ‘next step’.

The Welcome video must give the viewer confidence! Confidence in themselves, in you, and in their capacity to explore your website for whatever it is that they’re looking for next. Some people will be ready to contact you, and that’s great. But others will need more persuasion or will need to look at the houses you have on your site etc first. Show them how to do that so they stick around a little bit longer.

About Us video:

About Us videos are important, but like I said earlier they do not belong on your home page. Some people want to know all about you, the awards you’ve won, the years of experience you have etc, but they are actually a minority. Most of us go with the people we ‘liked’ the most. But for those who want you to brag a little bit, have an ‘about us’ page with a video at the top. It’s another chance for them to ‘meet’ your team, to hear your voices, see you interacting with each other and start to feel comfortable with you, and it gives them the confidence that they’re dealing with an award-winning and / or experienced and / or highly successful team.

This video is a great one to have even though it won’t be watched by a huge number of people, because some types of people simply won’t buy from you without that information. Just make sure it’s in the right place.

What to Expect video:

For some people the idea of buying or selling their home can be very intimidating. They don’t really care about how many awards you’ve won or how much experience you have, they are terrified and are looking for someone who will hold their hand and look after them all the way through the process. Similarly, some clients are afraid of looking like an idiot or being taken for a ride… these personality and client types can all be helped through a ‘What to Expect’ video.

Your ‘Welcome’ video should have gone a long way towards building trust and making you ‘the one’ as far as they’re concerned, but creating a video specifically to set their expectations and ‘demystify’ the selling / buying process can be a powerful way to build even more trust. In this video you literally walk them through the process, from walking in the front door of your office and being greeted by a smiling receptionist, right through to signing the paperwork (a real point of fear for some people), you take them on that journey in a 2-3 minute video which makes it all seem so easy and normal and comfortable that they wonder what they were afraid of.

Like the About Us video, this video won’t get a huge amount of traffic, but it will have tremendous appeal to a minority of people and for some people this one video will be all that’s needed to make up their mind that they are going with you and no one else.

In the end:

So in the end you have a Content Marketing campaign which draws in people who are researching information online, combined with an Online Video Marketing campaign which is targeting your ideal client and reaching out to them even if they’re not looking for you. Then when they come to you, you greet them, make your interactions with them all about them and then offer them a range of information to allay any remaining fears or concerns they may have so that by the time they’re finished on your website they have nothing left to do but to call you.

Hopefully through the above outline you can start to see why so many companies and RE Agencies are spending money and not getting results with online video. It’s not about having videos, it’s about strategically creating and placing videos where they will have the best effect for your business.

Within a few years everything I’ve said here will be common knowledge and everyone will be using video with far better effect than they are now, but right now you have an opportunity to get ahead of the curve by implementing a comprehensive video strategy which actually meets your potential clients needs and as a result, grows your business.

Every Real Estate Agency is different, and the above strategy will need to be customised and adjusted accordingly. I’d be more than happy to meet with any interested parties to develop a plan specifically for your business for implementation in 2015.

Contact me via LinkedIn or at chris@indimax.com.au
www.indimax.com.au or for intro videos specifically, www.indimax.com.au/introvideo