Taming the Video Beast

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Video. It’s a tough dragon to slay. My most recent attempts have done little more than wound the poor beast.

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We know people like pictures, and we know that pictures sell homes. Over the years, our stills first morphed into the 360 degree fish-eye lens tour. Then, when it became clear that the consumer found these cumbersome, the photo slide show came along. Finally, the photo-rich visual tour of the pan and zoom variety set to music was born. It’s where we go from here that has me in a bit of a conundrum.

Our current visual tours are “sort of” video in the sense that there is movement and sound. It could be argued that this format gives a more complete picture of the home being showcased than could any traditional video footage complete with my chipper voice-over. So what’s missing? Entertainment value.

The perfect video home presentation, I believe, is going to include the following:

  • First and foremost, it must give a complete picture. The buyer needs to feel as if they know the floor plan, the flow, and feel, not to mention the details, of the home once they have finished, that they have been virtually delivered to the space. Our current tours do well in this sense.
  • There needs to be a hook. Online shoppers are speed browsers, their remote is their mouse, and you only have seconds to capture and hold their attention before they click through. We are currently missing the hook.
  • Both the agent-as-host video and the voice over video counterpart need to provide something of value to the buyer which the traditional visual tour does not. This is a tougher one to get your arms around, particularly if you are dealing (as we most often are) with tract homes distinguishable only by their unique upgrades and appointments. Why do you think we are able to provide a link to Scripps Ranch floor plans on our website? Because housing in our community is fairly predictable. Look! They put the TV on the other wall!
  • From the agent’s perspective, video is an opportunity to showcase the agent. While this may mean little to the seller of the home, the reality is that listing agents market themselves in large part through the homes they market. Unless you have the voice of James Earl Jones or the acting skills of Meryl Streep, true video can backfire. I fall more into the category of Alvin the Chipmunk and the Olsen twins.
  • Practically speaking, unless your  agent lists one home a year on average, the video needs to be something producible on short notice and with minimal time investment. Given enough time, I am confident I could produce a compelling short that would send any serious buyer scurrying for his checkbook. The problem is what we call value-engineering. While I am out channeling Francis Ford Coppola, I’ve got six buyers, two property inspectors and one ticked-off termite guy camped out on the front lawns of various homes throughout San Diego County. Alternatively, someone needs to offer a cost effective service for not only producing the video but for “designing” a unique and creative presentation for each home I need to feature. The trick here is keeping it fresh. As soon as a formula is developed, it is destined to be perceived as tired and canned. Click. 

Here is an example of a video which hit on three of the five cylinders beautifully. The problem I see is two-fold. It is so good, it is destined to be a one-hit wonder. (Admittedly, Mike produced this video as part of a contest.) Secondly, while it sells the agent beautifully, does it really get the seller one step closer to that Sold sign in the front yard?

Ultimately, our marketing decisions must consider cost, time, and return on investment, and it is forever a balancing act. If any of our five readers are trolling, I would love to hear both the consumer reaction and the agent solution. And, if you are a vendor who has a cost-effective way to tame this beast, do tell!

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