September is Marketing and Branding Month at Inman. Tips for better branding and in-depth features on how to take advantage of marketing tools provided by Zillow, Redfin and other platforms are all in the works in addition to insights from experts. You’ll find it all at Inman, as well as our two-day virtual, flagship event, Your Playbook for the Fall Market, in October.
This article was last updated Sept. 20, 2022.
According to both marketers and consumers, video dominates when building brand awareness and creating vivid messaging. However, for many agents, the idea of creating video content is both intimidating and confusing.
One of the words we hear around video strategy from individual agents and the experts we talked with is “overwhelmed.” With so many options and so many platforms, many agents don’t know where to start when putting together a video marketing plan — so they don’t start at all.
The goal, then, is to provide you with some of the most successful strategies agents are currently using so that you can choose the one that’s right for you and put it to work to grow your business. You don’t have to do it all. Choose your favorite option, and commit to it for six months to a year.
Professional video: Dawn McKenna Group, ‘That Moment When’
This professionally produced video is part of a larger overall marketing strategy developed in cooperation with Chasing Sun Creative.
According to Jackie Pesce Sieron, founder of Chasing Sun Creative, the goal with this video was to convey “an emotionally appealing brand ad via video content” with video marketing as a top-of-mind strategy for all marketing and advertising moving forward.
(The following interview has been edited for style and grammar).
What is the biggest mistake you see folks making with their video content right now?
The biggest mistake I see with video content right now is actually the fact that most agents seem overwhelmed by the word “video” marketing. They feel as if video has to be this perfectly curated video done by a professional and that they have to set aside a large chunk of time to get video content accomplished, whereas that couldn’t be farther from the truth.
Sure, professionally done videos are great and can elevate an agent’s brand and generate potential leads. However, it is key to remember that video marketing is also simply Instagram Stories and Instagram Reels and TikToks and Facebook Live, and all of these can be done within a few minutes on their cell phones. People are responding to quick and humanized content, it doesn’t have to be perfect.
I think consistency and strategy around what they’re showing or saying on video is way more important than the level of quality video production. Agents don’t need to overthink video marketing. When they overthink it, it tends to not happen.
How did you conceive of the ‘Moments’ video focus, and how can agents find an approach that doesn’t feel ‘salesy’?
We put a lot of thought and effort into Dawn McKenna’s “That Moment When” video content and marketing plan. It was conceived when I called members of the Dawn McKenna Group (about 10 agents on her team of 26 in all different regions) and asked them all the same questions:
- Why do you do what you do?
- What is your favorite part about selling real estate?
The answer was so clear when they all said the same thing as Dawn in so many words. They love being a part of the special moments that change their clients’ lives and love to be a part of the start to a new chapter in their clients’ lives.
It was a very emotional strategy session to be honest. The team all agreed how important a home is, and we dug deep into what those “moments” at home look like.
They all made it clear that it was about making their clients happy in their new home. The word “moment” was thrown out multiple times by different people and it made us think about branding them as a team who is truly in it for their clients.
We wanted to stop people in their tracks and have them be able to relate to this concept. I think all humans can relate to how special the moments we create inside of the walls within our own homes are — especially in today’s day and age, but really always.
How can an agent find someone trustworthy to help them put together a video campaign or even a standalone promotional video?
This is a question I get very often! In this digital age, there are many talented videographers out there. I think the power of social media works to find a trustworthy person or company because you can see their work right there.
Instagram is a great tool for finding a videographer because they are usually tagged in others’ videos, so it’s best to find someone who has done a couple of videos you liked and look for tags or comments. You can usually find out who created it.
How do you use the ‘Moments’ promotional strategy across platforms?
The “That Moment When” campaign/strategy is an omnichannel approach, and we are hitting the Dawn Mckenna Group audience consistently both digitally and in print.
We are doing monthly ads in their local lifestyle magazines in both Chicagoland and Naples because the creative is more editorial and lends itself to a magazine full page or spread.
We are also using this concept for some local newspaper ads, so that it clearly is in front of the same local audience. Lastly, we are promoting a “moment” once a week on their social media with over 14,000 followers in their Instagram feed and stories. We are going to share the video in a paid social ad next.
Combination social media and YouTube: Sue ‘Pinky’ Benson, Realtor and video marketing specialist, RE/MAX Realty team
View this post on Instagram
Naples, Florida agent Sue “Pinky” Benson finds that part of what causes agents to struggle and feel overwhelmed when putting together a video strategy is trying to do too much.
“This isn’t HGTV, and it doesn’t need to be,” said Benson, who believes that short and sweet is more effective and easier to implement. To that end, Benson suggests two easy-to-implement strategies that you can start right away:
1. Quick and easy walkthrough
Rather than trying to put together a long walkthrough of a home, put together short pieces of a video. “Even if the video is two minutes long, total, do it in small sections,” Benson said. Stand outside and do an intro, then stop recording. Show the living room, then stop. “Do little sections slow and steady and keep it simple.”
“Pop in at one other point during the video for a special feature or particular selling point you want to highlight,” Benson said. “You don’t have to show the entire house — just showcase small parts.” This is also a great option for those who don’t like being on camera the whole time.
2. Unbranded video tour
Create an unbranded video tour that can be included in the MLS listing. Don’t give a CTA, and film on the same day that you’ve scheduled professional photography. Benson suggests shooting on Facebook Live to save room on your phone.
Download the video to your computer and upload it to a generic, unbranded YouTube channel. Put that link in the MLS. Be sure to include the street, the house next door, proximity to the road and other elements that may not show up in a traditional video.
Benson suggests standing at the front door to show the floorplan then walking and talking your way through the house. The key is not to identify yourself so that you are not promoting yourself.
“I give the extra details, upgrades, rental policy for the community, pet policy, and other relevant information.” In the description, instruct prospective buyers to “watch the video,” but don’t show yourself or identify yourself in order to ensure the video is unbranded.
The key? Just get started.
Benson says that although she does professional, commercial videos to run on television, she has had more inquiries from videos on social media than anything that runs on TV. “Don’t wait on video because you don’t have the money to hire a professional,” she advised. “You don’t need to have that every single time.”
Benson also suggests that agents not waste time with a lengthy intro or title card. “Don’t give your whole bio; just jump into the content,” she said. “Get to the property. Make it about the consumer experience, not about your experience.”
Finally, Benson encourages agents not to worry too much about the haters or those who respond negatively to a video. “Your vibe attracts your tribe,” she said. “Some people are going to watch my videos and say, ‘She’s too much for me.’ That’s perfectly fine because my business is my business. The people who get my personality will work with me.”
“The power of the video is that they’re getting to know you. There will always be naysayers who think you need to lose weight or get Botox. That’s not who your videos are for.”
YouTube video marketing: Karin Carr, Georgia Coast Homes
Savannah agent Karin Carr brings exceptional humor and an engaging personality to her video content, making her one of the industry’s most sought-after experts in developing video content for real estate. Here are just a few of her best tips and insights.
1. Use humor — if you’re funny
While Carr said it took some time for her to lean into her natural humor on video, she did so after getting positive feedback from viewers and clients. “I feel like you should be yourself on camera,” Carr said. “If you’re not funny don’t try to be funny. There’s no reason you can’t be competent and have a sense of humor. They’re not mutually exclusive.”
2. Know when to outsource parts of the process
Although Carr originally did all of her video research, filming, editing and overall production, she eventually became so busy that she couldn’t do it all herself anymore.
“Dollar-producing activities for me are making the videos but not editing the videos,” said Carr. She has a virtual assistant who does much of the editing and has recently hired a production manager to take charge of the workflows.
3. Differentiate platforms as needed
According to Carr, what performs well on social media is not the same as YouTube. “YouTube is more of a search engine so people are searching just like they do on Google,” she said.
That means that when people watch her YouTube videos, it’s because they are genuinely interested in the content, not just mindlessly scrolling as they would be on social media.
“On social media, you’re the mayor of your online community, so you might make a video about local coffee shops,” she said. On YouTube, make videos that answer the questions people are asking about real estate.
4. Show the lifestyle, not just the home
Don’t just show a house, Carr said. Show the area and the downtown. “Show them their lifestyle if they were to live here. When they call, they are ready to do a transaction and they want to hire you,” she said.
Carr said that her YouTube leads are the best she has gotten in 15 years, with no ad spend, no pay-per-click, no boost. All organic views. “YouTube videos show up on Google search results, so if they were on Google and look up ‘retiring in Savannah,’ the three videos that show up on Google are all mine.”
3. Put in the time up front
Carr suggests that agents commit to at least six months without the expectation of a significant response. “It might happen sooner or later but it depends on how big of a market you live in. Is it a huge vacation destination and second home market? Huge employer? Plan on 6-12 months and if it happens sooner you’ll be thrilled.”
4. Keep up your old videos
Don’t be embarrassed if your first few videos are less than stellar. Just try to improve with every video, said Carr. “I leave all my original videos up and people tell me all the time how much better I am now than I used to be.”
5. Create a custom thumbnail
Use Canva to create a custom thumbnail for all of your videos. “YouTube will pick three still frames and they’re always the worst,” Carr said. “I make a good-looking, colorful thumbnail that will tell the viewer what the video will be about so mine jumps off the page.”
6. Jump right into the content
Forgo the 30-second introductory montage, Carr said, because it’s “boring,” and it’s not why people are going to YouTube. She suggests a five-second logo pop-up instead, then launch straight into the video.
7. Remarket using your conclusion
Rather than asking for likes and subscribes, use the outro to tell viewers which video to watch next. Once they have shown an interest, YouTube begins to feed your videos to them on their homepage.
Make each video more engaging to try to keep viewers watching all the way to the end, then direct them to the next video on a related topic.
8. Do keyword research for titles
Carr uses Keywords Everywhere to look for phrases associated with her topics. “It will tell you how many searches are being done for that key term and how competitive it will be,” said Carr. “I want low competition — I will never outrank Zillow or Redfin.” However, on a long-tail keyword of several terms “I will outrank them all day long.”
Video messaging and CRM: Jimmy Burgess, chief growth officer, Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices, Beach Properties of Florida
Jimmy Burgess is using tools like Bombbomb or Zoom to create video CMAs and walk potential sellers through relevant comps in their area, ending by offering a value range for the owner’s home. Burgess adds the following to the video outreach:
This is a range due to me not seeing the inside of your home for a while. If you are curious about what it would sell for in today’s market, let me know, and I can give you that number after a quick 5-minute walk-through of your home.
Potential recipients could include past buyers, open house visitors or owners in a neighborhood where you are currently farming. Burgess has seen significant ROI with this strategy, including more than $9 million in closings directly from these emails over a six-month period.
Whatever video strategy you choose, being authentic and consistent are essential. Find something that you enjoy doing, outsource the aspects that are too time-consuming or frustrating, and make video an ongoing part of your marketing plan. You’ll connect with leads and with your sphere of influence in new and exciting ways — and you’ll feel good knowing that you’re doing everything you can to optimize your impact on your market.
Christy Murdock is a Realtor, freelance writer, coach and consultant and the owner of Writing Real Estate. She is also the creator of the online course Crafting the Property Description: The Step-by-Step Formula for Reluctant Real Estate Writers. Follow Writing Real Estate on Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.