The following is from the August/September issue of Commonwealth magazine, which you should have found in your mailbox.

 

By Mark Porter

Fact: If you’re not using video in your marketing, you are behind the trend.

People love video, and if your listings don’t include it, you’re missing out on an excellent — free —opportunity to promote your business.

Not surprisingly, I’ve found the biggest challenge for real estate agents is getting past the shyness of being in front of the camera. So the most valuable lesson I can share is the simple fact that you have nothing to lose, yet everything to gain, from video marketing.

Two facts to start off with:

1. Most people start their real estate search online — NAR’s 2011 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellersfound that 88 percent of buyers used the Internet in their home buying process, and 32 percent of first-time buyers actually found their real estate agent online.

2. Video is becoming more popular all the time. Alexa rankings show that almost a third of people surfing the Internet go to YouTube, and spend an average of more than 17 minutes there — an eternity in Internet time.

These things in mind, it makes sense to take advantage of video to attract customers, reinforce your reputation, and stand out from the crowd. Video-hosting sites like Vimeo and YouTube make it easy to include those videos on your own website and in e-mail (the term is actually “embed”).

Consider my top 10 benefits to launching a video marketing campaign for your real estate business:

Don’t just read it, learn it! See senior CRS instructor Mark Porter’s sessions on video internet marketing and cloud computing at the Real Show 2012 on October 5. Register at RealShow2012.com today!

1. Answer it once. Videos offer a great platform to answer frequent buyer and seller questions efficiently, while making yourself stand out from the crowd.

If one of your clients asks a question, the reality is other buyers and sellers are probably wondering the same thing. Create short videos answering these frequently asked questions and post them to your website. Then when the question comes up, you can reply by sharing the video. (After all, wouldn’t you love to get a video response to an e-mail question?)

2. Differentiate yourself from the competition. While in general consumers want to do business with people they know, the fact is that many are still taking their real estate search online.

By adding videos to your marketing, you are offering a more personalized approach, and giving consumers a sense that they know you before they even meet you.

3. Establish yourself as an expert. Using video to educate consumers is a great way to establish yourself as a real estate expert, and gain more business in return.

NAR found that a whopping 91 percent of buyers and sellers cited “knowledge of real estate market” as a skill they look for in an agent; 93 percent said “knowledge of purchase process” was very important. What better way to establish your credibility than by demonstrating both through educational online video?

4. Increase your rankings with Google. When someone searches for an agent, you want your name to be as close to the top of the list as possible. When Google purchased YouTube it changed how it ranks video results in its searches. So a properly tagged YouTube video can increase your chances of a high ranking with Google.

5. Show up in as many places as possible. Knowing that consumers are spending so much time on YouTube, don’t you want to be there? If someone searches for a real estate-related video, wouldn’t it be great for them to find you. If you’re not using video and you’re not on YouTube, you are not marketing!

6. Include calls to action (without the heavy sales pitch). No one likes to be pushed into a sale. More and more people are moving their real estate search online and beginning their research months before they actually reach out to a real estate agent. Why? Probably in part because consumers don’t want to share their information with an agent before they’re actually ready to purchase or sell.

Offering educational videos will enable you to provide customers with the information they want, but also provide you with an opportunity to broadcast your call to action (e.g., “Visit my website!” or “Call me when you’re ready to start looking”) and promote your brand without the heavy sales pitch.

7. It’s affordable. Beyond the initial investment of equipment (which doesn’t have to be expensive) and your time, video marketing is free. That means more money in your pocket.

8. It’s long lasting. As they say, once you upload content online it’s there forever. When compared to e-mail and postcard mailings, the shelf life you receive for online video marketing will be well worth your time and effort.

9. More successful than text. We all know that people generally do not like to read lengthy blocks of text in an e-mail. Captivate your audience and get better success out of your e-mail blasts and online marketing efforts with video content.

10. Increased branding. Online video marketing offers a great way increase your branding and maintain a “top of mind awareness” so when customers are in need of your services, they’ll remember to reach out to you.

Camera shy?

Reaping the benefits of video marketing doesn’t have to mean spending a lot of time in front of a camera, especially if you aren’t comfortable there. Here are some great options.

Video slideshows. Not comfortable even shooting video? You don’t have to. You can make video slide shows using still images. Free software like Microsoft Photo Story 3lets you take your pictures, add audio (music or a voice over), and save the result as a video you can put on YouTube.

This a great way to turn your still images into videos — create tours of your listings or even make a slideshow highlighting you and your business that you can feature on your website. The software makes it incredibly easy. (While Photo Story is free, if you want more control over the process, check out Photodex’s $70 ProShow Gold — there’s even a free trial (photodex.com/proshow).)

Neighborhood tours.Highlight the homes and community including local amenities, shopping, schools, popular functions (e.g., farmer’s markets and events), and more. You can even add video testimonials of people who live in the area discussing why they bought a home in the area, how long they’ve lived there, and what they like most about their community.

Client testimonials. Ask your clients to share what they enjoyed most about working with you and the benefits of using you as their real estate agent. Be sure to keep the videos unscripted and candid, as you want the testimonials to come across genuine to consumers.

These are just some of the easy ways to incorporate video into your marketing efforts without having to be in front of the camera. If, like so many agents, you find yourself avoiding online video marketing, let these easy tips be the stepping stone to letting go of your fear of video and taking advantage of the technology that can help grow your business.

And remember, the benefits of video internet marketing far outweigh any fears you may have about being on camera. There is no avoiding the trend. Video marketing is a real solution to connecting with today’s consumer and the longer you delay, the further behind you’ll be in the technology and the harder it will be to catch up to your competition.

Mark Porter has been a real estate agent, broker, trainer, keynote speaker, and professional coach for more than two decades.