Taking Advantage of the Pandemic: Creating an Engaging Virtual Video and Marketing Plan
By Tracey C. Velt
Featuring Barbara Wilson, ILHM, CRS, GRI, PMN, SRS (Tucson, AZ)
Taking advantage of the pause in business during the stay-at-home orders, Barbara Wilson, ILHM, CRS, GRI, PMN, SRS, an associate broker with Long Realty Company Foothills in Tucson, Arizona, decided to boost her business with video and other digital marketing. “I consider myself fairly techy. I have a blog, and I love photography, plus I was creating video slides with Animoto before the pandemic,” she says. However, “Before the pandemic, I was so busy with my business that I didn’t have time to delve into video. When the market slowed down, I was able to focus on learning new skills,” she says.
Wilson is no stranger to video. She had previously hired a drone photographer and an expert to put together Matterport tours. Still, she wanted to do more personal videos, and the pandemic slowdown allowed her to create a plan. "I have a blog, and my branding is "Finding the View For You," so I thought I would do video clips of different views—mountain, city, sunset, golf course, etc.," says Wilson. "I work with a lot of second-home buyers, which will allow them to get a feel for what it's like to live in Tucson. I also plan to highlight my favorite restaurants and communities.” Wilson has been doing test videos and getting comfortable on camera. She plans to launch her new campaign soon.
She also wanted to do more live-streaming and video walkthroughs of homes. “The large majority of buyers come from out of state, so I’m able to walk through and show them the home remotely,” she says. “I’ve had a few buyers who bought houses sight-unseen. I like the walkthroughs because I can walk through the neighborhood, show them inside and outside, open closets, and more so they feel like they're there."
The Tools She Uses
To do the videos she wanted, Wilson had to purchase some equipment. The first thing she did was buy a gimbal (DJI Osmo Mobile 3 Combo) for her iPhone. A gimbal is a smartphone stabilizer that allows her to take steady videos while walking through a house. They are available on Amazon or at Best Buy for about $119. “You don’t have the shakiness that makes people dizzy when you video yourself walking through a house,” she says. The videos can be done live or filmed and then sent via email to potential buyers. Wilson doesn’t post them to social media at this point.
Wilson also purchased a green screen to use in her videos and when she’s on Zoom conference calls. “I have so many Zoom calls. I’m the immediate past president of the Tucson Association of REALTORS® and on the state Associations' Professional Business Development Committee. I’m also on an NAR committee, so in addition to talking to prospective buyers, I have business meetings on Zoom,” she says. The green screen, a 52-inch chroma key screen, is portable, and clips on the back of her chair allowing her to choose a background based on who she's speaking with without the grainy background that comes up when you select a new background without the green screen. “For clients, I’ll use scenery from Tucson or feature my branding. With the Association, I’ll use photos of different events that I’ve attended. It eliminates the distraction of an office background,” she says.
Wilson also likes to beef up Zoom calls by incorporating interactivity into them. “You can incorporate pools or other things that allow people to interact and participate,” she says.
The green screen can also be brought with her to listings should she decide to film a video there and want a clean background.
For her blog, tucsonazrealestateblog.com, she includes a contact form that prospective buyers can fill out to receive her buyer's guide. She also features local home pricing trends, mortgage updates, and more personal posts about buying a home during a pandemic or testimonials from past buyers and sellers. For example, one post called "Homebuying in Virtual World," outlines all the virtual tools Wilson uses and ways a transaction can be closed. She recently sold a home to a buyer who came to her through the blog. "They found me on my blog, and we started chatting,” says Wilson. “They identified some properties they wanted to view, so I went out and performed a live video walkthrough using my Gimbal and smartphone. They asked me questions just like they were with me.” The relocating buyers closed on the home a few weeks later.
While not video but related, a virtual tool that Wilson uses is called Box Brownie. With so many out-of-town buyers, showing them the potential of different rooms in a house is essential. "This program offers virtual staging, so if the listing has an office that can be used as a television room, you can virtually stage it and show buyers the potential. I print out the pictures and have them on foam board at the listing or email them to potential buyers to show them how, for example, a kid's room can be updated and turned into a nice guest room."
For Wilson, all of the tech tools she uses give her visibility. "It also gives you credibility as far as being seen as a tech-savvy agent," she says. "Digital isn't going away, and this pandemic has made it more necessary than ever. My best advice is to keep up with everything, and don't be afraid to jump in and do it."
About the Contributor
Tracey C. Velt is an Orlando-based freelance writer.