By Jean Sorensen
In a much quieter market than recent years, two Vancouver real estate agents are racking up sales and hopping to meet demand. A week before Christmas, Ian Watt of Sutton Group – West Coast Realty was working on four deals. Tom Everitt of ThinkTom.com, a virtual real estate brokerage at www.thinktom.com, says sales for the month have been riding around $3 million and he expected to close out the year in the top four to 10 per cent of the city’s sales reps.
Watt and Everitt both use cutting-edge digital marketing – video blogging. Watt says that when Ubertor, which hosts sites for Realtors, announced the new video blogging option about a year ago, most Realtors by-passed it. “But, I jumped on it,” he says. He saw an excellent opportunity to introduce himself to clients through his website at www.ianwatt.ca, using a video format.
Watt’s trademark is showing himself while in his car, blogging around Vancouver at different locations and on different themes. He believes the video blogging is a contributing factor to keeping his face before a computer-savvy public. “It’s part of the whole marketing in general and today most people search online for a Realtor….they get to know you” via the website, he says.
Everitt has converted his garage into an Internet film studio that he calls “garagio”. He says video blogging is a tool that is generating sales. “There is no question that it has allowed us to reach out to more people in this market,” he says. “In this market, you have to network as much as possible and it has allowed us that.”
Everitt, who runs ThinkTom.com with his lawyer wife Kerrie (who is non-practicing and now a Realtor as well), says the video blogs idea sparked when he saw Watt’s presentation. “I thought I should be doing that,” he says, adding that once he tried it, he found that the technology easy to adapt to.
It also sparked a hidden talent. “I found it’s a passion that I really love,” he says. He’s now getting more sophisticated with presentations and wants to learn more about editing. He says not everyone is comfortable in front of a camera, but with a background in public speaking and an out-going nature, it is a marketing angle he really enjoys.
So do his viewers. The Internet blog videos are informative and have a sense of humour as Everitt hams it up for the camera. There’s also serious news on financing rates, tips for selling and buying homes, home tours and legal tips from Kerrie.
Watt also carries how-to information and in January did a video blog from the Inman News Conference in New York City. Everitt recently video blogged from a Florida real estate conference.
Everitt says the technology has become so simple that even a non-technological person can do “amazing” things. He started by taking a $200 course by Ubertor (www.ubertor.com), which took only three hours, and he left with a flip video camera used to record the video blogs. “That was all I needed to do,” he says. Ubertor charges Everitt $50 a month to maintain the website.
“You then have on-line video,” says Everitt, adding this kind of instant exposure of client’s homes and advice for new buyers and sellers is something that is hard to match in other media.
The website has brought him a lot of fun, and some surprises. “I had one of my videos translated into Spanish subtitles,” he says. Everitt “went pretty crazy building the studio” because he wanted a facility where he could invite guests into for interviews. One guest has been Citytv’s Dawn Chubia, host of Realty TV. Everitt was, in turn, featured on the show, which runs weekly news on the real estate market. The half-hour program is rebroadcast up to three times during the week. Everitt has also been featured on CTV’s news program with host Bill Good and in various newspapers. Watt has also enjoyed media exposure, as he was featured in the Vancouver Sun, one of the largest newspapers in Canada.
Everitt says it’s hard to buy that kind of publicity. But, while the video blogging provides an entertaining and informative way to draw in clients – and in tough times keep your name out there – he says the sales side is still deadly serious. Clients want a professional who will work for them when they respond to his website.
“You still have to get out there, do the networking, and meet people face-to-face,” he says, but “this kind of marketing is extremely inexpensive and quick to do – to ignore it is a terrible mistake. It’s part of the future.”