Turn up the Volume!

There have been a lot of changes in the last few years to our country, and to each of us individually. Myself, I received my real estate license, became a RTV provider, got married, and quit making virtual tours to move across country. During this time, I had the opportunity to look at a lot of houses trying to find one for my family. Having been both an RTV provider and a Realtor®, I was in the unique position of seeing marketing from both sides of the fence.

Because I had to find a house, or at least some good candidates before I moved, I found myself looking at houses on the Internet from 1500 miles away! I saw everything from ads that had 1-20 still pictures, slide shows, bad “virtual” tours, to excellent virtual tours. You know what happened to the homes that had one picture – they were dumped without even reading the description. Bad virtual tours made me angry, while good virtual tours were a delight. When I say “bad” virtual tours, I’m thinking of the many agents across the country who have begun using a do-it-yourself company (you know who they are).

The agent buys the software, pays a monthly fee, then makes as many tours as they want. Many brokers have even been persuaded to buy this program as an added benefit for their agents. This company has a very good product which is easy for the novice to use, but what the agent and broker forgot to figure in was the fact that it’s only as good as the photographer and the person stitching the tour. Consequently, the compiler either doesn’t receive good enough training (you hardly ever see a 360 tour), or they didn’t pay attention to training. So, their virtual tour is nothing more than a slide show.

In many cases the picture quality makes it a not so good slide show. Imagine my chagrin as I looked for houses, clicked on a virtual tour button, only to find a slide show showing the same 6 still pictures I just looked at, only now they’re moving in and out, or bouncing back and forth with music! As a home buyer, this made me angry more than anything. I felt like I’d been taken because I wasted my time waiting for the tour to load on my computer and got no added value.

Now that I’m semi-settled, I’m preparing to start my Montgomery virtual tour business. I plan to open my doors on October 25, 2009. The name of my new company will be www.iHomeEvents.com. I chose this name because I think of technology as living the future now. One day I was reading a very popular book about time travel. I thought when you’re many miles away, and you want to see a home immediately, you wish you could time travel.

I noted that when scientist speak of time travel, they use the word EVENT to mean a point in space-time; that is, a location in space at a specific moment of time. While technology can’t offer us time travel, as a RTV provider, I can offer my clients the ability to let their clients “time and place shift” to a specific home. They can walk through a property regardless of what continent they’re on, or what time it might be. In other words, a client can shift to anywhere in the world to see a virtual tour of a home at a certain point in time that they choose.

A smart agent will allow their client to view homes at their convenience – WHEN they want and WHERE they want. Technology now allows us to be able to look from most anywhere: at home, at the office, at the beach, in the mountains, on an airplane – anywhere we can take a smart phone or iPod – it’s the client’s choice! Therefore, I’ve used the “i” to represent technology, and then I go to work to create a “HomeEvent” for my clients.

A true, quality virtual tour is obviously the best way to showcase a home other than being there in person. If an agent really wants to sell, now is not the time to forget about marketing. According to Gary S. Shamis, CPA, managing director of Cleveland-based SS&G Financial Services and a member of The Advisory Board:

“. . . knowing that you will be losing revenue and business, aren’t you justified in reducing your marketing efforts? On the contrary – this is the time to “turn up the volume” and increase all aspects of your marketing.

“If you are the firm in your region to up the marketing ante, and your competition is hiding in a cave or under a rock, what could be better? Your firm is turning up the volume, and your competition is turning off the radio.” (See the rest of Gary’s article at http://www.webcpa.com/news/Turn-Volume-Marketing-51463-1.html)

We must help our clients understand that even though the economy is bad, turning up the volume and the quality, while others turn the radio off will not only help put them in the forefront now, but will start them at the top of the heap when the economy turns around. It will be their marketing through bad times that gets their names remembered by prospective clients when the good days return.

Jean Bryson
Montgomery Virtual Tours