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At last, a use for video in real estate that I don’t hate: Using the Flip video camera to collect and post video testimonials

One of the the things I like about working with Brian Brady is that, when we’re together, or even when we’re just talking by phone, marketing magic happens. We spark ideas in each other, and marketing strategies emerge that neither one of us had foreseen.

Last week, Brian suggested that I buy a Flip video camera for us to use at Unchained. Fast, easy, fun YouTube videos, like a Polaroid Swinger for the new millennium.

I don’t remember who came up with what, but we worked out a strategy for using the camera to make unique, viral content at the conference. You’ll have to wait until next week to see what we have in mind.

But I got on the net — take note of how real people shop, if you would — and researched cameras and prices. The best instant availability I found was the Flip Ultra with 60 minutes of flash video memory for $135 with tax at Sam’s Club. I bought one for Unchained, set it up and learned how to use it.

The video I showed of Brian last night was shot with the Flip camera, but it’s not as good as a camcorder for mid-range or distant shots. Up close, though, it’s the cat’s pajamas.

And that was something I realized while I was talking: The Flip camera is the absolute most perfect tool for collecting testimonials. Testimonials are credible because they’re not written by you. Video is credible because of its verisimilitude. By asking questions, you can direct a video testimonial to bring out the information you want to convey to other viewers.

You can use Richard Riccelli’s testimonial plot line, for instance: “If you want to get to heaven you have to go through hell” — or — “Given my past negative experiences, I was stunned and amazed by the incredible service I received.”

So I’m standing there in front of a room full of people, realizing that I had just hit upon something new and really cool. The Flip camera is as small as my everyday digital still camera. I can easily wear it on my belt along with the still camera and my MLS key.

In the presentation, I suggested blogging the testimonial and putting a smaller embed in the sidebar of your weblog, but I have an even better idea now: The small embed can be the money quote, shown both as video and as linked text in the sidebar. The link leads to a unique landing page for the full video, shown as a full-size embed along with any blog posts or other text you might have to reinforce the story of the testimonial. The whole package becomes a fully-leveraged testimonial, much more powerful than text or even video alone.

The basic idea came to me on the fly while I was talking. The refinements led to a good argument for bringing the Flip camera along everywhere I would bring my digital still camera — which is everywhere that I might be doing work.

And so, I’ve finally found a use for video in real estate that I don’t hate. Earlier today, Cathy used the Flip camera to interview David Pinelli, the owner of the home we listed yesterday, and to elicit a testimonial from him. The interview will go on that home’s single-property web site, and the testimonial will go on our home page.

Later in the day, Cathy was out with the couple I have referred to as the Halversons, and she came home with this testimonial:

The Flip camera itself is insanely easy to use. Moving video to YouTube takes maybe five minutes per minute, which is less than whelming. But the overall experience rocks, and the idea of video and text together to make a testimonial that is much stronger than either could be alone — well, that’s just the Unchained way of thinking.

Here’s the kicker: We bought a second Flip camera tonight. We’ll use both at the conference, then send one back to San Diego with Brian. For quick interviews like the one you will see in this testimonial, it’s an incomparable tool.

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  • 15 comments

    15 Comments so far

    1. Benjamin Ficker May 10th, 2008 11:27 pm

      I Love it!!! I was just thinking earlier today that I need to get a way to shoot video w/out carrying around all the bulky equipment. Video testimonials is just the beginning though. Why not take first time buyers (or any buyers for that reason) and do a video diary of their experience? I’ve got clients right now that are first time Sellers and this would be a great way to capture their emotions and testimonials to pass on to their family.

      Stuff like this is why I am excited to be going to Unchained. Actual ideas that we can put into use immediately, not just conceptual stuff that is nice to think about.

      See you in a week!

      Benjamin Ficker

    2. Brian Brady May 10th, 2008 11:41 pm

      Priceless. Better than I ever imagined.

      The quote? “I would STRONGLY recommend Bloodhound Realty to anyone who needs strong buyer representation”

      Bravo!

      PS- Congrats to the “Halvorsens” on your new home. I’m delighted for you.

    3. John Kalinowski May 11th, 2008 4:04 am

      Thanks for sharing another outside the box Bloodhound idea. The biggest problem I see is that it’s terribly boring to watch. I couldn’t last more than a few seconds before I was clicking to shut off the video, and I’m an agent. I can’t imagine the typical consumer spending any time watching these. Maybe there’s a way to make them a little more dynamic?

    4. Sue May 11th, 2008 6:33 am

      What a great idea!! What could be better than video testimonials? Real people talking from the heart about their positive experience. Much more powereful then text and a pretty nice plug for those flip phones too!!

    5. Sue May 11th, 2008 6:35 am

      correction…”flip cameras”.. :)

    6. Greg Swann May 11th, 2008 6:40 am

      John, remember that the film you’re going to see in the sidebar will only be a few seconds long. Brian showed you the money quote. Then that links to the full video for anyone who is interested in seeing more. The brief testimonial is going to do the job for most people, but the link takes away their doubts about tricky editing. I think I want to write more about this in a big picture kind of way.

      > Maybe there’s a way to make them a little more dynamic?

      The camera comes with a version of the MuVee editing software, so you can make a rock video if you like. ;)

    7. Genuine Chris Johnson May 11th, 2008 6:49 am

      Interesting that you brought up ‘doubts about tricky editing.’

      Almost everyone who finds http://tendayteam.com
      clicks on http://tendayteam.com/testimonials as their first page.

    8. Greg Swann May 11th, 2008 7:09 am

      > Video testimonials is just the beginning though. Why not take first time buyers (or any buyers for that reason) and do a video diary of their experience? I’ve got clients right now that are first time Sellers and this would be a great way to capture their emotions and testimonials to pass on to their family.

      You’re absolutely right. Our other big video initiative is to have a video associated with every listing. I hate the typical kind of lurching walk-through, but two story lines we like are interviews with the seller and/or neighbors and/or open house visitors and the slow-roll neighborhood drive-through with a voice-over narrative. The second version wants a camcorder and editing, but the first set of ideas can be done with the Flip camera, each as its own clip. Then you can organize the clips with intro and outro text, creating a video buffet for the house. This would be easily extendible as you go along, too.

      That could really rock. Entertainment has to be interesting, but research just has to be true.

      Here’s another one. I talk a lot about previewing homes with digital photos on engenu pages. Imagine visiting a home with a traffic problem. Here are photos of the cars zooming by, but, so much better, here’s a film so you can experience it for yourself.

    9. Greg Swann May 11th, 2008 7:14 am

      > Almost everyone who finds http://tendayteam.com
      clicks on http://tendayteam.com/testimonials as their first page.

      Utterly excellent, and it’s all just captured voicemails. The verisimilitude of the voices is profoundly more powerful than the same testimonials in text. Brilliant.

    10. John Kalinowski May 11th, 2008 7:56 am

      Greg – Thanks for the clarification on the brief testimonial. Makes much more sense. Don’t get me wrong, I really like the idea!

    11. [...] in reply to my post last night about video testimonials, John Kalinowski notes that they could be boring to watch. Indeed they could — if you were [...]

    12. Greg Swann May 11th, 2008 8:50 am

      > Don’t get me wrong, I really like the idea!

      No, I understood. I got the essay I just wrote about transparency — maybe the most important weblog post I’ve ever written — from my reply to you. I’m in your debt.

    13. Genuine Chris Johnson May 11th, 2008 9:50 am

      The verisimilitude of the voices is profoundly more powerful than the same testimonials in text.

      1pixel out audio player, and all you do is [audio: and upload an mp3 file.] Audacity for light audio editing (mostly ‘ums’ and odd pauses…

      I’ll make a post about it shortly. Takes 20 minutes…and it’s social proof that you’re doing a good job.

    14. [...] I’d pick clients that I really connected with, as Greg did with his Halversons.  The next thing to do is to get voice mails OFF the system.  I have Vonage for most [...]

    15. [...] possibility of doing video testimonials with the RCA Small Wonder, a CMOS-based video camera like the Flip Camera we discussed a few days ago. Like the Flip, the Small Wonder has a built-in USB connector, and it also uses AA batteries for [...]