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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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