Legacy. It is a compelling word. A word that represents a desire that so many of us have.
At times when a goal, a vision, an ideal, a dream, seems so massive we hesitate to approach it. The ultimate triumph is elevated in our minds to an out of reach podium that “one day” we may decide to tackle.
Inevitably that “one day” can seem as far away as the vision or dream we have had for ourselves and our life. A speck on the horizon that never draws near, as we allow ourselves to be distracted with the many more urgent and pressing needs of the day. Always attending to the urgent and ultimately unimportant tasks that press upon us.
Yet in the mire of the endless list of “to do’s” that fill our days I believe we have the opportunity to create our legacy.
Personally I have had notions of writing books or creating movies. The thought that such accomplishments are lasting contributions to the world. Providing an opportunity to spread ideas to a global audience and ultimately exist in some way, shape or form beyond the years of our physical life.
Meanwhile I feel this modern era has given us all an opportunity to tell the stories of our life and share our ideas and observations in new ways. With every post, upload, share and comment we leave an impression that will in some way be our legacy.
I may never write a book or create a full length feature film. Yet these small tidbits I create become the sum total of at least part of the story I want to tell. I am not surrendering what may be thought of as a grander vision for my life and I am not intending to minimize the incredible contributions made by those who scale projects to the extreme, and go big.
I want to encourage those of us, many of us, perhaps all of us; That as we battle through the trenches of what may be thought of as the mundane and daily grind, we are leaving our mark on the world.
I believe as we elevate our awareness of this reality we may have renewed interest in caring about the seemingly small things. For in the end it is assembly of small parts that make the whole and become the legacy that we leave. We may then be encouraged that the seemingly far away dream we have had for ourselves is in reality not far away at all, it is here, today, in front if us right now.
Sometimes it doesn’t take much to share how much you care. This little video was rather simple in terms of production. It all started with an idea and a little inspiration, the same way anything of value begins. When you have those little sparks it’s important to follow them through, ignite them and see where they go.
I have learned that interest in perfection can be the enemy of creation. Don’t get me wrong, I am all about creating quality content and elevating production value. Yet there is a delicate balance between striving for improvement and striving for completion. If you hover over a project to long grooming for perfection you may never see your work shared, and as Steve Jobs eloquently stated:
“Real Artists Ship”
I could write all the things that are expressed in this video (and indeed that was my intent in beginning this post), but that might mock it’s simplicity. Rather I hope it inspires you in your work, your art, your marketing and your sharing.
1. Getting in the door.
Anyone thinking of doing business with you will start with a Google search and likely a visit to your website. If they are searching for you they were already inclined to do business with you. But there is going to be some preliminary screening. What they find when they seek you online can either move them to take the next step, or it may cause them to go the other way. Either way it is difficult to define the role that video plays in strengthening this point of contact.
We do know that those who are visiting our site and have seen the video marketing that we do are very impressed. We know because we get this feedback all the time. When we are invited to visit a property, to do an evaluation and share our marketing plan, we have already established our professionalism by what the consumer finds from their online investigation.
2. Taking home the listing
We are often on the list for people calling “Top Realtors” so we find ourselves (as many agents do), in these evaluation situations where we need define our service from “the competition.
In the past I found competing very challenging (bottom line was I did not like it). I am sure that reflected in my own success rate at bringing home the listing. When it got right down to it, I struggled to articulate what made us “the best”. It’s easy to appreciate how the average person can have the outlook that “all Realtors are all the same”.
But when I started to master the power of video marketing, I had added a really amazing layer of service, something that defined our team from the competition. I am excited about Video marketing!
When you believe in the service you are offering, when you actually feel you are the best, and when you have enthusiasm for what you do, it is (of course) contagious!
Now when I get the opportunity to go head to head against any agent to compete for a listing I expect that we will come out on top and win the listing. Again video has been a key ingredient to getting the listings.
3. Selling the home
We sold a 2 million dollar home from one of our online videos. An out of town buyer was not able to be in Calgary to see a home first hand but she had seen the video of the house, she declared it was perfect. The husband was in town and he was able to view the home and verify it matched their needs. In this case the video was a key ingredient to a big sale.
4. Strengthening buyers resolve
I have had many times that we have sold a home and I will ask the buyer what effect the online video had in the process. They will often say that they were considering various options but they would be drawn back to the video. Often stating the “narrative articulated the aspects of the home that we were really looking for” The also viewed the HD video over and over to confirm certain details of the property, pausing and rewinding to see site finishing details etc.
5. Top of mind
Putting out steady, quality, and consistent content places you top of mind for any “would be” sellers or buyers. Again, this may be hard to track quantifiably, but posting 2-4 videos a month for a over 2 years in my social media networks certainly reminds people that I am a Realtor.
Although these people are my “friends” we all know how friends can forget your services in times of need (If you are an agent and you’ve ever bumped in to an old friend who’s told you they moved recently, and you know it wasn’t you who helped them, you know what I am talking about).
Is it my years in the business that has been bringing more friends my way or is it the video marketing? I would venture to say the video marketing has been huge in terms of helping friends remember my services.
The public meet you before they meet you
When I host an Open House many of the people walking in will say “I saw your video”. It seems to make a more comfortable point of initial contact. It creates a natural conversational point and I feel confident it has been a key tool that has inclined those home shoppers to secure my service as an agent.
Looking Back – Competition and a challenging market
To really understand how Real Estate videos have impacted my own personal business as a Realtor. To understand the positive effect video has had for me you need to know a little bit about my business.
I have worked with my family (Father and Sons) Real Estate team for about a dozen years. From before the time I had joined the family business, The Ramage Group has been a successful top producing team. So any experience I have had in this field has never translated easily to coaching advice to newer agents. Join a successful team that shares your last name and you are set!
But that is not exactly the case. As everyone knows success does not coast on auto pilot. It takes consistent steady work. This is a highly competitive industry and we always need to be enhancing our service and upping our game if we want to be a top player.
I would say 4 years ago our team was losing ground to the competition. Suddenly listings were not just coming our way because we were “the best”. There were some examples that had come as a big surprise to our group, suddenly when the competition seems to get a foothold they can role with that momentum and it rattled our foundation. Combine this with a challenging market, where the wind had left our sails and vessel we had to sail to the horizon of the future suddenly seemed to have cracked up.
This is why I express gratitude for strong competition, it pushes us to dig deeper to deliver higher value to our clients. It is also essential to endure some trials and hardship to focus your energy and determine for yourself what you will do to succeed.
I can say today that our Real Estate team has more then bounced back from losing ground to the competition. We have returned to having a stronghold in our area of specialty having sold 5 times more homes in my community then the #2 team (based on a MLS statistics review February 2013-February 2014).
Was video the secret sauce?
This is where it is difficult to define what ingredients have played a key part. Certainly the biggest change we have made in the last three years has been the introduction of video. Not just the introduction of it, but I would say pursuing excellence in video marketing.
A few times a month our family (like most) get the typical Real Estate flyers in our mail box. “Just Listed” or “Just Sold” along with a simple invitation to call for your free home evaluation. Unlike most however I work with my family in Real Estate and specialize in the community that I live in Briar Hill.
So when it comes to these flyers I am a little bit defensive when they show up in our community.
Often my Dad will collect these little mail outs on his desk and the topic of our meetings would move towards putting out our own “Just Listed” or “Just Sold” Flyers. The task of flyer creation, proofing and over seeing distribution typically would land on my desk. Over the years these mail outs had faded away to near zero. The reality is that it is not because we have less to promote but because in my core I completely disagree with the use of Junk Mail at every level.
Take a stand – Say something!
I was inspired by a couple of the key points in a book by the founders of 37 Signals called Rework (I would highly recommend).
Draw a line in the sand
Take a strong stand. Some people will be put off by this, but that is ok. Strong opinions are how you attract superfans. It also gives your staff values they can believe in and guide their decision making.
With my strong opinions about unaddressed admail and my equally strong opinion that we offer a better way to market and sell homes for sale using video and online marketing I wrote a simple script. Admittedly I sort of crammed it down the proofing pipeline that exists in our group, but ultimately I got the green light to go ahead and take a stand and make this video “No More Junk Mail”.
Anyone who knows me would be quick to say that I am not a contentious person. Actually the opposite is typically the case, I am quick to make friends and do my best to be gracious and loving to all. I know great people in the print media business and I am friendly with all other industry members (Realtors).
But the fact is I really do think junk mail sucks and I honestly believe there is a better way to market and promote.
If you can’t do awesome videos, you could post awesome photos on some social sites like Facebook. You can create some simple Google AdWords, you can tweet “Just Listed” and “Just Sold”. There are an infinite number of ways to promote with modern marketing tools that don’t produce the waste of unaddressed admail and that actually connect your message to your target audience with much greater impact. (I get lot’s of inspiration from reading 1000 Watts blog) I am grateful that I have done the work to build a platform that gives me a place to share a message (My YouTube Channel and Video blog).
And to help move this small idea in to action wass another gem from the book Rework…
Inspiration is perishable
Ideas linger forever. Inspiration expires. Use it now.
So with that, if you disagree with my position… say so and I hope you are inspired to share your message.
Oh, and in classic Realtor style (self promotion)… now that I have earned your attention, let me take this moment to say that in 2014 (and in the collective mls history) no other Real Estate team sold more in our little community of Briar Hill (:
I was so happy that this video was picked up in some Google+ circles amongst international Real Estate Agents. It feels great to get compliments on my work and appreciation for sharing.
I received one friendly comment that said “well done, but I am wondering why not outsource this video work?”
To answer this all I can do is recap my journey in making videos for Real Estate. http://www.RamageGroup.TV was inspired after reading the book “Crush It” by Gary Vaynerchuk. With a point and click camera I began video blogging sharing tips and trips along with market and listing information relating to Real Estate. However I started to witness some other agents who created some really sweet video commercials for their listings.
The moment I saw these higher quality productions I knew it was a game changer. In my core I felt I had to get my content to a higher level of production quality or my future business would suffer.
This was in 2011 and at the time I asked around and nobody was really doing what I was interested in creating. Additionally anyone who considered it as a possibility was looking for some pretty premium pay. Early on I had video professionally filmed and it cost $1000. I know relative to what a Real Estate commission is $1000 is a relatively small expense but it is enough to make you consider what your options are.
We all have moments when we see something and say to ourselves “I can do that”. This is simply the feeling I had when I investigated making my own Real estate video productions. But I did not stop there, I took the next steps… and I did it.
My first production probably took me 24 hours. “Wow, this is completely unsustainable!” is the natural thought I had upon completion. However there is a pride that comes with a accomplishing something. That video was for a $2,000,000+ listing and investing the extra energy seemed very appropriate. By the end of the year I was making videos for $150,000 condos.
With anything you do, over and over and over again and again and again…. you get better! Now I have 192 videos posted to YouTube. The first 80 or so are video podcast monologues. But now I have over 100 high quality premium HD video productions for homes that we have had for sale. I can crank out a good video with 2 hours of filming and 2 hours of editing.
Let me now give 5 Reasons why I do these productions myself.
1. I am an artist and this is an art.
If your career involves to many things that can be outsourced and automated I think you better start to keep your options open for new future careers.
In my mind the future belongs to the artists.
With each video I get to enjoy the sense of “flow” that comes with creating.
2. As a Realtor I have an eye for elements that need to be documented.
“This wide angle lens makes the downtown view feel 100 miles away, someone is paying $2,000,000 for a view lot, we better get this right!”
Being the one holding the camera and capturing the video I am in control. I understand what are the value features of the property. If I send a video person to film there is no guarantee I will have the key elements documented in a satisfactory way.
3. Becoming very intimate with a property.
When you spend 2 hours in a home documenting it’s details with a camera you become very, very familiar with a product that you have been hired to sell.
Additionally carving out a solid narrative on a home requires that you get deep in to the details. 2-3 minutes of voice over demands that you as the agent can properly articulate the highlights of a property.
4. Become a one person army.
I am in a team and I value the dynamics that come with working with others to accomplish a goal. Yet there is a certain sense of comfort that comes with autonomy. I am not at the mercy of any other persons schedule (or invoicing hours) to complete what needs to get done.
Having the skills to produce a high quality video in this day and age feels like possessing the tools to communicate in a way that connects with this current generation. Could somebody outsource writing and typing, yes they can. But in my opinion that person is giving away some of their personal power.
5. Having fun!
Yes, I could pay someone else to go out on the running paths and film runners and pedestrians. I could hire someone to walk through and film the natural land reserves in the areas of the city that I love. I could hire somebody to edit these productions. But the fact is that for me, it is fun!
Creating videos has created a new dynamic to my business that did not previously exist, and now that I have it built in to my routines there’s no way I want to give away one of the pleasurable parts of my “job”.
The fact is I could pay someone $1000 to make a pretty sweet video. But consider that last week I made a video and sold a house that earns me $15,000. I could consider that I am a well paid video producer (who sells Real Estate), I know that very few people are prepared to pay $1000 for a video production but I believe whole heartedly that they are worth every penny and probably much much more.
I should express that I really don’t do what I do for “the money”. I eagerly want to add as much value as I can to whatever it is that I am doing. It does seem to me that energy that you put in to the universe in some positive productive fashion has the habit of coming back to you. If you’re doing what you do “for the money” there’s a good chance it’s gonna suck.
My next post, will relate to this recent production…
In Mysore class you show up anytime during the posted hours and will be taught the Ashtanga sequence one posture at a time with a teacher. As you repeat the postures daily, you gradually increase your knowledge and create an independent, personal practice. New students are asked to commit to a consistent Mysore practice of at least 3x per week (students are welcome to come and observe class anytime). This commitment enables the student to fully realize all of the benefits of this method of practicing Ashtanga yoga.
These are two words I do not always exhibit; however I have tasted the rewards of discipline and patience.
I watched a fantastic documentary a few weeks ago called “Jiro dreams of Sushi”
I highly recommend this movie. It is exceptionally well filmed and it carries a powerful message. Jiro is an 85 year old Sushi master, who is still striving to advance his art of creating sushi. The discipline he models from a life commitment to his craft is inspiring.
I have been experiencing my own break throughs in recent years. Having been a Realtor for almost 12 years now I have experienced some of the joys of a committed work path. Recently I have been sharing with others that for the first 5 years of my Real Estate career I wasn’t sure if I was committed to this profession. It was a time of testing the waters of the business and deciding what to do with my life.
I remember being a few years in to this career path and entering in to an office meeting with a good friend of mine. A 55 year old lawyer who served as a role model and mentor to me. I announced on that morning that I had decided to return to youth work (I had formerly ran a Youth Program). My wise friend leaned back in his leather chair and folded his hands behind his head, and with a twinkle in his eye and a grin on his face challenged me. “Keep your eye on the ball”.
Admittedly back then I did not really know what I was doing. Thankfully I found myself surrounded with wise council that would challenge me to stay the course. I am thankful that on that morning I felt the proverbial whack on the side of the head that called me to keep my head in the game.
Had I made a decision to break away and try something new that day I may have looked back at that moment in time with equal appreciation of the value of change.
Meanwhile the experience I was destined to have was to enjoy the rewards of discipline and patience. Staying on my career path as a Realtor has given me the opportunity to experience a success that comes with endurance. The effect is like that of a snowball rolling down a hill and growing in size and momentum. If you keep starting new snowballs it will not allow you to experience the same growth and velocity.
The story of Jiro the sushi chef provides an inspiration that is less common today. To imagine doing the same job for a lifetime to most could seem uninspiring, maybe even depressing. Yet those who choose change at a time of a plateau rather then patience to push towards breaking through to the next level may never know the joy that is possible from such commitment. To see an 85 year old master who has been consistent and created a new level of performance that was not known to possible is inspiring.
I am learning these lesson in many aspects of my life. I am by no means a a prime example of these virtues but I have tasted the pleasures of these traits.
I recommend a book by Seth Godin called The Dip that discusses, when to quite and when to keep going.