Looking for a unique differentiator can be difficult but it’s critical in separating you from your competition.
1. The problem
Paul Rushforth Realty is the largest independent Real Estate Agency by sales volume in Ottawa, Canada’s capital city. As a government and tech centre, the Ottawa real estate market is a relatively stable market that doesn’t experience the more volatile conditions of larger centres.
Competition in the Real Estate Market has increased considerably in Ottawa over the past few years as most companies have increased their marketing budgets.
Paul Rushforth Realty had two objectives in using video to market their agency:
- To remind the market why they enjoy the number one position in the market – because they are very good at selling homes and,
- They also wanted to remind the folks in Ottawa how the company contributes to the community. Good corporate citizenship is becoming one of the smartest activities a company can take part in, and Rushforth wanted to let Ottawa know that the people who work at the agency are very active in the community.
2. The Concept
It was decided that two videos would be developed, each a couple minutes long, to address these two issues independently. The first video, shown here, was designed to remind the market why Rushforth is #1 in the market. It also had to address, and counter, the common messaging that most other realtors were using – ‘they really cared about their customers,’ that ‘service was their # 1 priority,’ and a long list of other generic claims that frankly, anyone could make.
The key ‘ah-ha’ moment came in the decision to address the issue of generic claims by competitors head on. The next decision was then how to frame this message in a way that didn’t sound boastful or arrogant.
The concept developed for this video was to let the viewer experience the realtor search process from the buyer’s perspective. This approach would let the viewer consider what factors are truly important when looking for a realtor.
3. The Approach
There are many ways of presenting the ‘buyers perspective’ but the one that was chosen was to present the buyer’s thoughts as a stream of consciousness delivered in voice-over. This device would also allow for the most flexibility in dialogue and editing.
After the initial briefing meeting, the key messages for the video were established and a storyboard was created to deliver these messages throughout the video. The ‘story’ would start at the end, cut back to the beginning and then progress through to the end – where the video started.
This approach allowed the video to both start and end with the same positive feelings associated with the same positive event, “We sold the house!” …which, ultimately, is the only reason you chose a realtor. (Getting the viewer to understand is good. Getting them to remember is better. Getting them to feel something… that’s best.)
Our first challenge was to communicate in clear terms how and why the company was #1 in the market. The main character couldn’t deliver that information so it was decided to use a problem/ answer approach where the main character would pose her problem in voice-over and the ‘answer’ to that problem would appear as text onscreen.
Logistics, as always, was a challenge on this shoot. This video was shot over seven hours from mid-afternoon to early evening. “Chasing light” is always a problem on shoots with modest budgets.
This video required a lot of planning and really benefited from a pre-shoot run-through of every shot, at each location, to know exactly where the light would be for each scene. Those are the things the client never sees… but if you don’t make this investment in pre-production then you’re never going to get the results you need.
5. The Outcome & Lessons Learned
The video has been used extensively by Paul Rushforth Realty and cumulatively has over ten thousand views from both public access views (via Vimeo and Youtube) and also through controlled viewing at presentations and through other customer forums.
Anecdotal customer feedback on the video has been excellent.
- In an industry that is so undifferentiated (except for the unique personalities of the agency owners…) it’s important to discover and focus on those things of real value that differentiate your business from the competition.
- Don’t feel you have to put everything into one video. In fact, depending on your goals, making multiple videos is often the best course of action.
- Remember that you’re goal isn’t just to share information, it’s also to associate a feeling with your brand.