Wednesday, May 14, 2008
Ian Watt has never had any video training. He just got his first video camera for Christmas.
But now he is the star of his own business video, transforming his blog into a live show in which he tours Vancouver dispensing advice, hitting real estate hot buttons, winning over fans and enraging critics.
"I just put the camera on the dashboard in a cup holder and drive around," said Watt, a realtor with Macdonald Realty's downtown office. "I just chat.
"Sometimes it is just for public awareness. Ninety-nine per cent of people who hire us go to our website first, and when they see this, they can say, 'Okay, I can understand his personality a little more.'
"The key thing is we're not trying to be media people. We're just trying to be ourselves."
Feedback can be fast. One posting had barely gone online when a complimentary message from a local real estate lawyer popped up on Watt's e-mail.
Others are not so complimentary. Response to another video in which Watt raised a controversial issue didn't come in terms that are printable.
On Tuesday, Watt was in a class of 20 aspiring Cecil B. DeMilles at a sold out session run by Reachd.com, a Vancouver training company launched by Stephen Jagger and Mike Stephenson, who also founded the real estate Web hosting and design site Ubertor.
Fourteen of the attendees were real estate agents and the rest represented a cross-section, including from the legal, recruiting and marketing professions. For a $200 fee, participants got the afternoon training session, plus a $150 Flip Ultra videocamera that takes up to an hour of video and plugs straight into a computer to download.
Bad video, or good business?
The latter, says Jagger, pointing to Gary Vaynerchuk's WineLibrary video blog at tv.winelibrary.com, which has transformed his parents' small New Jersey liquor store into a $60-million-a-year wine business. Amateur video draws online crowds, as YouTube can attest.
"PR companies can spend a lot of money on commercials, but it is really the content that sells," said Jagger. "It's not the polish. In fact, this is better because it is so real.
"It is way better than just having flyers and newsletters and blogs. It is a great way to show who you are and what you are all about."
While Reachd.com students might not be ready to emulate Vaynerchuk's colourful delivery, instructor Rodney Bartlett said they should aim to produce short and interesting clips that will keep viewers' attention to the end.
"The key is having an opinion," said Jagger. "You don't want to be too cautious, too generic, too safe.
"It won't be very interesting."
Tim Ayres, a realtor with Royal LePage in Sooke on Vancouver Island, was so keen to add the new technology that he got on a ferry Tuesday morning to join the class that was being held upstairs in a pub in downtown Vancouver.
"I write a pretty active blog, and video has been something I have been meaning to get into from the beginning," he said. "This stuff is really up-and-coming. Nobody is doing it in my area."