Video: Motion, Sound Builds Brands

August 1, 2007

Visit Doug Devitre’s Web site ( and the St. Louis-based broker-salesperson at Prudential Alliance, REALTORS®, greets you and explains his site.

He points over his shoulder to the links at the top of the page, to his right to links on the side, and then to a form you can fill out to receive a free CD-ROM.

Devitre’s greeting isn’t in the form of a paragraph of copy or static photos. Rather, he’s created a video of himself that launches when you arrive at his Web page. After the video loads, which takes about two seconds, you see a miniature cut-out image of him superimposed on the site. After his 30-second message, he disappears from the screen, and you’re free to roam his site.

Devitre, CRS®, e-PRO®, is one of a growing number of salespeople using video to build their brand. Jim Pasala, with Coldwell Banker Previews International, and Amber Downey, with Surterre Properties, both in Newport Beach, Calif., use similar technology on their Web sites, and The two often team up to sell luxury homes, and in addition to displaying video of themselves on their personal sites, they’ve created Web sites, such as, to spotlight some of their listings. There they show their personal video as well as streaming video of the property’s features. Professional voice talent explains each image the viewer sees.

“The strength of video is that it has sight, sound, and motion,” says Greg Herder, CEO of Hobbs Herder Advertising in Newport Beach, Calif. “TV is such a powerful medium because it creates a much stronger emotional punch than any other form of marketing. Whether you’re talking about kids in Africa or about homes as a salesperson, you can make a much stronger case through video.”

Brand awareness spreads “like wildfire”

Video helps you build your brand in several ways, the most important by showing consumers you’re ahead of the curve, a point Pasala stresses in listing presentations. Video also helps you differentiate your brand. “Nobody [else] in my market does video, and it’s something people remember you by,” says Devitre. “Word of mouth spreads like wildfire, especially when something’s different or cutting-edge. The word of mouth on my video has been through the roof.”

He says he gets at least one lead each day from serious buyers visiting his Web site. Although he can’t concretely attribute that steady source of qualified leads to the video, he says, “people tell me they love it.”

Devitre used a professional production team to create the greeting video (for $150). Hosting is included in the package he purchased. He also uses a webcam to create other videos at his site. The webcam was about $65, and he pays about $20 extra monthly to his Web host for the bandwidth to support video.

Melissa Crockett Willis, a salesperson with Howard Hanna Smythe Cramer in Mentor, Ohio, and a partner in The Crockett Team, says video helps her team build its brand as a forward-thinking group that provides personal service. The team has loaded an eight-minute video onto its Web site,, in which members introduce themselves and explain how they’ll help consumers. The video introductions make each meeting with consumers “more of a friendly, warm appointment,” she says. “It’s as if Matt Lauer of the Today Show walked in the room right now; I’d feel as if I knew him.

“We look at how business will be done two years from now and we do it today,” adds Crockett Willis. “We want to be the ones setting the pace.” The video cost about $5,000 to create; occasional updates run about $500.

“We’re probably up 40 to 50 transactions each year since we started using video three years ago,” she says.

Ready for your close-up?

Before you run out to buy video equipment, make sure video is right for you. “Most salespeople’s videos are fairly ineffective,” Herder says. “Practitioners fall in love with the idea of doing video but don’t ask themselves basic marketing questions, such as what are you trying to accomplish? Unless you know what you’re trying to achieve with each video clip, the chances of getting a great response are minimal.”

For example, Herder says, some salespeople create a video that’s funny, and they assume positive feedback means it helped their business. “Was being funny your goal?” asks Herder. “There’s no point in doing something that’s funny unless you’re in the business of making people laugh.”

Know what you stand for and what basic message you want to communicate. The real questions you should ask before creating a video, he says, are whom you’re trying to reach, what impact you want to achieve, and whether the video will move consumers toward your marketing message.

Herder also says ask yourself the painfully honest question: Should you be on screen? “Most salespeople don’t have the charisma to do their own video,” he says. “We do a lot of commercials, and in about 60 percent of them, we don’t let salespeople talk on camera because they don’t present themselves well or sound natural.” If your delivery isn’t right for the screen, says Herder, you’re better off hiring voiceover talent to deliver anthing beyond a greeting.

“With video, you have the potential to put a lot of emotion into your marketing,” he says. “The question is, Do you?”

freelance writer

G.M. Filisko is a Chicago area freelance and former editor for REALTOR® Magazine.