The Marketing Magic of Tour DVDs

March 24th, 2011

Because my wife has been a 26 year listing agent and I spent 10 years helping her list homes I tend to see the world, much of the time, as a listing agent. One phenomena that has always amazed me is the magic effect of giving the home seller a DVD with photos of their home on it.

For much of my 10 years as a listing agent we gave all our home seller clients a CD of their stills and the 6 or 8-360’s that I shot to market their home. I’d make a mini-CD that was a Windows only auto-run CD that had the custom Virtual tour on it. I never did fully appreciate what the big deal was about these CDs were. One listing client we had was the chief technical guy for a marketing company that had the account for Nikon. He loved the 360s of his home and the CD that I gave him of it so much that he talked me into doing a movie about real estate photography for the now defunct web site. He also wanted a copy of the CD for each one of his 4 children and a couple for his parents and his in-laws. A large percentage of our listing customers would similarly get worked up about having their home tour on a CD.

In about 2004 after alienating a number of our listing clients that were Mac only users, that wanted a CD but I couldn’t deliver, I realized that putting this stuff on a CD was crazy. It made much more sense to create a DVD that anyone could play on any computer or even without a computer on a DVD player.

Nowadays it’s really easy to create a play-anywhere DVD with iDVD on the Mac, Adobe Premier Elements on either the Mac or PC or Pro Show Gold for the PC. The great thing about a DVD is everyone knows what to do with them. The downside is if you make them yourself it takes a little extra time. But I find that with a little practice you can turn them out pretty fast. The basic process with iDVD and the other software, is you make a slide show from the full size stills that looks pretty good on a large screen TV. Also since more and more marketing involves video as well as stills and most of the world has a large screen TVs in their home, DVDs make even more sense.

The loser in this move to DVDs is viewing 360s. I talked to a reader recently that was  stressed over the fact that he couldn’t find a way to create a DVD that would show stills and 360s. Yes, to view 360s you pretty much need to do it in a browser which is different from viewing DVDs. But I think the benefits of using DVDs for this purpose far out weight the downsides.

The bottom line is that even though you may think a DVD with a bunch of stills on it shown as a slideshow is not a big deal, listing agents love them because home sellers love them so much. Even the home buyers like them. So even though these DVDs are not big money makers they have the magic to make happy customers. Consider them just for the happiness they create!

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14 Responses to “The Marketing Magic of Tour DVDs”

  • Not sure if this would be feasible but thought I would throw it out there: couldn’t you use a screen recorder to record yourself exploring the 360 tour then put that video into the mix on the DVD?

    Love the site btw. I’m not a RE photog (just yet) but I find many of the articles and tips to be useful for just about any other type of photography.

  • You can create the 360 as normal, then take it into pano2movie which will output perfectly panned/zoomed video footage that can be used for dvd content.

  • This couldn’t come at a better time. I have been asked to create DVDs for our Community Video Slideshow that I took photos of. I used FotoMagico. I am now burning to DVD. I’m struggling with the resolution which is not so good when viewed at full screen. I’m worried someone would put this in their DVD player and watch it on their TV which would make the resolution terrible. I am new to this and to the MAC is there some type of rule with this?

  • I take it one step further…

    When I bring a seller to the table, if possible or soon thereafter, as a closing gift I create one and give several copies (plus suggest they burn a few) to show friends and family their new home. Copies with my Realtor and photographer info are distributed all over their workplace plus family and friends. Have generated some business though that network referral.

  • Yeah there’s something about a tangible object that gives it real value.

    I’ve done the iphoto/imovie/idvd dance a few times, but I found it too painfull. I would love to know a service that I can send a movie file and a cover image, and it would send back DVDs.

  • These guys look pretty good:

  • I have clients at least once a week purchase a DVD with a slideshow of photos and the video tour. They oftentimes give it to the seller as a closing gift and memory of their home. They absolutely love it! Plus, I print a photo of the home along with the agent’s name and logo etc. right on the DVDs, so it’s great branding for that agent.

    It’s also a great thing to give out along with the listing sheets/ brochure at the home, so many agents purchase 10, 20 etc. of these DVDs (@$10 ea) for that purpose. Once a buyer gets home after seeing multiple homes, they almost always pop in the DVD to “see” what’s on it – effectively a second showing and a way to push that home out again in front of the others they viewed (and forgot!). Of course, it’s also printed with the agent’s logo/ name/ contact, so it’s a great way to demonstrate how that agent markets homes.

    I even had one agent create a video specifically as a closing gift. The sellers was very sad about leaving her beloved garden, so the agent had me shoot a video of her garden as a memory once the house sold, which the seller then narrated personally with a verbiage she wrote. ( Unfortunately, it was during that ugly gray period after fall and before winter, but that’s when the house sold!

    I use the Primera Bravo DVD printer, so I can print and burn 50 at a time… very easy. Nice additional revenue stream.

  • Keep in mind the “Sales Tax” obligation when furnishing your clients with items like CDs. DVDs, prints, etc

  • Its hard to go into a Best Buy and purchase a 4×3 standard definition TV, most now sell some flavor of HD flat panels which to Pats point, that if you connect a Standard Definition DVD player too the video generally looks pretty bad. The flat panel is taking a 720×480 [NTSC] image and scaling it to at least 1280×720 if not 1920×1080. There are some Blu Ray Players that are much better at scaling SD to HD.

    DVD’s work well when viewed on a computer or on an SD TV, if the quality is poor in that scenario then something is wrong with the encoding.

    One thing that you can look for is the option to work in and encode SD 16×9 or letterbox. This will take your stills and scale them with the right pixel aspect ratio for most flat panels so that when they scale the SD DVD footage up at least it in the correct format and the quality is usually better. If it viewed on a 4×3 SDTV it will be letter boxed.

  • I have been using Animoto which is easy and quick to use. You can mix video and photo’s and add text. They are only about 39$ per month for unlimited videos and they come un branded. You can download them in iso format to just burn directly onto the dvd without a just plays.

    I give my clients 4 dvd’s with a branded cover for the jewel case. The agents LOVE THIS!

  • I use Animoto for weddings, and decided to look into it for the Real Estate work a while back. After e-mailing them they said I couldn’t provide the videos to agents, It could only be provided to consumers and not other businesses. I would have to purchase the reseller account and then there was an additional fee per video.

  • ^keith^
    Providing the videos to agents is not different then a consumer..they are consumers. I include the videos in the package and websites I create for the property.

  • @ Jared
    Keith is correct that you NEED the reseller account to provide videos to any form of a business including a real estate agent. You can email them for more info on the reseller account at It would suck if you got in trouble.

  • In order to save you some time, here is their response as of today:
    “As our commercial terms of service do limit distribution of videos to other businesses, we recently launched a product addressing your needs called the Reseller Account. As an authorized Animoto Reseller you can provide video creation services to other businesses including restaurants, hotels, retailers, real estate agents, and even photographers. The account costs $499 / year and allows you to distribute videos to businesses at a one-time cost of $25 / video. This $25 charge does not apply to videos you create to advertise your own product or services. ”

    Notice they specify real estate agents.

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