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How Do You Market To Agents That Have Never Used Professional Photography?

Published: 16/11/2016
By: larry

Sign in the sky for 'Your New Career' , concept image for employment related themes.Adam in Wisconsin says:

I live in Door County, Wisconsin, the peninsula north of Green Bay. There are LOTS of million dollar shoreline properties and plenty of upper end homes that sell well. To the best of my knowledge, there are no real estate photographers in the area. However I do see some of the top agents starting to make video tours on their own, but they don't look that great but shows they are interested in video tours, and possibly professional photography.

I'm hoping to market my video skills as I have a degree in Video Post-Production, have experience filming and editing short films, and have been improving my photography skills. I believe I could really help the local agents step up their game making video tours and providing photography for them. Since most of the agents probably have never used a pro photographer, how would you suggest I go about marketing my services to agents that might not feel the need for pro photos or video when they have been selling properties without them?

Also, should I have a website up and running with no photo gallery while I'm looking for homes to photograph? Could it be beneficial just to have a website for people to get more information about me and my services? I do have one video tour of a home I made for a "for sale by owner" I could put on there, but still working on the photography side of things.

Here is a past post that describes how a beginning real estate photographers/videographers should market themselves. I can find plenty of real estate photographers in Door County. Just google "door county WI real estate photographer". Study what they are doing since you will be competing with them.

Yes, you need a website to describe your services and show off your work. Your website should be at the center of your marketing because it illustrates what you are selling. Your site should have examples of both your photography and your videography.

While video tours may be your specialty don't neglect still photography because all listing agents need still photography while only some will want to use video.

13 comments on “How Do You Market To Agents That Have Never Used Professional Photography?”

  1. Find the very top agents and offer your services for free for the first video and images. Normally one man does not do both. Do not make your videos the same for all agents. Encourage them to be interviewed during the video production. I have seen others do that here and they look great. I just do still images.

  2. With all due respect, I have a major problem with free. How many other businesses in the service industry offer free? None that I know of. It cheapens our product in the eyes of others and shows that we ourselves don't value our service, so why should they.
    I offer discounted services on the first shoot to help land a big fish (like one I have today). They want me to add in some detail shots of the property (around 10 or so), so instead of charging my next package up, I offered to include those just this one time. They were thrilled!
    I will also do some discounted shoots for those high volume clients as a way to say thank you.

    Try to meet them face to face. Have a killer portfolio with you (on your tablet works just fine) to show them. Talk up your customer service and how you'll take care of them. Learn the stats of how using professional photography can not increase the amount of full price offers, but properties usually sell faster, too.

    In this industry, a website is a must! Can't tell you how many jobs I've gotten because of it. Think of it as your store front, and take care of it like one.

  3. I go through the MLS and look for listings where my services might "help" sell their listing. A couple sample photos with an introductory email is sometimes all that it needs. I also direct them to the website for more information. My response rate thus far hasn't been too bad. Other places to check, FSBO's, Zillow, Trulia. They'll all let you contact the seller or agent.

  4. As an alternative to free, consider offering the first job at cost. Free is typically not a good model and encourages that expectation from your clients. It would be better to include more services in your package versus offer things for free.

  5. Believe it or not, real estate photography takes a lot of learning and practice. If you don't have pictures for a portfolio, I doubt you have the experience necessary to take great photos. And, million dollar homes will need great photos, not beginner photos.

    At this point, start taking pictures of your home and your friends' homes and learn the craft. Once you get good, then start working for agents and don't do it for free.

  6. I agree with Jim Bolen to avoid "free" at all costs and was reinforced yesterday as I experimented with a variation. While I am both a Realtor and own a photography business, I find that I am under-represented in my current office as most of my photography clients are Realtors with other firms. It is a large office with over 200 Realtors and leads the area in both number of listings and sales - which is something I use in my own listing presentation. Quick review today, noted 165 active listing with 40 of those $800k and above, topping out at $8M. Two weeks ago saw a marketing opportunity in conjunction with our Thanksgiving pot luck luncheon held yesterday. There was also a silent auction with items on a bid table for two weeks with all proceeds going to the corporate charity. I saw this as an opportunity - both broader marketing within the office and giving back, supporting the office's charity effort - and entered a certificate for a free shoot of a 3500sq ft home or smaller. While they couldn't see a website on the bid table, I used my 20 page 'eye-candy' hard cover photo book that I typically use on listing presentations, leaving it on the bid table. Two weeks ago, formally introduced the certificate's existence during staff meeting announcements and noted could use during listing appointments citing "using professional photography, etc". How effective was it? ZERO BIDS! Even the auction coordinator (Realtor trainer) couldn't believe it. Looks like I don't have to do a free shoot - but haven't gotten any spinoff enquiries either which is sad. Think about it. The certificate noted $175 value...and no-one even bid $1.

  7. I agree with nothing free. If you need incentive, gift with purchase is the best and easiest way for people to earn a discount. What I mean is, offer reduced price on 4th shoot in one month; or buy one, get one at 25% off. I have spent years in marketing and sales, my experience elsewhere and in my photography business is that free denotes no value and the images and work will be treated that having no value. Far better to invite people to experience the good work you can do, for an appropriate fee, and offer discounts after certain thresholds are met. My experience when I did try free initially was those agents did not come back for more, they just took the free one. The agents looking for a deal right out of the chute are generally not good agents. The plumber does not fix the first toilet free just to prove himself.

    As to building the business, I tried email, phone calls, guest speaker at sales meetings and in person introduction and ask for business. The only one worth doing was the in person ask for business. Go to open houses, meet the agent, tell him or her you are not a buyer and that you are there to ask for their business. So refreshing, no messing around, no small deceits, just the straight up truth. If they don't want to talk to you, ask them for a referral , thank them for their time and attention and leave. Or just thank them and leave, you'll know which to do. They usually respect someone who is selling that acts like they are selling and does not mess around. Do not flinch about your rates when asked. Tell them and be quiet.

    Good luck, sounds like an interesting market up there.

  8. In my experience 'marketing to agents that have never used professional photography' is a waste of time. They'll find you when they're ready, if you have a decent locally visible website. Agents that don't value professional photography in today's world probably aren't interested in being taught, or marketed to. They're already under incredible pressure, both peer and client, to list w/ professional photos whether they know it or not. (if not, who are you to teach them and why in heaven's name would you want to)? Find successful agents that understand what a great marketing photo will do for them.

  9. On a related side note - DO NOT DO THIS! While you may rationalize as 'creative outreach' going into the "contact Realtor" fields on a listing, for something other than a buying or selling property inquiry it is SPAM and doesn't make you look professional. Realtors pay for those leads that come in from various websites. I just received an "online lead" by both phone for immediate followup/awareness and email auto-loading into contact management software hawking their drone photography business. (Ever curious on the competition, their website looked unprofessionally childish with garish colors.)

  10. What Trevor said above.

    We all continue to learn as time goes on - if you don't, then you are complacent and your business will not grow. You have to start somewhere, though.

    Once you start making images that are in the same league or hopefully better than your competition, create a slideshow of what you can do and schedule a meeting with the brokers of offices in your area. Show them the slideshow and tell them you would like an opportunity to speak at their next office meeting. Most have a meeting once a week. Then give a presentation, have an info sheet and plenty of business cards to pass out. It may take several presentations to land the big fish, but keep trying while shooting smaller homes for agents. Get experience and establish excellent customer service. Charge the same or more than your competition, don't undercut or do whole shoots for free. I will shoot a season change or perhaps a couple rooms that got new flooring for free as a surprise to good clients. They are always pleased.

    You can populate your website this way. Make absolutely certain your site works on mobile devices. Everyone looking for houses use their phones these days. Along the way you may pick up a top agent. Once you do, others will follow as your service matures.

    When I was starting out I gave presentations that were informational. I went in to tell them how to keep off the sites. Just to give them some tips on how to make their photos better. You know - use a tripod, keep your verticals straight, close the toilet lid, stay out of mirrors, etc. I showed them photos that were already on the bad real estate photo sites and then showed examples of how they could have avoided the problems. I tried to keep it funny and to get folks to laugh. I never tried to sell my service or any photography, but every office I would get one or two people who would say - you know, it does look easy to make better photos, but how about if I just hire you to do it for us?

    After a couple years I had more work than I could do.

  11. Hi Adam and all,
    This business is simple... but it is hard work. When I say Simple here are 5 steps to being a successful real estate photographer:
    Oh yeah -- and you won't see the word free after this. It is your business. unless you want a benevolent society. Believe me these good brokers will pay for your services.
    1. Develop an Excellent product - no I didn't say good product it has to be EXCELLENT! ALL YOUR FUTURE BUSINESS DEPENDS ON THIS.

    2. Get a presence on-line. This is the way Real estate is marketed today you need to market yourself this way too.

    3. Develop a sample on-line portfolio and keep it on a tablet or laptop to carry with you. and make an excellent post card to leave behind your calls.

    4 Do what a new real estate agent needs to do - ACTION - TONS OF ACTION.
    *Visit RE offices - identify the top agents in your area and know what they look like so you can recognize them they will be the hardest to contact because they all do the action part religiously. but if they happen to walk through and you recognize them they will like that. Laugh?? this worked for me... on the 5th time I was in their office.
    *Go to open houses - Top agents normally work their open houses but maybe the top agent of next year is there. If they are busy, don't interrupt, pick up a card and leave a post card.
    *Go on real estate tours - Our area has a Luxury tour. It is a great way to meet the agents.
    *Do volunteer work. one of my best sources of business came from shooting a big fund raiser for a local charity that was sponsored by the Firemens union in a local park - Fire in the Park - which was a Chili cook off competition but had many other businesses participating. I took pictures of the whole thing (using the new pole I just put together modifying parts of a painter's pole assembly) put them on disc, and hand delivered them to all the businesses with a nice thank you card.
    *Take pictures of the brokerages print them and then hand deliver to the Head broker, Owner, or manager.
    * Home shows.
    * Talk to builders. remodelers, cabinet makers, roofers, landscapers,
    5. Here is the KEY PART - PERSISTENCE - DO IT AGAIN, AND AGAIN, AND AGAIN, AND AGAIN, making the necessary changes from what you learn from your experience.
    Sometimes you might get in on the first time but it is usually on the 10th. Believe me a good broker knows what you are doing and will appreciate this last step- because their business was built on it.
    6. Listen to Larry- This blog and Scott Hargis helped me get the basics under control.

    I am now going on 6 years in the business with as many project as I can handle. Now...go out and Give 'em your best!

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