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The De La Vara Team In Hacienda Heights Is Serious About Marketing!

Published: 06/02/2014
By: larry

HaciendaHeights There's nothing I like better than finding a listing agent team that appreciate the importance of marketing their listings! The De La Vara Team (9 members of the same family) in Hacienda Heights (near Los Angeles) clearly understand the importance of marketing. I talked to Michelle De La Vara a few days ago who leads the De La Vara dedicated two person marketing team (Michelle and Nicolette). Michelle says:

We are responsible for all marketing for our team: photography, videography, aerial video, photo editing, flyers, postcards, listing packets, website, social media etc. The two of us do it all. Two years ago we were working with 1 Nikon D90 and using auto settings. We took a photography course nearby at Tri-Community Photo School in Covina, CA. This opened our eyes and taught us how to use our cameras in manual mode and helped us improve our real estate photography tenfold!! We now own an array of updated photography including 2 Nikon D800s, external flashes, etc. We are always continuing our training in photography. In fact, tonight we are taking a night photography course to help us improve our property photographs taken at night.

We just created a video about our Hacienda Heights community. We got an unbelievable response and the numbers keep climbing. The video is designed to brand us as the area realtors and also communicate to potential buyers that Hacienda Heights is a “Great Place to Live”. I wanted to share with you and perhaps some of your blog followers could incorporate the same idea with their clients or their own business. We set up a unique URL that points directly to a page on our website where the video resides. It is located here.

We have also had great success with our aerial photography on our higher end listings. We are using a Phantom / GoPro and here is our most recent video.

Now before you get after Michelle and Nicolette about their verticals in their interiors, I've already given Michelle my vertical lecture and made her promise to read all the articles on PFRE about converging verticals and keep the walls straight up and down in the future. Keep up the good work! Every listing agent that is serious about marketing raises the bar for everyone else!

20 comments on “The De La Vara Team In Hacienda Heights Is Serious About Marketing!”

  1. I love the video! I'm curious how you got 5,000 views in such a short amount of time? Care to share any tips on marketing the video to get that kind of traffic? Thank you!

  2. Lightroom 5 has some great new things that will help you keep the lines straight as you put it. The convergence lines. It is much easier than using tilt shift lenses if you are not experienced using that type of lens.

  3. Larry, thank you for posting this story about our marketing team!

    Tery: I am pleased to share our marketing tips. We created this Hacienda Heights video for our community and for potential buyers. The idea was to include our branding so our team would be contacted by buyers and to communicate how impressive our city is to live in. We kept the video short (1 minute), fast clips and upbeat music to keep our viewers engaged. We created a custom url that points to your video on our website and advertised the link on our print materials and website. We also posted our video on our You Tube channel and used the "promote" feature to advertise our video on You Tube. Our total investment for advertising was $20! To date we have over 5,000 youtube views! We also posted to our facebook page and other members of our team posted to their facebook pages. Lots of people have shared our video with their friends. For several of our out of town FB members the video brings back fond memories of "home". Approximately 2700 views are coming from our youtube advertising and the rest is the result of our print marketing efforts and social media posts.

    Just yesterday we enabled an additional $20 youtube advertising campaign for one of our listings. Traffic to that listing video has doubled in just 24 hours and I look forward to seeing the results after a week. Here is the video here:

  4. We use videos to tell a story. But who is the audience? Like Alex says, that video is "energizing." I'd agree. It's fast and jumpy and provides a lot of content in a short amount of time. IMO the video talks to a younger crowd and maybe that's the demographic of the area. But as a lifestyle video, or any video, you need to think about who you're selling to. If one is looking to retire to a quiet place, Hacienda Heights might not be the place - at least from what one can tell from a 1 minute video. My point is, keep your audience in mind when making videos.

  5. Charlie: Thank you for your feedback. We did keep our audience in mind. Hacienda Heights is a family community. Definitely not a retirement community. It is a safe environment and a great place to raise your family. Our proximity to Los Angeles and Orange county provides a "reasonable" commute for our working parents. We offer a lot in this city: nice neighborhoods, excellent schools, recreation. sports programs, parks and plenty of community activities. We wanted to show that there are plenty of shopping/dining/entertainment options for families as well. The video was designed to communicate how much we have to offer to potential families.

  6. It seems to me that the question isn't whether Hacienda Heights is all that you say it is in your response but does the video communicate all of that effectively?

    I've never been to Hacienda Heights but if I was considering moving to that general area I think your video would certainly have captured my attention but I'm not sure it would have motivated me to contact your team. Its obvious that your passionate about where you live/work but your passion for your community comes across in your response a lot more than it did in the video.

    That's not a criticism of the video, I'm not speaking for Charlie but this video seems to lack the story or call to action that might be required to communicate how you feel about your community more effectively. All communities claim to have the things you listed in your video as great reasons to live there, why are those things better in Hacienda Heights than the town next door?

    It looks like you guys have a great thing going, being able to sell the property and work as a team to develop a marketing strategy is a huge competitive advantage that can help you really know how effective your marketing is and where you might need to make changes.

    This is purely a subjective thing but I think your video is over saturated. For anyone viewing this on a monitor that is too bright and vibrant the reds will really bloom and it will look cartoonish. Actually I'll leave this comment in but I took another look at your video and only a handful of shots appeared over saturated, but like I said that's a personal choice.

    Keep up the good work.

  7. I find it interesting as a pro real estate photographer that the De La Vara team would purchase 2 Nikon D800 $5000, a D90 approximately $ $1000 new, external nikon flashes, $ 300 approximately, night photography course $ unknown, etc... $7000 or more. So as someone that does this for a living wouldn't it make more sense to use a professional photographer that specializes in architectural photography? The price of a shoot is tax deductible, the end quality is always or nearly always going to be far superior from a professional photographer than realtors. I agree that the photos they are putting out are definitely better than most realtors for sure. However time is $ money, the time to shoot, photoshop, attend photro courses and still not be able to achieve the results of someone who does it for a living seems illogical to me. I like thew idea that they have realized the importance of good photos as a marketing tool. But at the end of the day a pro can do it better. JW

  8. sorry for the typos above on the way to a shoot and rushing as always to get there. JW

  9. There's a lot of reasons people go into business although you made a valid point it might just be that they enjoy this aspect of managing their business. Sure, I'd rather realtors hired professionals to help with their marketing but more power to the realtors who want to learn how to market property professionally themselves. Would it take less time, would they make more money, could they market more properties if they hired one of us? Possibly but there's nothing to say that they can't do this as well as any of us.

    The realtors I don't understand are those that complain about spending any money and how long it takes to create quality marketing then when you ask them how many properties did they sell last year and the answer is one or something ridiculously low.

  10. @Terry
    Youtube Views impress the agents and the homeowners and give the videographer something to brag about, beyond that they mean very little these days. Anyone can add a a couple thousand (or more) for very little cost , and there are hundred of sites just like that one.

  11. @James - I wanted to comment on your post regarding our investment in our own equipment (cameras, etc) for our marketing efforts. It is important to note that our marketing team is just that. The two of us that supply and create the marketing are not licensed realtors. We do not sell houses. We focus diligently on marketing the houses our sales team lists. I have a degree in marketing and an extensive background in print and web design/development. I successfully ran my graphic design/web development company for over 10 years. During that time my husband ran his own real estate business. Then the kids came and my business took a backseat. As the kids got a bit older I started using my talents to help our real estate business grow.

    Why not take the time to learn professional photography? Why not learn a new skill that can help our business? I agree that paying a professional photographer is tax deductible, however, so is the purchase of new equipment. I did hire a professional photographer to shoot one of our 2 million dollar listings. I was not pleased with the results. I was not impressed with his technique or equipment. I went back and shot it myself.

    Our marketing team handles everything in-house which gives us 100% control. Too many times I have had sellers call last minute to reschedule the shoot for a later time or another day. Unfortunately, an outside photographer's schedule cannot always accommodate our seller's request, but our team can.

    As we continue to photograph houses, we get more experience and better results. We engage in ongoing photography classes which helps us learn new techniques and strategies to get better photos. Looking back at our photos from two years ago, our photography has improved tenfold. With continued training and practice I anticipate that we can say the same thing a year from now. Why can't we become "pros" as well?

  12. Having complete control over your marketing package from end-to-end is incredibly valuable. While the quality isn't there yet, this is a similar approach to the smaller firms in orange county like The Boutique or Fitzpatrick & Prince (examples: or

    Even though the photograph has some issues, I still think the property videos are pretty solid. I think the mistake that many realtors make is believing all professional photographers are created equal or that just because they excel in portraits or headshots, they'll be exceptional shooting interiors.

  13. @Nick, likewise that all good architectural photographers would produce good property videos.

    It seems that the trend for successful agents is developing boutiques that are more focused on quality marketing and outreach than one time branding gimmicks etc. Some are prepared to take that challenge on themselves, others are partnering with good web developers, stills and video producers etc..

    I've been fortunate having partnered with a small number of brokers which enables me to provide much more input into their overall marketing than just my ability to shoot stills and video. This not only results in more video's but also bigger budgets, in some cases much bigger budgets, not because I have to convince them to spend more but because we're all in it together and they get to see first hand what it takes to produce quality marketing.

  14. @Michelle - Your team sounds like a big exception to the rule. I have seen job advertisements and stories where the photographer in an office is also in charge of filing, cleaning the bathrooms and running errands for the staff when they are not taking pictures of properties. They are also not paid a professional wage. They are also expected to bring and use their own professional quality photo equipment. A big part of the problem might be that typical offices are a collection of agents renting a desk, an affiliation and access to certain assets and services. They are not part of a team. Having specialists in your office is going to make you that much more competitive. Especially when everyone can see how it is increasing the value of the business.

  15. @Christian - some would argue that genuine views and viewer engagement help build your channels authority and improve your websites ranking.

    In addition, the backlink created from an authority site like this one and the views it generates also contribute.

    Michelle very kindly and generously shared team De La VAra's strategy for generating genuine views.

  16. @Sharon
    Take a minute and check out Vagex, they do provide genuine views and you actually determine not only how many views you want, but also the duration (engagement) of each view.

    Whether is vagex or youtube promotion, unfortunately the views are just random people clicking on the video and watching, with no real interest in buying at all.

    Do you really believe 4285 viewers were actually interested in buying 14458 Edgeridge Drive? (Michelle's other video link above they just youtube promoted)

    I would bet maybe .5% of those views "might" be interested, the rest are just random clicks unfortunately.

    Again, the views are great for agents to say "look at all the activity I got for your listing", but in reality its just a meaningless number for the most part.

  17. First of all I want to say great blog! I had a quick question that I'd like to ask if you do not mind.
    I was curious to find out how you center yourself and
    clear your thoughts prior to writing. I've had trouble clearing my mind in getting my ideas out there.

    I truly do enjoy writing however it just seems like the first 10 to 15 minutes are lost just trying to figure out how to begin.
    Any ideas or hints? Many thanks!

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