The Apartment Internet Marketing Video Awards

Last month, AIM 2013: The Art of Creativity, was pleased to announce the first-ever Apartment Internet Marketing Video Awards, sponsored by Capture the Market and Apartments.com. With video becoming a critical tool in the digital marketer’s arsenal for outreach, branding, lead-gen, training, SEO, blogging and more, it’s about time to applaud the achievements of the apartment industry within this unique and compelling medium.

A panel of three judges, Sarah Greenough, Isreal Carunungan and Sarah Milligan decided the winners in each category, and were judged on the basis of engagement, innovation, creativity, and technical merit. Finalists and the grand winners for each category as well as honorable mentions were announced at the AIM Video Awards presentation Huntington Beach, California.

I was more than honored to host this groundbreaking event. I am passionate about the use of video in the marketing mix. Prior to the event, Chris Wood with Linnell Taylor Marketing sat down to pick my brain on some pressing questions:

1) Kate, you’re recognized as an apartment lease-up expert and multifamily marketing maven. Why do you think video has become a CRITICAL tool for today’s digital marketer in the multifamily space?
Video marketing has increased our SEO rankings and that is important in today’s marketing mix. We are seeing that the potential renter is spending more time watching videos too. I used to think we were doing well if we could get the viewer to watch up to 30 seconds, now we are seeing four plus minutes of viewership. This means that video has become a step in the decision making process and I honestly feel that if you don’t have videos out there promoted in Social Media and your Websites (including mobile), you are missing an important sales opportunity. Simply put, it you want your video to work for you, you have to get it posted on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn and Craigslist.

2) And what makes for great marketing video? We’ve heard you are a big fan of the “peep show” MINI and Dollar Shave Club videos. What do you think makes them so compelling to consumers?
Yes, those are my two favorite videos. I just saw the Dollar Shave Club video as a commercial on cable TV. I guess their business is growing! And to think, it all started with the launch of a killer video on Twitter. These videos work because both were totally unexpected. One was uber funny and the other uber sexy and ironic. Both played on the viewer’s emotions and created a quick bite of footage that you could not look away from. In fact, many people have commented they wanted more when it was over. To be compelling you have to do the unexpected and execute very well. I have laughed at the videos that Property Solutions has created to promote their new software. They get it. APT Companies also understands that people talking about the apartment community during the video will provide another level of sales effectiveness.

When it comes to Customer Prospecting: Communities can show off their property thoroughly to prospective customers and through social media. Personally, there are videos that can be fun/funny, videos that are creative…however if people are looking for information, videos need to be very informational as well as engaging. Nothing more frustrating to customers than watching video and not come away with enough information to take a closer look. People have DVR, TiVo and commercial skip devices. Meaning, people are purposely skipping commercials and searching for information on the internet because they are no longer getting it from television. Remember we are trying to reach a targeted audience not the masses like typical 30 second commercials. That’s why they are spending more time on videos than the 90 second narrative. They want more, see more, hear more.

3) For community marketing, how can we be more creative about how we’re leveraging video to showcase and promote our properties?
Yes, we DO need to be more effective and to get there we need to break the mold of sales videos. From music to pace to subject matter, it has to be fresh and new. I like humor, many people like drama and crescendo. Start with a stellar video and then use it. I find it is not enough to just have it living on your Website or posted on You Tube, you have to market the link. Companies have found by putting video into their Craigslist ads, viewership goes through the roof. Also, when you shoot footage for your video, don’t just stop at editing one video. I suggest creating 5 plus videos that give the viewer short bites of information. Mearly having a video is not enough. You have to put it out there either yourself or through services like WebListers, RentSentinel, ILS services. Having a video is like having a car. It will get you from A to B but only if you know how to drive it!

Another great benefit of building marketing videos and promoting them is to showcase to your prospective management talent where they are going to work.

4) What about video as a training tool? Are there compelling opportunities to engage leasing and property management associates with video content that is shareable, tablet viewable, and —let’s face it— less boring then a training guidebook or seminar?
Our industry needs more “just in time” training. When I first entered the industry I attended leasing school that lasted 5 days. I was only 2 weeks into my job and could not relate the material to anything and so my retention was very low. Videos can be an effective way to deliver smaller doses of education on more specific topics. Smart companies are creating massive libraries of content so if you see a team members struggling with their ability to covert a phone call to a visit, leadership can direct them to a video to coach them along. The best case scenario is when the team member becomes engaged and starts to direct their own learning through the library.

We are also creating a library of content for residents. The entire orientation process can be better covered by a well thought out video versus an assistant manager who is in a rush. Filming a leasing seminar or class is not engaging. They may as well sit in the class. There needs to be video/photos to illustrate the training point. Performing poorly on film can have a negative effect though. Unless it appears real and not staged, people will tune it out. Minds will wonder with thoughts of “this is so lame…these people are bad actors”. The video has to be interesting and relatable to the audience or you will lose them. Video material almost needs to be able to stand alone. If you walked out of the room, they would remain watching it.

5) Let’s talk about video sharing. What are some of the top tips for succeeding with marketing videos on YouTube or Vimeo. What’s the difference, anyway?
YouTube is Free and Vimeo if being used commercially and used to promote a business the cost is $199 per year. YouTube is literally a search engine for video content. Vimeo is mostly used as a video hosting site. Your videos need to be on YouTube because it is the #2 search engine, is owned by Google and Google search loves YouTube videos. Also with YouTube you have unlimited storage and many custom functions like uploading transcripts for Closed Captioning and even has video editing/enhancement features. Vimeo advantages is the video players are more customizable, you can make branded portfolios and strong privacy controls. Vimeo Pro for Business is limited to 50GB for storage and 250,000 views for the $199 per year rate and does not get much love from Google searches.

6) And finally social media. Can video content open up some new opportunities in customer prospecting, customer service, or even retention?
People want to see more. Videos that just roll through JPGS are boring. Your video should show movement. Why not include testimonials, footage from a recent party, introduce your maintenance team? This is what people need to see in order to make a buying decision. For better customer service create How-To videos, preventative maintenance videos and community events marketing/highlighting videos.

For Resident Retention; Managers and staff now have a medium to deliver their messages to all the residents. Videos can be used for illustrating community policies and procedures and a great reference for residents regarding terms of their lease, addendums and community policy. Your resident holiday card can even be in the form of a fun video!

7) We hear you’re hosting the AIM 2013 Video Awards. Can you give us a sneak peak into this inaugural event?
I am honored to be a part of this awards program. For those entering, it will be a great opportunity to earn kudos for your work. For those looking for some insight into creating and improving their video marketing, you will witness the best of the best. I have also heard about some super-secret surprises that will be in the event. I highly encourage you to enter one or all of the categories. To enter the awards visit: http://www.apartmentinternetmarketing.com/aim-video-awards/