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BuilderIQ: Smart Marketing for Homebuilders
The Tools and Tasks to Produce Quality Content
Where do I start?
Digital marketing drives success for today’s businesses. Builders need to understand that the “way we’ve always done it” is holding them back. Buyers aren’t shopping for new homes in the same way, so you need to reach out to them in the channels they use, and the messaging that influences them most.
The quality of your content is critical to success. To attract and cultivate prospects, you must present them with the information they want, presented in a way that they can easily access from their mobile devices.
Next, you must consider that the search engines can either drive traffic to your website or leave you in the dark. Your SEO is dependent on the quality and frequency of the content you post.
So, you will not be writing or photographing, but rather “crafting content” for your website and digital marketing campaigns.
This method presents a new approach for many builders, so we are providing this guide to explain the tools you need for successful visual content creation. We’ll cover the hardware and software that should be considered the fundamentals of a digital marketing toolkit. We’ll also explain the importance of not just acquiring this equipment, but investing your time in becoming proficient with them. The ROI you will earn is more and higher quality leads and relationships.
Choose a dedicated camera.
I’m sure you rely on your smartphone to take photos, and it does a great job, but when you’re serious about your images, upgrade to a digital single lens reflex camera (DSLR). A smartphone can’t match the quality, speed, and control that you get with a DSLR. You can zoom in with your phone, for example, but the quality of the image suffers.
What to look for:
- Image sensor size: The larger the sensor, the more information you get. Full frame is the largest (36mm x 24mm). This feature is far more important than the number of megapixels for the quality of the image.
- Autofocus system: Get a clear image effortlessly.
- Video recording: HD 1080p is the minimum recording rate you should accept. If you want to upgrade, consider a 4K DSLR.
- Image-stabilization: Prevent the blurring that happens with a wobbly hand.
- Interchangeable lens: A separate wide-angle lens gives you broader views of interiors.
- Internal editing: Simplify photo editing by doing it right on your camera, especially if you don’t have software on your computer to handle the task.
Keep a tripod handy.
A tripod gives you hands-free power to take photos. Why do you need this? There are times when you might need to do a long exposure (in low light), which requires a very steady hand. When you take photos of interior details or styled settings, or even a group photo for your website, a tripod is very handy.
If using a smartphone…Stabilize your smartphone’s camera.
The quality of the cameras on today’s smartphones provide an exceptional, high-resolution image. But when you start moving around, like doing a video tour of a home, you’ll likely see the results in a bouncing video. While you certainly should invest in a DSLR with video capabilities, there will be times when you are only equipped with your smartphone. Make the most of the image capture capabilities of your mobile device by adding a gimbal, a stabilizer support that snaps onto your smartphone to prevent shaking when you’re shooting video.
What to look for:
- Smartphone compatibility: The stabilizer must fit with your smartphone. If you have a larger device, be sure the gimbal can accommodate the size.
- Stabilization: A 3-axis (tilt, roll, and pan) is preferred over a 2-axis (pitch and roll).
- Battery life: Some gimbals handle up to five hours on one charge, while others last only half as long.
The DJI Osmo Mobile 2 is a lightweight, user-friendly stabilizer that works with smartphones and is ideal for builders and is only $130 and just came out for pre-order.
Launch a drone.
Your homebuyers want to maximize their time by getting the best view possible, without having to travel. You can take them on a tour of your community by creating aerial video tours. A drone that is outfitted with a camera makes it easy to capture this view. Give your prospects an up-to-date view of your available sites-zooming in to give a better view-so they can browse the options from the comfort of their homes. You’ll distinguish yourself as a customer-centric home builder by offering your buyers this unique and timely view of your properties.
What to look for:
- Ease of use: Some drones are easier to navigate than others, so be sure to choose one that fits your skill level.
- Assembly: You can purchase a drone that is ready to fly (RTF) right out of the box, while others require assembly.
- Camera: Without a quality camera on your drone, the effort is wasted. A 1080p or 4K should be your target.
- Flight time: The length of time your drone can remain airborne can range from an average of 10 minutes to as much as 28 minutes.
- GPS: The controller should provide GPS functionality so you can better guide the drone.
Hook up a mic.
Nothing says “amateur” like bad audio in a video. For professional quality, don’t limit your focus to the imaging. The built-in microphone is designed for convenience, not quality. They don’t filter out background nose. A good quality microphone ensures that your viewer gets the full message, optimizing voice clarity and eliminating extraneous noise. You don’t need a sound engineer when you have a microphone that’s reliable, easy to use, and designed for performance.
What to look for:
- Style: A lavalier is a small microphone that clips to a person’s clothing-great for recording interviews and presentations. The other end of the wire connects to the DSLR, or you can choose a wireless version that eliminates the long cord. Another alternative is the shot gun style directional microphone that can be pointed at the sound source.
- Corded or wireless: A wireless microphone presents more convenience, but will cost more, requires battery power, and might pick up interference from nearby transmitters.
The RØDE smartLav+ lavalier microphone is only 4.5mm, so it’s hardly visible, and will plug right into your smartphone. The RØDE VideoMic GO presents an affordable, directional microphone that mounts to your camera.
Expand your view to 360º.
The relatively new 360º 4K video cameras enable you to capture this complete perspective, using a combination of lenses. Just set the camera on a table and let it handle the rest. The software then combines the images-“stitching”-for a relatively seamless view. Some cameras accomplish this result better than others. The 4K resolution is unmatched for clarity. Your high-resolution television screen is probably 1080 pixels. The 4K is almost four times as precise. Picture that!
You can use a 360º 4K video camera to provide tours or panoramic views of your home, communities or events. Set it on a table and let it work. Upload them to your social media networks, which can now handle the 4K files and the 360° video or photo files. Because the camera is taking a 360° image you really need the 4K camera otherwise your video quality will suffer. Remember it isn’t just taking a picture of a square like a regular camera does, it is taking a picture of the entire surroundings.
What to look for:
- Single- or dual-lens: A single lens produces better quality, but a dual lens captures more images.
- Stitch quality: Some stitching software is better than others for combining the images into one 360º view.
- Battery life: Running out of battery power is never a good thing in the middle of filming.
The Ricoh Theta V is a simple-looking device, but provides great video and audio quality, and stitching that is far superior than devices priced much higher.
Why Matterport matters.
Prospective buyers are using online searches to gather as much information as possible about the homes and builders they’ll consider. A virtual tour of your homes lets them wander through and see the details, giving them a realistic view of the property.
Currently, there is no better virtual tour than the ones provided by Matterport. This platform enables the user to scan every room-a 360º view-and combines the images into one 3D model. The visitor takes a self-guided tour through your Matterport Space, steering with the keys on their keyboard. They can turn, zoom in, and see the entire home at their leisure.
For $300 to $500 per house, you gain the power of presenting a truly interactive experience to your prospects. One of Matterport’s certified service partner handles the image capture, builds the 3D model, and links it to your site via the Matterport Cloud. Visit Matterport’s site and view their gallery. It doesn’t get any easier to incorporate an interactive experience on your website.
See for yourself.
Technology has given you countless way to connect with your homebuyers. Digital marketing drives leads to your website, where those relationships begin. Quality content is critical to keeping these prospects interested in your company, communities, and homes. A picture is still worth a thousand words. What do your photos and videos say about you right now?
Builder Designs is dedicated to home builders. That’s our one and only business focus. You have our full attention, and the vast resources we offer. You’re in the business of building. We’re in the business of builders. Let’s put the two together and give you a whole new perspective on the power of marketing.