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Many of us think of selling homes in terms of square footage and number of beds and bathrooms. Very few of us measure a property’s potential by the number of elk you can see from the deck or by the quality of the property’s trout fishing. Yet for Jackson Hole real estate agent Latham Jenkins, selling exceptional properties means conveying that special magic that comes from a truly unique landscape.
Jenkins’ background is in advertising, so he already understood the power of visual storytelling when he heard Brad Inman talk about the impact of video at a conference in 2004. Previously, while tours videos had been created for some properties, they had been distributed on CD – a slow and expensive process. “I think Brad and his team recognized the confluence of the impact of video and the availability of online distribution,” Jenkins said.
After the conference, Jenkins, who was not yet a real estate agent, found a great ad and contacted the official agent and his architect to shoot a video. “I shot it on spec; I never even got paid for it,” he laughed. His instincts were vindicated when the home – which had been on the market for over a year – found a buyer who flew in and put it on contract within 24 hours of seeing the video. “It was the beginning for me to know the power of video,” Jenkins said.
As you can see, this first example of Jenkins’ work includes lots of agent commentary and lots of house stats. Over the years he began to create his signature style with more emphasis on the setting of the property and more room for the visuals to tell the story.
One of the things that Jenkins emphasizes is shooting throughout the day to capture the home in all of its different moods and settings. “You never shoot everything at once,” he said. “You capture your morning breakfast scenes around the east-facing sections of the house. You capture the evening on the west-facing decks as the sun sets.
According to Jenkins, every part of the property should be photographed in its best light, and interiors should be photographed with light filtering into the rooms.
Takeaway tip: Show how sunlight and weather play into the appearance of the home. “You capture your morning breakfast scenes around the east-facing sections of the house. You capture the evening on the west-facing decks as the sun sets.
There is no doubt about the results obtained by Jenkins. He credits his video style with creating an immediate emotional connection, often generating competitive bids within 24 hours of listing launch.
Another home that Jenkins filmed in Teton Village led to a high-profile CEO introducing himself to Jenkins saying, “Hi, I’ve watched this video 14 times. I buy this house. This resulted in a full price offer, closed over three weeks, with no contingencies.
When asked about his biggest early failures, Jenkins cites a tendency to put the cart before the horse, so to speak, in his previous videos. In those days, he often let the visuals take over before he had a cohesive narrative in mind. Now, he compares creating video marketing to shooting a movie, where you start with a script and storyboards before taking the shot.
Takeaway tip: Understand the statement you want to make with your visuals – the story you want to tell about the home. “Knowing the story ahead of time makes the process much more efficient.”
According to Jenkins, creating consistency or alignment between visuals and words is key. “Otherwise I’m wasting my time wandering around the property wondering what I’m going to capture. Knowing the story ahead of time makes the process much more efficient.
Earlier this year, Jenkins received national recognition when the marketing campaign he designed for Cody Creek Ranch didn’t just result in a sale. The house became the Wall Street Journal’s second runner-up House of the year.
As you’ll notice, this video lets the images tell the story. While there are captions with key attributes, the beauty of the scenery and the sounds of the property – from running water to the quacking of ducks – take center stage, creating a truly immersive audio-visual experience.
“Every time I’ve met the buyer of the property he’s said, ‘All I do is watch this video over and over. You see the emotional resonance.
Jenkins realized early on that to successfully market this one-of-a-kind listing, he needed to sell the frame rather than the house. So, before shooting the video, he spent an “extraordinary” amount of time observing the property.
Jenkins liked to be on the property at dawn to capture elk grazing. He learned where he could capture the best sunsets. He brought friends to catch fish and showed their joy in the video itself. He hosted dinner parties at the property to show how the setting allowed beautiful times to unfold.
“Cody Creek had three previous real estate agents. They were leading people through the house and they were looking at the property from the porch. I did it upside down. I took them around the property on side-by-side ATVs and they saw the scenery first, then we would end up at the house. They fell in love with the property and realized they could modify the house to their liking.
For Jenkins, there is a stark contrast between marketing a home and most advertising initiatives. “Unlike a Tide ad, which needs to resonate with millions of consumers, a real estate agent only needs one to be successful. This allows you to have a stronger point of view in your marketing.
Takeaway tip: Don’t be afraid to have a strong point of view. “Unlike a Tide ad, which needs to resonate with millions of consumers, a real estate agent only needs one to be successful.”
Even if you’re not selling hundreds of virgin acres, you can apply Jenkins’ strategies to your video marketing campaigns. According to Jenkins, the biggest mistake many agents make is playing the role of cameraman rather than producer.
Often an officer gives “very little direction and only a few hours of their time,” Jenkins said. Then, whatever images they get during the session, they need to work with them to create a cohesive visual narrative and define key selling attributes.
“To do it right, you work with the owner to find the key attributes of the property and what time of day each part of the property looks best,” Jenkins said. “You come with a shooting plan and require the videographer to be there multiple times throughout the day.”
Takeaway tip: Be the producer, not the cameraman, on your video tour. “You come with a shooting plan and require the videographer to be there multiple times throughout the day.”
Owning the producer role ultimately informs you about ownership and home, which then informs how you show ownership, Jenkins said. “When you created the story around the house before your first listing appointment, you became fully informed about the visit – the time of day, how to walk through the property, what to report and how to paint pictures of what it is like to live in this property.”