Method in the madness: how and when to use a quirky marketing campaign

As a real estate agent it can be hard to make yourself and your listings stand out in a crowd. More than ever, agents are turning to quirky marketing videos in a bid to catch buyers attention and generate top dollar for their vendors. Kylie Dulhunty spoke with three agents about why jumping in pools and wakeboarding on rivers works, whether every property suits a witty campaign and their top tips for creating videos that go viral.

If you take a look at David Sullivan’s listing videos, you’re likely to see him splashing in a vendor’s pool, mowing their lawn on a ride-on mower, or making a Michael Jordan-like slam dunk on their basketball hoop.

Known as “The Barefoot Agent” in Brisbane’s northern suburbs, David is one of a growing number of real estate professionals turning traditional video marketing on its head.

In a business where getting as many eyeballs as possible on a property is paramount, creating a video that goes viral can not only help find a buyer but find one willing to pay top dollar.

But how do you know what property is perfect for a quirky video, and can any agent cut the mustard on camera?

Confidence is key

David, the man behind One Percent Property Sales, says not every home or vendor lends itself to a quirky marketing clip and, as the agent, you’ve got to feel comfortable too.

He says his first video came about a few years back when his regular photographer wanted to shoot some videos, and they decided to have a bit of fun with it.

“I said, ‘let’s do a few and see how we go’,” David explains.

“It was really fun and really engaging.

“Now I’ve got vendors ringing me to say, ‘If you list my property, will you do a video’?”

Since that first video, David has played cricket in people’s large backyards, hidden Steve Irwin-like in lush gardens, ridden bicycles, kicked a footy and jumped in more pools than he can count.

“I’ve got one classic video where I threw a basketball from the front of the house, ran through the house, grabbed it and sunk it in the net in one go, which was hilarious,” he says.

David says he pushes the videos out via his website, the major portals and his social media accounts, getting thousands of views per video.

Results matter

But for all the fun and games, David says there’s no point doing funny videos if you don’t achieve the desired result.

“It’s still all about the results at the end of the day,” he explains.

“I could be as funny as bloody Larry, but if I don’t sell it (the property), well, I’m no good, am I?”

David’s been in real estate for about 13 years and worked for both traditional franchises and alternate industry models too.

He started One Percent Property Sales about three years ago, and just like the name suggests, the model has a 1 per cent commission structure.

“It’s 1 per cent, plus GST, whether it’s a $300,000 block of land or a $1 million property,” David explains.

“So a $1 million property is $10,000 (commission), and we get 100 per cent of the commission.”

A growing brand

There are now 10 other agents across Southeast Queensland that run their own business under the One Percent brand, and they pay just a small monthly fee to cover things like portal subscriptions and the brand’s CRM.

“We’re just closing in on our 500th sale… and that totals about $280 million, and that’s on an average of about $550,000,” David says.

“And we’ve saved our customers about $5 million in commission fees.”

If you’re wondering what David says to get vendors that might be sitting on the fence on board with a quirky video, it’s pretty simple and down-to-earth.

“I say, ‘We’ve got to have a bit of fun’,” he says.

“I can’t promise you what’s going to happen, but as long as we’re on the same page from day dot, if someone walks through your home and they don’t like it, they don’t like it. It doesn’t matter. We just need one person to like it, so let’s have a bit of fun with it.”

Method to Matt’s madness

Ray White New Farm Principal Matt Lancashire is another proponent of the quirky marketing video, but he’s quick to point out that there’s a lot of method in the ‘madness’.

“I don’t do it to get likes or to get followers,” he says.

“I do it to get eyeballs on properties… and we target all buyers who inspect, who inquire and who come through our open homes, and we target straight to their social media accounts.

“It’s really effective. We’ve got a 70 per cent connection rate to people’s social media accounts from all the data we’ve collected.”

If you take a peek at Matt’s Facebook and Instagram pages, you’ll see him swinging from the branches of a giant tree to emphasise the property’s leafy backyard, walking along an exposed beam to highlight a home’s soaring ceilings and wakeboarding off the private pontoon of a property with Brisbane River frontage.

“We try to look for something special at every single property,” Matt explains.

“But you actually have to be really organised and creative to come up with the content.

“That 125-second video wasn’t just about the wakeboarding, it was about having music that was a trending song to get more eyeballs. There’s a lot of science and mechanics behind it.”

Developing a thick skin

In the beginning, Matt admits he worried about what others would think about his weird and wonderful take on video marketing.

But he soon realised that negative comments were largely coming from his competition and that most buyers and sellers loved the content.

“Now I have a really good filter and don’t care what people think because it’s working,” Matt says.

“It’s getting eyeballs, and it’s getting our vendors more money as well. More competition creates a better price, so if I have to jump in a pool or on the back of a wakeboard, I’m going to do it if it gets my clients more money.”

However, Matt warns that not all properties are suitable for doing something different, and it’s important to keep the standard of the content you produce at a high level, or you risk diluting the impact of the marketing and your brand.

“You can’t do it on every property as some just don’t have the unique features required,” he says.

“If you try it, it just doesn’t work. Of course, with every property, we find its unique selling point, but you’ve got to be selective when it comes to your viral ones. 

“There has to be something really special about the property to make it happen.”

A hot lead

Matt says he generates between 20 and 100 leads each week from his social media posts, including interstate and international buyers.

Over the years, Matt has gathered an extensive database of people out of Sydney, Melbourne and overseas destinations such as Singapore and Hong Kong and can clone the demographics to target a wider buyer pool.

“We’ve got a big focus on Hong Kong at the moment because Hong Kong has pretty much collapsed, and a lot of people are going either to Singapore or coming home, so we’re upping our spends on people in Hong Kong at the moment,” he explains.

“I would suggest that 30 per cent of all revenue I sell comes through my social media accounts.”

So what should you do if you want to create a social media presence and create marketing videos that go viral?

Don’t get left behind

Matt’s advice is simple.

“The first thing you need to do is just start,” he says.

“If you don’t have a social media presence in 2022, then you’re going to get left behind in the future.

“It’s 30 to 40 per cent of my income stream, and it’s changing because people are becoming more reliant on it, so I think it will end up becoming 50 to 60 per cent one day.”

Matt says he creates his social media content in one of five categories – listings (40 per cent), family (20 per cent), lifestyle (10 per cent), health (10 per cent), community (10 per cent) and industry leadership (10 per cent).

He says it’s essential to create authentic content as his audience, including potential clients, will pick up if it’s an act.

This is why he includes the odd ‘blooper’ reel.

“We do the bloopers because we want it to be real and authentic,” he says.

“I don’t want it to look like I’m pretending I’m a wakeboarder because I’m not. There were a lot of stops and starts, and the scariest thing about doing it in the Brisbane River was that there were a lot of bull sharks in there.

“So people can see that I’m going the extra mile.”

Beau makes his mark

Over in Echuca at Century 21 Rich River Real Estate, sales consultant Beau Lyon is also making a name for himself with his witty marketing videos.

A recent video of him at 114 Sturt St, where he clicked his fingers in time to Italian music and shows off the classic ‘70s home, went viral.

“It was literally done on an old Samsung phone and didn’t cost a thing,” Beau says.

“I uploaded it, and it has got organic reach of nearly 1000 comments and reached 412,000 news feeds.”

It’s not the first time Beau has put together a quirky marketing video.

On Instagram, Facebook and even TikTok, you’ll find Beau dancing through newly listed properties and announcing award wins by miming Kanye West’s famous 2005 Grammys speech.

Beau says adopting this marketing style helped him stand out, offered a point of difference to his competitors and matched his humorous personality.

“I’m always looking for a way to have that point of difference,” he says.

“You always look at what you can offer people that’s different from everyone else who is offering the same package.”

The quirky videos started as a series called Home Appreciation in Isolation during COVID and combined valuable tips, such as how to prepare a home for sale, in humorous skits.

“In the first one, I was cleaning a ceiling fan, and one of the kids turned the fan on, so it hit me in the head,” Beau laughs.

“In another, I was painting scuff marks on the wall and giving people tips on how to do that, and I spilt the paint all over the new carpet.”

A personal brand

But Beau says the videos quickly gained traction and have helped him build a positive personal brand.

“I’d go to the servo to get fuel, and the lady behind the counter would say to me, ‘I wait daily for your next video’,” he says.

Beau says not every vendor is keen on having a quirky marketing video as part of the campaign, and he insists that’s OK. 

He says some vendors are more serious, or the reason they are selling, such as a death or divorce, doesn’t lend itself to creating humourous content.

“There are some people that don’t want a lot of fanfare,” Beau explains.

“In that instance, you just put the property on the market, you do your work, and you sell it. Simple.”

But for everyone that doesn’t want a video, there’s someone who does.

Beau says many of the ideas for his videos have come from brainstorming with his wife, and one critical factor he believes has led to the success of his posts is the reputation he already had in the market.

Leverage your reputation

With many years in real estate already under his belt, Beau says the community already knew he was “a bit of a joker” and that he had runs on the board when it came to selling.

He wasn’t trying to establish himself while taking an off-beat approach to marketing.

“I think that would have made things a lot harder,” Beau explains.

Beau has two key tips he offers other agents toying with the idea of marketing their listings with a quirky video.

“It has to have people in it,” he says.

“I’ve done posts for a new listing, and they’ve got nothing. No one cares, but when I do a video with someone in it, celebrating the sold sticker or us doing a silly dance, it goes viral.

“Just have fun with it. You can’t take yourself too seriously. You have to be prepared to have a laugh at yourself.”

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Kylie Dulhunty

Kylie Dulhunty is the Editor at Elite Agent.