Many young real estate agents stand on the shoulders of giants, such as the late Joe Ferrara, integrating video blogging and social media into their businesses. Jessica Riffle Edwards is not only a prime example of this, but can teach a lot of us older agents a thing or two about how to better market a real estate business. While not exactly a pioneer of the use of technology in marketing, she’s managed to take what others started, decades ago, and place a modern spin on it.
That the camera loves Edwards is no doubt quite helpful to her successful video blog – she’s comfortable and chatty while imparting useful advice to her viewers.
Originally from West Virginia, Edwards moved to Wilmington, North Carolina in 2000. After graduating with honors from the University of North Carolina Wilmington, the real estate bug bit and bit hard. She joined Wilmington’s Coldwell Banker Sea Coast Advantage in 2005. A quick four years later she found herself inundated with work, but not the type that makes money. Administrative tasks kept her from doing what she does best: list and sell real estate.
Edwards added her first team member, a buyer’s agent, that year. Since then she’s hired an assistant and a closing coordinator. Part-time help includes a marketing/graphic design person, a videographer, a professional measuring company to measure all her listings, and a professional photographer. As happens to most agents when they begin delegating to a staff, Edwards’ real estate business took off, despite the recession.
Speaking of which: The real estate business is picking up in Wilmington, N.C. “Last year we did 30 units and 7.5 million. This year, as of July we are already at 25 units and 7 million. Our goal is to close 11 million this year and 40 or more units.” Over half of Edwards’ clients come by way of referral.
The other half find Edwards through her ability “to touch thousands of people at once,” on the Internet.
It’s called “social” media for a reason and Edwards gets it. You won’t find her tagging her name with “Realtor®” or plastering listings on her Facebook page. What you will find is a savvy businesswoman, engaging her clients with photos of other clients and, perhaps, an iPhone video of a hot new listing.
“We create a social media hot spot by generating comments on that one photo. The more comments, the more news feeds it shows up on. Every person that comments spreads the photo to all of his or her friends, so it allows us to touch thousands of people at once rather than sitting at an open house and maybe have 10 people come through on a good day.”
Then, there is her video blog. Edwards has literally turned her car into a video recording studio, complete with a dash cam.
I asked Jessica if she had any advice for other agents who are considering video blogging as a tool in their marketing arsenals. She said that the most important thing to remember is to keep the video short. “Anything longer than two to three minutes max will not maintain viewers. Be yourself and don’t script what you’re going to say. Don’t worry too much about what you look like or how you sound, no one else is paying that close attention.”
Passion and dedication are two qualities it takes to succeed in real estate, according to Edwards. “You must be dedicated to running your real estate business like a business. It is not a part-time job and it is definitely not a nine-to-five job or something to do here and there. To truly succeed you must work hard and be dedicated to continuing to do so.”
“You also have to truly love what you do and love helping others with what is usually their most important asset, and you have to be dedicated to doing so,” she says.
“I get great joy out of helping others find a house that becomes their home and that they will create memories in with family and friends for years to come. We ultimately are part of that journey in their lives and it is a special position to be in.”