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"Marketing with Virtual Tours"


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John Assaraf Photo
6/2/00 Interview with John Assaraf

iPIX.com
124 University Avenue
Palo Alto, CA 94301
Biography

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Introduction to iPIX

  1. IPIX's virtual tour technology has a "killer application" that changes how Realtors do business forever; agents can work with iPIX in several ways-find out details of the options by calling iPIX at 877-506-4749.
  2. The company has a nationwide network of videographers; a videographer in your area is dispatched to meet with you at the listing home; you act as producer/director, deciding what is to be shot.
  3. The tape is sent to a processing center; within 48 hours, a virtual tour is created that is hosted by iPIX and linked to the agent's site and to others; cost is only about $100 per home.
  4. Self-service is an option, but full-service is a simple, cost-effective solution; do-it-yourself is tricky, and the equipment quickly becomes obsolete.
  5. As a global player, iPIX can afford to spend millions of dollars to keep its technology and servers up-graded.
How to Market over the Internet

  1. Via its ten-member Internet Marketing Advisory Board, iPIX conducts frequent brainstorming sessions with users who are among the top-producing real estate agents in the country.
  2. The purpose of each conference call is to exchange information about working on the Internet and to generate ideas for using virtual tours in creative ways.
  3. The beginning of a web strategy is to have a simple web page with your photo and your listing information.
  4. An excellent example of a sophisticated site is www.roblevy.com; one area is a gallery of virtual tours; the Client Update area posts information for each listing on every aspect of the transaction-seller, buyer, agent, title people, mortgage lender, etc. can view the status online in real time.
  5. Access to Client Update is controlled by individual codes-the code to sample the Client Update section is 86test.
More Internet Marketing Ideas

  1. Judy McCutchin at www.dallashomes.comprovides access to live people 24/7 who field questions in direct dialog with web visitors. [The Society started using this technology 2 years ago.]
  2. She also is developing a virtual helicopter tour of her town to be posted on her website; this strategy is an important trend among agents who do relocation work and can be a way to attract visitors to your site. 3. IPIX has started to capture aerial views of cities and towns on North America for syndication.
  3. Savvy agents are buying domain names associated with their specialties and their areas; they get listed with search engines for those categories to have searchers directed to their website.
How to Prospect via the Internet

  1. Prospecting techniques traditionally applied to geographical areas can be adapted to e-farming; solicit email addresses by sending postcards locally with an offer to keep responders informed about community developments and sales in your area.
  2. Giving people the chance to communicate back electronically builds relationships that lead to business; the Hobbs/Herder Advertising Agency in Orange County, CA, has a strong e-farming program.
  3. Sending an e-newsletter fits into an e-farming strategy; each issue of your e-newsletter can be customized with an inventory of links to the virtual tours you have available.
Virtual Tour Galleries

  1. Virtual tour galleries are a hot new trend; some companies such as Coldwell Banker Moore, Prudential Fox & Roach and John L. Scott are getting a virtual tour for all their listings; their print ads direct people to their tour galleries on their websites-hits have gone through the roof. 2. Tests show that people prefer color photos to black and white; they prefer videos and virtual tours to still images.
  2. IPIX is trying to get Realtors to reallocate funds they would already be spending on traditional advertising to a format that will generate greater financial rewards.
Distinguishing Yourself from the Crowd

  1. There is still a first-mover advantage to using virtual tours; iPIX even provides serious users with a CD-ROM and a listing video to demonstrate to clients the advantages of virtual tour marketing. 2. Virtual tours are at stage two or three of the adoption curve; last year was "the educational year;" this year, massive adoption has begun among major real estate players.
  2. Recognize that consumers are looking for information on the Internet before they give out personal information; relationships with them need to begin online anonymously.
The Commercial Side

  1. Commercial applications of virtual tour technology are powerful; commercial companies that use it include CB Richard Ellis [already in effect] and Insignia/ESG [coming soon].
  2. IPIX is in the process of building the back end for commercial players; deals have been worked with CoStar and LoopNet.
  3. Commercial tours need to be more sophisticated than residential ones because of higher ceilings, larger spaces, etc.; commercial pricing starts at $199.95-less than hiring a still photographer and printing brochures. Favorite Sites For real estate information: Inman News Features and RealTrends.
Advice for the Non-technical

  1. Agents who don't have websites of their own can post virtual tours on national sites; print advertising can direct people to those locations.
  2. For $29.95, iPIX will send you an email version of your tour, which you can then send to your own contacts; the 400k file takes about 20 seconds to download on a 28.8 modem.
Coming Attractions

  1. IPIX is an imaging solution provider for the Internet, covering everything from stills to streaming video; a walk-through of a house in real time is in the near future.
  2. With IBM's new HotMedia software, rolling the mouse over an item in a room on a tour will display detailed information (including ordering info); the item can be manipulated onscreen for a closer look.
  3. IPIX already has 360X360 video capability that looks up/down/forward/backward from a central point; Steven Spielberg and Ron Howard will be using it in an upcoming movie. Society members can request a free tape of the iPIX Internet Marketing Advisory Board brainstorming session with top real estate producers by phone at 877-506-4749 or by email to freepromo@ipix.com.
Contact Information for John Assaraf:

(v) 650-325-6787
(f) 650-325-9337
(e) john.assaraf@ipix.com
(w)www.ipix.com


Real Estate Sites & Tools in this Briefing:

Internet Pictures Corporation:
Ipix.com
Rob Levy:
Roblevy.com
Judy McCutchin:
www.dallashomes.com
Hobbs/Herder Advertising Agency:
www.hobbsherder.com
Coldwall Banker Moore:
www.denverhomes.com
Prudential Fox & Roach:
www.foxroach.com
John L. Scott:
www.johnlscott.com
Insignia/ESG:
www.insigniaesg.com
C B Richard Ellis:
www.cbrichardellis.com
Real estate information sources:
www.inman.com
www.realtrends.com
3D software toolkit: HotMedia
www.ibm.com