In search of a new way to attract prospective clients, last year Conneely Contracting, of Arlington, Mass., added 360-degree video tours to its marketing lineup. Uploaded to the company’s Web site for all to see, the tours showcase the 18-year-old remodeling firm’s finished work — much like virtual tours help real estate agents sell homes on Web sites such as www.realtor.com.
President Martin Conneely began using video tours in answer to client requests to see the company’s past work without driving around to inspect the work in person. “People just don’t have time to do that anymore,” Conneely says, “so we bring it to them online.”
Seeing It All
Using a digital camera that doubles as a video recorder, the remodeler spends a few hours at each completed project going through the house taking 360-degree footage of each room. He then goes back to the office, plugs the camera into his PC, and opens his photo-editing software (programs available on the market today include: 360 Degrees of Freedom, www.360dof.com; PTGui, www.ptgui.com; and PanaVue ImageAssembler, www.panavue.com).
Conneely, who says that each tour costs about $700 to $1,000 in labor and materials to create, then sits back as the software converts his raw footage into a virtual tour, which he later uploads to the company Web site. For effect, he also uploads “before” still photos, placing them alongside images of the finished product. “This gives the clients an up-close look at the dramatic changes that have taken place on the jobsite,” he says.
Once online, the tours are available for public viewing, unless homeowners state otherwise. “At times, owners have asked us not to post their project photos online, and we respect those requests,” says Conneely, adding that most customer feedback is positive.
Effective Marketing Tool
Calling his company’s Web site its “strongest marketing tool,” Conneely says that the video tours reach the field of potential customers who surf for information late at night. “We get the majority of our hits after 10 p.m.,” he says. The remodeler also plans to add video testimonials to the site. He will shoot footage of owners talking about their successful projects, edit the testimonials, and position them on the Web site near the appropriate photos and videos. “Getting people to talk about our company and its successful projects,” Conneely says, “will go a long way in helping to attract new customers.”
Bridget McCrea is a freelance writer based in Dunedin, Fla.