It is time my friends. It is time to get with the program. Star Trek is here, but what I am really talking about is the next wave in virtual sales & I know you can be on the cutting edge. DIY and for cheap. I know I am to never use that word in marketing but feel it's necessary to get to thru to you. I am talking to directly to you, the independent business owners. Especially those of you conducting live & online auctions or estate sales. You are all kicking & screaming about the impact of social distancing & I get it. I want you to embrace it & follow along as what I am proposing has several benefits. You will understand shortly. I promise, & the best part, bring a whole new group of shoppers, buyers and bidders to your sales, sites and shops.
Don't You Want New Business ?
If I was still in business, which sadly I am not, I would not be sharing this information. It would be my competitive edge as I was working on this very thing 3 years back, as some of you may know. At the time, the tech was new and expensive, but now it is not and its right in front of your noses. I want to share all my insights with you and may not be able to in one blog post but, I will try. I cannot wait to see who among you are brave enough to take the ball and run with it.
What if you could immerse your "former" live auction and estate sale attendees, and previewers for that matter, virtually? And in today's world, safely. How about have people preview and tour your estate sale or auction gallery online? Or even visit your antique store and look around? You might see where I am going but think it's a pipe dream or complicated and I tell you it is not. And, what it does for the bottom line will trump any expense as it saves you time and money with questions plus reduces you staffing costs. You already set up the floor, gallery or house. Now with a few simple steps and one person trained to take shoot the virtual tour you can allow people to browse, just like they were there physically and, in some cases, even more detailed. Sounds like the matrix and crazy to some of you but Paris Hilton is even working on bringing "the night club experience" with similar techniques. Again, it’s coming if you like it or not so why not be first.
Your Business 2.0
What's the first thing this improves. Your customer will see scale. And that is something hard to do with just an online catalog. They see your pretty pictures and read the measurements but that doesn't take the place of seeing it in relation to other familiar objects. I can't tell you how many times we'd sell a bronze and when people came to pick up their winnings, they'd see something else and say, "Wow, if I would have known that thing was that big, I would have bid on it." And that happened with all sorts of things. How about condition reports? They can scan over and object and see it so much better. Less time and questions and best yet...no staff for preview or shoplifting! I know you get it and I am sure you've seen what I am talking about in Real Estate Virtual Tours or drones, but I am telling you. You can now do this yourself and with very little training give the people what they want, and it will pay off.
My Failures are Your Teacher
The fact is, when we started doing it, we cut our previewers in half and got more bids on the big stuff. People loved it and now it's a necessity. Your consignors will love it, your buyers will thank you and you will get better business from it as you will be on the cutting edge in your industry. Again, realtors that use it are the big players. The very short list of Auction Houses using it are the big boys and that makes people think it's expensive or fluff. Covid has made it a must and I swear, as I wrote in my blog post "Innovation Loves a Recession" this is the time for you to innovate. Whether you are inspired or annoyed, let me tell you, all you need is one of the Camera's I have below and an app... a little patience too. Or, if you have a few bucks, you can outsource it in most areas for about $200-400 per preview. I spent several thousand over a few years on outsourcing but when researching for client I am consulting, found today...You Can Do it in house for yourself so only layout cash once. I am the king of hindsight and Monday Morning Quarterbacking but if you want advice, take it from a failure. Failure is an amazing teacher.
Here We Go...
I want you to succeed. I believe in the 2nd hand subculture and our industries. After all we are the great recyclers. We are the original going green pioneers and get very little credit. Are you ready...
I am going to bullet point how you can Create A Virtual Tour of Your Antique Store, Auction House or Estate Sale! Can't beat a check list...
9 Steps to Create a Virtual Preview and Level Up Your Business !
1. Choose The Equipment (Camera)
You are going to need a good panoramic or 360-degree camera, which are now affordable and user-friendly. I have them listed here and they are in all budgets. There's amazingly affordable virtual tour software and apps out there. I have listed a few favorites and links as well.
My Amazon Links have in-depth reviews and you can compare prices, features, resolution etc. Don't forget a stable tripod with a panoramic mount.
2. Choose Your Software
So many to choose from and most are online so you can host your tours and have links for your website, email blasts and social media.
Some have plans starting at $5 a month !
"I like iStaging...I think its simple, and you can avoid buying extras....just use your existing phone or ipad, ultimate DIY."
If you want to dip your foot in...and just use your iphone or ipad...
There are others to compare as well...
3. Plan Your Shots
There are several tips online to do this but think of it as you would walk thru and preview with a clear path and where you want to focus and highlight.
4. Stage Each Room
You already do this and it's probably simple for you, if you have a store, gallery or fixed location. If you are conducting a sale on site, just make sure you are all ready to go, buttoned up and have time a lotted to shoot when people are out of your hair.
5. Level the Tripod
You want to make sure you keep your perspective or point of view the same as you shoot. Again, you'll get the hang of this and watch a few videos and explanations that come with most of the software’s out their plus theirs a YouTube Video for everything. It's how I learn all this stuff.
Nathan Cool's Complete Real Estate Photography 7 Book Series works for just about any situation if you really want to dig in. You can simply adapt for your situation...Antique Store, Gallery or Auction House.
6. Take Test Shots First
Just to be safe and make sure everything is working and you like the way it's coming out. So for someone like me, make sure you are not shooting the whole thing sideways and realize after you upload and now have an editing night mare.
7. Take All Photos on Your Image List
Go to work. Hit all your key stops and areas along the way. Areas you want to focus on, highlight. Today, you can focus in such detail and even place digital messaging and links with in your self guided virtual tour.
8. Create Your Virtual Tour
This is where the software really does most of the heavy lifting. You just UPLOAD your images into your software program. As prompted, adding your static or panoramic images. The software will stitch static images together for 3D virtual tours and assemble the panoramic photos for 360-degree tours.
***Add Extra Features
As I had said, most of the software’s today, allow you to add features to enhance the viewer’s experience. Audio description, interactive links, music, or text. Viewers will be able to back up, zoom, or change directions automatically with their mouse when the virtual tour is complete.
This is what it looks like to add hotspots on the iStaging.com virtual tour creator:
If this sounds crazy or complicated which I swear it's not...don’t Be afraid to outsource.
Or simply check your area for local expert or affiliate...
Virtual tour software providers have made the process very simple, but that doesn’t mean everyone has the knack or the time for the post-production process to create the best tour. If that’s the case, another option is to look for a freelancer. I use Fiverr all the time to find help.
9. Share Your Virtual Tour
Once you finish your virtual preview, your software will provide a link to your tour. Typically stored in the cloud. You will also get a code so you can to embed the preview on your website and share on all your social media accounts. And email people ! Your email list is a powerful thing. I hope you are building that list.
I hope this post inspires you. Inspires you to take a leap of faith and innovate. And do not forget, should you ever need a consult, I would be happy to schedule a time to speak with you. I'd love to hear what you are doing to innovate or share ideas. Let me know about your adventures, especially should you take the leap. We can all learn from each other. Entrepreneurs and innovators fascinate me.
Until next post....
PS - If you want to dip your foot in...and just use your iphone or ipad....check out iStaging !
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