Inside the Startling Success of Kyle Whissel’s Real Estate Video Series, “Everything East County”

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Five years ago, Kyle Whissel decided it was time to do something different. He thought that too many real estate agents were creating the same standard listing videos to promote their latest homes for sale.

“What I saw is that people were starting to tune agents out because it was just the same thing all the time. New listing, new listing, new listing,” says Whissel.

“And let’s be honest, the majority of those listings didn’t appeal to 99% of the people that were seeing those videos. We wanted to find a way that we could get in front of our target audience on a consistent basis.”

Whissel, a top agent in San Diego who runs Whissel Realty Group and was recently named a BombBomb 2019 Video Influencer, set out to create a unique real estate video series. He wanted to grow his business, but with a different approach from what other agents were doing. Those listing videos weren’t moving the needle the way he wanted. His vision was a video series that would connect his business to the community in a thoughtful way.

It worked. Whissel’s video series is so successful that he’s had to expand the idea twice to connect with different types of businesses and organizations across a much bigger target area. Local residents quickly started to anticipate new episodes and loved learning about the people and groups in their hometowns. They recognize him around town and at open houses. Business owners love the exposure Whissel gives them, and regularly send him new leads.

If your current video strategy doesn’t create the same level of excitement as “Game of Thrones,” this is a case study that you’ll want to bookmark. The Whissel Realty Group offers a strategic approach and lessons that any agent can use to help potential clients binge on your videos instead of the newest Netflix series.

A woman watching a real estate video series.
Source: (Alexey Elfimov / Unsplash)

The start of “Santee Saturdays”

It’s early 2015. Whissel sets out to bring his video series idea to life. This first version is called “Santee Saturdays”, and it involves Whissel interviewing business owners in the community of roughly 58,000 people.

The first “Santee Saturdays” episode profiles a local bakery. He publishes the 3:30 long video on March 30, 2015:

In this video, you can see the simple, laid-back approach as Whissel interviews the two business owners while sitting on chairs in the storefront of their small bakery.

Notice at the end of the video, Whissel makes no attempt to sell potential clients on his services. He simply promotes the bakery and closes out the video with his photo and logo. This isn’t a sales pitch. It’s a no-pressure approach to advertise his real estate business by connecting to the community.

Fast forward a little over two years to March 31, 2017. Whissel publishes his 100th and final video in the “Santee Saturdays” series.

At the beginning of the video, Whissel mentions that the series totaled over one million views. He also mentions that viewers loved his food-themed videos the most, which inspired him to launch the new series “East County Eats.”

“We expanded to all of East County, and that opened up a lot more opportunities and more restaurants and more stuff to shoot,” says Whissel. Indeed, the East County area of San Diego has almost a half-million people — almost 10x the population of Santee alone.

“Santee Saturdays” becomes “East County Eats”

“East County Eats” shines a spotlight on restaurant owners and their menus, with a focus on one standout feature dish.

“The thing that we loved with shooting restaurants is that the restaurant owners, those are some of the coolest people you’ll ever meet,” says Whissel. And the restaurant owners love the exposure, too.

Whissel asks each restaurant owner to choose one feature dish. He tells them it should be a colorful dish or food that is visually interesting — like a cheeseburger that is topped with gooey macaroni and cheese, cut in half to see the inside.

He uses several “East County Eats” videos as his Facebook cover photo. The Funky Fries and Burgers episode — which spotlights an amazingly camera-friendly dish called Buffalo Chicken Mac-n-Cheese Tots — gets 3.4 million views on Facebook.

A screenshot of a real estate video series.

In “East County Eats,” Whissel keeps the same laid-back approach as the “Santee Saturdays” series. Here, he’s more behind-the-scenes in the kitchen, which resembles a TV show you might see on the Travel Channel or The Food Network.

“East County Eats” evolves into “Everything East County”

In just two years of “East County Eats,” Whissel and his team profiles every restaurant in the area. It’s time for another reinvention. With no other restaurant owners left to interview, they expand the series to highlight other areas of community interest and rename it “Everything East County.”

In the new series, Whissel tells interesting stories from around East County — especially from historical societies, because people are interested in learning more about where they live.

In one episode, Whissel and a local historian tell the story of the Lakeside Inn, an 80-room luxury hotel built in 1887, and correct a local legend about why it shut down about 30 years later. Another episode reveals the fascinating history behind a local church that used to be a military base and was disguised as an ice cream parlor.

“That’s fricking cool! Nobody knows that, so it’s cool to be able to tell that story,” Whissel says. “That content has been really engaging. We’re getting a lot of impact with those videos.”

After five years, Whissel and his team still create new video content for “Everything East County.” They’re currently recording a new season of shows and hope to launch it in the next month or two.

What are the benefits of doing a real estate video series?

Over the five years of doing these video series, Whissell says they’ve helped his business grow in several ways.

1. More referral leads

The series earns Whissel Realty Group a lot of trust and goodwill with the business owners he profiles. “When you can go out there and help these businesses that don’t make a lot of money and you can help get them exposure and help them grow their business, they’re so eternally grateful to you that they want to do everything they can to help you. They’re some of the best referral sources out there,” he says.

2. Branding and name recognition

Even if you don’t get a stream of new leads and referrals, a real estate video series can help grow your brand around the community.

“I think most people don’t [do a video series] because they don’t understand the importance of building their brand,” Whissel says. “I think a lot of agents are like, well, how many deals can you attribute directly to your show? And I think they’re thinking too narrow-minded.”

3. Local expertise and authority

Being visible in the community through a video series also creates a sense of authority and trust, which benefits everything you do as a real estate agent.

“There’s a compound effect because every single time you put a video out and it’s you in Santee, it’s you in El Cajon, it’s you in La Mesa, it’s you in Lakeside and all the communities where these people frequent, they start to see you as a community expert, that you know everything inside and out, and they start to build relationships with you via watching these videos. It increases the effectiveness of everything else you’re doing in your business.”

Whissel says locals often recognize him, for example, when he hosts an open house, and that creates instant rapport. “I don’t have to use some magic script or one-liner on them to win them over. We already have a relationship because they’ve watched a hundred episodes of our show. So [it’s] significantly easier for me to have a conversation with that person and get through the know me, like me, trust me phase.”

A phone filming a real estate video series.
Source: (Adam Nieścioruk / Unsplash)

Kyle Whissel’s tips for creating a real estate video series

You’ve seen exactly how Whissel’s video series began and evolved into an important part of his business, but we’re not finished quite yet. We asked Kyle to share some tips for any agent who’s thinking about starting their own video series.

1. Your smartphone is good enough, at least in the beginning.

You don’t have to be super tech-savvy to create your own real estate video series. “Just worry about getting some videos out first and then we can talk about what camera you want to use. But you don’t need anything fancy,” says Whissel.

Most smartphones have high-resolution cameras and some phones, such as the iPhone 6s and subsequent iPhones, can shoot and record in 4K. This provides a crisp and clear image with sharp colors. Here’s a list of 20 smartphones, including Android devices, that record high-quality video.

2. Rely on natural light.

Want the best lighting source? You can’t go wrong with natural light. It’s free and takes no effort to use, unlike bulky lighting equipment. Remember to keep the light source behind or beside the camera and put the subject in front of a window as sunlight illuminates the space.

When it comes to video gear, the main tip is to keep it simple in the beginning. “That’s the way to start. Just start cranking out videos,” says Whissel. “And then over time when you actually start thinking, hey, this video works and it’s fun and I enjoy it, then you can start looking at upgrading your equipment.”

3. Go easy on self-promotion.

No one likes to watch ads. Your video series is about the community, not you, so take it easy with anything that looks like marketing and self-promotion.

As you watch Whissel’s videos, notice that he rarely does anything more promotional than show the Whissel Realty Group logo in the corner of his videos, or on an intro/outro slide with his phone number.

Screenshot of Everything East County video series.
Source: (Everything East County)

4. Include captions and a transcript with each video.

Since 92% of people view Facebook videos with no sound, be sure to add captions and a transcript to your video content so viewers can read what they’re not hearing.

5. Be consistent.

Doing a video series is a commitment, and you have to stick with it in order to experience those benefits.

“You can’t just do this stuff when you feel like it. It’s something [where] you’ve got a calendar and you’ve got to commit to it,” says Whissel. “Which is why I love doing something like ‘Santee Saturdays’ because, well, it’s called ‘Santee Saturdays’ so every Saturday I should probably come out with an episode.”

Whatever kind of series you do, make sure it’s something you can keep up with over time.

Header Source Image: (Dan Gold / Unsplash)