Realtors Use YouTube, Other Technologies To Enhance Business – from the Memphis Daily News

Tuesday, October 2, 2007


ERIC SMITH | The Daily News


Since its creation two years ago, YouTube has evolved into an Internet phenomenon. In a short time it has become the place to watch clips of football coaches ranting about sports columnists or weepy teenagers ranting about Britney Spears, just two of the more recent offerings.


However, besides serving as a forum for indie music videos, family vacation clips or stupid pet tricks – not to mention the antics of a million stupid people – YouTube has become a place of commerce, too, where companies of all sizes can market their services.


At age 64, Dick Leike, cofounder and president of Crye-Leike Inc. – the state’s largest and nation’s fourth-largest real estate company – might not be the likeliest candidate to use YouTube for business purposes.


But Leike, who heard about YouTube two months ago, now has his own video playing alongside hip comedy bits and hilarious celebrity bloopers.


“I guess that’s part of the younger generation,” Leike said. “I don’t know that I relate to the humor or entertainment of YouTube, but at the same time as you’re moving along in this world, you’ve got to pay attention to the young ‘uns and see what’s happening.”

Connecting with the front lines


What’s happening is YouTube reaches millions of users each day and is free and accessible to anyone with an Internet connection.


Its ubiquity prompted Rob Hatchett, Crye-Leike’s director of franchise recruitment and agent development, to suggest that Leike join the Internet revolution and tape a company message to be posted on YouTube.


So Leike did. He improvised a 47-second speech directed at Crye-Leike’s associates spread across eight states – a sort of presidential address.


In the clip, Leike touts the relative health of Memphis’ real estate market despite the doom-and-gloom headlines that dominate national news. He also issued words of encouragement to the Crye-Leike employees on the front lines and closed with a message about the company’s coming convention in Destin, Fla.


Leike said he expects he and company cofounder Harold Crye routinely will use YouTube to send messages to their employees.


“When you’re spread from north of Atlanta to Northwest Arkansas … with 120 offices and almost 4,000 associates, it’s a way to get our face out there and let our associates know that we care and we’re proud of you,” Leike said. “It’s another way to communicate. I’m sure not everybody’s using it, and not everybody’s looking at it, but at least they’ve got the ability to pick it up and listen to a short presentation and see Dick and Harold or anyone else we want to put up there.”

Countering the news


Technology has done its share to damage consumer confidence in residential real estate. Who probably hasn’t read a Yahoo!, MSNBC or CNN story – perhaps with a Florida or California dateline – chronicling the disastrous home sales in those locations?


As Leike and others are quick to point out, all real estate is local, and though Memphis is suffering a down year like almost every other community in the U.S., the city is still on track to record its second- or third-best year in history.


That’s why Realtors are looking to technology to counter what they perceive as unfairly negative news, whether it’s a Web site campaign to buy homes or an e-mail blitz to showcase their listings.


Leike said the YouTube clip is another means of getting the right message to people.


“Technology is one of the things where we have to stay on the cutting edge,” Leike said. “It’s a neat experience, and we’ll see how we keep improving it. We’re always trying to think of how we communicate.”


Stanley Mills, vice president and Crye-Leike broker, said he likes the way his boss has used YouTube to communicate with the company.


“I think it’s a good place to put it because people are going there,” Mills said. “Crye-Leike is staying on the cutting edge and has done that for years.”


Mills also is using technology in creative ways to drive up business. He is working on a MySpace page as another tool for getting his listings and services out to the world, and he already incorporates the Internet by creating a Web page for each of his homes.


“That’s just trying to stay on top of technology,” he said.

Entertaining education


And the technology is working. Leike’s clip already has received more than 2,300 views as of early last week, and as more people hear about it, the number surely will rise.


Leike said despite his newfound presence on the site, he hasn’t had time to surf YouTube’s offerings, which range from the inane to the insanely funny.


“I’m trying to just take care of e-mails most of the time,” Leike said. “But I could entertain myself, I’m sure, ad nauseam with that thing.”


Still, he’s happy to be in the midst of this online craze, which he believes will be good for business.


Likewise, Mills is certain that getting one’s name and face out to the masses can only be positive.


“It’s not who you know,” Mills said, “it’s who knows you.”


And with YouTube, that’s becoming much easier.