High-Tech Virtual Marketing: An Interview with Jim Warren of BHI Media

Jim Warren is the director of BHI Media in Austin, Tex., which crafted the photo-realistic renderings for the Builder Concept Home 2010 virtual tour presentation.

Q: How did the Builder Concept Home 2010 presentation differ from other projects you’ve rendered or created? How was it similar?

A: With regards to the visuals, specifically,  the renderings deliver the most accurate representation of product details I’ve ever seen or done within a virtual home tour. It’s also the most extensive set of renderings we’ve ever done, and probably anyone’s ever done, for a single house, including the garage and the back yard. Finally, these are the largest-size and highest-resolution visuals we’ve seen online without requiring the user to install extra software. All that being said, this shows the level of rendering quality we deliver to all of our clients and is an example of the collaborative effort we welcome on each project.

Q: What do you want or hope that builders to learn from the project, specifically regarding the presentation?

A: I hope it shows builders that a story can be told about what is in the home as much as what the home looks like from the outside, and that people using the Internet can and will take the time to explore and interact with a virtual home experience, not just watch a video tour of it. This project also proved that suppliers and designers will pay for the opportunity to show their products and creative work in this context, which can underwrite some or all of the costs to produce it. It also provides them and the builder with a terrific and qualified sales lead generation opportunity.

Q: Why and how should builders consider a rendered virtual home presentation? In what situations or context is it most appropriate?

A: A virtual walk-through or tour allows builders to actually build fewer model homes. One fewer model home, in fact, creates enough savings to provide online animations of all the models. An experience like this also allows builders to begin marketing and sales before they break ground, cost-efficiently make adjustments due to market fluctuations, build a database of prospective buyers for events or follow-up efforts, and start generating cash flow and profit. It also is a much “greener” way to market homes, eliminating the materials, merchandising, and energy required for a built model home.

Q: What is the interest among prospective home buyers?

A: Research shows that 80+ percent of new home research starts online. People now consume online video the most, followed by images and text, which is completely opposite from 10 years ago and due to higher bandwidth and their expectations for online experiences. People now go online looking for a rich media experience.

Look for more Q&A with Jim Warren when his blog returns in a few weeks.


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