Broker Tiffany McQuaid has developed marketing tools that delight prospects frustrated by quarantine living.
Tiffany McQuaid

© Heather Donlan

Key Takeaways:

  • The disconnected feelings common among people during the pandemic present an opportunity to start conversations in your sphere.
  • With many isolated at home, look for ways to spur engagement virtually.
  • Build authentic, positive-minded connections before directing the conversation toward real estate.

Think about what your clients’ lives are like right now. Many have been isolating at home for months with few—if any—opportunities to connect socially with friends and loved ones. “They’re not engaged,” says Tiffany McQuaid, broker-owner of McQuaid & Co. in Naples, Fla. “They’re starved for human connection, and you have an opportunity to get them engaged again.”

Take a chance, and step into the void by starting a conversation with clients and prospects. But plan your approach carefully. In your outreach, whether by email, regular mail, or phone, acknowledge the present reality and the emotions it stirs, McQuaid says. “You can’t just put a ‘Just Sold’ or ‘Just Listed’ postcard in the mail. That doesn’t lay the groundwork for a relationship, and it won’t get people to react.”

McQuaid has taken a different tack with her marketing since the start of the pandemic, sending out mailers with games and other fun activities, such as word searches, coloring contests, and neighborhood scavenger hunts. The goal is to help people in her network break up the monotony of life at home. “When you make people think and do, that’s an important ‘feel-good’ during difficult times,” she says.

In her marketing, McQuaid always looks for cross-promotional opportunities. For example, on mailers containing a word search of real estate-related terms, she directs customers to find the answer key on her social media pages. There, her clients can find her real estate videos and other tools that can spark a larger conversation.

In a coloring contest mailer, McQuaid encourages her clients to snap a photo of their submission and text it to her. That way, she has a direct means to continue the conversation. She then drops off a basket of goodies to all who submit an entry. “People are understandably skewing a little negative right now,” McQuaid says. “This is something that provides a positive engagement. It’s personal and intimate, and it makes them want to continue engaging.”

When making these types of connections, McQuaid rarely mentions real estate at the start. She says she aims to “lead with heart” and stresses authenticity. Later, she supplements the communication with real estate data, but she tries to personalize the data for a more meaningful connection. She sends out what she calls the “State of Your Home Address.” In these personalized mailers, McQuaid takes citywide real estate statistics and breaks them down to the neighborhood level to give people an idea of how larger trends affect properties. For example, she may point out popular remodeling projects in the area and explain how such updates could affect the property value for the particular homeowner she has contacted. These mailers may also include links to videos in which McQuaid talks to local government officials about how the city is supporting local real estate. “Technology provides everyone with data at their fingertips,” she says. “This has to be an opportunity to provide your perspective on the data—something your clients can’t find online themselves.”

The response McQuaid has received to her marketing has been overwhelmingly positive, she says. She’s received dozens of responses to each outreach (one garnered 67 responses), and she’s used the Zoom platform to announce the winners of her coloring contests and other activities, and to connect face to face with her network. As of mid-September, McQuaid’s 2020 sales volume was $93.8 million—more than double the level from the same period a year earlier.

“We’re turning over a ton of properties, even in a pandemic,” McQuaid says. “All of the customers we’re working with now, every single one of them, called us to list or to purchase because of that marketing.”

She says “creating a presence when you’re not present”—meaning being there for people even when you’re not physically with them—is the rule real estate pros should live by now and in the future. “Think about how you’re connecting in an entirely different way, and then follow it up with data,” she says.

“There are so many new doors you can open to lay the groundwork for a relationship,” McQuaid says. “[Living through the pandemic], we’re realizing that the thing we’ve missed most is other people. You can be one of the people your clients want to connect with first.”