In marketing, it’s as important to know who you’re selling to as it is to know what you’re selling. Whether you’re B2B or B2C, clients will come in all shapes and sizes. It’s up to you to parse your clientele so you can give them the best service possible. From small-time businesses to the ultra-rich, it pays to know who you’re speaking to.
In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the “white whale” of the business world, and I’ll outline some important tips for marketing to the super-rich, based on my agency’s experience of working with Fortune 500 companies over the last 10 years.
Understand That Money Is An Object
When you’re talking to a giant, it’s hard to imagine they could be afraid of heights. But the old saying stands: “The bigger they are, the harder they fall.” And nobody knows this more than the ultra-rich.
Don’t assume that just because they have money to spend means that wealthy individuals are ready to pay any price for your products or services. In our company’s decade on this planet, we’ve learned some important things about doing business, and one of the most important is to never make assumptions about your client.
A majority of super-rich clients got to where they are by being savvy, discerning buyers. Don’t get in your own way by assuming they can (or will want to) just pay to fix a problem or address an issue.
Looks Matter (Kind Of)
In your early days of marketing, one question will come up over and over again: Do I look like someone people should give bags full of money to? If you don’t look professional, then why should anybody care?
Nobody wants to be labeled an “outsider,” and it’s absolutely true that your looks can make or break you. But before you go racing off to blow your precious startup capital on custom suits and titanium cufflinks, remember one thing: Clients value trust and respect over anything else. If a sleek new wardrobe isn’t in the budget just yet, you’re not in trouble. You should be focusing on developing actual relationships with your clients, anyway.
If I could boil down “good business” to one simple rule, it would be this: Always remember that clients — even rich ones — are people, too. Nobody likes being backed into a corner, and people will respond negatively if you assault them with bigger-than-life sales pitches, hype and pressure. It’s this predatory energy that makes potential buyers anxious.
Treat the deal like you’re fishing on a lake. Patience is key. During this period, it’s important to demonstrate your value in a way that shows the client you’re the only option that makes any real sense.
You might not expect this when dealing with a high-end corporation, but in my experience, they often move at a slower pace than “the little guys.” You can’t just focus on closing the deal; you have to adjust to their workflow, and that can take time. Most recently, I worked with a large company where the adjustment phase lasted for about 13 months. Most of that time was spent in one meeting after another, including business after-hours.
By practicing patience, you can leave them to make the decision when they’re ready to. You want to pull them into your service instead of walking them off a plank, and doesn’t that just sound like a much healthier relationship to have with your clients?
Be Mindful That They’re Not All The Same
We’ve all heard wealthy people being classified as “new” or “old” money by this point. But the truth is, like everything else in life, wealth can’t always be so easily categorized. After all, these are real people, with subtle motivations and comprehensive backstories. There’s a lot to consider, making it absolutely crucial to research their businesses fully before trying to sell to them.
For example, did you know that, as of 2018, 241 of the 400 highest-earning billionaires built their fortunes from scratch? That’s a huge portion of ultra-rich professionals who made their way in the world through ambition and hard work. This makes it a big mistake to assume they’re pampered, easy-living or soft.
The lesson here is to prepare to appeal to any type of person because being rich doesn’t stop clients from having unique, robust backstories.
Know Their Motivations
As I’ve said, no two entrepreneurs are ever the same. Everyone is unique, and their motivations apply to their own product or service. They do all share a few key factors in common though: They started a business at some point to create products or services that solve problems and, in some way or another, they want to use that business to make money.
It’s your job to look for what drives these businesses — study their unique needs and pain points, and understand what keeps them motivated and competitive. Then, once you’ve researched them, help solve their problems with your expertise. Remember, we’re all business people, but we’re not all in the same business. Approach them with a unique solution (and your expertise) to help them reach their goals and you’ll become an asset.
They Need To Be A Priority
At the point where you’re doing business with a mega-rich client, you’ve probably also built your agency up to where you’re drowning in work. It’s a busy time in any business, but it should never get in the way of the work you’re meant to be doing.
Never imply that you don’t have the time or resources to make sure your client is getting the best service you can offer — rich or not. Prioritize affluent clients’ needs and always remember to communicate when you’re genuinely too busy to meet a deadline. There’s always something that can be done.