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National Mail Order Association (NMOA)
Direct Marketing
and Mail Order

Who Wants to Market to a Millionaire?

by Alan Rosenspan

It was F. Scott Fitzgerald who wrote, "the rich are different from you and me."

To which someone added, "Yes -- they have more money."

But is that the only difference? How do wealthy people treat advertising and direct mail? Do they respond to different approaches? And what should you consider when marketing to the super-affluent?

The opportunity is huge, because today, there are more affluent people than ever before — even with the recent performance of the stock market. There are an estimated 5 million millionaires in the U.S., and 267 billionaires.

But before I continue, let me confess that I’m not one of them.

Thisis only because I have carefully invested in buying books, watching movies, visiting good restaurants, and going on great vacations.

However, I have worked with a number of clients who market to the affluent, and I’ve learned a great deal.

"Money is a terrible master but an excellent servant"

-- P.T. Barnum

Targeting the Rich

When I worked with The Private Bank of Boston, we defined our market as people with investable assets of $600,000. or more.

However, it is important to go beyond the size of their bank accounts to understand the affluent consumer.

By profiling our existing customers, we found that they fell into two completely different groups.

Group A was the traditional affluent audience — average age about 60. These were usually professional people or managers who had accumulated assets over a lifetime of working. They were generally pretty conservative about spending, saving and investing.

Group B was completely different. Their average age was 35, and they had either inherited their money, or built a business. They were willing to spend their money on more extravagant things, and much more tolerant of risk.

It soon became obvious to us that all the two groups had in common was money. And if we had tried to target the "average" prospect, we would have missed both!

So make sure you look beyond the numbers to gain a greater understanding of your market.

"Money is better than poverty; if only for financial reasons"

--Woody Allen

The Millionaire Next Door

For a deeper understanding of the affluent market, I recommend reading the best seller, "The Millionaire Next Door" by Thomas Stanley and William Danko.

The authors were commissioned by an international trust company to do a focus group of people worth at least $10 million.

Now they couldn’t offer to pay these multi-millionaires — it might even be considered an insult. So they hired two gourmet food "designers" to create a buffet that included four different pates and three kinds of caviar.

The first multi-millionaire to arrive was offered a glass of wine -- very expensive 1970 Bordeaux. He replied, "I drink Scotch and two kinds of beer — Budweiser and Free!"

By the end of the two-hour focus group, not a single person had touched the pate or the vintage wines.

The book continues with, "Today, we are much wiser about the lifestyles of the affluent. When we interview millionaires these days, we provide them with coffee, tea, soft drinks, beer, scotch and club sandwiches. Of course, we also pay them between $100. and $200 apiece."

"Anyone who thinks money will make you happy…hasn’t got money."

-- David Geffen

What Motivates the Affluent?

Another source of information about the affluent consumer is the Robb Report, a glossy 250-page magazine with about 10 times as many ads as articles.

It sells for only $7.99 an issue, but it can be hard to find. I got my copy — the 25th anniversary issue — in the lobby of the most expensive hotel in Boston.

What do rich people buy?

Here are some examples of the things that have been advertised:

• A sterling silver tennis ball can for $1,750.

• A brick from Al Capone’s St. Valentine’s Day Massacre Wall — which has "seized the interest and imagination of collectors and crime buffs from around the world."

• The "world’s most expensive bow tie" in 24-karat gold with 22 karats of inlaid diamonds for $140,000.

• Noble Titles — "Acquire with confidence an authentic Scottish title of Baron or French Title of Marquis, Count or Baron."

• An 18-karat gold Space Traveler’s Watch which displays mean time, star time, the age and phase of the moon, for $350,000.

But rather tellingly, there are also ads for:

• Earn $10,000+ monthly within 6 weeks, and:

• Make $4,000 per day playing baccarat.

My favorite ad is "TP for the VIP" — customized toilet paper imprinted with the name of your boat, your airplane or business

— or any photograph you choose -- 8 rolls for $49.95.

Who do you want to get even with?

What Techniques Seem to Work?

Here are some ideas you may want to consider when developing a program towards the affluent market.

1. Affluent people love to save money --that's probably how they became affluent. Even the prestigious Robb Report includes a bind-in BRC with a subscription offer -- save 35% off the cover price! -- just like People magazine and Guns and Ammo. And in a recent issue, they ran an advertisement for used cars. (Okay, it was for Rolls Royce -- and they called them pre-owned, but they were used)

2. Affluent people like to be acknowledged as affluent. However, when it comes to direct mail, you need to be careful. An outer envelope headline that identifies the prospect as a wealthy individual may be a breach of their privacy, and even raise security issues

3. Affluent people also like to be acknowledged as something more than just affluent. They're not just richer -- they're smarter, more sophisticated, more demanding, more worldly. They're connoisseurs, collectors, gourmets. A recent ad for Aglaia Jewelry had this headline; "Your aspiration for perfection is your essence." Not your bank balance, apparently. And our most successful positioning for The Private Bank was "Why do so many affluent and accomplished people rely on The Private Bank?" (Italics added)

4. Affluent people respond to exclusivity. They long to be charter members, or even charter subscribers. They want to believe they are in good company, with access to things that are beyond the rest of us.

5. Affluent people want the things that money can't buy One of my favorite techniques for marketing to affluent people is to offer them something that their money can't buy. It may be information on the best beaches in the world, or a listing of the 10 most exclusive hotels. It may be meeting a famous celebrity, or sports star, someone that would not normally be accessible. It may even be an experience that cannot be duplicated.

"Money buys you everything except love, personality,

freedom, immortality, silence, peace"

-- Carl Sandburg

The Most Important Factor

When I started working on The Private Bank, the client offered me some wise advice.

"Don’t talk down to them." I was astonished — why would I talk down to people who were so much wealthier than me?

She continued by saying, "These people are used to being patronized, and they hate it. You’ll make a better impression if you write with intelligence and style."

From that day on, that’s exactly how I’ve tried to write all my copy — regardless of who I’m marketing to, or how much they’re worth.

And that’s my final answer.

*All of the above quotes are taken from "The Rich Are Different. A Priceless Treasury of Quotations and Anecdotes About the Affluent, the Posh, and the Just Plain Loaded" by Jon Winokur


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