Saturday, August 1, 2009

Seven Tips For Selling To The Rich

Seven Tips to Reach the Rich:

Marketing to the Luxury Consumer

There was a time when the world wide web was NOT the place to sell $100,000 diamonds or fine works of art. It was a place to shop for books, a few music downloads and maybe buy some electronics gear. The luxury consumers, the ones with the resources to buy at Tiffany’s without so much as a second thought, weren’t going to buy their diamond tennis bracelets at where the motto is: “If we don’t say ‘howdy’ your purchase is free.” That type of hometown marketing doesn’t work with those for whom money is no object.

And isn’t that the perfect customer? For all of us?

The Nouveau Nouveau Riche

There’s a new species of luxury buyer. This isn’t old Harvard or Yale money. This is wealth created by the class nerd who developed a software company that he sold for $500 million when he was 25 years old! (Who’s laughing now?) This new demographic is usually a professional, well-educated, two incomes, money in the bank and discretionary income at his or her disposal.

Reaching this market segment requires an understanding of the motives that drive these individuals to purchase – especially to purchase on line. From you.

Prestige and Indulgence

These deep pockets buyers are usually driven by the fashionistas – the media segment that tells us what’s hot (just ask Paris) and what’s not. They’re shopping, not just for a winter coat, but a signature statement – a statement that’s made by wearing designer clothes, for example.

You can buy a warm winter coat at LL Beans for less than $100 but where’s the prestige in that? Instead, this market segment looks for the designer label. The coat won’t keep them any warmer but it does exude prestige and indulgence – because of that designer label.

To reach this market segment, brands must be created and presented in a luxurious manner. Brand names count, whether it’s clothes, appliances or automobiles (especially automobiles).

It’s Not About the Money – Most of the Time

Most of us look for sales, squirrel away money in our IRAs and worry whenever the stock market hiccups. Not so with those who enjoy true financial freedom. When you’ve got millions, a market blip isn’t worth fretting over. So, the natural appeal to site owners to emphasize low prices – a natural selling point for the run-of-the-mill consumer (me) – doesn’t carry any weight with the luxury buyer. In fact, it works against the sale.

There’s a promotion concept called ‘velvet rope marketing’ – marketing designed to appeal especially to the well-to-do. We all recognize the turquoise Tiffany’s box and there’s no such thing as an entry level Jaguar. They’re all pricey.

However, today’s luxury, online buyer is just as likely to visit the Target website as the Tiffany site. It makes sense. These buyers may still look for sales on name-brand cookware at Target because cookware doesn’t have as much power to make a strong, personal statement as a $1,000 Gucci hand bag.

So how do you create a site that appeals to this new breed of online buyer? Here are some suggestions.

How To Convert the Luxury Consumer

1. Perception is reality to this demographic. Consider the coat example above. The LL Bean coat is made well and will last forever. However, the perception is that LL Bean sells to the masses, which they do. And I love my Bean parka.

Create the perception of elegance with a well designed home page and stylish product pages. Create a site free of AdWords and affiliate links. That is NOT what velvet rope marketing is about. Instead, think elegance, distinction and pampering.

2. Speak the language of the buyer. In this case, your buyers know fashion, they know prestige and they recognize the importance of making an independent statement. So, despite the fact that many of these buyers will only purchase brand names, they’ll mix and match brands to create their own, unique signature look. So, no men’s suit buyer is going to go 100% Hugo Boss or Ralph Lauren. That would indicate that the buyer is a slave to fashion.

3. So, build a site that let’s the luxury consumer mix and match from different product pages to see how the whole ensemble works. It’s these kinds of useful, upscale features the new, luxury consumer appreciates. It shows you understand them, their needs and drives and your site is designed to accommodate those needs and drives.

4. Offer special services. Buying services, for example, indicate a velvet rope level of customer care. Buyers provide birthdays and other important dates, provide the gift recipient’s profile, likes and dislikes and you take care of the rest. You, or your professional buyer, picks out the item, elegantly gift wraps it and makes sure it’s delivered on time to the right person.

This ‘concierge’ service can extend in other directions. Using a customer’s previous buying history, you can make gift suggestions for certain people for whom the buyer has previously purchased. Subtle but very effective.

5. Provide a toll-free number and make sure your customer service staff is well rehearsed with complete scripts to manage any contingency. Your phone staff should be courteous, alert and – this may hurt a little – they should also be given the training and authority to make decisions.

The upscale customer doesn’t want to hassle while the client care rep gets approval from a supervisor (who may or may not be available at the moment). This affluent buyer wants answers and resolutions to his or her problems. A well-trained and trusted staff can deliver this level of service routinely. (BTW, client care reps should be U.S.-based and available 24/7.)

6. Hit the mark every time. Track orders, ensure prompt shipment, include an easy ‘return kit,’ including pre-printed return label so all the buyer has to do is affix the return label to the shipping box over the mailing label. Simple and that’s what affluent buyers are looking for.

7. Provide lots of site space for product images. Clothes should be photographed using a model so the buyer can see the outfit or piece of clothing on a human, not floating in front of negative space. Don’t skimp on product pictures. They should be properly lit and shot, which means if you don’t know one end of a fill light from another, hire a pro to snap product pictures for upload.

This is a newly-defined demographic – one driven by the media with TV shows about Hollywood glam and glitz and who’s showing in NYC this week.

Know your brands. Know the motivations of this status-conscious buyer, provide the personalized service these buyers expect in the brick-and-mortar shops they frequent (too bad you can’t offer them a latte while they try on the latest from Europe) and create a site that has the look and feel of fashion chic and online professionalism.

Remember, it is absolutely NOT about the money so play down cost and play up style, distinctiveness and the message broadcast to the rest of the world by the products you sell.

I have arrived.

Having touble hitting your demongraphic sweet spot? Drop me a line and let's target your marketing with laser precision.

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