Last month's column (Marketing to the Mass Affluent, Part 1) outlined three lessons for marketing to affluent, top-spending customers. This column will address how those three lessons can be applied. Our marketing to the affluent never begins with financing, discounts or “deals,” even though we regularly use every other direct response trigger known to man to extract top results from this group. Talk to them like people looking to solve their biggest problems (not money). We find the best results boil down to the following:
The attractor factor
Begging for business doesn't work. Slashing prices doesn't work. The wealth mentality is “if it was that good, then you wouldn't have to fire sale it.” They've been “had” many times before (as a dark side of their position, they're targeted more often) and will have none of that.
The “type” of people they deal with is as important as the deal itself. You'll hear far more wealthy people say things like, “You should buy your car from Nalley Lexus; they're good people.” Rarely will you hear them say, “I got the best deal from them,” which would be an admission that saving money was important, an unlikely sentiment to announce in their circle of friends.
You must attract the wealthy, not hound them — especially because they're the ones who can afford to spend during a down economy.
The “if it's good enough for them” factor
Become “part” of their inner circle. This is done through testimonials or endorsements “within” their group through “area penetration” and by appealing to their sense of social “right.”
Testimonials, endorsements and referrals: I've been after you for a year to begin your testimonial files (showed you how to get them automatically) and to use them as credibility springboards. This is far more important with the affluent because they invented the phrase, “It's not how much you know, it's who you know.”
You don't get these for three basic reasons: First, you don't deserve them. Second, you aren't memorable, thus not differentiated, which is common among about 90% of contractors who “blend.” The wealthy get hammered with far more ad messages, so what are you doing to guarantee that you're memorable? If your answer is “nothing,” then that's how much they'll be spending with you after about six months of no contact. Third, you don't ask. That one's pretty easy to solve, but most don't.
Area penetration: This includes yard signs and radius mailings. Both show you've been “accepted” by other members of their community. Some will say they don't want a yard sign. Fine. Tell them if you can keep it, you'll donate $20 to any charity they choose. Few will decline out of a sense of social right. It's so worth the $20, and there's a letter we use to get this done en masse.
The worst way to do a radius mailing is bring no attention to “why” they're getting the letter. Use “linkage” to introduce your connection by saying, “Recently we were at a neighbor of yours at (address or by name if approved) and you probably have similar …”
The importance of social graces factor
Your competition doesn't do the following, so you have an opportunity to get style and differentiation points.
Say thank you. Everyone likes to be appreciated, and none more so than the wealthy who have more choices and options.
Place a call and send a thank you asking for a “rating” on their service with any suggestions. End it with a spot for a testimonial and space for two referrals. You never know.
Special favors. Make no mistake, the wealthy are used to perks. Your same old service will not cut it with the group that expects the above and beyond. That means noticing the extra things and taking care of them — changing out light bulbs, filters and detector batteries — whatever you can do to show that you're not just doing the job, you're providing service. You can market this through your testimonials.
Packaged benefits. Save your affluent clients time and money or add a unique convenience. For a client a few years ago, we quit marketing humidifiers to certain affluent areas and began marketing an “antique and heirloom protection package” toward the “old money” part of town. It was mega successful. Our client had antique dealers recommending them.
The bottom line is that it is important to create ads and a marketing initiative that “speak” to the affluent and their needs.
Work the list hard to gain the “acceptance” factor. Repeat your efforts to penetrate as a “member.” Once you're in, you're in the money. It's great to have an exclusive clientele as part of your “normal” business who will pay more without hesitation and be glad to call you “their” contractor to their friends. Personally, I think you deserve each other!
Adams Hudson is president of Hudson Ink, a creative marketing firm for contractors, and author of the recently published Contractor Marketing Secrets. Readers can get a free marketing newsletter by faxing their letterhead with the request to 334/262-1115. Call 800/489-9099 or check out www.hudsonink.com for other free marketing articles and reports.
Taco announces price increase
CRANSTON, R.I. - Taco Inc. is increasing prices on its residential product line.
The newest price increase became effective on June 1.
Prices will increase by an average of 6.5% for Taco circulators, controls and electronic components.
Continuing double-digit price increases for raw materials plus unprecedented fuel surcharges are behind the need to increase prices.
Taco Inc., headquartered here, is a manufacturer of heating and cooling equipment for use in residential and commercial hydronic applications. Additional information is available at www.taco-hvac.com.