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Trolling for Big Fish

Use the internet to learn how and what your target audience is thinking about.

By Kip Gregory

Success in the high-net-worth market doesn’t come easily. It takes more than ads and direct mail to raise your visibility. Cultivating the affluent market also requires exceptional rapport-building, relationship-management skills and a demonstrated ability to follow through. Underlying these skills must be a solid understanding of the issues the high-net-worth market faces.

Unfortunately, many advisors shy away from extremely affluent prospects out of fear that they can’t relate to them. You shouldn’t be one of these advisors. Instead you should turn to the web; it provides intelligence that can help you map out and execute an approach for getting closer to your target markets—faster, more effectively and less expensively than you may have imagined.

Surveys show that client dissatisfaction with their advisors often stems more from a lack of attention than poor investment performance.

Here are some suggestions to help you get started.

Talk the talk
One way to gain insight into the affluent world is to read what they read. Try Mediamark Research, Inc. to figure out which publications to focus on. This site annually tracks reader demographics, including household income, of more than 200 magazines and newspapers.

The Wall Street Journal, Barron’s and Fortune are the top three publications on the affluents’ list of publications to read. To be a well-rounded conversationalist, though, you should also try Conde Nast Traveler, Inc. and the Sunday edition of The New York Times. These publications are accessible online. Your first step is to visit each site and set up an account. Your second move is to poke around and find out what each offers.

Put together a plan
Now that you know what your affluent clients and prospects are reading, why not coordinate your communication to them with what they are reading?

You can easily structure your communication’s content around the editorial calendar of the publications your prospects read. For example, when Conde Nast Traveler plans to cover unusual destinations, you could stress to your clients and prospects the importance of making sure all of their insurance bases are covered before jetting off to an exotic location. Or when Inc. plans an issue on employee-retention strategies, you could write about offering 401(k) plan flexibility as a way to hold onto outstanding employees.

To get a sense of how publications addressed similar subjects before, browse the site’s archive of past articles. While you’re looking, be thinking of articles you could submit for publication. It’s a great way to put yourself in front of your target audience. Look for a staff directory or “contact us” link for names of editors to call regarding writing an article. If you’re uncomfortable with the idea of writing a full-length article, start by submitting a letter to the editor.

Attention works
You don’t have to wait to get published to get your name in print. You can put something out yourself. Use an opt-in newsletter or email to get something of value to your own list of prospects and contacts monthly.

The attention will pay off: Surveys show that client dissatisfaction with their advisors often stems more from a lack of attention than from poor investment performance. What’s more, if you demonstrate that you’re on top of the issues that concern them, you’ll position yourself as their reliable and trusted advisor.

Kip Gregory, principal of The Gregory Group, is a consultant, trainer and speaker on sales, marketing and technology. Contact him at 202-364-6913 or

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