The senior vice president and head of national sales for a brokerage company once asked me an interesting question, “If you can get millionaires to answer all your questions, would you consider interviewing our top financial advisors? They are all great at making money for clients. But there’s more to it. How do they attract so many wealthy clients?” At the time, the company had over 10,000 advisors. This executive advised me that their advisors will not tell top management how they market to millionaires. He was hoping that they would tell me.
Most of the 60 financial advisors whom I interviewed generated at least $1 million in income annually. I was able to report that in addition to being investment experts these financial advisors were also extraordinary sales professionals (ESPs). I found that there are six characteristics of ESPs. I summarized this information along with my monograph , The Myths and Realities of the Affluent Market, in my first book, Marketing to the Affluent, aka “selling professional services to millionaires.”
Expertise is characteristic 6 of ESPs. Most professional service providers never achieve this designation. But most of the seven figure producers I interviewed did so. I have often said that “talkers are viewed as hawkers, but writers are perceived as experts.” Experts gain their status because credible sources of information (the press, for example) endorse them.
Marketing is a lot like fishing. There are two ways to fish for the affluent (millionaires). The traditional method dictates . . .chasing (the fish). But. . . the very best ESPs have discovered a different method-chumming (fish chase boat) Marketing to the Affluent, p. 19. Part of being perceived as an expert means that prospects take the initiative of contacting you instead of the other way around.
There are many places to present one’s “expertise” such as trade and professional journals. But in order to make the biggest impact on one’s prospective clients the big league business press is the place to be. I mentioned in Marketing to the Affluent, that about one in six letters to the editor submitted to The Wall Street Journal are published. Write six and what are the expected chances of success?
One of the best examples that I have seen in a long while of what I am talking about was a letter to the editor in The Wall Street Journal, April 15, 2010, p. A21. The author, Henry Donahue, is a financial advisor. He is also an expert and advocate of those who are burdened with higher and higher taxes.
Henry, like most self made economically successful people, has worked hard since he was a child. He paid his own way through college, and today he works 60 to 70 hours a week. Now, after 20 years as a financial advisor, he is beginning to generate a high income. Yet his prospects of becoming rich (in terms of accumulated wealth) are now being threatened by our government’s policy of over taxing the most productive segments of our population. Henry says it best:
Why does the government feel so entitled to steal from (the Henrys) in order to give it to others? . . . if Congress continues to buy votes at the expense of social mobility we will no longer be a great nation.
Be sure to read Henry’s letter. And note how ideally suited it was to be published on tax day!