The Military Channel recently broadcast a program that dealt with famous submarine captains. I was particularly interested when I saw an interview with Otto Kretschmer, the most productive submarine skipper in the Atlantic theatre during World War II. In Marketing to the Affluent, I mentioned reading the book, Memoirs: Ten Years and Twenty Days, by Karl Doenitz, the head of German U-boats. In his book, Doenitz quotes Kretschmer:
My proclivity was to surface in the middle of the convoy: that’s where the ammunition and other important ships were.
He was the first submariner to do so. Younger, less experienced captains attacked from outside the convoy often encountering decoys, that is, heavily armed auxillary cruisers disguised as freighters and designed to sink U-boats. Also on the perimeter were unimportant ships that contained non essentials. To the unsophisticated eye, however, these ships looked as if they contained important cargo.
Using this military analogy has helped me explain the differences between the rich and the pseudo rich. In this regard, the ships on the outside of the convoy are analogous to those people who only look rich, dress rich, drive rich, etc. Therefore, if one wants to market to the really wealthy, one must penetrate the convoy. Instead of prospecting at the local country club, it may be more productive to target affluent affinity groups by becoming an associate member of “affluent” trade associations, i.e. scrap metal dealers, farm managers, commercial property managers and the like.
What is the number one concept that former students remember from my lectures about marketing to the affluent [marketing to the millionaire next door]? It is the Kretschmer concept. I was once again reminded of the answer when I recently bumped into Nick, a former MBA student. He is now a successful fund raiser for a hospital foundation. Nick greeted me with “Professor Stanley, I’ve have surfaced in the middle of an affluent convoy.” Nick is member of the forest farmers association that has one of the highest concentrations of millionaires in America.