Applied Intelligence: Best Practice UHNW Strategy

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Creating the right engagement with an ultra high net worth (UHNW) client or prospect is critical to their adoption of your brand or willingness to donate to your cause. But the experience itself is not nearly enough; you first need to ensure that you have the right people in the room, that you know how to talk to them and that you have a structure in place to follow up with them after your event. At Wealth-X, we have witnessed clients develop over-the-top, unique events that ring true to their own brand values, but completely miss on the other points and instead rely on Hope Marketing. Then, they wonder why their event was not a success.

The best events represent a kinetic merging of a brand’s unique DNA with a deep understanding of their clients.

Typically, brands become obsessed with their own brand values and with creating over-the-top experiences based on those values. They send invitations out to their best clients and ask them to bring their friends along, hoping that these wealthy clients will bring other wealthy individuals. They may also send invitations to major influencers or those who also work with UHNW individuals (defined as those with more than US$30 million in net assets), hoping again that these people will bring along their wealthy friends or clients. This open invitation may fill the room, but it places your sales team at a disadvantage and ultimately wastes marketing dollars.

Your sales people who attend the event will flock to the clients or prospects they know, unsure who else to talk to, and in fact the rest of the crowd may not be qualified to make a large donation, purchase a great Impressionist work or charter a yacht.

We are often asked to help our clients execute events. Instead, we challenge them to create a full strategy, following six steps for success.

1. Define the Segment or Market

This involves defining objectives for your event. Are you looking to cultivate relationships or develop new ones? Often a VIP guest list is developed based on past spend or donation given. This approach is valid, as you always want to develop loyalists, especially if your goal is simply to deepen current relationships. However, it often excludes those who have engaged with you in the past at a lower level but have the capacity to give or spend more. By looking more deeply at your entire database, identifying clients who are UHNW and also understanding their liquidity, you can easily uncover some great lowhanging fruit of people who already know you and have done business with you in the past. If you are looking to develop new relationships, then you need to create a profile of your current clients or donors and have a very specific understanding of their passions, hobbies and interests. For the UHNW consumer or donor, this is a very specific exercise that is not based on broad market analysis, but on analysis at an individual level.

2. Whom to Invite

Now that you have your target profile, you can strategically invite individuals who fit that description. The key to this step is to be as specific as possible. It is not about creating mass mailings from lists you have no connection to. The event will be an intimate experience and should have a very curated guest list, as divided into the following three groups:

a) Top clients you know about. Your event will have a theme based on the passions, hobbies and interests of your target profile. Choose from this group who is specifically interested in that event theme. Your event needs to be relevant and reward these people with your insight and knowledge around them. This group will be the easiest to invite, since they already have a strong relationship with your brand.

b) Uncovered contacts from your database. This is the group you’ve identified in the first step as UHNW but have not yet engaged as deeply as your top clients or donors; there is ample opportunity here to impress them and build up the relationship. If you get the event content right based on Step 3, these people will be very happy to attend. They’ve already shown interest in your organisation. c) 1st degree connections to your clients. Rather than asking your client or donor to bring a friend, leverage their known associates and identify the individual you would like them to invite. Inviting someone new to your brand or organisation is more challenging, but having a common connection (your existing client or donor) and a relevant event will eliminate many of these hurdles.

3. An Event That Matters

Here is where the deep understanding of your client comes into play. It is true that this segment wants access to unique experiences (whether it is a dinner prepared by Rene Redzepi, with Kofi Annan in attendance, or a track day with Nico Rosberg) but they want to know that you have developed it specifically for them. Create a program that remains true to your brand or organisation but is deeply connected to your clients’ passions and interests.

4. The Invitation

UHNWIs receive a lot of correspondence and much of it is large, stylishly designed marketing material. One (very costly) solution is to go bigger and better, but it is more effective to write (even hand-write) a letter, in the manner of personal correspondence. Not only is this more likely to be opened and processed by a Personal Assistant, or even passed on directly, this letter will stand out from other less personal marketing material.

5. Prepare Your Team

Organisations often meet prior to an event and share the guest list with their teams to identify whom to connect with. Inevitably, the focus goes to the top clients; since you know them so well, you can easily engage them in conversation. If 100 people have RSVP’d, you focus on the 30 you know and may make the mistake of ignoring the rest; that means you are missing 70 people who have chosen to come to your event and engage with you. By learning as much as possible about the other 70% of attendees, you can create comfortable conversations and coincidences.

6. Follow Up

Without a follow up strategy, events are a useless exercise. Ensure you build a plan to reach out individually to every single person who attended. Ensure that your teams internally are prepared and that you have the infrastructure built out for following up. The best follow up is a phone call. Based on your sales or donor team’s pre-event intelligence, they would have had meaningful conversations during the event itself; now, they have what we call an ‘authentic reason to engage’, even if it is a simple thank you.

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