Why Steve Jobs And The Smartphone Changed Selling To The Super Rich Forever

If you are reading this email on your smartphone, particularly on a weekend, you are part of the marketing miracle Steve Jobs brought us 10 years ago with the iPhone. While Jobs made smartphones ubiquitous, literally bringing the Internet into the palm of our hands, he might not have understood the devices will also be looked back at as the single most important innovation when it comes to selling the Super Rich, even if many marketers haven’t fully embraced it for such yet.


Marketing to the Super Rich has always been about access and striving to get into the same orbit as the very wealthy. There are companies that will sell you data about which boards they sit on, where they went to school and the names of their children. In the world of one-to-one marketing, a friend introduces you to an UHNW prospect at the club they both belong to. Luxury companies spend tens of millions to partner with charities to have awareness at important philanthropic events where the Super Rich are involved in organizing committees.


How do we get our brand inside of the velvet rope and mix with UHNW prospects? It’s a question all luxury brands think about. During events such as Art Basel, luxury brands invest large sums hoping to attract the very rich amongst the throngs that just want to pose for smartphone pictures and drink free champagne. Brand sponsorships can run into the millions.


The arts – be it opera, museum galas or the ballet were always go to places to reach the Super Rich. But today we are more likely to find UHNWs anywhere and everywhere from running Iron Man triathlons to fishing tournaments in Los Cabos, kite surfing in Puerto Rico or spending their fall Saturday’s in luxury skyboxes in Norman, Oklahoma, Anne Arbor, Michigan and Columbus, Ohio. The passions and interests of the Super Rich have never been more diverse, meaning it’s harder than ever to find a significant number of Super Rich one place. In fact, many of the places we find the Super Rich these days aren’t venues luxury brands would see as a fitting as a showcase for their goods, right or wrong. A few, like Hublot, have braved into mass sports stadiums, but still, these efforts are the exception to the rule.


Research continues to show the more affluent one is, the more likely they are to read magazines, and luxury brands have always rightfully used magazines as a way to reach the Super Rich. Still, many magazine publishers trying to fund their ideas on how to become the next Facebook have gutted their print publications turning great print franchises into shadows of what they once were.


Direct mail was yet another favored marketing approach to reach the Super Rich. Send them something nice, like a hardcover book from Assouline to get it by their personal assistants, who unlike for you and me ferret out solicitations from the real mail before it is passed on. After all, the Super Rich have people who pay their American Express bill. They don’t go through the statement stuffers.


We all know that the web is being driven by content marketing, however, in attracting the Super Rich, getting them to come to your website is hard. They are time pressed, and most of the time they are spending on their smartphone or laptop is going through emails, texting and other tasks related to work, friends or family, not simply cruising luxury websites.


So how are some luxury sellers using smartphones to sell to the Super Rich?


  • Smart travel agents have their UHNW clients follow their personal Instagram and Facebook pages. When they travel to luxury hotels and resorts, they post pictures and many times get instant messages back from loyal customers asking them to book suites and villas that can range to $10,000 or night or more.


  • Jewelers who have deep personal relationships text images of a watch or bracelet they think a specific customer would like, particularly in advance of a birthday or other milestone. They also post images when they attend shows in Vegas or Basel. While a Super Rich individual isn’t likely to follow Brand X, they are very likely to follow their favorite salesperson with whom they have a personal relationship.


  • Since I launched DG Amazing Experiences, my weekly luxury travel e-newsletter in 2015, I’ve averaged an Open Rate of over 20% and now have over 20,000 private jet owners and CEOs who receive it every Saturday – yes, that’s right, Saturday mornings. Over 80% of my readership is on smartphones (Thank you Steve Jobs!) and CEOs check their emails on smartphones 75 times a day, so I suppose on the weekends they have more time for leisure reading. On some holidays I’ve had open rates over 30%. The key, of course, is providing them with content they find of interest.


One only needs to go to Teterboro or Van Nuys and look into the lobby of the FBOs to see the wealthy waiting for their private jets while the tap and talk on their smartphones. It’s the same deal in the luxury skyboxes at college and NFL football games, and even as they are standing in parties and social events.


I envision someday there will be virtual luxury boutiques on the walls of FBOs where the Super Rich can point and click their smartphones, and have whatever they bought delivered wherever they are going by the time they land. In South Korea, commuters order dinners to be delivered to their homes in a similar way, so we are not that far away.


While reaching the Super Rich is never easy, you can thank Steve Jobs for giving us new and cost-effective ways to have them buying what you are selling, literally right out of their own hands!

About Doug Gollan

I am Editor-in-Chief of Private Jet Card Comparisons and DG Amazing Experiences, and a Contributor to Forbes.com.
This entry was posted in douggollan, Jewelry, luxury, Marketing, Media, private jet, superrich, tourism, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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