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The Universal Hierarchy

Communicating with HNWIs is daunting because it may seem as if we are talking with someone who lives in another world.

For those of us who are yet to make it there, it can be difficult to imagine what we might do if we were to have a billion dollars. With this amount of money, it is clear that we wouldn’t need to worry about where our next meal (or any of our meals, ever) would come from or whether we’d have a place to sleep at night. It would seem, most likely, that we can move beyond the basic trappings of materiality and onto something greater.

So why is it that billionaires, even still, worry about money? Why do these individuals seem to still care so much about whether their money is making more money and how much return they are getting each year?

While it is certainly arguable that there is a level of wealth that can be deemed “excessive,” becoming “wealthy” does not transform the fact that we are human. Every human instinct, impulse, and nature we possess is something that is millions of years in motion, and our little quirks of humanness should never be expected to go away overnight, no matter how much money we might have in any given account.

In the digital marketing world, finding ways to communicate with ultra-high net worth (UHNW) individuals and families—those who, on paper, seem as if they have overcome the need to worry about money—can be rather difficult. At first, communicating with these individuals is daunting because it may seem as if we are communicating with someone who lives in another world.

But even these individuals are still governed by human nature. Their lives are dictated by a basic, unquenchable hierarchy of needs (illustrated by Maslow’s hierarchy), their behaviors are dictated by real, human emotions, and their choices are usually the result of a basic cost-benefit analysis, subconscious or otherwise. These are essential human realities, regardless of our position in life. As long as we remain human, we will act, think, and react as human beings.

If this simple, but important truth can be remembered, the ultra-wealthy suddenly become a bit more accessible. If we can think and communicate in a way where this human element always remains front-of-mind, we can overcome the supposed barriers created by the perception of wealth, while still finding ways to directly address what makes their financial situations unique.

Adam Gower discusses the Four Factors that Drive Investment Decisions in High-Net-Worth Investors with Andy Kane, OBE. Ph.D., Chairman of Citizen FBC.

Identify your target investor’s real needs

One of the most damning unforced errors a real estate sponsor raising capital can make is to assume their audience, ultra-wealthy or not, can be fully defined and understood, especially when moving to the online marketing world. Sure, they might have a general idea of who their typical target investor might be, but this should never lead to the fallacious conclusion that their target investor persona is fully understood. A person might have a billion dollars of wealth, on paper, but this is still just one component of who they are as a comprehensive human being.

In many ultra-high net worth families, there are issues beneath the surface that will impact the decision-making process. These individuals aren’t looking for a “quick” $10,000 return or any type of “easy” money—they have the luxury of patience; they can wait until the right deal happens to come across their desk. They are, however, looking for ways to sustain their wealth, diversify, and grow this wealth when possible.

Having massive amounts of wealth creates new forms of stress because once an estate has become large enough, it requires upkeep and active decision making. These individual’s wealth isn’t just sitting in a basic FDIC-insured savings account; it is put to use, hoping to outpace various benchmarks and maximize utility.

So, how exactly can you communicate with the ultra-wealthy?

The first thing you’ll need to do is attempt to understand their position as an investor without making any assumptions about their personal situation. The second thing you’ll need to remember is that, at the end of the day, these individuals are still invariably human. They will want to hang onto the hull they’ve accumulated, even if it seems the hull itself is large enough.

Put yourself in the shoes of your target audience (something that is always good advice). What type of firm would you want to be working with? What kind of message would persuade you take some sort of tangible action? Who is the final decision maker in this particular family? Remember, these individuals can wait to make an investment, meaning the “short cuts” that might work on a less sophisticated audience might fall flat. But even still, it remains up to you to demonstrate that by making an investment, these individuals can have an ongoing need satisfied.

Meeting needs, after all, is what marketing is really all about. Beyond us, there exists a world of billions of individuals, collective holding countless needs. If we can remember that the pursuit of need-satisfaction is an inevitable component of being human, we can put ourselves in a position where we can effectively communicate with just about anybody.

Adam Gower Ph.D., builds digital marketing systems for real estate professionals who want to find more investors so they can raise more money and do more deals. He is known as the creator of the Investor Acquisition System and combines a lifetime of experience in real estate investment and finance with best-of-class digital marketing tactics, techniques, and strategies to help crowdfund real estate syndications.  Find out more in this new book, SYNDICATE or at

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