In today’s marketplace, it can be very difficult to gain access to the people with whom you would like to do business. Over the years, I have worked in tough markets, with unique products, from my earliest days selling cookware, to helping build an award-winning Rolls Royce dealership. I was the head of sales for the Robb Report, an internationally known magazine for the affluent lifestyle. Now, as president of my own consulting and education firm, I work with clients to help them grow their business with affluent and high net worth people.

To gain access to the right people, it is vital to have a plan, not just a marketing plan, or a work plan, or a good idea plan, or even a merchandising plan. The plan that I speak of to gain access is a plan based upon what the affluent or, if you will, the financially successful, think.

Years ago, when I was working in the Rolls Royce business, I had a good client I met with to get his advice. I told him what I would like to do to market to more people like him. I said, “I think I would like to do this and I would like to do that.” I was articulating my marketing plan. He put his hand up after about 3 or 4 minutes and said, “Richard, let me just tell you this: wealthy people don’t care what you think. We are not even remotely interested in what you think. What we are interested in is, first, can you understand what and how we think? And, secondly, can you communicate from our point of view?”

That was a watershed moment for me. I then began to recognize that, too often, our plans are based specifically on what we think. Yet once you understand the affluent perspective and their point of view, you can create a plan that truly puts you in front of the right people in the right way at the right time. This plan, which is focused on their point of view, has 3 components:

? The first part of the plan is the process you will use. How are you going to focus your efforts and resources to reach the right people? How will you segment these individuals? What type of visibility will you achieve with them? What methodologies you will use? What will be the process you use to become part of their network? How will you be able to service and support these people? What will be your service culture? What will be your support culture?

? The second part of the plan is the message you are going to deliver. In other words, many people think that you have to be different, but to be different is polarizing. First I have to compare you with something to be different. Of course, the larger objective is not to be different from everyone else, but to be distinct from everyone else, to be set apart.

If you talk to affluent people, they will tell you that they look for organizations and individuals that can distinguish themselves. What will be your message? How will it resonate with them? How will they respond to it? Will it be in their words, their voice and their perspective? What approach will you use? How will it be distinct from all others?

? The third component of the plan is humanizing and personalizing the process so you can connect to them. It is critically important to ask yourself, “How are we going to communicate at all different levels with prospects and clients so that they can see that we are focused on them, that we are not just customizing, but personalizing our process?

How also are we humanizing the approach and experience so that they can connect to the fact that we are focused on them and not just on our product? In other words, to gain access to the right people in the right way at the right time, one must focus as a marketer focused on people, not as a merchandiser focused on product.

Spend some time answering the questions raised here and planning the process you will use, and you will reap the benefits from it for many years to come!