Boldini Count Robert de Montesquiou (Rich Guy)

Spending an inordinate amount of time looking through watch catalogs and marketing materials, I’ve noticed a lot of noteworthy trends. It seems as though someone, somewhere, has come up with a few rules regarding how to advertise really expensive items to the people that can afford them. Honestly, it is quite humorous much of the time, and from my perspective a lot of the time they are going about it wrong. At the very least, there is certainly room for innovation and improvement, especially if I where doing the buying. Lets take a look at some of the “time-tested” methods you tend to see.

1. Walk On Tip Toes

Careful now. Rich people don’t like to be offended and are overly sensitive. Can’t take chances with their feeling or delicate notions of sensibility. As such, all advertising materials have to be highly copacetic with no opportunity to any type of offensive remarks.

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As such, any advertisements need to be extremely conservative. Not too much excitement or anything too interesting because your rich audiences’ heads will explode. In fact, try to make them like paintings. Pretty and kinda flat. If you make videos, then need to just be lots of computer graphics with little substance and charming music.

Talking to the wealthy buyer involves a lot of the same sensitivity. Be really careful about what you say, just smile a lot and do everything you can to pretend you aren’t a mere sales person. Let them do all the complimenting, but bolster your product by comparing to known art and machinery. Just make sure it is generally accepted known art and machinery. That way you won’t scare off all those uber-rich buyers with delicate dispositions. Remember, if it is too much for an infant, it is too much for a millionaire. At most, you are a weak cup of tea.

2. Rich People Don’t Laugh

It’s true. You can’t make jokes around people who can buy and sell you. One moment, you are idly making fun of your competitor with a potential customer, and the next, you are shining shoes at the airport. It can happen that quickly, right? The nerve! Questioning the aesthetic merits of others! Actually, if you are wearing a white glove showing off $50,000 dollar watches, you probably don’t have a sense of humor as it is. Let me see, you are trying to prove that an item, meant to be safely and securely worn on one of the highest impact areas of your body (hands and wrist), is worth $50,000. And you do it by carefully laying it on a velvet tray with white gloves. That’s funny right? But no ones sees the humor in that. Such an industry of contradictions.

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It might also have to do with the fact that marketing and sales people don’t think their rich clientele are human, so perhaps they don’t share any sense of humor, or have any sense of humor at all. Just once I’d like to hear a sales person mention caliber and quantity of female attention wearing a particular watch much yield. Don’t speak until spoken to, and stand there with a cautious look on your face until Mr. and Mrs. Moneybags asks to see something else. I am amused just thinking about it, not really.

3. Having Money Means You Don’t Care About Money

Most rich people didn’t become rich because they don’t care about money. If you have a lot of money, it probably means you are good with money and don’t squander it. This might not apply to the “landed aristocracy” who are born into wealth, but that is becoming less common these days. The bottom line is that people who are worth a lot enjoy this state of grace due to at least some knowledge of preserving and growing money.

Having said that, I am shocked that watch brands seem to hide prices. Luxury watch catalogs are beautiful hardbound books with gorgeous prints and high production values. No prices. Instead, you get a little photocopied plain paper insert with the prices. As though it was some necessary after thought. A legal compliance addendum. Look, the antiquated concept of “if you need to know how much it costs you cannot afford it” concept is not really en vogue anymore. Yes, there are those buyers who like that idea that something is so expensive that only a select demographic can afford it. But if that is the case, then publishing the price is a good thing! This goes back to the whole walking on tip toes issues. Don’t dance like a fool around the price, just be out with it. You don’t need to swoon buyers with the “luxury buying experience” only to have them walk out when the “delicate” matter of “suggested investment price” comes to the table.

A deal or value is attractive for anyone, no matter how much money they have. Be frank with the price, even if it is high. If you are hiding it too much, people just think the margin is criminal in size.

4. Marketing Speak Is Gospel

Apparently rich people don’t read. And if they do, the only thing they can comprehend is marketing copy babble. For those of you who don’t know, “copy” is an advertising term for language written for marketing (sales) purposes only. It is not mean to inform, but rather to persuade (in a sense). Other than nice pictures and the technical details of a watch, all watch marketing material language is utter sales dredge trawled up from the  bottom of the deep public relations firm sea.

As an educated individual, I can barely stomach to digest so much flowery language, that basically says nothing. Each new watch is essentially likened to coming of the messiah, and presented as though a 1000 workers suffered a 1000 years of labor to develop this watch. The culprit? Most of this is written by people who either don’t know, or don’t care about watches. Its not written by the actually people who buy or sell watches. Rather, it is some marketing firm that basically has thought of every way to suggest that a diamond is shiny.

You know what I want to know? That a watch works, and well. That thought was put into the design. That it is reliable and will not need to be fixed much. Tell me what it does, and the accessories that come with it. That is it. So leave the puffery, hyperbole, and litany to a minimum.

5. “Heritage” And “History” Are THE MOST Important Factors Wealthy People Consider Before Buying Anything.

Watch marketing really stresses how old a brand is, and how much the brand has accomplished over the years. Here is how it tends to go; “We’ve been making watches since pre-history starting with movements carefully constructed with the bones of small mammals. Homo Erectus preferred our watches to simply staring at the sky as it was more accurate and made them feel better than other foraging creatures. Our logo is based on the original cave paintings used to identify our skilled trade, from those non-skilled trades such as club making.”

Honestly, it seems as though every watch company is over 150 years old, and the new ones are steeped in the heritage of a company that either led an innovation revolution, saved an economy, or made underwear for a king. Basically, the idea seems to be that purchasing a watch, should always be coupled with topics that have nothing to do with the watches they are selling. One of my favorite approaches is, “this company used to make highly functional utilitarian goods. Now it makes expensive luxury watches with the heritage of those utilitarian goods, but at 26 times the cost.” Makes a ton of sense. From tool to jewelry is the way it goes.

When a company says it has been around for a long time, it usually means that it purchased the rights to the name of a company that was around a while ago, went out of business, and is now miraculously back thanks to some enterprising investors. This is totally fine, but I love how they completely skirt around the issue. What is amusing is how much this issue is pressed. History is cool, and it is true that most watch technology is about 100 years old for the most part. However, you don’t need to stress that you made your first watch when Abraham Lincoln was still wearing wooden diapers. I am satisfied with the fact that you have attractive, well made watches that are based on a tried and true styles and methods, or a well thought out modern approach.

There you have the definitive guide to luxury watch sales. Follow these simple rules and you’ll blend in with the rest immediately. Just be prepared for massive sales orders if you follow these guidelines too closely. You’ll notice a lot of variety in the “messaging” approaches taken by watch makers, dealers, and marketers. No matter what you experience, something they do will make you question the tactics, and force you to consider the motivations behind their actions. Nevertheless, I still love the framed product; the watches.

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