Walker Marketing News and Information

In Their Own Words . . .  Finding the Money

A Tutorial by Jack Middlewood, Walker Marketing Associates
An interview by Bowden’s Market Barometer

The ultra-wealthy now hold one-fifth of their invested wealth in real estate. Approximately three (3%) percent, or $5.3 trillion of the world’s real estate value, is owned by approximately 200,000 ultra high net worth individuals (UHNWIs). This segment — the wealthiest 0.003 percent of the world’s population –- exhibits average real estate holdings of approximately $26.5 million.

Private wealth is increasingly influencing real estate markets. In recent years, there had been a tendency for UHNWIs to focus on “safe haven” trophy properties for capital growth and wealth preservation, but increasingly, the focus has turned to more productive, long-term income-producing positions. The use of private equity in major property deals worth $10 million or more is nearly three times what it was in 2009 and estimates suggest that about 35% of large global deals were possible because of private funding in 2012.

The challenge — no matter the modus operandi — is to find the money. In this regard, Jack Middlewood of Walker Marketing Associates (experts in direct mail marketing) has tons of successful experience. We caught up with him just long enough to find out what the climate is currently like.

BMB: So Jack, how’s the direct mail business going?

Middlewood: The direct mail industry has been good to us this year. Both mid- and top-of-the-market projects have supported us well so far, with list orders and mail fulfillment far exceeding last year. I would like to say it is because of my superior knowledge and service. But I think, rather, it is the realization by marketers that they must address the finding of qualified buyers, and that means highly specific matching of desired and actual demographics.

BMB: In that regard, how does direct mail compare with other forms of marketing?

Middlewood: The requirement of a highly specific target market puts direct mail in an envious position. For instance, with acquisition email prospects — or newspapers or magazines — there is simply too much guesswork, while interest lists are the lifeblood of any viable marketing program.

BMB: Interest lists — explain please.

Middlewood: Interest lists contain both postal addresses and email addresses that are supplied – not by surreptitious gathering or guesswork – but supplied directly by the interested prospect. Interest lists represent the successful marketing program’s source DNA.

BMB: Is this a more critical aspect of the marketing program at the upper end of the product spectrum?

Middlewood: There is no more valid a resource for the high-end property — say $2.0 million-plus. The audience we are able to define and reach is extremely knowledgeable and relatively insulated from in- your-face advertising. They can write a check or swipe a credit card if they like what they are presented with. But the presentation must be done strategically, systematically, and respectfully.

With our clients, the cumulative amount of money spent in reaching this segment by direct mail advertising this year has approached over half a million dollars. Generally speaking, a typical project is willing to spend $75,000 to $100,000 dollars to get back a couple of hundred highly qualified leads. It makes sense when you realize that just one productive lead will cover the entire cost.

BMB: Any client feedback on the program?

Middlewood: Not once has anyone questioned the quality of our leads or expressed disappointment, and our clients are frequently rewarded with immediate sales that would fund three times the amount spent on direct mail program, not to mention leads that would generate future sales for the next two to three years.

BMB: Can you be more specific about why your program succeeds where others fail?

Middlewood: Our secret has been the ability to identify multiple sources that are then matched against other files. The ones with the greatest number of correlation have the greatest chance of being the most qualified. Part of the formula is to import list selections from files that indicate the presence of high wealth based on numerous criteria including, but not limited to . . .

  • Investors by size of portfolio
  • Luxury travelers
  • Physicians by specialty
  • Jet plane owners
  • Owners of two or more homes
  • Yacht owners
  • $2.0 million-plus income
  • Highly affluent zip codes
  • Major non-profit donors
  • Households with $10 million-plus net worth, excluding home value
  • Holders of premium credit cards
  • Top executive positions/locations

We do not charge for our list research, which is the foundation for directing the client to more clearly define their required demographics. Modern list technology assures the client of getting an accurate and meaningful fix on who is actually out there rather than relying on, say, readership studies, which typically comprise a “sample” and result in a lot of guesswork to formulate the reader profile.

BMB: Can you reveal some of the sources that you use for this matching process?

Middlewood: There are seven “tanker trucks” of data out there that offer different selections and concentrations of prospects. That would be companies like Axciom, Experian, Epsilon . . . They utilize their own formulas and then sell millions of names to a variety of companies for a variety of purposes. We are able to work with a unique “waterfall “ system whereby we can get the counts of each major file without having to buy unwanted names.

BMB: How does a potential client get started?

Middlewood: We are always happy to discuss our success stories with new clients and we offer a confidential demographic search, which will reveal key information generally unknown to the prospective client. They may not do business immediately, but when they do need us, we will incorporate what was learned in the demographic search process.

BMB: Jack, thank you for your insight. I trust you will have a great second half 2014.

Editors Note: Walker Marketing Associates is a leader in direct marketing to the affluent market segment. The company offers the experience and resources of a large agency enhanced by a cost-efficient menu of services. The company has had success over two decades specializing in identifying high-disposable income households over an extensive geographic area, using liquid net worth as the most accurate source of prospects. Recent clients included Whitetail Club, DMB Realty, Huntsman Springs, Andalusia at Coral Mountain, Hayes Martin Advertising, Kovach Marketing, Pine Canyon Club, K. Hovnanian, and The Strand at Headlands in Dana Point.

Contact Jack Middlewood at jack@walkermktg.com or go to www.walkermarketingassociates.com