Growing Your Business to Include an Affluent Global Clientele


Is part of your 2016 business plan to attract a more global, affluent clientele? The world is getting smaller and smaller, particularly for those with means who are even more world-wise than previous generations. Therefore, growing your business to target, attract and retain this appealing demographic makes sense. However, it’s not for everyone. Attracting affluent patrons outside of your market can be expensive and difficult, yet extremely lucrative. According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), foreigners pay on average nearly $500,000 for a house, compared to the national average of $256,000. As you think about expanding your business, knowing how to navigate this world and heeding a few key pieces of advice can make all the difference between notable success and spectacular failure.

Understand your Audience
Ensuring you have a product or service that has global appeal is the first step before deciding to target this market. Review your existing clientele. Are you currently surveying your clients, formally or informally, to understand how they found you and where they are from? If not, that is the perfect place to start. You can also study the analytics of your website. A basic Google Analytics package can easily reveal if you have traffic visiting your site from other countries. If you have at least 10 percent of your traffic coming from outside the U.S., it probably makes sense to focus on building that part of your business.

Educate yourself on the shared values of the global affluent to truly understand their wants and desires. In a recent white paper released by Luxury Portfolio International, The Emerging Class of Global Affluent: Buyers, Sellers and the Real Estate Community That Serves Them, we look closely at how today’s worldwide class of affluence transcends geographic and cultural barriers, as the new global elite are united by common values for themselves, their children, their businesses and their futures. The research, based on data collected for The Survey of Affluence and Wealth by YouGov, shows that wealthy consumers today are more alike than dissimilar and, in fact, exhibit great cross-ownership in business interests, club memberships, destination property ownership, shared flight itineraries, preferred hotels and favorite pastimes. The good news is that if your product or service is applicable and desirable to this audience, word-of-mouth is a powerful marketing technique.

Leverage Technology to Make Their Lives Easier
If your goal is to attract an international client it’s important that you prioritize making it easier for them. For example, be sure your website is translated into multiple languages and includes a currency conversion. Wherever and whenever possible, provide manual translations done by a human being who understands your business not just any translation company, versus an automated service such as Google Translate or Babblefish. Depending on the scope of your business or the number of countries and languages you are hoping to target, manual translations can be prohibitively expensive. Simply making an effort with some manually translated content, such as “static” content that doesn’t change frequently, will go a long way in attracting an international audience. Today, great resources for communicating with clients around the world make facilitating complicated business transactions from afar much easier. Consider using Skype or Facetime rather than a typical call or even texting. Video communication makes a transaction much more intimate and personal. And be sure to set up times for calls that are convenient based on their business hours or availability, rather than yours (yes, it means sometimes taking calls at 7:00 in the morning and 10:00 at night).

Tell your Story Through Video
Non-native speakers can often understand spoken word better than they can read a foreign language, so be sure to tell your “story” via video. This is a nice, warm way to make an introduction to your product or service, particularly when a potential buyer is far away.

Remember that Global Mindset Extends Far Beyond Language
Working with clients from other parts of the world means understanding and catering to dissimilarities, such as providing a translator if necessary, but it extends far beyond the obvious differences of language barriers. Ensure you are familiar with the culture and customs of those with whom you are working. And be sure you are providing them with full service assistance, beyond simply your product or service. If you put yourself in their shoes you’ll quickly realize, for example, if your client is from the UK and buying a condo in Boston, they may or may not be familiar with requirements for visas, homeowners insurance or real estate taxes. Assisting them with the full spectrum of their needs will position you as a first class service provider, not simply a transaction facilitator, and will lead to long-term relationship building, referrals and repeat business.

Don’t Overlook Clients Who May Be Right in Front of You
Global buyers have definitely descended on the U.S. and are making a significant impact on our economy. In the U.S. in 2015, the total foreign sales dollar volume was estimated at $104 billion, approximately eight percent of total existing home sales dollar volume, according to NAR. It’s important to note, however, that it is not about just targeting, say, Chinese buyers who are coming over from China. In fact, many major metropolitan areas like the San Francisco Bay area are known for attracting significant numbers of Chinese buyers. Many of these buyers are actually U.S. citizens and technically local. While they may have been born in China, many already live in the U.S. but remain influenced by their cultural heritage.

Understanding the distinction between place of origin and its impact on personal and cultural preferences is imperative for serving today’s global consumer. The bottom line? Often, “global” buyers are right in your back yard. Don’t forget to cast your net locally too.

Last but not least, a critical way in which you can effectively grow your business outside of your market is by partnering with a national or global affiliation. In today’s world there is no reason you need to go at it alone. Most industries have networks, affiliations and business associations with which you can partner to leverage their reach.


Screen Shot 2016-05-27 at 1.51.25 PM Stephanie Pfeffer Anton is the Executive Vice President for Luxury Portfolio International® where she oversees day-to-day operations of this global, multi-faceted program which represents residential real estate brokers in over 50 countries.

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