The Market Demonstrates: Get Online or Get Left Behind

Author: Sharon Berman | November 17, 2015

For everyone who continues to think their high net worth customers aren’t going online to find professional services, a recent business development should make you reconsider.

Two fashion retailers, Net-A-Porter and Yoox, which sell luxury and high-end products exclusively online, recently announced they are merging, creating a powerhouse that will dominate the market. Even if your business is nothing like the fashion industry, this deal provides another strong indication that the wealthy are willing – and eager – to abandon “traditional” consumer behavior.

What it means for you

When I learned of the deal, I immediately thought that any professional service provider who thinks that their target market will not go online to look for an estate planning attorney, a family law attorney, or any kind of wealth manager, is going to lose out in the changing marketplace. This merger isn’t about serving the folks who spend time on eBay and Craigslist to save a few bucks. Net-A-Porter offers clothing that sells for thousands of dollars per item. Yoox products are often close-out items but still expensive, not discount. Both sell items straight from the fashion show runway.

You might say that’s a very different market than someone choosing an attorney, but it does demonstrate the trust that people now have in online sources. It points like a barrage of arrows  to the fact that high-end professionals are already being found online by the type of clients service providers covet.

Online is happening now

I hear more and more often from professional service providers who say their wealthy clients found them through an online search – cold. No referral.  Just went online to see what was out there. Perhaps it’s not the 80-year-old parent but their children who are going online to look for professionals for them.

They may also ask for referrals, but then they immediately go online to verify the information. When you don’t have an online presence that supports the referral, the disconnect creates doubt in the prospect’s mind. I have been ready to make referrals to professionals but then find they do not have a website. In today’s world, one can’t make a worthwhile referral to someone who does not have even have a website.

There are still those professionals who look down on lawyers or financial advisers who maintain a strong online presence. They say such marketing targets only the mass market consumer, estate planner, tax attorney or personal bankruptcy adviser.

But that’s not true anymore. The market, including the market for wealthy consumers, is driving change and business decisions that service professionals can no longer afford to ignore.

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