As a young, aggressive intern I spent time with the marketing department at a suburban SaaS company to hone my understanding of their client base. A big meeting was called (catered too), to launch our campaign targeting a new market subset that showed a lot of promise for our business. Days were spent preparing and compiling data on this new market we were targeting and given the special nature of the meeting, it took place offsite to take us away from the day-to-day drudgery of emails and internal memos. Alas, the meeting began with the marketing manager at the helm like a general going to war. Our general drew a stick figure on the board and proclaimed “so, tell me about our ideal prospect?” The room filled with silence and confusion given the underwhelming nature of this rally cry. This segmentation process, however, forever changed the way I look at business.
In this example, I will profile a minimalist and what your interactions may look like within this segment (in regards to wealth, insurance etc).
How does your prospect behave?
Minimalists tend to be value conscious though not necessarily cheap. The money will be spent where value can be derived. Good service with a good relationship will go a long way in this community given that a minimalist lifestyle is designed to facilitate higher quality social interactions. If a consistent, high-quality service is delivered here, expect exceptionally high retention rates and referrals.
Also, since minimalists generally value experiences more than “stuff,” helping minimalists plan for these experiences is a huge value add. In theory, minimalists should be prime candidates for financial planning because of the spending discipline involved in this lifestyle. There may be a skepticism however around the financial system by some individuals, so the value of specific products and services may need to be stressed and process explained.
Though there are minimalists of all ages, a real catalyst has been the digital age with a strong appeal to the youth. Men and women between the ages of 18-35 would probably be the correct demographic (quintessential Generation Y Millennials). Some of these people may own as little as a phone, laptop, e-reader, clothes and some small miscellaneous items like American hedge fund manager, entrepreneur and blogger James Altucher. Given the assumed age is 18-35, it wouldn’t be unreasonable to assume that many may well be single or transitioning into family life. Joshua Becker, a prominent writer in the community, has a young family.
Discussions around insurance and education planning would make sense in these situations. Though salary ranges and professions may vary, my assumption around my ideal client profile in the minimalist market is a white-collar worker in an urban setting earning $50-$100K. I personally would not want to service someone outside of my city so this factor is based on my preference than on the prospect. Generally speaking we’ve considered income, gender, life cycle and social class, there are other factors that could be assessed like religion, nationality, occupation, ethnicity etc. The more specific you can be with your refinement, the better your can target a demographic.
Minimalists congregate mostly around urban areas, some in the suburban areas and the least in rural areas. This is far from a perfect assessment on geography, but certainly a starting point. As an advisor, I would stick to servicing clients in an urban setting in the interests of time. Other points to consider may be climate, size of town, region etc.
If you are looking for a particular breakdown of an American neighborhood, check out Claritas. Insert a ZIP code and it will generate a quick neighborhood segmentation. Try using 90210.
There are other interest areas that may overlap with minimalism. Minimalists focus on reducing their carbon footprint through reduced consumption in the community, so you may see them also participating in the Zero Waste Movement. The Zero Wasters aim to have a life with zero waste, and the first step in this process according to one of the founders of the movement Bea Johnson, is to refuse buying unnecessary things, which is a core tenant of minimalism.
Some people are minimalists out of practicality and necessity. A new culture of worker is emerging in the Digital Nomad. A digital nomad is the mobile workers, where all you really need is a laptop and internet access to get your work done. When a digital nomad is travelling around the world, their needs may be very specific when it comes to taxation and planning.
Keep in mind, that when you’re doing this kind of analysis, you should attempt to assess attitudes, lifestyles, values and opinions. Check out SBI’s VALs Survey and send it to a few prospects. It will give you an idea of what a subset of people may value in relation to your business.
Most advisors aren’t familiar that minimalism is a growing phenomenon. In giving an example around segmentation, Andris Pone from Coin and the author of Attract gave an example of the band Rush’s exorbitant commercial success, and how a cult-like following of the band emerged not by appealing to the masses but a specific subset of rock/metal fans. After doing this type of analysis for minimalists, would you have a better understanding of what drives these individuals and what services they might desire?
After analysis, your attack plan may be multifold. The community is very digitally focused, so writing minimalist specific financial advisory material would make sense. Having a repository of quality, customized marketing collateral online serves to build your social credibility in that community. Also, given that most minimalists congregate online to share stories and ideas, reaching out to Facebook groups, Twitter influencers or heading to Meetup groups will give you a disproportionate advantage over incumbents and competitors. Financial advisors know that relationships matter!
For most advisors reading this, you already have a book a business and you’re thinking where to start. Try organizing your entire book based on age, geography, life stage, salary, risk profile, products held, renewal dates, birthdays, upcoming events etc. before finding commonalities. Finaeo has a built-in function that allows for this type of quick and tactical segmentation and allows you to organize your book of business not only based on premiums, override bonuses and fees, but also the activities that you put into servicing a client. For group benefits advisors where servicing clients after the sale is priority, a group benefits specific process manager ensures you can adequately address every case without any clients slipping through the cracks. Finaeo will also send you an automated email reminder through our chatbot Domo to remind you of any birthday taking place that week.
If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out to me here on Twitter @FinaeoGreg or email at [email protected]
Hope this helped, happy hunting!
Author: Greg Rozdeba
Partnerships at Finaeo.com. Helping financial advisors grow their books through digitization.