OK, I’ll be guilty here in mixing some metaphors, but you’ll see where I am going with the logic.
First point: The world is unequal, and inequality is growing, notably in terms of income/wealth. Shern Ren Tee points out the argument with amazing mathematical logic in this Quora.com answer (note this isn’t an ideological left vs. right point, it is about mathematics.)
So why are the rich getting richer, and the poor getting poorer? You can’t even blame the free market. According to a sensible, objective, mathematical analysis of wealth transfers, capitalism makes rich people super-rich. Is that right or wrong? Math can’t answer that question. If you really believe that the super rich top 0.1% are really that much better human beings that they deserve to earn a bajillion times more money than the poorest half of humanity, nothing I can say will dissuade you from your version of the truth.
Second point: The 80/20 rule (or even more radical variants, see above) applies in virtually every endeavour or circumstances. Most of the really serious strengths or problems can be isolated to a relatively small percentage of the total population.
Third point: We win in marketing (and business) by understanding and applying these forces to our advantages; we lose by following the crowd and joining the masses (or struggling at the bottom).
This leads to these essential marketing and business development tests:
Can you develop a business/service that appeals to the rich/super rich (or at least the top 20 per cent)?
Of course competition at the high-end is tough unless you are exceptional, but you generally need to be exceptional to succeed overall. But aiming for the top doesn’t mean you need to be “there” now — if you can demonstrate you really know your stuff and can earn some key introductory references. The super rich certainly need tradespeople and labourers (their driveways need to be paved).
Can you attract the top 20 per cent of employees skilled in any endeavour (especially sales/business development) to your organization?
Here, you may find you achieve the greatest success by revising the power curve model and, instead of concentrating the wealth at the very top, spread it more fairly among your employees. Socialist, eh? But in creating a fair, respectful and employee-focused culture where your staff really are empowered, you will attract better employees and retain them — and you are on your way to a competitive advantage. (This is why many of the leading AEC firms/practices employ a variation of employee ownership, profit-sharing and the like.)
Can you avoid the “me-too trap” and develop active rather than proactive marketing strategies?
Residential leads services suck. You are one number among many and you don’t control your destiny. Cookie-cutter and reactive responses to ICI RFPs and public bidding opportunities also suck. You won’t ever get ahead of the crowd and will spend your time chasing for crumbs.
Innovative approaches, where you reach out to the community, capture the free services available, and perhaps pay for individualized advice on how to do things right rather than rely on mass packaged deals, will propel you ahead much further and faster.
You might not have a product/service or connections relevant to the super-rich in your marketing effectiveness, yet. However, you can certainly be thoughtful, fair and innovative in bringing your business out of the masses.