Why you should treat your marketing like a first date

I’ve had MORE than my fair share of awful dates over the last 5 years. From the guy who spilled a whole cup of coffee on me, to the guy who constantly tried to one up me on every. single. thing. The guy who attempted to tell me my take on feminism wasn’t correct (don’t even get me started) to the point where I hid in the toilets for 15 minutes just to get a break from the sound of his voice. The guy who, bless him, smelled soooooo bad I had to drive with the windows open in February when I dropped him home. The plethora of men who talk an excellent game, but when the chips are down are most definitely compensating for everything that is lacking.

I always remember seeing a guy on Tinder whose profile picture was him, naked, with a bucket of KFC covering his bits. Needless to say I did not swipe right. But in discussing this with Lucy, she made the excellent point that dating is a marketing exercise and he is marketing to SOMEONE - just clearly not me. This got me thinking about the profiles I saw and how well (or badly) they are marketing themselves. I truly believe there are lessons to be learned from dating to help your business marketing. A tenuous link? Bear with me…

First impressions count:

For anyone who hasn’t been on a horror show that is an online dating site, you generally peruse peoples pictures and swipe right the people you like. If they also swipe right on you, you have a match and can start messaging each other. I had a rule that I didn’t swipe on men that had weapons in their profile pictures. Surely thats rare I hear you say? Nope. At least 1 in 10 images has a guy wielding a gun, an axe, a knife (chefs are exempt from this rule). For me, I hate confrontation and displays of excess masculinity, so weapons are an immediate turn off. The guys may be super sweet and just love the way their hair looks in those pictures. I don’t know. But I suspect they are interested in showing their masculinity and will attract a specific type of woman who is more attracted to that level of traditional masculinity. Nothing wrong with that. But knowing your audience and that the message you are putting out can turn off swathes of people is important in both dating AND in your business. Is the messaging in your business going to attract the RIGHT audience for you? Because first impressions count a LOT in business and once an opinion is formed (in about 2 seconds) it is much harder to change someones mind.

Talking only about yourself NEVER works

Ah, those dates where someone makes zero effort to talk about things you are interested in, but instead bangs on and on (and on) about their own pass times. I dated a guy, affectionately known as tractor boy because our first date lasted approximately 4 hours and he did nothing but talk about tractors. And after our date followed up with many, many pictures of tractors. What every girl wants, no? Had he shown one iota of interest in my hobbies or passions, perhaps there would have been a second date…although the tractor pictures would likely have sealed his fate regardless.

In business, if you talk incessantly about yourself and what you do, more than likely you will find yourself as dumped as tractor boy. Instead, ask your audience questions, see what they like and find common ground that you can talk about that doesn't involve just selling yourself all the time (or tractors).

Over-promising and under-delivering

I blame the internet for this one. The number of people who love to hide behind a keyboard bigging themselves up, making promises of romance, witty banter and nights of passion, only for them to be overwhelmingly underwhelming in any of these regards. Sigh. The best dates are, without doubt, the ones where the guys take initiative to over deliver. One first date saw the guy research the best indian restaurants in the area and book a table (admittedly I had a low bar at that point, but it’s the first time anyone had listened to me saying that I love indian food and took the initiative to actually research somewhere and book so I didn't have to). When I met my lovely partner, he was not only a total gentleman, but helped me through a particularly awful time I was having in the most patient way when many people would have run a mile (I was definitely the bad date at that point!). These guys went above what I was expecting and it made for great dates (and subsequent great dates).

Any chance you have to offer extra value in your business will help cement customer loyalty. It doesn't need to be much. An extra gift occasionally, random acts of kindness, a hand-signed note to say who packed the parcel, a pack of jellies in the parcel or just excellent customer service at every point. The over-delivering will make you stand out as a business and help cement trust and loyalty from those in receipt of your awesomeness.

Trying to close too early.

Yeah….it’s exactly what you think I mean. But seriously, sending me pictures of your junk within 5 minutes of matching is NOT going to make me think you’re a great, standup guy that I want to date. Trying to get a guarantee of you-know-what before you’ve even arranged a first date… yeah. No. Even trying to arrange a video chat within 3 messages I find somewhat disconcerting. Pushiness doesn't bode well in dating, and it doesn't bode well in business. Confidence in your product, fine. Pushing people into buying when they are not ready will do nothing but turn them off to your brand. So read the room, have confidence that if you do your thing they will want to buy what you’re selling without pushing them into it.

Like the guy explaining feminism to me…. please know who you are talking to. Read the room, think before you speak and try not to be patronising. To be fair this applies to most scenarios, not just business and dating. But the more you know your audience, the better your marketing will be. If you know what they like, what makes them buy, what their struggles are and their passions, you will be able to talk to them and relate to them to get a wonderful, loyal customer.

So next time you are thinking about your marketing, try thinking about it like a first date with a really awesome person. Get to know them, ask questions, find common ground, over-deliver and don’t try to sell yourself constantly.

And maybe, reconsider the KFC bucket….

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