Many Americans are turning to online dating to find that special someone. Today it’s not uncommon that two people meet for the first time screen-to-screen and fall in love.
Some would say online dating is the ultimate marketing challenge. The product is you, your investment in success is hopefully significant and the stakes are high. Your profile is your marketing piece, your elevator speech and your ad all rolled into one. Like any online marketing, your choice of words, images and targeting play a crucial role in how successful you are. There is no physical meeting to gauge an attraction, just like there is no way to tell how soft that t-shirt that’s being advertised online really is. Whether the product is you or that t-shirt, online promotion is a special type of marketing, one where you need to operate under a different set of guidelines to peak interest, close the deal and avoid the dreaded buyer’s remorse.
So what lessons can we learn from online dating that we can use to become better online marketers?
There’s nothing worse than a false advertisement on a dating site. A guy might say he is 6 feet tall, and then when you meet him he’s only 5’9”. I’ve always wondered why? At some point the person on the other end is bound to find out how tall you are. Selling yourself with misleading information is far worse than advertising actual traits that someone might find attractive. Don’t be something you’re not just because you think it’s what they want. An unmet expectation is a tough hole to dig out of.
It’s the same standard when advertising your product online – emphasize the actual benefits (a novel idea). That way, when Joe or Jane Consumer goes to the store or orders your product online, they won’t be disappointed due to a false claim. Think about when you have felt duped as a consumer. Did you tip your hat to the manufacturer and just accept that they got one over on you? Or did you return the product, lose faith in the brand and maybe say disparaging things about them on Twitter. Exactly. Honesty is the best policy.
Understand your target audience
In order to find the person that you will “mesh” with online, you really need to hone in on who you are and figure out what type of individual will compliment you. Again, we aren’t talking about bumping into someone at the grocery store and finding love at first sight. You’re dating online. You need to know what makes a possible candidate tick. What do they value? What are his/her likes, dislikes, and things that he/she can’t stand? In order to narrow the playing field and limit the number of terrible first dates you go on, it’s necessary to define your search and weed out the people who you know won’t be a good fit.
For a company marketing online, figuring out your primary target is similar to finding men who live in a 5 mile radius, like to hike and have a decent job. Marketers should begin with a general idea of the age range, sex and other demographics that typify who searches for and buys their products online. In most cases psychographics should also come into play. Delving deeper into what motivates these people, uncovering how they perceive and experience the world, and how they identify with certain products can be critical to success. Taking it a step further is the new craze of intent marketing, and all the crafty, if not a bit slimy, ways of tracking and finding the ideal target.
Ultimately, if you’re dating you want to find the perfect mate. If you’re selling products you want to want to find your best pool of consumers. There are numerous ways to go about targeting online, the only sure fire mistake is not doing it at all.
When you fail you should try again, but hopefully with a different strategy. Maybe you need to tweak your online profile (hunting antelope 10 months out of the year might be the reason you’re not attracting the woman of your dreams). Similarly, when products aren’t flying off the “online” shelves, marketing must be flexible enough to pivot. Sometimes you may need to offer up new products exclusively online or tweak that value proposition. Sometimes it’s as simple as changing the functionality of your website. Either way, achieving a better outcome often requires flexibility. You can’t be hesitant to shift gears and move in a new direction.
Take a Risk
Ever heard of a self-fulfilling prophecy? If you think that you’ll never find that person, you most likely won’t. Sure, dating can be frustrating. However, when you get knocked down, don’t take it personal. Taking a chance and persevering is key. Hit the start button, learn from the experience and use it to get one step closer to the person that is right for you.
Most successful marketers will say that taking risks is par for the course. If you’re still sitting on the digital sidelines, what’s the issue? Don’t let the fear of a new environment paralyze you, especially given how easy and inexpensive it can be to test and market online. If you’ve never tried Facebook, create an account. If you’re new to video, post something on YouTube. Get yourself comfortable. As is the case with dating, nothing ventured, nothing gained.