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Ah yes, speed dating. That fast-paced, high-stress activity where people put their best feet (and egos) forward to capture another’s attention and hopefully turn an initial spark into a longer relationship.
Sounds a lot like marketing, doesn’t it?
When you think about it, dating is a kind of marketing. And marketing is a kind of dating. Speed dating in particular.
In this era of infinite distractions and record-short attention spans, marketers need to make an instant love connection with their audience. In fact, recent studies show that companies have a precious few seconds to capture a customer’s attention. In that context, making a good first impression is essential. It’s something speed daters know better than anyone. And it’s something we marketers can learn by studying what makes the best speed daters so successful. Here are five tips.
What Marketers Can Learn from Speed Dating
1. Go In With a Strategy
When time is short, speed daters know there’s no room for error. No wasting time with wishy-washy answers, awkward pauses, or pointless rambles. They’ve got to be ready to hit the ground running. Which is why the best speed daters prepare in advance. They think about who they are and what they’re looking for. They’re ready with some conversation starters and questions. Because they know that to make the most of their three minutes, they need to spend time sharpening the saw.
Same goes for marketers. To be effective, we need to start with a strategy, a clear goal, and a solid plan. We need to deeply understand our audience, our products, and our services so we can craft on-target messaging that speaks to our customers and motivates action. When we do the proper legwork in advance, our communications are exponentially more effective. As with speed dating, better preparation makes everything go smoother.
2. Be Yourself
This advice may be ubiquitous, but it bears repeating. Because when the goal is to hit it off with as many people as possible, there’s a tendency to stretch the truth to make oneself more appealing. But we all know that in the long run, putting on an act never works. Relationships based on dishonesty may coast along in the short-term, but ultimately, they’re doomed to fail. That’s why successful speed daters stick to the truth and show their genuine selves.
As marketers we need to follow suit. Exaggeration and hyperbole may win some short-term customers, but long-term, it can do more harm than good. When your customers find out you can’t live up to your promises, they’ll leave—or worse—feel cheated, angry, or spiteful. In marketing, being yourself is the always the best way to win customers, and keep them.
3. Stay Humble
In speed dating, you need to quickly convince the person across the table that you’re dating material. But as we all know, boasting about your earth-shattering greatness usually comes across as selfish, egotistical, and kind of insecure. Instead, a little humility goes a long way. The best speed daters are confident enough to laugh at themselves and acknowledge their imperfections. They don’t try so hard to prove their worth.
Marketers also need to be wary of the hard sell. While we do want to focus on our strengths, we need to remember that bragging is a turn-off. Yes, confidence is attractive. But overdoing it comes across as desperate and annoying. So instead of cramming your message down your audience’s throat, give them some credit. Be sincere and genuine about what you offer—and then trust that your customers will recognize the value for themselves.
4. Be a Good Listerner
A good speed dater doesn’t make it all about them. People like people who care to find out what the other person is all about. That’s why they say that a good conversationalist isn’t a good talker, but rather, a good listener. Successful marketers know this. They ask questions of their customers. They get to know them and what they want. Because communicating a bunch of stuff that you care about doesn’t necessarily mean your customers will care about it, too. To really engage them, you need to know what matters to them. Making an emotional connection comes from understanding. Understanding comes from learning. Learning comes from listening.
5. Be Memorable
While details vary, speed dating participants will typically have seven to fifteen dates during an event. Sure, if you’re the last person somebody meets, they’ll likely remember you when it’s time to fill out their score sheet. But what if he or she ends up with ten mini-dates after yours? Successful speed daters know that their five- or eight-minute interaction needs to stand out and make an impression. And to do that, they need to make a point of being unique.
Successful marketers also know the worst thing they can do is be invisible. To have their brand and their message lost amongst all the others. It’s a waste of resources—financial and otherwise. So, whether it’s content with a fresh perspective, a voice with a unique personality, or a brand look with attention-getting style, companies that stand out from the competition tend to be more memorable—and get better results.
So, there you have it. Want more success from your marketing efforts? Show some love to the above speed dating tips and you just might find some strong matches coming your way!