When Marketing Is Like Dating

May 17, 2012

Do you remember your dating days? When you met someone, something clicked, and you began the ritual of dating? It might have been a long time ago or you may be in the midst of this now, but there were and still are rules.

Everybody knows these socially accepted rules, and each social group has their own version. Can you call the same day? How many days should you wait? Would it be awkward if I sent a card? Will they like this little gift? How soon can we kiss? And then there’s the big dating question—should we go all the way? That question remains on the top 10 and will for all time.

The key to success in dating and marketing is having a solid idea of what is acceptable to each social group and to adhere to their rules.

A sound marketing objective is to build a touch system that follows the dating rules and principles that lead a prospect toward a purchase, while still making them feel both safe and as though the decision is still theirs—and that dating you, or buying from you, is a good decision. Some examples are:

  • First contact by a prospect. No matter if it is by phone or a web form, how quickly do you respond, acknowledge, and say, “I hear you and this is what I’m going to do for you”?
  • First deliverable. Whatever was asked for, no matter if it was only information or a quote, what is the accompanying message? You know the one: “I hope this helps and can I be of further assistance?” In dating terms, it is really, “Can I call you?”
  • First follow-up. How many days until the next call? Sales should know the timing from hot to cold lead, and once there was the initial contact, the prospect should be tagged in your system for a follow-up date. Do you follow up with an email or a phone call?

The fine line between courting and harassment is where someone dating feels the same anxiety as a salesperson in the follow-up process. You didn’t get the next date or you didn’t get the order—now what?

How many calls and emails should follow or what can you do to change the dynamics?

There should be a line drawn between follow-up and moving the conversation into a different process. If the buyer is really just researching options or hasn’t made up their mind yet, you don’t want to miss the moment when they are going to make a buying decision. And as a dear friend once told me, they say no because they just didn’t know enough to say yes—after all, you are a great catch.

Creating a marketing plan that moves this type of person into an educational stream is the next series of communications. Getting permission to stay in touch can be:

  • Asking if you can call again in an agreed upon time frame.
  • Inviting them to socialize—join you and your fans on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn. This should be a great way for them to see what you are made of and what others think of you, and you get to continue to keep in touch.
  • Creating light touches—these are informational or entertainment content pieces you can share along the way that has absolutely no selling associated, but it keeps you top of mind.
  • Asking if they would like to subscribe to a newsletter or blog that delivers helpful information on the topic.

The really important part

If you got that first kiss—your first order—this is the pivotal moment where you show up either as a cad or a prince.

What did you include with the order that was a bit of a surprise? How quickly do you follow up and ask, “Was it as good for you as it was for me?” And how do you keep the romance going?

After all that work, don’t you want to get to the really good part? Repeat business is always more profitable than the one-time buyer. If you want to grow your business then you want your customers to keep coming back for more.

Can we be friends anyway?

When presenting to large groups, I often ask, “How many of you keep in touch with a person if you lost the deal?” I am always surprised to see hardly any hands go up. The sentiment is, they lost the deal, so move on. I challenge that thinking, since they really don’t know why they lost the deal and staying in touch offers a lot more opportunity than not keeping in touch at all.

First of all, that other deal could go bad and you would be there ready to pick up and run with the job. Second of all, have you never heard of the concept of guilt? Maybe they wanted to work with you but for reasons beyond their control they couldn’t, and so out of guilt they would recommend you to others. The point is win, lose, or draw—find ways to keep in touch since you really don’t know what future you may have together.

What’s in your marketing plan?

Mardy Sitzer is a Certified Inbound Marketing Professional, and President of Bumblebee Design & Marketing. Since 1993, Mardy has been delivering creative and innovative marketing solutions. An avid reader of all things internet and marketing, she also writes blogs, articles and web content for industry magazines as well as for Bumblebee’s clients. Follow her on Twitter (twitter.com/MardySitzer) or email her at mardy@bumblebeellc.com.

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