While I have no firsthand experience with it, I’m completely aware of how huge the online dating industry is. Huge as in a $2 billion industry that’s showing no signs of slowing down any time soon. As someone who writes for a content marketing company and holds a degree in marketing, it’s hard not to draw some parallels between online dating and internet marketing. That got me thinking, how similar are the two and what are the takeaways? What I discovered was that singles looking to mingle online are the best marketers on the planet.
The 5 Ps of Marketing and Online Dating
If the theory that internet love-seekers and marketers are similar is to hold true, it only makes sense to look at the foundational principles of marketing and see if they are present in online dating. Let’s take a look at the 5 Ps:
- Product. In the business world, the product or service is pretty obvious. It’s what a company sells or offers for financial compensation. In the realm of online dating, the product is sometimes a bit more complex. The people are the products and their quality is judged based on both physical and non-physical characteristics.
- Price. In business, price is pretty self-explanatory. In online dating, price is somewhat more complex, though. Price could be looked at as the amount a person pays in site membership fees, the opportunity cost of interactions, or the actual cost of spending money on dates, gifts, etc.
- Place. Speaking in business terms, place refers to the actual physical (or online) retail channel in which the products are sold and/or consumed. In the online dating world, the place represents the website a person uses. The rise of online dating’s popularity has made this a very crowded marketplace in the past few years.
- Promotion. When outsiders think of marketing, this is the first (and sometimes only) P they remember. Promotion refers to any sort of method used to communicate the value of a product to the target customer. Just as it is in the business world, promotion is an integral part of online dating success. Online daters must develop and establish a personal brand in order to set themselves apart from the competition.
- Packaging. A later addition to the original 4 Ps in the ‘Marketing Mix,’ packaging can refer to both the design of a product and the actual physical packaging used to enclose the product.
4 Marketing Lessons from Online Dating
Now that you’ve jogged your memory and we made some basic connections between the two subjects at hand, let’s get down to business. What lessons can be harvested from online dating? Beyond having some interesting similarities, is there anything to learn? I think there is. Here are four of my favorite lessons:
- Lesson #1: It’s All About Branding. While the morally sound side of me believes it should always be about developing quality products that legitimately satisfy the pain points and needs of customers, I have quickly learned this is not always the case. In dating – especially online dating – good guys finish last. There is no place for modesty here. While you must have a quality product (i.e. yourself), it is more important to establish a superior brand. I’m not suggesting you stop focusing on developing quality, need-satisfying products and services, but I am telling you to heavily invest in branding.
- Lesson #2: Personalize Your Approach. When the marketplace is crowded, you’ve got to differentiate. One sure-fire way to do this is by taking a personalized approach. Successful online-daters have mastered this. Instead of casting a wide net and hoping to catch a few targets in the process, spend time developing personalized marketing campaigns designed to meet customers where they’re at. Whether it is email marketing or cold calls, personalization works in online dating and is equally as successful in business.
- Lesson #3: Don’t Become Over Reliant. In a recent NPR interview, Stanford economics professor Paul Oyer discussed his experience with online dating and drew some business connections to it. Out of everything he said, I found one offhand comment the most interesting. Oyer met his girlfriend on a dating website of all places, despite working a mere “100 yards away” from her. If that doesn’t provide a crystal-clear lesson in overreliance, I don’t know what does. The business takeaway is to never become so dependent on one channel, one target, or one promotional technique that you miss out on opportunities right in front of you. If Oyer never pursued a different channel for dating, he likely would have missed out on meeting his now girlfriend.
- Lesson #4: ‘Conversation is the Crux.’ Business marketing and online dating mirror each other in many ways, but communication is one of the most closely connected. Marketing is not about barking commands at customers; it’s about carrying on a conversation. In online dating conversation is the crux. You can’t meet people without communicating. In business, the same is true. You must use social media and other interactive channels to actively communicate with your target market.
3 Online Dating Options
While I’m recently married, I like to think I’m not that far removed from the world of dating. If you clicked on this article thinking you would find lessons in dating, I’m sorry to have disappointed you. (But kudos on sticking with it long enough to reach this point.) To reward you for your determination, I’ll present you with three of the best online dating options on the internet. This list is the result of hours of intense study, detailed scientific research, and extremely focused focus groups.
- Women Behind Bars. Are you looking to “become a ‘ray of hope’ in someone’s life? Why not help out a lovely lady behind bars?
- Sugardaddie.com. If you are a financially successful man or attractive gold digger, you’ll thank me for letting you in on one of the internet’s best hidden secrets.
- GlutenfreeSingles. Tired of dating people with liberal diets? Connect with a gluten-free single for a more inclusive dating experience.
All jokes aside, online dating provides valuable marketing lessons for the business world. If you’re struggling to move forward or are simply looking for a way to spice things up, maybe your single friend with an affinity for online dating can help you out.
Can you draw any other helpful connections between marketing and online dating?
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