How is Marketing Like Dating?

Article by Joan FriedlanderHave you ever attended a networking meeting and met someone you really liked and were sure you could help? When they found out about your services and learned how you help people like them they said, “You’ve got just what I’ve been looking for. I’ve already put aside $10,000 for something like this. May I write you a check now?”

Has this happened even once? But don’t you sometimes wish it were this easy and simple?

The same unrealistic fantasy may haunt you when you’re dating but most of you know it’s absurd, at least intellectually. You know (or remember), that sometimes you just want to get out there and meet the perfect person and have them fall in love with you — and you with them — and be done with it. Very few people actually love “the dating game” and equally as many dislike “the marketing game.”

Can you imagine this? “Hi, I’m Joan. You’re looking, I’m looking, and I think I’m just the woman you’re looking for and I’d like you to marry me.” Hello!! Sure, such love connections happen occasionally, but I’m more likely to get a strong sign of rejection than an acceptance to my proposal.

Like dating for long-term relationships, marketing is a series of naturally progressing conversations and interactions in which you and your prospect get to know each other in order to decide if a business relationship/contract would be mutually beneficial.

Perhaps a similar set of fears and concerns makes us less than realistic in both arenas. At least with marketing, the cycle is usually shorter. But unlike dating, you have to play the game over and over again.

Any way you cut it, there are four essential stages. Robert Middleton, author of the InfoGuru Marketing Manual, uses the analogy of a baseball game (he calls it Marketing Ball) to describe the essential steps we must go through in our conversations with prospective clients.

Each base represents a different kind of conversation that must be had to help our prospects know, like, and trust us enough to do business with us. He notes that most people fail to truly appreciate the game and just want to hit a home run. Furthermore, Middleton says most people skip or gloss over a base or two and shove their prospects into a decision point before they are ready — and then strike themselves right out of the game.

C.J. Hayden, author of the GET CLIENTS NOW! program, uses a different metaphor to define the essential steps in the marketing process, but the steps are the same. She calls it the Universal Marketing Cycle. (Notice the use of the word “Universal,” as in universal laws of success.) Hayden says that people most often resist the critical follow-up activities because this is where we feel most vulnerable and risk rejection.

You can’t skip “second base.” It takes an average of 6-8 exposures to you and your services before the average prospect is ready to become a client. This means that once they express initial interest in what you offer, it takes a clear plan of action and a certain number of follow-up conversations and activities to give them enough information before most people are prepared to discuss how you could help them.

Middleton refers to these as second base activities; Hayden refers to them as follow-up activities. When prospects ask you to talk to them about their specific needs and problems, then you’ve received a sign that they are seriously prepared to receive your official presentation.

Don’t let shorter sales cycles lull you into complacency. Sometimes it seems to only take two or three conversations and/or other follow-up activities to close the sale with a new prospect. This is always an exciting result but can also set up false expectations. If you find yourself discouraged or impatient when it takes longer than this, beware: you may have been lulled by those shorter sales cycles into thinking — and hoping — that they’ll all go that way all the time. You could end up burning bridges unnecessarily and feeling unwarranted rejection or discouragement.

Follow-up is the name of the game. Once in a while, when I lead the GET CLIENTS NOW! program, I’ll discover a participant has close to a couple of hundred people in their database and will, nonetheless, decide they need to focus on filling the pipeline (meeting even more new people).

A little digging and questioning reveals that they really do need to focus on follow-up activities with people they’ve already met, which then shortens their marketing cycle because they’ve already had initial contact! What they really need to do is explore the interest, develop the relationship, and implement effective follow-up activities on a consistent basis.

A consultant learns how to play the game in a new way.

Consider one of my clients. She’s repositioning herself in her business to target a different kind of client. No big deal because she’s really good at what she does. However, she needs to attract clients quickly because she is rebuilding after ending a contract with a steady client.

This makes it difficult for her because every interaction matters and she’s afraid. She wants that control and the quick results, but her long-term success depends on her willingness to learn how to play the game and to play it with grace.

To help get her focused on the game rather than the result, we used the GET CLIENTS NOW! 28-day marketing program to develop a focused action plan around one goal over a 28-day period. In addition, rather than attempting to make every conversation “the one” that resulted in that first critical client, she learned to use each step in the process as a way to develop the rules of her own marketing game. This was not easy for her as she faced her emotions and fears, but she took it on anyway and won the first round — she secured her first client in 29 days!

How is marketing like dating?

Take a look at the different stages of dating and compare them to the marketing steps outlined in two different programs.

marketing and dating

As my Dad told me a long time ago, if you want to get married, you’re going to have to set a goal and put yourself in situations to meet men. Not very romantic, but he was right.

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