The metaphors for courting, seeking out, or spitting game to the opposite sex are endless. Many say it’s a power game. Others compare it to a chase, like that between a dog and a cat. In high school, my friends and I compared it to the recruiting process for collegiate athletics. We would scout for prospects and rank recruits. There were campus visits, letters of intent, and even 10-day contracts. It’s safe to say we got ahead of ourselves; using professional practices for our amateur operations. These analogies are clever, and at times they have their merits. However, I think it’s much simpler than that. When you’re trying to get someone you’re interested in, interested in you, you’re marketing. I’ll tell you why. Think about what it takes for you to buy a product like shoes, gum, cereal, or a car. Now think about how a relationship starts. Let’s go through the romantic consumer journey together.
Step 1: Capture their attention. Leave an impression.
You have to notice someone before you can court them. When I think about the women I’ve interacted with, I always think back to when I first noticed them. Not always when I met her, but when I first noticed her. What was she wearing? How many times did we make eye contact before we spoke? That first interaction is so important. You’ve never stopped hearing how crucial first impressions are. The goal of this interaction is not always about leaving with a phone number; it’s about leaving an impression.
Lesson number one: first impressions matter. Advertising legend, David Ogilvy said: “Every advertisement is part of the long-term investment in the personality of the brand”. This is how you have to think of each of your interactions. Every time you interact with your next fling, you are adding to a complete story of who you are. Think about how you want the opposite sex to think of you. Make sure the first chapter of your story is compelling.
Step 2: Position yourself strategically.
Now you’ve made an impression. How do you keep the momentum going? When you meet someone you’re interested in, you usually have a limited window of time to put in a bid. However, for the bid to be effective they to be receptive to the pitch. The best companies don’t blatantly ask people to buy their products. They build a relationship and tell a story. In turn, people tell themselves to buy the product to be a part of the brand’s story. The same goes with courting. In the Art of Seduction, Robert Greene quotes Soren Kierkegaard when he says not to approach her directly, but to “merely skirt the periphery of her existence.” DO NOT become a stalker. Instead, think about all of the things that add to your story. Friends, roommates, interactions with your friends on Facebook or Twitter, and casual run-ins can work wonders for you.
So what does this have to do with marketing? Think about all of the ways brands communicate with you. You see ads on TV, billboards dot the skyline of your city, you pick up a magazine only to see another ad from the brand, and then you see one of your friends tweet about the product. Follow? The best marketers use all of types of tactics together to tell their story.
Stories about you from mutual friends show that you’re not a creep. When people interact with you on Facebook, they get to see what you’re interested and that people think you’re cool. Random run-ins can work wonders for you. It’s like a really effective sport sponsorship, a brilliant guerilla marketing campaign, or finding out that a celebrity you admire wears the same deodorant. Showing up to the same party unplanned puts you a step ahead. You’re put in a situation to interact with her/him where she/he feels more relaxed; creating cognitive dissonance becomes much easier. You’re ready to sell what you have to offer by hanging out wit her /him casually. Your target, being more relaxed and excited to hang out with a new friend is by default more open. The key is to show up in the right places at the right times. By positioning yourself strategically, you’re saying that you share similar values and interests.
Step 3: Keep them engaged
Flirting, likes on Facebook posts, and of course making eyes at one another in passing are now the norm. The stars are slowly aligning in your favor. This is very cute and all, but it’s only a matter of time before one of you gets bored. Now that you have her attention, what are you going to do with it? You’ve garnered general interest, now it’s time for you to engage your prospect. This is where the dates start. Texting can increase in frequency. There are two important things that you have to do. Number 1: do not bore him/her. Think about how many times a woman has been taken out for dinner, dessert, or drinks. If you do one of these things, make it interesting. Make sure it stands out. Take her to that hidden gem of a restaurant. Shock her with simplicity; you’d be surprised how many women would be satisfied with a nice scenic walk. The second thing is to make sure you provide substance. You don’t need to divulge your deepest secrets, but add value. What makes you different? Back the hype you’ve created with substance.
The next thing we learn is to keep our audience engaged. Once your brand has entered the minds of consumers, what do you plan on doing with the cerebral space they’ve loaned you? Stand out and add value. I’m sure we’ve all been excited to buy a product only to find out that it doesn’t deliver. The Power Balance wristbands of 2010 are a perfect example. Unlike the other rubber wristbands of our era, these were supposed to help improve balance. NBA players and cool kids on the block wore them. Soon enough, it came to light that these bands did nothing for anyone’s balance. Make sure you deliver on your brand’s promise.
You made your impression, generated a buzz, and started to engage your target. You made the sale and closed the deal. If you were looking for a short-term affair and are ready to move on, that’s fine. Just keep repeating these steps. However remember, it takes more to win a new customer than it does to keep an existing one. Whether you’re building brand loyalty or not, marketing never stops. You’re always courting. If you’re not convincing someone new to take a chance with you, then you should be constantly reminding someone why he or she took a chance on you. In a TED talk, Renny Gleeson said two things that I would like to leave you with. The first is that ”Little things, done right, matter. Well-designed moments build brands.” These steps are nothing more than well-orchestrated moments. The second is that “A simple mistake can tell me what you’re not. Or it can remind me of why I should love you.” In marketing and in relationships, things don’t always go as planned, but every mistake is an opportunity to recover in a way that leaves a strong impression. That said, go forth and prosper.