Court Your Customers: Applying the Rules of Dating to Your Online Marketing Strategy

Your business has been around for a while, but you’re just not attracting enough new customers. It’s frustrating, isn’t it? You know they’re out there somewhere, but your approach doesn’t seem to be working. You have a lot to offer, but you just aren’t able to get their attention.

What does a driven business owner have to do to get people to show some interest?

Given that it’s Valentine’s Day, we’ll compare this challenge with dating. We’re going to explain how you can use dating logic to build a devoted customer base.

It’s All About Permission Marketing

Seth Godin, who wrote Permission Marketing: Turning Strangers into Friends, and Friends into Customers, says “Permission is like dating. You don’t start by asking for at first impression. You earn the right, over time, bit by bit.”

When you first meet someone, you’re not going to ask them to marry you. All you’ll likely get is a funny look or a drink in the face. The same goes for prospects. If you propose the sale to them right off the bat, you’ll come off as just another indistinguishable salesperson in a crowd clamouring for their money.

The First Meeting

When you meet a potential dating prospect, you need to make a good impression. You need something that sets you apart from the rest.

Likewise, when a qualified buyer first encounters you, you need to make a good first impression by offering them something of value. If they find you through your website, they should get useful information to help them navigate their way through the decision-making process.

This good first impression is your gateway to moving things to a next step; the “opt-in”.

The Opt-In

If you’ve made a positive impression on your dating prospect, they may give you some of their valuable time and attention. You “create value” by showing interest, being engaging or making them laugh. It’s only at this point that you should ask for the opt-in. You ask them to meet you for coffee. You’re making an implicit promise that you will show up and continue to be interesting and funny.

This is the first level of permission.

As a marketer, nothing is more valuable than the time and attention of your prospect. You need to earn their attention, offer something of value, and then live up to your promise. The smart online marketer asks for an email address, and in return promises to show up with valuable content on a regular basis.

The tools you will need for opt-in: Calls-to-action, landing pages and forms, email marketing database, email templates, consistent and useful content.

The Real Courtship

Now for both the people dating and the marketer, it’s time to build the relationship. If all goes well, the couple go on more dates. The online marketer continues to provide value through their monthly newsletter, blog or whatever was promised, and the “dating” continues.

Now, the daters are learning more about one another and getting closer. They’re building trust, a personalized connection, and anticipation for the next meeting.

How about the marketer?

Through marketing automation (learn more about marketing automation software in one of our previous posts), you can learn more about your prospect and tailor the communication to your opt-in list. You can create content that is trusted, personalized, and anticipated – further enhancing the relationship.

The tools you will need to engage in this relationship building are marketing automation software, consistent and useful content, customization, social media.

Taking It to the Next Level

Now that the couple have built a relationship, they can begin to ask for additional permissions. Now is the time to ask to meet the parents.

Your online marketing strategy should reflect this as well. Once you have built a relationship with the prospect by consistently providing them with relevant, anticipated information, it is time to ask the big questions – are they ready to take some action!

You don’t want to ruin the trust you have built, however. Your “ask” should not feel like a departure from your previous communication. You should be offering them something they will find useful and relevant – something that will solve their problem. Something that compels them to a higher level of commitment.

If the dating has gone well, you are much more likely to get to “Yes”.

The Perks

Our couple is now in a happy relationship, with all of the little perks that come with it.

Once you’ve created a loyal customer, the perks can start rolling in. You can share information about other products or services they may be interested in, generating incremental revenue. You can ask for referrals and testimonials. You can be their go-to company, their partner, their trusted advisor!

It all comes down to permission-based marketing. You need to get opt-in every step of the way by creating value, and keep moving things forward until you both get what you want.

So next time you’re wondering how to approach your online marketing strategy, just remember the rules of courtship.

>> The Core Online Marketing team are experts at getting to the “Yes” through effective online marketing tactics. Sign up for our free online marketing seminar to learn more, or contact us today.

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Ben Molfetta

I co-founded Core Online Marketing (formerly Core Marketing Strategies) after more than twenty years of marketing, sales and general management experience in a large corporate environment and with start-up technology companies. I use my expertise in business and marketing strategy development to assist small and mid-sized businesses grow through effective use of online marketing.
Ben Molfetta