Marketing Yourself: The Online Dating Challenge

I recently signed up for eHarmony in an effort to kick my dating life into gear. My career keeps me busy, and short of a serendipitous encounter at a bar or the beach, I’m probably not going to meet many eligible women in my day-to-day.

Creating a profile is easy enough…answer twenty million questions about yourself and eHarmony will begin sending you matches. Voila!

While I may work in marketing, I hate marketing myself. Or, I hate marketing the non-professional side of me.

I have my elevator speech down pat if I’m at a conference or networking event. I can wax poetic about the benefits of a tightly integrated CMS for eCommerce marketing, or how Google PLA is killing Adwords, but if asked to name what other people first notice about me, I draw blanks.

Filling out my profile, I tried to answer the questions as honestly as possible. I know that’s the point – to bare the real you, and hope that there’s some soul out there for whom that resonates.

And that’s fine and all, but who keeps handy an answer for this type of question: “What is the ONE thing that people DON’T notice about you right away that you WISH they WOULD?

Umm… uh…

To their credit, eHarmony makes the overall process as painless as possible. Most of the questions they ask are on a 1 – 10 scale, and you rate your stance on a particular statement. Cake, right?

They also have “Questions” that users can answer to help see additional viewpoints where they match. These range from very probing, poignant questions (Do you think it is possible to have satisfying a sex life forever with just one partner?) to the fairly benign (How do you cut up your sandwiches?).

Ultimately through answering these questions (I’m now up to 377 answered!), my matches can flesh out a broader view of who I am before they go through the mess of communication.

So far the experience on eHarmony has been a positive one. I’ve met a couple of nice women, and am having some ongoing chats with a couple of others. I remain optimistic about the endeavor. It’d be nice to have someone to share my life with.

Dating & Marketing

The experience has also helped drive home some very key elements to marketing.

1) Your personality is your unique value proposition. It’s what differentiates you from all the other guys on the site that the women are talking to. My personality is such a mixed bag (Ultra Music Fest *and* a Tchaikovsky symphony?), and I wonder if it sets me apart.

2) Know your audience. This is easy – my audience is “single women in the greater Miami area”. And dating is really about being honest about yourself, and hoping that works for the other person. But it’s still prudent to put your best face forward.

This meant writing (truthfully!) about believing in romance and affection. It meant talking about my love for both football AND Monet…because who doesn’t love a well-rounded guy?! And it meant using proper grammar. At least two women have commented that I sound very well-spoken in my profile. Yay!

3) Reinforce your core competencies. This means know what I’m good at, and what I’m interested in, and making my profile about those things. Yep, I love live music. Let’s check that box. I also love art, like the theater, museums, opera, etc. Another check mark. Travel? I’d love to. But let’s maybe avoid the religion and politics discussion for now.

Some Surprises

Given my location in southern Florida, I’m not at all surprised that many of my matches list their ethnicity as Hispanic/Latino.

However, it has been shocking to see that 30%-40% of my matches list “law” as their occupation. Apparently being a lawyer isn’t conducive to a successful dating life. Hmmm…

It’s also been surprising to see some trends in the women’s profiles for what they’re looking for. Without fail, I’d estimate at least 75% of the women I’ve been matched to say they want a “genuine” guy.

What the hell does that mean?

“Genuine”. Actually having the qualities and character you say you do? To me, that’s just table stakes.

If a guy is spending money on an online dating profile, and lying about what his personality is, he’s an idiot and wasting his time.

And ladies, we also know you want a sense of humor. These things are par for the course. Any woman who ISN’T wanting a “genuine guy who can make her laugh” is kidding herself.

At any rate, it’s only been two weeks since I’ve created my profile. I hope to see some of these women again, and I hope that a real relationship can come from it.

I’m pretty sure I’m genuine enough. :)

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