Everyone remembers their first date. If you’re like me, you spent the days leading up to that date consulting with your friends like it was a United Nations summit. What do you wear? What do you say? Do you tell her that you sing “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” at least 3 times on the way to work every day? It’s all a very nerve-wracking process. But interestingly enough, in the dating world, there are always people who do a better job at it than others. It sounds awfully familiar to the thoughts that go through a marketing person’s head.
Marketing (and design for that matter) is the one portion of a company where the very essence of your job can’t be controlled by any means. Engineers can control what their final product looks like. Sales can predict to an extent how much money they’ll bring in. But marketers can’t necessarily predict if a new campaign is going to succeed or fail. That’s funny, I’ve had plenty of friends tell me the same thing about their first dates. But like dating, marketing has a few “best practices” that put you in the best position to succeed.
Play to Your Strengths
When you’re going on a date, you probably shouldn’t try to be something that you’re not. Don’t try to go on an active date if your definition of physical activity peaks out at running to the front door to retrieve your pizza order.
You also shouldn’t try to talk about philosophy when your most philosophical thoughts come from discussing the merit of various Avengers films compared to the comics. You’ll end up embarrassing yourself badly. If the person you’re dating can’t like you for who you are, you’ll essentially be living a lie trying to live up to what you think they want.
It’s the same way with marketing. I’ve seen so many companies try to make so-called “catchy” or “fun” videos when nobody on their marketing team has any skills in that area. Then end result comes out looking forced, corny, and worst of all, pushes your potential customers away (for the record, I work with two guys who do superb marketing videos). Instead, if your team is stronger with writing content, why not just create a series of blogs, whitepapers, or LinkedIn posts? That plays to your strengths and potential customers will appreciate that more than a half-hearted attempt to become Steven Spielberg.
Don’t Force It
Let’s face it – you can’t make your potential date or partner like you. I mean, you can try, but there’s this pesky little thing called a restraining order that may hinder your progress. Or if you’re on a first date, don’t try to corral the person into telling you their 5 year relationship goals and how they plan on raising your guys’ kids together. You will most certainly be abandoned before you’re done eating the bread.
You shouldn’t force it when marketing your products either. Too often, I see companies trying the same (failed) marketing idea in multiple ways. “Oh the email campaign didn’t work? Let’s just turn it into a social post.” or at least that’s what it seems like when I see companies marketing an unappealing feature of a product across multiple marketing channels (email, social, flyers, etc.) As a teammate of mine in college liked to say, “be real”. In other words, if something doesn’t work in your marketing department, just let it die. Don’t keep trying to resurrect it. Reinvent your concepts and try again. Otherwise, you’re essentially like those toys that keep walking even when there’s a wall in front of them.
Put Others First
While I’m sure the person you’re trying to date would love to hear about your epic Street Fighter IV battles, I don’t think they want to hear you talk about why Ryu’s advanced combo set edges out Ken’s advanced combo set. They may want to talk about traveling or possibly anything but E. Honda’s Street Fighter backstory. Let’s face it, no date or relationship for that matter will grow or provide fulfillment to either party if mutual respect and care isn’t applied liberally. In other words, you shouldn’t just think about yourself. If you want your first date to go swimmingly, ask about what they’re interested in or what their hopes and dreams are. You’ll probably be labeled as a “good listener” and increase your chances of a second date.
Believe it or not, the old business adage, “the customer is always right” has some merit when it comes to marketing. You have to listen to the customer when you’re creating and ultimately marketing a product. If you make cell phones and cell phone consumers are clamoring for a great camera, they’re not going to care much about how your new computer chip speeds things up by .000058585 milliseconds. Tell them about your new and improved camera that takes better pictures than anyone else’s. When you give the people what they want, they respond with their dollars.
While I’m no Rico Suave, I can guarantee you that the same sensibilities you show on a successful date can tell you a lot about what you should be thinking about when marketing your product. Also, if my dating advice helps you, please invite me to your wedding. Wedding cake is delicious. I also would like to pre-order the non-vegetarian option…