When people ask my wife and I how we met, we tell them it was through an online dating service. And then we both laugh. Why? Well, there’s a bit of a story behind this. For starters, Internet dating wasn’t exactly my preferred method for finding a potential mate. I'm more traditional in such matters. However, because I moved around the country and worked a lot of hours, as the new guy in town, it really ended up being the most practical option.
When it came time to create my dating profile I put an exorbitant amount of thought into it. I treated it in terms of how to best promote myself so as to stand out from my "competition." I wanted to be seen as the best choice, and so I made sure to highlight everything that made me great. This first attempt, I felt was pretty good. I mean, who wouldn’t want to meet someone with so many wonderful qualities? Apparently no one based on the results which yielded not one iota of interest.
“Okay,” I thought, “Let’s try this from a different angle.” And off I went to rewrite my dating profile from scratch. This time I typed up a surefire description I thought the ladies would be swooning for, a hopeless romantic who believed in true love and wanted to grow old with someone special. The end product could've been ripped from the pages of a Nicholas Sparks novel. Even so, I didn't care because at least it garnered me some attention. The problem, though, was that it got me the wrong kind of attention, and the dates I went on were epic and comedic disasters.
Finally, fed up with the whole Internet dating racket, I scraped everything and rewrote my profile with a completely satirical slant. Rather than explaining why I was the best guy in the world or how I enjoyed moonlit walks on the beach, I instead advertised myself as “the biggest jerk a girl could ever meet.” I then proceeded to explain that I still lived with my mom, drove a rusted out ’72 Ford Pinto, and only wanted a hot girlfriend with a job so I could bum money from her. There were other embellished details, but I think you get the idea.
And what exactly were the results of this stunt? Off the charts. I had 10 to 12 date requests hitting my inbox daily. Who's da man? Then one day I received an email from a lovely girl who adored sarcasm as much as me, and the rest, as they say, was history.
In a business sense, many companies would fare better with their content if they they treated it like their dating profile. When it comes down to it, a company's content and a dating profile are basically the same thing—the use of words and pictures to court others in the hopes of finding a long-term relationship. However, a number of companies are striking out worse than that guy with the gold chains and cheap cologne hitting on every girl in the club. Why? Based on my previous Internet dating experiences, I see several common mistakes.
They are only promoting themselves. If you remember, in my first dating profile I tried to prove I was the best choice by only talking about what made me a fantastic match. In hindsight, this was a tad egotistical on my part, and a huge turn off to anyone who may have read it. Many companies do the same thing, expounding upon how great their product is and why customers should buy it. This type of content is ineffective because it’s all about you. No one cares to hear you wax eloquent about abundant awesomeness. If this is how your company’s content sounds, don’t expect to be making dinner plans with anyone anytime soon.
They are not being authentic. In my second dating profile I tried coming off as a super sensitive, romantic type by claiming I liked laughing in the rain and cuddling by the fire. This may have sounded perfect, but it wasn't very authentic, and the dates it attracted weren't my type. Companies that rely on copywriting, obsess about SEO, or use a lot of jargon for their content fall into this category. They might be saying all the right things to woo perspective customers; however, the message isn't authentic, and people will see right through it. Sure, a few keywords might rank them number one, but what good is that sort of attention if a site’s bounce rate is horrible? That type of traffic isn’t exactly dating material. If SEO-laden, jargon-filled copywriting is content strategy's sole component, then don’t count on finding your soul mate in the near future.
They aren’t demonstrating who they are. What was it about my third profile that worked? As opposed to just saying I had a great sense of humor like I had in my previous attempts, this time I actually demonstrated it. What's more, I did so in a creative way that stood out from the typical dating profile. When producing content, companies should adopt this same mindset. They should ask if what they are publishing is showing who they are as a company or is it merely telling people. Showing may require some creative thinking, but it is way more interesting, and by extension, way more effective. Do this, and wedding bells are in your future.
Ultimately, what the real issue comes down to here is what I alluded to earlier about the shared intent behind a dating profile and good content—finding a long-term relationship. A couple dates here and there gain you little, but relationships are lasting. Relationships foster loyalty and earn your business trust. What company doesn’t want this? If companies create and publish content with this as their goal, then they are much more likely to find “true love” with their intended customers.
Photo: FreeDigitalPhotos.net, WikiCommons
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