When you think about it, marketing is a lot like dating. The first “date” is your brochure, website or even Facebook page. Your client or customer takes the proverbial walk on the beach, and gets to know you to see if they like you -– if your values or needs are a match in any way.

If so, your prospect may want a second date -– to read your website’s services or what clients say about you.

By the third date, your prospect has a pretty clear idea of how this relationship (your product or service) fits, and whether it’s right or wrong for them. And quite likely by this time, the prospect is ready to go deeper into the relationship (i.e., make a purchase). When you arrive at this point, closing the sale is akin to tying the knot — it’s the final act of commitment.

Educate Your Date

In order for you to be successful at selling your services or products, people must know what they’re buying, and how it will help them. Just like dating, it’s your job to educate them –- show your charm and great assets, so they can decide if you have what they seek, or if they’re really right for you.

I work with immensely creative training firms that are transforming corporations through the universal language of music; supremely educated lawyers bringing vast value and experience to clients; corporations offering complex health benefits packages; physical therapists who have saved over 80 percent of their patients from having back surgery.

Pretty impressive, right?

Sure, these visionaries all offer enormous benefits to their clients, but like many professionals, they were struggling to sell their services at the level they are worth.

Go After What You’re Worth

Educating clients — and dates — about your value takes time. As a small business owner, it’s critical that you outreach to the right market, and one vast enough to keep you in business. You’ll need to educate potential clients fully so they will grasp (and pay) for the full value of your products or services.

Price is all about “perceived value” in your market. If you sell a high ticket item, you need a market where your price is easily consumed. Value is determined by tracking and measuring the ROI (return on investment) you bring to clients to show whether your service is worth their hard earned dollars. Case studies or testimonials help demonstrate that to your potential market.

My Own Dating Experience

Recently, I needed to set up QuickBooks so my assistant could access it virtually -– but she works on a Mac and I work on a PC. I emailed my bookkeeper, who referred a local service that could “house” QuickBooks on their server.

Supposedly, the solution would be fast and not too expensive, and the interface would work on both a Mac and PC. Great … except I had no idea about the server company’s reliability or value, its ability to help as issues might arise, or how the process would actually work.

To educate me (at this point in our courtship), the owner walked me through an online demo, and advised that she would be sending references I could check. With no effort on my part, we had already moved onto our second date.

Then, I read through her entire marketing kit. I learned she has some excellent experience and big-picture abilities; this built my trust that she could handle any little problems that might arise using QuickBooks virtually.

Our third “date” will be for me to check her references; within a week, I expect that I will have hired this service. Why? Because the business owner made the education process so fast, simple, and enjoyable for me. Plus, I’m quickly getting educated about her qualifications, how responsive she is, and enjoy our interactions, which is allowing me to build trust with her company’s services.

See, small business marketing is just like dating:

  • You have to show people it’s fun to spend time with you. Make it valuable, quality time.
  • Take time to find out about them, and let them know you. That’s how to determine if you’re a good fit.
  • People are so fascinating. Get out there and meet them!
  • Check in – do they understand what you’re thinking? Or know what you want? Do you know what they want or need? That’s what makes a really comfortable and easy relationship.

Maybe you’re not going to marry your clients, but it’s really lovely to get to “second base” — being granted an opportunity to help them with your talents, insight or wisdom.

When you get hordes of new clients as a result of this thinking, it will have been worth the read! After all, Knowledge is Bliss.

Image credit: D. Sharon Pruitt