Marketing is Like Dating – The First Date

Marketing is Like Relationships
Part 2: The First Date

by Carl Hadden and Shaunda Wickham | February 18, 2020

Marketing has changed a lot over the years thanks to the technological boom, just like dating has. Previously in this series, we discussed the similarities between three elements of the marketing mix and how couples meet in the new digital age.

Though the way people meet may have changed over the years, the first date has not. Daters still get the butterflies in the stomach, obsess over what to wear, and fixate on the perfect discussion topics in order to get to know the other person.

Here are four of the seven Marketing Mix elements that can be compared to common first date scenarios.


Have you ever heard the saying “the three most important words in real estate are location, location, location”? When it comes to your business, the location could refer to anything from a storefront to your website, or even social media. Your product needs to be where your customers can find and buy it. Make sure that your website incorporates SEO best practices and is compatible with mobile devices. If you have a storefront, make sure it is in an area that will appeal to your target clientele. Your website and physical location must be attractive and appealing. Create a buying environment/experience that will keep customers coming back.

First Date Scenario: Where you chose to go on your first date says a lot about you. You must walk that fine line between underwhelming and over the top. You don’t want to go to the movies on a first date because it limits the opportunity for conversation and the ability to get to know each other. You also don’t want to choose something so extreme like a long hike. Who wants to get sweaty or physically overexert yourself when you first meet someone? Or even worse, potentially get lost in the woods with essentially a stranger? No one. Choosing a nice restaurant within your means is the ideal solution.


Many business owners consider price a financial decision but it has everything to do with marketing. Winning a customer on price is a short-lived victory because you will lose that same customer as soon as a competitor offers a lower price.  Business owners need to shift the conversation away from price and towards value. What does your business do to enhance the buying experience?  Free delivery?  Extended warranty?  Maintain the integrity of your pricing by finding ways to add quality and value.

First Date Scenario: Know your worth and don’t settle for someone that undervalues you.  Don’t make it all about the money.  There are a lot of romantic activities that don’t require a lot of money. Time and attention are more valuable than fancy dinners and lavish gifts. That being said, there are ‘high-maintenance’ women and men out there.  Know what you’re getting yourself into and make sure it fits your budget.


Building the right team is essential to successfully execute your marketing plan. Your ability to recruit and retain people with the skills and capabilities to effectively market your business is key. Many of the best business plans ever developed sit on shelves today because the people who created them couldn’t find the right people to execute those plans. Every person in your company who comes in contact with your customers is on the marketing team whether they know it or not. All employees must understand the mission and vision of the company and consistently deliver on them.  Each employee has the opportunity to enhance or damage your brand with every customer interaction.

First Date Scenario: The people that surround you help shape and mold the person you are. They can encourage you to be a positive and successful person, or their actions could impact your self-worth and confidence. This can lead you to enter the first date with either a lot of baggage or support. The company you keep is evident to your date by how you present yourself.


How are you positioned in the hearts and minds of your current and prospective customers? What is said about your product when you are not there? What words are used to describe you? How you are perceived in the market. Quality?  Price?  Cleanliness?  In the book, “Positioning,” the authors point out that how you are seen and thought about by your customers is the critical determinant of your success in a competitive marketplace. Attribution theory says that most customers think of you in terms of a single attribute, either positive or negative.  Sometimes it’s “service.”  Sometimes it’s “excellence.”  Sometimes it’s “quality engineering” as with Mercedes Benz. Sometimes it’s “the ultimate driving machine,” as with BMW. In every case, how deeply entrenched that attribute is in the minds of your customers and prospective customers determines how readily they’ll buy your product or service and how much they’ll pay.  If you could create the ideal impression in the hearts and minds of your customers, what would it be?

First Date Scenario: How have you positioned yourself in the hierarchy of the dating world?  Do you have a reputation as a hothead? An easy-going, friendly reputation? Are you a party animal? You cannot position yourself in one category and expect to attract someone from a conflicting category.  Be the person you want people to see you as.

Now you know how to use the Seven Ps to market your company. The marketplace, competition and customer preferences are always changing. You need to regularly measure the effectiveness of your marketing efforts and adjust as needed.  The same is true for dating.  Has your phone stopped ringing? Are you attracting the wrong partners? It may be time to revisit the 7 Ps and refine your marketing…I mean dating efforts.

  • Carl Hadden

    Associate Director, Florida SBDC at USF, Polk County

    Specialty: Market Research, Business Planning, Financial Analysis, Student Teams, Organizational Development

    Carl Hadden is an Associate Director with the Florida SBDC at University of South Florida. Hadden leads a team of 12 business consultants who serve the 10-county Tampa Bay region. He is also a marketing specialist with experience in workforce development, sales, insurance, entrepreneurship and training. As general manager for a wireless phone retailer, Hadden directed the marketing, co-op advertising, purchasing, vendor relations, and human resources. He assisted in implementing a point of sales system for the wireless retailer to automate processes and minimize loss prevention. As a workforce professional, Hadden assisted McGee Auto Service & Tires to secure a partnership with the Polk County School District, which would allow mechanics to get additional training and resources to become ASE certified. He graduated from Leadership Lake Wales Class 13 in 2009. Hadden has an associate’s degree in business administration from Polk State College and a bachelor’s in marketing management from Webber International University. He is also a Certified Marketing Executive, TTI DISC Certified Professional Behavioral Analyst, TTI DISC Certified Professional Driving Forces Analyst, and a Certified LivePlan Expert Adviser.

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