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Why Smart Marketing Is Like a Great First Date

October 16, 2013
URL: http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/229437

When you go on a first date with someone, do you tell them how wonderful you are and all the great things you can do, then ask them to marry you? Probably not.

And yet, this is exactly what the vast majority of startups and small businesses do when it comes to their marketing materials. Whether it's a brochure, a landing page, or a video on YouTube, most new business owners feel compelled to share every last value proposition they can in one breath, then "seal the deal" at the very end.

But this isn't how a great date, or a great piece of marketing, actually works. What most entrepreneurs tend to forget in their rush to make the sale is that the first shot isn't their only shot. If everything goes well on that first date (with, for example, the initial brochure) then that customer will likely come back for a second date (perhaps to your website or your YouTube channel) to find out more.

That's what great marketing and strategy is all about -- figuring out what exactly you need to say to make the right first impression in order keep the conversation going. Talk too much about yourself or say the wrong thing and the date is over.

If you think this analogy is a little far-fetched, just watch this clip from Groundhog Day and see how the metaphor unfolds.

In essence, what Bill Murray is doing here is the equivalent of a customer focus group. He's listening. He's paying attention to her likes and dislikes. He's gathering valuable information about her life so that he can better understand what she cares about, what motivates her, what makes her tick. The more he knows, the more they'll have in common, which means he'll be able to say the right things at the right time and hold her attention just a little longer.

That's exactly what great marketing does. It hooks you in with a question, a clever pickup line or headline, a bit of humor, and then tells you a story, revealing the right combination of details so that you continue to lean in just a little more, wondering what's going to happen next.

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Of course, the thing about this analogy (and as Bill Murray learns during the course of the film) is that it's not enough to just say what your date wants to hear. If you're not authentic, if you don't truly believe in the things you're saying, or if you don't actually deliver on the promise of what you've said, the relationship is ultimately doomed.

Great marketing, like a great date, is an equal portion of give and take. It's knowing when to reveal something about yourself and realizing when you've entered the realm of too much information.

So the next time you're getting ready to make a new video, brochure or landing page for your website, just remember you don't need to say everything all at once.

After all, a little mystery can be a good thing.