Maybe you’ve seen the ads where the girl asks if it’s because she forgot to send her brother a birthday card, or the guy looks at a girlie mag to gauge his reaction and then proclaims, “Nope, still gay.” Bam goes the rubber stamp as eHarmony rejects two more of those one million poor souls looking for love in all the wrong places. A reassuring voice closes the ads, explaining that all us not-wanna-be singles can “come as you are” to Chemistry.com.
REJECTED! Ooof. How do you feel about being rejected?
I had one of those hey-what-am-I-chopped-liver experiences with eHarmony, too. They didn’t exactly send me a Dear John letter or stamp ‘Rejected’ across my torso, but they also didn’t find me any matches, which left me musing how there can be millions of people signed up with this service, and I don’t match up with a single one.
Money I paid. Months I waited. Then those harmonious match-makers told me they were going to suspend my account due to inactivity.
I shot them back a letter. “Give me a match, just one frigging match – even Outer Mongolia is looking good today – and I’ll show you activity!” They kept me on for another month, then dropped me again. I finally bagged eHarmony and wondered whether the planets were inauspiciously aligned for finding love that year. Or whether I was, indeed, chopped liver.
Talk about your failed relationships!
When you consider starting a new relationship, what do you worry about deep down? I’m worrying about…
Most of all, I worry about putting myself on the line and then getting dealt with badly. Rejected. Abandoned. Betrayed. These are the terrible consequences we all fear in any relationship.
This doesn’t apply solely to romance-based relationships; it applies to almost all the relationships in our lives, including customer/business relationships. Businesses usually begin this relationship through their marketing messages.
But those ads… those freakin’ ads! Commercial after commercial of deliriously blissful men and women embracing, kissing, and smiling longingly at each other. Testimonials up the wazoo that show how wonderful and strong the matches are between people who have signed up. It’s all so lovey-dovey and sweet that my butt clenches involuntarily while listening to them.
But eHarmony seems to gloss over the part detailing how you and they are going to work together to make this happen, over the relationship they will develop with you. And this is the marketing piece that is crucial to their customers’ felt needs. As Joel Keller explains it,
Many people who have used eHarmony, … which matches people using a psychological survey that measures, in their words, “29 dimensions of compatibility,” haven’t been so lucky. Some have been matched up with people that took the survey but never signed up and paid for the service. Others have been deemed to be compatible with people that weren’t looking for a commitment or a person with whom they had little in common. Still others have been connected to people that they wouldn’t even be attracted to in the dark.
This is a failed relationship!
When it comes to matchmaking, people want to find friendship, maybe love, maybe a permanent relationship, maybe merely the opportunity for casual flings. But before they start to address that felt need, they have to deal with the felt needs of their deepest fears: rejection, abandonment and betrayal. This is hardly confined to potential matches; it applies equally to the matchmakers themselves.
Chemistry.com gets it. They address this need first: We do not believe you are chopped liver. Then, through their online entity, they go about growing their relationship with you.
[Note: Compare Chemistry’s home page with eHarmony’s home page. The primary call to action on both sites is getting the customer to supply information and get started. But which of these home pages offers clear, intuitive ways to learn about the business itself? Big tabs on Chemistry, plus some forums and articles. Tiny links buried in the No Man’s Land of screen real estate on eHarmony. This should be a big relationship red flag!]
At the end of the day, you are in the business of creating relationships. And if you want those relationships to grow beyond the carrot of promise you dangle before the eyes of your audience, then you have to work at it. My mother always told me, “You want to learn who a person really is? Pay a lot less attention to what they say and a lot more attention to what they do.” Warm-fuzzy language may capture attention, but it’s dependable action that cements relationships.
Sadly for eHarmony, there’s a fair chunk of blog-space given over to what they do, and it isn’t positive. Let’s face it. Divorce is almost always an exercise in smearing lots of bad blood all over the shop. You so don’t want to go there with your customers!
Dig deep into the concerns your customers bring to the table when they consider doing business with you. Identify their deepest concerns when they are deciding if you are the business for them.
Will you really understand their needs in the relationship they hope to develop with you?
Are you really going to accept them for who they are and speak to that, not only in your sales process but also their buying process?
Will you deliver on your promise to value them and go the distance on their behalf?
Address these issues in your marketing messages. And remember, your marketing messages are only simpering smiles if you can’t treat your customers honestly in the follow-through!