Digital Dating: Like Shopping on Amazon?

It’s compelling to believe that now, more so than at any point in our history, it’s possible for each and every one of us to find The One. If not The One, then perhaps close to The One. Very close. After all, surely that person is out there, with thousands and thousands of eligible singlets on a plethora of dating sites – both niche and mainstream.

Plenty-of-Fish, eHarmony, OkCupid, Lavalife,,, certainly amongst these online stores everyone can find their perfect match, the perfect size, the perfect fit? No?

I have a number of friends who have met their relationship partners through online dating, and the relationships formed have been loving and long-lasting. I think that’s awesome. I will readily admit that I use online dating, and I will continue to do so. But I have come to realize, recently, that I have fallen into a trap. I wonder, how many other people have fallen into the same trap?

It seems that dating, for lack of better works, has become …. commoditized.

It’s the search for the elusive perfect match, The One, that has led people – men and women – to treat dating like shopping.

Not satisfied with a recent date because she’s brunette and you’ve come to realize that you really prefer blondes? Then fine, there are plenty of blondes out there. Back to eHarmony.

Although you really like the arts, perhaps he’s not quite into them as you are? Whatever the reason, there’s certainly someone who has a stronger interest on OKCupid.

Go on a date that was actually quite fun, but still she’s still “only” an 7 out of 10? Well, get out your iPhone and find that 9 or 10. Go! Get to it!

It can be an ongoing cycle, really. “One and done” dates, with the feeling that somewhere out there, in galaxy not far away, you will find “The One”.

But, what if?

What if the brunette truly is awesome, in every other way that you want your ideal woman to be awesome?

What if he just hasn’t had the same exposure to the arts as you’ve had, and he really does have a keen interest?

What if she was really nervous on the date, as people tend to be, and she wasn’t completely herself? What if she is the star you’re looking for?

I believe online dating is great, and I am fortunate to have met some great women as a result.

I also believe that too many people now treat online dating like shopping and maybe, just perhaps, these people are too quickly passing judgement when meeting others. Clicking through to the Next One, instead of investing more time to see if the current one might be The One.

Stand for Something

One way a brand can stand out and build a stronger bond with customers is to become aligned with a relevant cause that truly benefits the greater good.

Consumers, and even customers in business to business environments, certainly expect the companies they purchase from to be good corporate citizens. Fair and ethical treatment of staff members, giving back to the local community, and adherence to green practices just make good business sense. But imagine how your customers might perceive your brand if you *WOW* them by setting a gold standard for social and environmental practices.

Digital technology is making it easier for companies to engage with consumers and support causes in new and unique ways.

Here are several examples of companies that are making a difference.

TOMS Shoes – For every pair of shoes purchased, a pair is given to a child in need. Since the program launched in 2006, over 600,000 shoes have been given to children in the United States, Argentina, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Guatemala, Haiti, and South Africa

Pepsi – Rather move forward with a traditional Super Bowl TV spot, Pepsi launched the Pepsi Refresh Project. Through the $20 million crowdsourcing initiative, which will no doubt be a marketing case study, people are enticed to submit and vote on ideas that will have a positive impact on society. The best ideas will receive grants ranging from $5,000 to $250,000 each.

CauseWorld – CauseWorld is an iPhone and Android app that is similar to Foursqaure and Gowalla, in that it enables users check into check into locations they visit. For each check in, users earn “Karma” points, which they can then redeem using the app to donate money to select charitable organizations. The money is provided by sponsors including Procter & Gamble, Kraft and Sears.

Have you thought about how your company can leverage digital in making a difference?

Communications Providers and Customer Service

It never ceases to amaze me how often communications providers rely on promises of “better network coverage”, “faster Internet access”, or “better pricing” to differentiate themselves from competitors and lure consumers. Such advertising, in my opinion, does very little to make their brands truly stand out in the consumer mindset. Other than perhaps offering exclusivity for a particular product, such as an iPhone, it seems that you could insert any brand in any campaign.

How can a communications company stand out and be remarkable? How about innovating around customer service? Wouldn’t it be amazing if your cellular provider contacted you mid-contract, to advise you of a better and more cost-effective cell phone plan based on your usage? Would that perhaps build your loyalty to the brand, and reduce the chance of you switching when your contract expires?

Communications companies could also benefit from establishing themselves on social media, to open themselves up to customers and engage with them. Yes, they can and will receive criticisms from customers that can be viewed by anyone. However, putting a human face on a cold, corporate brand has a tremendous upside. As an example, read about Comcast Cares.

What are your thoughts?  How should communications providers innovate, so they can stand out from the competition?

Foursquare Launches in Vancouver

Last Wednesday, Foursquare was launched in Vancouver at an event hosted by 6S Marketing. Foursquare is a new social media game that enables people to connect and interact with others using their mobile phones, while also identifying and tracking various places and locations visited – such as restaurants, stores, and tourist attractions.

People score points in the game by completing various tasks, such as identifying their current location using the Foursquare application (using a “Checking In” function in the app). As points are accumulated during game play, participants are awarded badges to indicate their level of achievement.

In hosting the launch event, 6S Marketing initiated a crowd-sourcing experiment to record Vancouver venues for Foursquare game play. Vancouver has a very strong and vibrant social media scene, and many notable people attended the launch event. People were encouraged to use start using Foursquare when visiting different venues. Over the weekend, I entered a few venues into the application, and even received some extra bonus points for being the first person to record them.

It will be interesting to see how Foursquare evolves, and whether it’s use takes off truly takes off. It already has gained a foothold in several US cities, and several Hollywood celebrities are using it – including Ashton Kutcher, the most followed person on Twitter.

The application does have some potential marketing applications, particularly with regards to experiential marketing for small businesses. For example, a restaurant could offer a discounted drink to someone who “Checks In” using Foursquare.  In turn, people connected to that person would learn about the drink discount, and potentially be enticed to visit the venue. Incentive programs would, theoretically, increase usage of Foursquare amongst mobile users – in turn increasing the promotion that businesses listed on Foursquare receive.

That might just be the tip of the iceberg. I am going to continue to use Foursquare, and will write additional posts to update you on my experience with the application.