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Expert Q & A

4 Reasons Marketing Isn’t Like Dating (Sorry!)

September 6, 2022
February 8, 2022
Mae Rice

It’s a #MarketingTwitter meme at this point: Marketing is just like dating. But is it really? Not according to B2B marketer Sara Pion. Here's why not.

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Check social media this week, and you’ll probably see a post proclaiming the good news: Marketing is like dating.

It’s a #MarketingTwitter meme at this point, an endlessly-recycled analogy proven to drive engagement. 

But is it… accurate? 

Not really, according to Sara Pion, a B2B marketing manager at Voiceflow. Here’s why. 

You only date a handful of people at a time — but you market to millions. 

In marketing, you’re trying to reach an audience of many. But “generally dating is [with] one-ish people,” Pion said.

Even if you’re polyamorous, or the lead on The Bachelor, you’re not using performance data and automations to build relationships at scale — which is what marketing’s all about. 

If you’re dating like a marketer, you’re overanalyzing.

Marketers are often “trying to study human behavior,” Pion said. “Marketers love to talk about psychology.”

Some marketers even look at data on prospective customers’ neural signals, thanks to an emerging field called neuromarketing

Approaching dating that way, though, means you’re “overthinking every single thing,” Pion said — and you’re treating your dates more like lab rats than love interests. 

Marketing takes hard skills.

Sure, marketing, dating and all other human interactions go more smoothly when you have soft skills.

But marketing also takes hard skills, Pion noted: data literacy, familiarity with testing frameworks and analytics tools — not to mention an encyclopedic knowledge of marketing acronyms. 

Tweets that minimize this technical element can lead people to pursue marketing careers they regret, or DIY (and tank) their marketing.

Love isn’t a conversion.

If dating is like marketing, then its goal is a conversion. Would that be… intimacy? Love? Marriage? 

Whatever it is, if Pion had a partner who thought of their relationships as sales funnels, “I’d be rethinking the relationship,” she said. “It’s dehumanizing.”

We don’t think she’s alone there. 

Our takeaway? 

Like dating, marketing involves empathy and soft skills — but the similarities basically stop there.

So this Valentine’s Day, our tip is this: Don’t compare your relationship to a nurture stream!  Even though “nurture stream” is marketing’s most romantic term. By far.

Mae Rice
about the author

Mae Rice is editor in chief at MarketerHire. A long-time content marketer, she loves learning about the weird and wonderful feedback loops that connect marketing and culture.

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