Did you know I met my wife online? As a result, I’m a huge proponent of online dating.

So while I was helping my friend craft his own online dating profile, I started thinking that the folks who do the best in online dating are also the best marketers. (Depending on your personal definition of marketing, you probably had a visceral reaction to that, but stick with me).

The people who can tell you a story about themselves that you actually want to read, get you to let your guard down, make you laugh at a joke, make you fall in love – and all with just 300 words? Those are the ones you see on the eHarmony commercials. They make it because they have seduction mastered.

Turns out, seduction is one of the most important marketing techniques for small businesses to master and it comes down to two traits: storytelling and honesty.

Take these two fictional dating profiles I’ve written up, based on the real thing. Which girl would you like to date (you know, if you swung that way)?:

Girl, 20, Green Eyes, Red Hair, Freckled Skin. I’m a senior at CSU studying Psychology and Journalism, graduating in May 2014. I have two dogs which I adore and I’m close with my family – my two brothers, my mom, and my dad. I still live at home, but plan to get an apartment after graduation. I love cars, the color green, and hanging out with my friends and family. I’m not big into movies but I love a good book. My friends say I have a great sense of humor. I’m looking to meet Mr. Right – a kind, caring, funny, tall guy with a good sense of humor and someone who loves animals. If that’s you, message me.

or…

I’m Going To Get Inside Your Head. Hi! I’m glad you clicked – it means you wanna see how crazy I am or you have a good sense of humor. Or both. See, I’m not really crazy – I just study Psychology. I’m a senior at CSU – I’ll graduate in 2014 with a degree in Psychology and Journalism, but I only tell people that to sound like I have a clue what I’ll be doing when I graduate. I don’t, yet. For now, it involves learning as much as I can, making great memories with my family and my friends, and laughing as much as I can. Like most fiery redheads with sparkly green eyes and cute freckles, I’m independent. Even so, I’m looking for a partner – someone kind and caring, like the Brauny Man in a field of flowers. OK, so it’s OK if you don’t have the muscles – I can’t get a tan without bursting into flames, so we’re even on that front. If you’re well-read, you’re in luck: so am I! I love to read – because it gives you amazing ideas for all sorts of things, if you get my drift. If you love animals, that’s a big plus for me, because otherwise you’ll have to REALLY pretend to enjoy my mother’s cooking. I would tell you to message me now, but that seems needy, and nobody likes a clingy profile. So uh, I’ll see you around? Push the button if you like. Or not. Whatevs. Here, I’ll even close my eyes while you decide. Go ahead. I won’t peek…

OK now, whose shining personality would you rather get to know?

Girl #1 is perfectly nice, smart, achievement oriented. She’s “factual”, up-front about what she’s looking for, and totally unabashedly missing the point. This girl comes off as cold and boring – when in reality, she’s probably neither of those things.

Girl #2 is a sassy, flirty, smart, witty girl with a great sense of humor. She’s also honest, up-front about what she’s looking for, and you want her to be your best friend, like now. For god’s sake, she even made a sex joke about reading!

Unconvinced? Fine. Here’s two descriptions for a product this time. Both are for the same product. Which one gets you to whip out your wallet?:

Fruit Yogurt. Cultured Pasteurized Grade A Low Fat Milk mixed with Sugar, Blackberries, Modified Corn Starch, Nonfat Milk, and other ingredients with a total of 170 calories, 1.5 grams of fat, served in a red and white conical plastic container with a silver foil lid.

or…

Blackberry Harvest Yogurt. A warm summer breeze chases you through the field, the sun glistening off a handful of fresh picked Blackberries. You claim a fresh patch of shade underneath a towering oak, snuggling with mother nature in your own little world for just a brief moment. The first taste – the sweet juice from the berry on your lips – and what was a brief moment becomes an afternoon well spent.

One is a commodity. One is an emotion – barely about Yogurt.

Ash Ambirge talks about this same thing to advocate for good words. Good words are only half the story which keep your nights from being lonely. The other half is building trust.

Seduce with brilliant words and then follow-up by delivering what you’ve trained them to expect. That’s how you build trust. It’s what Michael Martine calls congruency between what you say and what you do.

If you follow up with girl #2 and she’s not witty, sexy, or close with her family – you’ve fallen victim to the bait and switch, and you’re peeved. If the Yogurt tastes like Blackberry cough syrup, holy cow, something’s really wrong there. Seduction without honesty is just lust – it’s slutty and causes drama. Seduction without storytelling is just facts – it’s cold, mechanical, even while true.

Marketing a small business isn’t hard. Seduction isn’t hard, either. Honesty is hard. Building Trust is hard. Rejection is hard. Feedback is hard.

Don’t be so afraid of rejection that you fail to be honest in the first place. Don’t be so afraid of feedback that you don’t deliver on what you’ve trained your customers to expect.

There’s plenty of fish in the sea for nice people and products. Just don’t freak out when you get rejected or get feedback you weren’t expecting – that’s how you get a “reputation”, and not the fun kind.

Have a brilliant example of seduction in marketing? Let me know in the comments!

(Header Photo: Waiting For Her Lover)

This post is part of the February Word Carnival. Instead of a specific topic, we went the theme of Love. Bow chica wow wow, y’all. Lonely for some good business advice? Check out the other Carnies’ posts here (the link goes live tomorrow).