Sales Lead Generation Advice from Online Dating

Not contented to be known for some of the silliest, (and most addicting) personality tests on the Internet, the online dating site, , has started using their user data for some (slightly) more serious research.

Their latest findings prove interesting not only for those looking for love on the Internet, but also for small business owners who would like potential customers to seek them out.

Surprising qualities can inspire contactTheir latest findings prove interesting not only for those looking for love on the Internet, but also for small business owners who would like potential customers to seek them out.

OkCupid’s advice basically comes down to this:  The best way to get the people who will really love you to show themselves is to make sure you are turning other people off.

At first, this advice may seem counter intuitive – wouldn’t it be better to be generally well-liked?  The data says no.  Turns out, the very qualities that send some people screaming inspire others to make contact.

For on-line daters this means that highlighting a tattoo or voluptuous figure leads to more messages from potential suitors.  For sales lead generation, the lesson is not so different:

Naomi Dunford of Itty Biz is making a career out of having the biggest potty mouth in Internet marketing.

Havi Brooks helps people get unstuckified by dressing up in pirate costumes.  Her business partner is a rubber duck named Selma.

I am a nonprofit consultant with several postsadvertising how little experience I have with traditional nonprofit fundraising.

The OkCupid concept works off-line as well:

  • Slow Food restaurants emphasize the wait time to eat in their restaurants.
  • Quotations on roadsigns outside local churches serve as subtle messages about who will feel comfortable inside (and who will not).
  • High-end hotels charge twice as much as mid-range properties – with no free breakfast.

Could the key to business success be residing in a shadow?  Here's one way find out:  

Think about the aspect of your business that you most often try to hide.  Maybe you are open fewer hours than your competitors, or closed on Sundays.  Maybe your products are more expensive, or they take a long time to make.  Now, consider why you do business that way.  What advantages does this way of working bring to the right customer?  Once you know that, the final step is to stop thinking of this aspect of your business as a disadvantage to be hidden but rather as a beacon that you use to attract the customers with whom you most want to work.

Ready to give it a try?  We’d love to have your shadow-lurking solutions brought to light – starting in the comments!

When she’s not encouraging small business owners to offend people, Maureen Carruthers helps nonprofits find their raving fans at Low Hanging Fruit Communications. You're invited to read more from Maureen Carruthers on Handshake 2.0.

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  1. Bob Rowell says:

    My most *unmarketable* aspect is that I am dreadfully inept at self-promotion. I ADORE group presentations, but BREAK out in SWEAT making cold calls or navigating a room.

  2. Hi Bob,

    Thanks for providing such a great example. Sonia Simone, the founder of and the senior editor of started from a very similar place. Doing the sorts of marketing and selling activities that everyone told her were necessary to be successful squicked her out, so she worked out alternatives–and now makes a living teaching marketing to people who hate marketing.

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