Friday, March 11, 2005

Why My Friends Don't Ask Me For Marketing Advice

I don't like to overgeneralize from bad experiences, so after my none-too-pleasant divorce I decided to date early and often.

Because I'm a science kind of guy, I approached the experience as a series of experiments. I decided I should take out personals ads in the local alternative newspaper to learn how different kinds of ads attract different kinds of women.

Market research.

Cause and effect was obvious; figuring out why, wasn't. Marketing must be harder than it looks.

In one ad, I said was looking for a woman who'd go dancing. This brought occupational therapists, rolfers, physical therapists, pilates instructors, massage therapists.

Finally, a woman called who worked at the U.S. Post Office.

"No kidding," I said. "Not a masseuse?"

"Actually, I was a massage therapist. I applied for this job because I was having trouble finding enough work. But how did you know?"

"Just a lucky guess."

In another, I decided I wouldn't say anything about either myself or what I was looking for. The ad read something like this:
What's Dan Quayle's favorite palindrome? "A man, a plan, a canal, Suez."
(Dan Quayle, Vice President under Bush Pere, was Mr. Potatoe Head.)

This one got me a prize, from the editor, for the best personals' ad of the week.

Responses? One.

Well, one's better than none, and we agreed to meet over coffee.

It was painful. She was the same age as my ex-wife. She was the same height as my ex-wife. She dressed like my ex-wife. She had the same coloring, background, and haircut as my ex-wife. She was born and reared in Philadelphia, so she had the same accent as my ex-wife.

At least they didn't have the same name. Her first name was my ex-wife's middle name.

I'm sure she was extremely nice. And it wasn't her fault. I paid for coffee, thanked her, and never called her again.

I had perfected targeted marketing. I could attract alternative-paper personals' editors and my ex-wife.


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