Whoever said what you learn in the classroom can’t be applied to the real world obviously never took a marketing class. The knowledge I’ve gathered has proven useful for one of the most real-world things there is: dating. That’s because both marketing and dating rely on basic human heuristics, or mental shortcuts, to help us evaluate the world and the people in it.
Curious to see if I could apply my marketing knowledge to increase my matches, I used a handful of basic techniques to improve my Tinder profile — and it’s ended up earning me a whole lot more matches (not bragging, just being honest). Consider class is in session.
Lesson 1: Use the K.I.S.S. framework in your bio.
This stands for Keep It Simple, Stupid. Basically, if you over-complicate your message, you run the risk of confusing and disengaging your audience. Think of your bio as a small segment that advertises your most relatable and unique qualities. You want to capture the attention of your fellow swipers while leaving some room for curiosity. “I peaked in kindergarten” is a great example of this. It’s simple enough for people to quickly understand while subconsciously demonstrating that you are funny and humble.
Lesson 2: The pictures you post matter.
This one seems obvious, but your potential matches are subconsciously processing your pictures while flipping through their stack. Certain types of photos, like those of you smiling, have been linked to the perception of being more attractive. In turn, people assign positive traits, like friendliness, to you.
From there, it’s about highlighting yourself. I firmly believe that as cute as you look with your friends, 100 percent of your photos should be of you and only you (except for the occasional puppy). This goes back to the old marketing rule that if you don’t want your audience to think of something (like other people), don’t remind them by showing it.
Finally, be conscious of color and contrast, two things that companies regularly use to subtly tell their consumer something. For instance, blue is associated with trustworthiness, while red can spur excitement and arousal. If you want someone to think you’re friendly and enthusiastic, snap yourself wearing bright orange. If you want to be associated with nature and the outdoors, wear green or use a green background.
Lesson 3: List your university or industry.
You’ve earned your acceptance to Tinder U, so it’s about time you add your college to your profile. Based on the mere-exposure effect, or people’s tendency to develop a preference for things that are familiar, this has the potential to attract more Likes from people in your area. Any type of connection — in this case, attending the same college — develops a liking heuristic, which means people find comfort with you based on the sharing of a trait.
And, no, having graduated is not an excuse for skipping this step. Especially in cities with large alumni populations, it still works. Alternatively, note the industry or company you are currently working for. Especially if your employer has strong brand awareness with the general public, it can drive Likes.
Lesson 4: Timing is everything.
In marketing, we rely heavily on misattribution theory, or when an event releases a physiological response, and people associate the feeling produced with an entirely different event. A very famous example is an experiment in which a guide took people over a lengthy and frightening bridge. The guide gave some participants their phone number while on the bridge itself and others their number after the crossing was complete. The majority of the people who called the guide were those given the number on the bridge. Researchers concluded that this was a result of them misattributing their feelings of nervousness on the bridge with the feeling of getting the number from the guide.
Use this to your advantage by properly timing your interactions. Send a first message or response to someone around 5:30 or 6:00 p.m. Usually, people have just finished or are finishing work or class, and they are subconsciously experiencing a sense of relief and happiness. Since most are unaware of this subtle mood change, it’s the perfect opportunity to enlist misattribution as your wingman. The person you’re talking to may just think their improved mood is solely because they received a message from you.
Lesson 5: Personalize your messages.
Starting and keeping conversations going can be hard, but letting people talk about themselves is easy. Research shows that talking about yourself stimulates the areas of the brain associated with reward. So when chatting with your new matches, skip the what’s-new-on-Netflix banter and ask pointed questions about them. Engaging in this way motivates your matches to respond in an authentic way.
In addition, effort heuristic, or our tendency to judge something based on the perceived effort that went into producing it, means that getting personal can help you to stand out. For example, if your match has a nice quote in their bio, you could begin the conversation by referencing and asking about it. This demonstrates a clear interest in their passions and allows them to express themselves with authenticity.
Lesson 6: Make yourself memorable.
Conversations require the participation of more than one party, which means you can only get so far by asking questions. That’s where the STAR (Situation, Task, Action, Result) strategy, which helps people understand more about your personality and interests through unique stories that highlight your amazing traits, comes in.
For example, when someone asks you about a memorable vacation, instead of dropping the name of a destination, tell a story about your time there. Start with the situation (you were studying abroad in London and wanted to get away for the weekend) and describe the events leading up to booking your trip (you went back and forth on places with affordable flights and cool sights to see). Use this to demonstrate parts of you that are not easily understood through text, such as spontaneity or loyalty (you ended up in Amsterdam because one friend was dying to go the tulip festival). Touch on the tasks — or events — that made this trip so awesome (you and your friends took a sketchy train ride to eat at a place you saw on Instagram, and it was quite the adventure). Action is what you did when you got lost, and how you handled the situation (thank god for friendly locals). Lastly, share the result of the story, or what you learned about yourself (even though you had no idea where you were, you ended up seeing places and meeting people you never thought you would). It sounds like a lot, but in one structured story and conversation, you’ve told someone a lot about who you are and why you are such a catch.
I can’t promise you that properly marketing yourself will make dating easy. Nothing does that. But it can make a measurable difference in both your success and enjoyment. So now, it’s time to take the Tinder version of your final exam, and try all this out. Pick up your