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The Cyrano to your online dating profile

Kate Houston of TrySweetTalk.com

TEXT OF STORY

JEREMY HOBSON: If you want to market your product or service, typically you hire an ad writer. But what if you want to market yourself on, say, a dating website? Well, it turns out you can hire someone to write that kind of ad for you too.

Marketplace's Sean Cole has our story.


Sean Cole: My friend Kathleen Goldhar has been Internet dating for a few years now. She's a journalist living in Toronto and her dating profile starts like this:

Kathleen Goldhar: I am looking for someone who has a cynical bone in their body, but still loves the act of living. I'd like to meet somebody who sees past the BS but in a good way and has a natural...

Kathleen's had some success online, but right now she's still single. So I had her read her profile to Kate Houston, a marketing expert in Vancouver, who hires herself out as a kind of dating site Cyrano de Bergerac. Here's part of what she said to Kathleen.

Kate Houston: Your first paragraph is all about what you want. And from an advertising point of view, you're not telling me why I should be attracted to you.

The operative phrase here being "from an advertising point of view." Houston's been in traditional advertising for about 20 years. And about a year and a half ago, she decided to apply her skills to the online dating world.

Houston: 'Cause I was online dating. And I kept, in my mind, correcting everybody and thinking, "Why didn't he just put that sentence up there?"

And thus, a business was born: TrySweetTalk.com. For $20, she'll give you tips on transforming your profile. For $80, she'll just write the thing for you, as she has for more than 100 clients so far.

Houston: You need to do more than just write your profile. You have to market yourself in your profile.

Cole: What's the difference?

Houston: The difference is that you know what to pick, where to put it. You know your market. You know your environment.

Just like if you were selling toothpaste. In fact, Houston says writing profiles isn't too different from her other work.

Houston: I'm always considering the competition. I'm always writing in a way that will attract the end user.

And that tries to target the right demographic. Which is a lesson that my buddy Kathleen needed to hear.

Goldhar: You know I sometimes worry do I scare guys off 'cause I sound too smart? Do I sound too hard-ass?

Houston: Actually may I address something there?

Goldhar: Sure.

Houston: That's actually a really good marketing technique. It's important to turn some people off.

In order to turn the right people on. Kathleen took Houston's advice. And it's helped -- last week she successfully marketed herself to a very cute graphic designer.

In Toronto, I'm Sean Cole for Marketplace.

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