Should you market yourself to find a husband?

Need help finding the perfect man for you? In this excerpt from Find a Husband after 35: Using What I Learned at Harvard Business School, author Rachel Greenwald reveals some unexpected Ivy League lessons that helped improve her dating life--and can help yours, too!

What I Learned at Harvard Business School: A product can be the greatest item in the world, but unless it has an effective advertising campaign behind it, it can fail in the marketplace. No one except the Marketing Department will ever know about the product's incredible attributes unless the message is effectively communicated to consumers. Many companies think of advertising as a necessary evil: It's expensive, time-consuming and promotional. But it's the only way for consumers to learn about the product. Consumers need to be educated and guided toward making the right selections.

Two important advertising lessons stand out:

  1. Brand consistency is absolutely key in any form of advertising: The brand image of the product must remain the same every time the consumer is exposed to it.
  2. Brand recall, a measure of how easily people remember what the brand stands for, is essential to an effective advertising campaign. If your advertising doesn't make your brand memorable, it is wasted. If I say "FedEx," you immediately think "Overnight Delivery." If I say "Rolls-Royce," you immediately think of a luxury car. The Rolls-Royce brand is and always has been consistently the "most luxurious car." Without brand consistency and high brand recall, advertising messages are ineffective.

While many forms of expensive advertising exist (television, magazine, newspaper, billboard and so on), some of the least expensive methods like direct mail, word of mouth and image advertising can deliver the most impact.

Click here to read more about how you can promote yourself and land a husband:

Why It's Important to Advertise Your Personal Brand

Now that you have created a personal brand, you need to advertise it. Consider your brand as if it were a new name: Everyone needs to know what it is. It doesn't do any good to have defined your personal brand in your mind or leave it written on a piece of paper. You need to make sure everyone around you knows it. This is not abnormal. Whether you are aware of it or not, you advertise yourself all the time. People form opinions about you every day: in casual conversations, on dates, at parties, in job interviews. You tell people what you want them to hear about yourself -- even if you do it subconsciously. Since they can only really evaluate what you show them, it's possible to take control over situations simply by being conscious of the messages you're sending.

There are two key groups of people who need to be aware of your brand: those who can fix you up on dates, and your dates themselves. What follows are tactics you should use to help these two groups describe you and perceive you in the terms of your personal brand. This will help you find and attract men who are intrigued with your unique points of differentiation.

Many women tell me they are uncomfortable promoting themselves and their unique qualities. This is mainly because most of us are raised to be modest and demure about assets. Braggarts are never well liked. But all you are really doing here is communicating what makes you different, not what makes you great. This is not bragging or acting smug, but rather helping people frame you in their minds. You need to get comfortable with the fact that advertising is okay. Still, reaching this comfort level doesn't happen overnight. The more you tell people about your new "label," the more at ease you'll be with it. Your advertising efforts will be very effective, but only if you enact them with confidence.

You are about to launch the "new you" advertising campaign. But it is important to understand that I'm not saying you should lie about yourself or use "bait and switch" tactics. Your advertising campaign is about putting your best foot forward to get the initial attention of as many men as possible. Once you start to meet and date these men, your full picture will emerge. That's what dating is for. Then, either you'll hit a home run or you won't, but at least you'll have gone up to bat.

Part I: How to Use Direct Mail Advertising to Find a Husband

Caveat Emptor: "Let the Buyer Beware!"
Through branding and advertising, you are highlighting only certain aspects of who you are. Of course, you are still the same person as before you first heard the term personal brand, and it's up to the men you date to get to know over time your many qualities, both positive and negative. Similarly, it's up to you to unravel the many complexities of a man with whom you're contemplating a lifelong commitment. Everyone tries to put their best foot forward in the beginning, so just beware of what advertising can do (distinguish you initially) and what it cannot do (substitute for really getting to know each other eventually).

How to Advertise Your Personal Brand
Don't worry, I'm not going to suggest that you produce a TV commercial or rent a billboard to advertise your personal brand. I advocate instead three other (less expensive) forms of advertising that are better suited to this process: direct mail, word of mouth and image advertising.

Direct-Mail Advertising
Direct mail is a form of advertising that delivers targeted, individually addressed communication through the mail. With this method, you can efficiently contact everyone you know in writing and thus advertise your new brand image. This is also a great opportunity to ask for fix-ups.

I want you to create and send a clever Program holiday card. First, pick any holiday except Christmas or Hanukkah. You don't want your card to compete with the dozens of others arriving in mailboxes during December. Perhaps your card can offer tidings for a Happy New Year (mailed after January 5, when people are back from vacation), Happy Bastille Day, Happy Halloween or Happy Thanksgiving. You can also select an occasion for your card that is not a holiday, such as an announcement of your latest change of address. Pick the nearest non-December holiday or event for this activity.

Part II: How to use direct mail advertising to Find a Husband

Second, pick the message you want to deliver. Your goal is to communicate, somewhat subtly, who the "new you" is. So you want to create a card that showcases your personal brand. For example, Anita, age 44, selected the brand: "Witty, Easy-to-Talk-To, Golfer." She created a "Happy Thanksgiving" card. She chose three photos of herself (two of them had to be taken specifically for this card): One showed her laughing with friends (to convey wittiness), another revealed a nice, warm smile (which made her look like someone easy to talk to), and a third depicted her on the golf course.

She took the photos to a graphic artist at a local Sir Speedy copy store. The artist cleverly arranged the photos as tee flags on a golf course and typeset HAPPY THANKSGIVING inside the card. She had 150 cards printed for her friends, family, acquaintances and coworkers. She added a typed letter folded inside the card describing what had been going on in her life over the past year, making sure to highlight some recent activities that related to her brand (such as participating in a local charity golf tournament). She added some witty lines to the letter, in keeping with her sense of humor. But she wasn't ready to mail the card yet! Most importantly, she added a personalized message on the inside of each card, spending about an hour each night for three weeks working through her list of 150 names. The personalized note asked the recipient of the card directly for fix-ups. It looked like this:

Dear Sandy,
Are you still enjoying your new job? It sounds wonderful! I have a special favor to ask you. This year, I would like to find someone wonderful to spend my life with. Do you know any single men you could introduce to me? If so, I would truly appreciate your help. Please call me at XXX-XXX-XXXX.
Happy Thanksgiving, Anita

Another woman, Joanne, sent out a Happy New Year's card showing a series of photos as she grew up -- at age 3, age 13, age 21 and her current age, 38, although she didn't actually print any of the ages on the card. In each photo she had a big smile, since part of her brand was "Vivacious." Over her current photo was the caption: THIS IS MY YEAR! And the personal message she wrote inside each card began with "This is my year to find a wonderful man?"

Part III: How to use direct mail advertising to Find a Husband

If you do not have the time or money to find a graphic artist to create your direct-mail campaign, or your creative juices aren't flowing or you do not feel comfortable putting your own photo on a card, you can take another route. Get preprinted cards at a stationery store or on the Internet. You can select an image of an object or concept suited to your brand. Online, try, or search on for other greeting card sites. You can also find more ideas on my web site:

Sending out cards in a direct-mail campaign like this accomplishes two important goals: effectively communicating all or part of your brand and prompting your friends to fix you up.
Another woman, Cynthia, had a great idea. This is how she described her direct-mail card to me: "Most people I know are so busy. I wanted to make it quick and easy for them to fix me up, if they knew anyone. So I included a reply card with a self-addressed stamped envelope inserted inside the larger envelope containing my holiday card. It looked like one of those small RSVP cards you get in wedding invitations. I created a checklist on the reply card that looked like this:

___Yes! Please call me. I know someone whom I'd really like you to meet. He is my: ___Doctor ___Neighbor ___Ex-boyfriend ___Spouse's coworker ___Dentist ___Cousin ___Instructor ___Friend ___Plumber ___Hairstylist ___Co-volunteer ___Friend's friend ___Accountant ___Realtor ____Father ____Other ___No, I'm sorry I can't think of anyone right now, but I'll keep my eyes open for you!

Not only did this reply card make it easy for someone to fix me up, but the diverse checklist demonstrated the wide net I am casting. I mailed 90 cards, and within three months I got 14 yes replies sent back to me with fix-ups. It worked -- I was thrilled!"

Is Greenwald right? Should you market yourself to find a husband? Post your opinion here


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