My First Marketing Plan Was To Get A Date With My High School Crush

Visiting the Baseball Hall of Fame yesterday on the anniversary of Jackie Robinson breaking the color barrier got me thinking about how baseball has affected my life.  Obviously, it wasn’t as impactful as Jackie Robinson, but sports has been at the core of my dating world since my high school crush.  Even though I don’t actually care for baseball  that much, talking about the Cubs and Cardinals has always been a great conversation starter.  Going to the bar or to Wrigley Field to watch Cubs games is a sure-fire way to meet someone.  And whenever there is someone I’m interested in, I invite them to go to a game with me, always in good seats and sometimes for a photo on the field before the game.  Whatever it takes to make the sale.

In high school, I spent a lot of my time at baseball games after zeroing in on a the guy who I wanted to be my first boyfriend.  When I look back at how that all went down, I realized that I created a dating marketing plan without even knowing it.  In advertising, they say the consumer needs to see your message at least nine times before making a purchase.  This was quite a challenge back in the ‘90s before the internet and social media, and we didn’t go to the same high school, so finding nine opportunities to pitch myself to this guy wasn’t easy.

Let’s run down my “First Boyfriend Marketing Plan”:

#1 –  While being at different schools seemed like a negative at first, it was actually a positive because I wasn’t a girl he had known his whole life.  There’s something about being the “new girl”.  In addition to loving baseball, he also played basketball, so I went to one of his games and then hung out after the game where I was able to flash a quick, awkward smile when he walked by.  Man, it was awkward.  In marketing terms, I compare this to traditional advertising, like a billboard because you see it quickly and there isn’t much information.

#2 – In order to get any real face time with him, I needed to be with people who he would stop to talk with.  The cheerleaders.  One of my friends was on the squad, so the next game I was actually able to shyly say “hi” from within this circle of girls. In marketing terms, this is like a radio commercial where he might not be paying attention only to me, but at least I was in the mix of the competition.  I made sure my hair was just perfect … 90s perfect!

Hitz 16 years old

#3 – Because of the sporadic basketball schedule, I couldn’t rely only on games to make my pitch, so my friends who went to the same school started spreading the message whenever they could to keep me in the conversation.  In marketing terms, this is advertising via testimonials, like Amazon and Yelp have done so successfully. It takes some of the risk out of the sale when you know other people like something.

#4 – With all of this groundwork down, we chatted awkwardly after the next basketball for a couple of minutes.  In marketing terms, this is similar to a TV commercial as everything I said was very rehearsed and targeted in an effort to tell him things that he would find interesting, which was mostly how much I loved sports.

#5 – The next encounter was at one of his school functions, which was pretty informal, but crashing this event was a huge opportunity for me.  When that first slow song came on (“Open Arms” by Journey), it seemed effortless when we started dancing because of the interactions we had leading up to that moment.  I was excited to have his attention for at least four minutes, which half of that time was spent freaking out internally, so I was grateful for two more slow songs coming on after that (by REO Speedwagon and Chicago if I remember correctly). In marketing terms, this would be a sales meeting to really tell your story, which is what I did.

 #6 – Up next, the telephone.  And I mean a real telephone.  I looked up his home number in the telephone book and after some more serious freaking out, I called his house, where of course his Mom answered. In marketing terms, this is  telemarketing at its best.

#7 – After a few phone conversations, I asked him to my school vice versa dance (aka Sadie Hawkins).  In marketing terms, I made him an offer … to spend time with me.

#8 – Going to the dance was my final sales pitch, and while I hoped I could win him over on my own, we doubled with two of my best friends.  My guy friend is quite possibly the funniest person I know still to this day, so I knew bringing him along would guarantee that we would all have fun.  In marketing terms, this is considered a free trial.  If he didn’t have a good time, there were no obligations to hang out again.  In fact, a girl at his school asked him to his vice versa dance that next week, so I even had to go head-to-head with a competitor.  A younger competitor.  And a blonde.

#9 – It was the longest week of my life, but I couldn’t just sit back and wait.  I made a call a few days later before he went to his dance with another girl to stay top of mind and make plans to hang out again.  Man, it would’ve been so much easier if texting was around back then.  In marketing terms, this is the follow up where companies usually survey the consumer to make adjustments or offer a deal for the next time.

It was after that dance that we started dating, and stayed together for over two years.  I think going through this sales process actually helped us realize that we would be a good match instead of rushing into a first date.  It was a slow process, just like watching baseball games!  Have you subconsciously created a marketing plan to get a date?

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