OPW INTERVIEW -- Oct 23, 2007 -- I last interviewed Duane in February of 2007, and before that in June of 2005. I asked Duane about PerfectMatch.com's targeting, positioning, new TV placements, his plans for the future and what he thinks about Match.com launching a high-end matchmaking product. Here's my latest interview with Duane Dahl, CEO and Founder of PerfectMatch.com. - Mark Brooks
How is Perfectmatch different from and better than eHarmony?
We pride ourselves in providing the best results to our members. We’ve worked hard to develop and refine our matching process, the Duet Total Compatibility System (Duet®), which matches members not only on similarity factors, but also on complementary factors as well. I think a significant difference in our approach is we work to be inclusive and transparent in the process, which members (generally 30+ in age) really appreciate. eHarmony has struggled a bit with the holier than thou approach – and I imagine that is driving the changes we see at eHarmony as they work to become more mainstream. As part of this process, we lay the member’s information over the research and intelligence to ultimately present what should be excellent matches for them. We believe our matching process is superior to eHarmony’s – and I think that has been proven out by the success we’ve had – and the conversion of eHarmony members to Perfectmatch.
Another very important key element which our members appreciate is the supportive environment we provide. This goes beyond matching – for us it really is about being the best approach. It’s a very difficult and stressful process for many – putting yourself out there and trying to pursue a relationship is difficult. So, we work very closely with Dr. Pepper Schwartz (Pepper) to help our members put their best foot forward, to enable them to be in a position to have success. This is accomplished, in part, through our profile review system, and tips and information provided by Pepper.
Lastly, our team strives to create opportunities for members so they can extend the experience through offline events and opportunities. This is a significant component to many of the entertainment-focused promotions we’ve had over the last few years.
Do you allow people to search on the site?
Absolutely. This is another of our unique differentiators. We view our members as adults who’re actively seeking long-term relationships. Although we’ve done an excellent job in creating a matching system for them, we also want our members to have the opportunity and freedom to seek out other individuals.
One of the really distinctive tools we give our members, in addition to traditional searches, is the ability to search on personality types directly linked to Duet®. Members have told us, via feedback, it’s very exciting for those who found themselves dating certain types to go outside the box and search for people who possess a different personality type than what they’ve traditionally been drawn to.
Again, I think it all just creatively weaves into our approach of putting our members in the best possible position for success.
Has Perfectmatch been integrated into any entertainment vehicles lately, and what else do you have in the works?
We just finished the prime-time one hour airing of “Science of Love” with NBC. It aired on June 25th and featured Perfectmatch, Duet® and, of course, Pepper. On the plus side it was exciting because it was an opportunity for us to get involved on the ground floor in the development of a show and fully integrate the brand, our matching system and Pepper. We’re continuing to work with a couple of production companies to secure an opportunity to fully leverage and merge the internet with television programming.
Also, on September 21st, a film called “Good Luck Chuck”, starring Jessica Alba and Dane Cook, will hit the theaters. We have integration and placements in the film. It, looks like a hit – very funny film and nice placements for us – kudos to Lionsgate.
Any plans for introducing instant messaging, anonymous calling, or any other communications?
We’ve tested instant messaging off-and-on over the past three years. Our members, who skew from early 30’s through 40’s, and even a growing segment of the 50+, just haven’t embraced instant messaging. They much prefer the more traditional email approach.
We are looking at numerous solutions in the area of communications. Certainly one of the related challenges all of us face in 2007 and beyond involves deliverability. We’re working to find new ways to engage our consumers, to extend their experiences and visit times on the site. We expect to have an announcement shortly on furthering the perfectmatch experience.
What are your thoughts on Match.com’s new high-end matchmaking service, and do you have any plans to offer something similar?
It’s a natural step for the space. We think it’s a terrific idea and have been looking at it since the Kiss.com days. I would expect as we get into Q4/Q1, you’ll see us introducing something of a premium nature. We’d want to ensure that whatever premium service we offer our members, embodies our high touch approach and leverages Pepper as the leading expert in the space.
Who is Perfectmatch’s ideal client these days?
As we continue to see the site grow and the relationship/dating space evolve, we’re finding we continue to have success with the 35-year-old professional. This segment of the market continues to be a very important part, and driver of, the business. We’re having a tremendous amount of success with acquiring members who are 45+. And that’s natural when you step back, look at the evolution of the Internet, and then combine both with our messaging and approach. I think the 45-50+ member finds our message of relationship versus a casual approach to be one they can embrace. And I think it’s important to them to be in a community of like-minded people versus a community of 20-25 million people with assorted goals and desires. It’s all sorting out I think…social networking has played an important role in developing members. It used to be we depended heavily on members graduating up from Match.com, and those who hadn’t had success or were frustrated with eHarmony. Now, as the online community is introduced to consumers much earlier in life than even just five years ago, we see kids graduating from MySpace to the very casual dating and down market hook-up sites, then up to Match.com and finally to Perfectmatch and eHarmony.