IF YOU’RE single – and looking to change that – the question you have to ask yourself in 2018 is: am  I a marketable commodity?

Everything is about branding these days, including dating. Think about Apple, Google, Netflix, Toyota, or even Vegemite. It’s all about target demographic, clever catchwords, slick presentation and product development. Yes, you are nothing without a comprehensive and evolving sales plan. What worked for you at 25 won’t work for you at 45 and what worked for you in the 1990s won’t work for you in 2018.

If you want to move the merchandise, you have to capture your sector of the market and, to do that, you have to work out who you are and who you appeal to. If the answer is no-one, I suggest you move countries. Remember the character in Love Actually who worked out he was just a British guy who should be in the United States if he wanted to score the action he was hankering after?

So where to start … go into any online dating site and you will find a variety of adjectives used to categorise potentials. There’s sporty, bubbly, attractive, outdoorsy, romantic, social, sincere, active, happy and much, much more. Correspondingly, there is a long list of what said singles are seeking in others – fit, active, slim, happy, curious, kind, easy going and so on.

In considering your own self-advertisement, don’t get too bogged down with truth in advertising. There is no place for that here. Have you ever seen Mr Wrong describe himself as “insecure, middle-aged guy who could afford to turn off the tv and get off the sofa is seeking a woman who enjoys cooking, cleaning and listening to complaints about ex-wife”? Dating ads and real estate ads have a lot in common, really.

That said, if you feel unable to indulge in the sort of ruthlessness involved in acquiring a date or a mate in our wow-look-at-this-shiny-new-thing society and economy, then enlist help.

While you may see yourself as a slightly overweight drama queen who can’t balance a cheque book but does a mean macaroni cheese, your best friend may be able to translate this into voluptuous, sensitive Earth mother and gourmet cook. Ditto the man who has recently been bankrupted by a divorce settlement and finds himself thrown back into the field with a ute, a dog, and a fold-out bed may be a flexible, non-materialistic guy who enjoys sunsets, walks in the park and long drives…

As for myself, a commitment phobe with an anxious rescue dog, two mortgages, a bad back and a penchant for choosy emotionally damaged, complex men,  I believe I could best be described thus: “financially independent, sexy, single woman who loves animals, seeks thoughtful, sensitive guy for gentle walks and couch surfing”.

Now you’re thinking right?

Helen Hawkes

Helen Hawkes is a journalist who writes compelling print and digital content across business and finance, health and lifestyle, real estate and interiors. Her content clients have ranged from American Express and the University of NSW to Maserati and 9Honey. She is fluent in cross-platform storytelling, brand tone of voice, content strategy and stakeholder management.