Wanted: Online Dating Guru for Lavalife

By Erin Joyce

Attention online dating hepcats: Are you single, digitally compliant and looking for a spokesperson gig?

If so, Lavalife, the online dating service, is looking for you.

The Toronto company’s online division is in the hunt for a spokesperson, preferably based in the New York area, and its weapon is what it calls the Lavalife Clickeratti Talent Search.

Experience in marketing and media would be helpful too. After all, the search for an online dating guru is part of a marketing campaign to help the company cut through in an increasingly crowded online personals marketplace.

Mitchell Solway, vice president of marketing for Lavalife, said the company is looking to pluck someone from its user base to act as a media spokesperson. The preference is for a candidate based in the New York City area, which fits in with the company’s strategy of increasing its presence in the New York advertising market.

The Clickeratti will also act as a kind of dating guru who offers tips to newcomers about the “do’s and don’ts” of online dating, in addition to acting as a spokesperson.

With fee-based dating sites mushrooming by the day, and players such as Match.com and Nerve.com setting new records for paid user sign-ups, Lavalife is sharpening its elbows for a piece of the action.

“The whole category is on fire,” Solway said. “The category is growing so fast, and I think there’s room for a few key players” and Lavalife wants to be among them.

The company will have to contend with Match.com, which is emerging as one of the top players in the space. The company, a division of USA Interactive claims 2.9 million registered users and a paid base of 527,000 users who have forked over fees from $25 for a monthly subscription to $99.95 for 12 months.

During the first quarter of this year, Match.com said it took in $25.2 million in revenue, a 196 percent increase over the $8.5 million it took in during the same time a year ago.

The privately-held Lavalife wouldn’t provide information on how many paying customers use the site, but it claims about 2.5 million unique visitors each month. Its phone-based dating service counts about 1.4 million calls each day for members who use the service to listen to recorded profiles for free. If they use the system to communicate (without having to hand over personal phone numbers), the fees kick in.

Lavalife charges nothing for users to post their vitals. But if singletons want to initiate contact, the fees range from $9.95 for 40 “credits” to $49.95 for 200 credits.

If a woman sees someone she likes on the site and wants to send e-mail or initiate contact, her account would be docked a few credits, for example. If she’s interested in launching an instant messaging session, the charges go up, depending on whether she chooses a 20 minute or 60 minute IM session.

In the last 10 days alone, 80,000 members have signed up for the free posting service, Solway said. It counted about 420,000 active members using the site in the past month. Getting them to switch to paying customers is undoubtedly the focus of the Talent Search.

Prospective candidates have to submit an application including a 10-step digital dating rulebook that shows the extent of their online dating savvy and creativity. Oh, and don’t forget to send a picture, e-mail address, mailing address, age and a one or two paragraph professional bio.

Solway said the salary for the Clickeratti hasn’t been worked out yet; but he cautions that prospective candidates need to look at the gig as a sideline and not their main source of income. Submissions can go to: [email protected] until the end of May.

Still, if boosting one’s profile among the single-and-looking “digiterati” is the goal, the hope is to attract those hopefuls and, by extension, more candidates. The Clickeratti spokesperson will be featured in media interviews and gets a lifetime complimentary membership to Lavalife.

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