BLOG TALK RADIO -- Dec 19 -- Hello and welcome to the Real Cougar Woman Unleashed on Blog Talk Radio, I’m your co-host today Bonnie D. Graham and I would like to welcome Linda Franklin the founder and coiner of the phrase the real cougar woman.
Good morning snowy morning in New York Linda and how are you?
Linda: I’m very, very well Bonnie and it really is beginning to look a lot like Christmas here.
Bonnie: And Hanukah.
Linda: And Hanukah.
Bonnie: I want to announce a couple of housekeeping things up front. So if you’re listening and want to tell us something or make some comments about the show you go to obviously BlogTalkRadio.com/realcougarwoman and you should be able to live chat and we would love to hear your comments. And if you want to call in and talk to us live, our guest call in line and we have a couple of phone lines available. Its area code 646-595-2515.
Linda, we have a great show. We have 2 guys on the line and we’re going to take them one at a time. That’s the way I prefer my men. How about you?
Linda: Yes one at a time is certainly enough. I just want to say something, an experience I had yesterday and then we’ll get on with the show. I’m really beginning to believe in Hanukah/Christmas miracles. A dear friend of mine, a fabulous 38 year old guy had a double lung transplant yesterday and he got through the operation with flying colors. And 12 hours after he was carrying on a conversation with his ICU nurse.
I mean I think his guardian angel was this fabulous surgeon. This guy in scrubs because the work that they can do today to help people is just truly amazing. It’s a miracle, it really is. All of our prayers were answered and it just makes you a true believer in that anything can happen.
Bonnie: Wonderful, congratulations that is a great way to start the holidays.
Linda: Oh absolutely.
Bonnie: Now we have a very smart guy hanging on the line here and I can almost hear him heavy breathing, which is also the way I like my men. His name is Paul A. Falzone and he is the CEO and founder of The Right One and Together Dating. He’s been in the business for decades and he knows all about online dating, how boys meet girls, girls meet boys and what happens. We’re going to bring him on and find out his great advice for real cougar women. And Paul knows we’re smart, confident, sexy, independent and proud. We’re certainly in our prime and many of us are looking for great younger guys.
Paul how are you?
Paul: Hello ladies. I certainly do have the message, one at a time and I hope you have lots of energy.
Bonnie: Thank you my dear, I knew I was going to like you. Talk to us a little bit about your experience and then in about 15 minutes we’re going to bring on your partner in crime Mark Brooks who I’ve known for many years. Mark is Courtland Brooks and he is one of the advisors or consultants for your company.
So tell us a little bit about your foray onto online dating and what is going on. What are the trends? How can cougar women find the love of their life?
Paul: Together Dating was founded back in 1974 and I got into this business in 1989. So 20 years in the bricks and mortar face to face dating scene. And as time has gone on we felt that we wanted to get into the online space and so we took a huge step out of our comfort zone and made an acquisition of a company called Love Access which will be changed to E-Love.com in the very near future.
We are now taking the online people who are having experiences with the website and if it’s not up to their standards we’re putting them into more a high touch product where there will be much better taken care of.
So what we’re doing right now is converting a lot of the online people to the offline centers and giving them a lot more service and it proving to be ideal.
Bonnie: You’re telling us that people want to go back to face to face, high touch personal service dating and that there is a trend moving away from online Paul. Is that true?
Paul: Bonnie without any doubt whatsoever. What has happened with the emergence of the online, I’ve seen it all, I’m one of the old dogs in this business. What I have seen earlier in the decade when the online properties were popping up, the larger ones, they said it was going to put a big dent in our business. I took a deep breath and swallowed and said okay let’s see what happens.
And yes it did. In the new part of the millennium we suffered a little and it did bite into our market share. But now we decided to educate ourselves on what these guys are doing. If the rate of change outside the company is greater than the rate of change inside your company you’re in for some deep trouble. So we decided to jump in and start changing our marketing, changing our view, changing the whole way we do business in order to accommodate the online. And what the online has done for us it has made it so much more socially acceptable.
In 1989 when I got into this business if you said to somebody I’m part of a dating service or I joined a dating service you would whisper it. But now it acceptable, I’m on Match, I’m on E-Harmony.
Bonnie: Its part of common conversation. I wanted to say to you that you’re taking what went from brick and mortar to click and you’re taking click and bringing it back to brick. So you’re giving people the option of whatever they’re more comfortable with. That is interesting to me.
But we have to focus right now on what you think are the trends for cougar women and don’t forget we’re 40, 50, 60 and up. I know a cougar in her 90’s and she’s still online dating.
Linda: Bonnie I want to ask one question before we go into that. Why is the trend back? Is it because they’re not successful in online dating? And why did they leave the face to face? Was it because it was much more expensive and that online gave them access to so many more people for less cost?
Paul: First and foremost they’re leaving online because online is a lot of work and people don’t understand that. You’re an attractive cougar woman and you’ve got a profile up there that looks nice you’re going to get hit with hundreds of responses daily. If you’ve got the time to sort through them and then start a dialogue with the person you’re most attracted to and continue that dialogue and make sure they’re not an axe murderer or whatever…we do criminal background checks and divorce decrees.
So what is making people leave the click end of things is misrepresentation. There is alto of misrepresentation on the online side of things. There are no boundaries, there are no rules and I can be the Lone Ranger. You don’t know and you can say anything. But when you’re sitting in front of me I know you’re 5’ 4” and weight 112 pounds. We go much deeper into their profile. It’s much more of a high touch; we’re going to hold your hand through the process.
When you go on your first date on the click side of things who do you call? You’re going on a date after 20 years, just coming out of a divorce, we have a line all set up so that they can call us at any time and get dating advice. It’s my first day in 20 years, what do I wear? Where do I got? Tell me what to do, help me. What we do is say calm down its okay we’ll hold your hand all the way through and its going to be a great time. You’re going to meet so and so and he’s a great guy. Let me tell you a little bit about him. We hold your hand through the whole process.
Once the date is made, give us feedback. You can say wow I had a great time last night with Paul but there is something I didn’t realize about myself. He’s losing his hair. Can you send me someone with more hair? So it’s incredible because you learn about yourself and we keep honing it down until we get it right.
So the high touch is a safer way of doing things.
Linda: Are you picking out from your profile? Like I call you and say hey Paul this is what I’m looking for. Then you’re going to come back to me with 10 guys and say of all the guys that we have we think these 10 will meet your profile the best.
Paul: Exactly. What it does is it goes into our proprietary software system for matchmaking. And once you go through the whole process, your criminal background check comes back clean and you’re all set and we know your timing is right, you’re emotionally ready then it will query our database and pick out 10 or 15 of the most compatible people for you within your 30 mile radius where you live because you don’t want to drive 200 miles to meet somebody.
And we know those people; I have matchmakers working with all these people and all of a sudden here is a date for Bonnie. And oh God Paul would be a great date but I remember last time Bonnie giving me feedback that she wasn’t really attracted to guys who were balding.
Bonnie: Paul I was a member of Together. I think I joined Together many, many years ago on one of your Long Island outlets.
Paul: Oh that’s one company and I don’t mean to interrupt you but the New York side of Together is a special arrangement and had nothing to do with us.
Bonnie: I’m glad to hear that and now I like you better. But my point is at that time I was probably mid to late 40’s and they were sending me really terrible people. It wasn’t even close. They had nobody bottom line and this is what Linda and I are concerned about how do our real cougar women find the men that want us (a) and (b) who are deserving of us?
Because in those days, I’m 60 now and I was nowhere near that way back when and I was getting beyond nothing. It was a revolting set of choices and it had nothing to do with my profile. They basically looked at me and said yeah we’ll take your money and you can be a client. But under their breath they were saying we can’t find anything for her.
Paul: And they should never have taken a nickel from you and that’s why they’re no longer with us. The thing you have to look for, when you sit down with a company it’s all about marketing, the whole world is about marketing. What are you doing to bring in guys that are interested in me? A great sexy beautiful cougar woman, here I am and I want to meet somebody, I want the timing right here are my preferences. Now what are you doing to bring those people through your door? What is your database like?
Our database changes constantly. But I’ll tell you one thing; we spend millions of dollars every year bringing people through these doors that are going to be most likely to meet someone like yourself. I call women like you (13:00) women because you’re educated, you’re beautiful and you have great jobs. I’ll tell you a quick story.
In Manhattan we opened our first location about 3 years ago when we bought another company called E-Love which we just flipped the name to the online company. But E-Love was a system where you could go on a computer and see your whole database.
So there would be a gentleman sitting there and he would be 52, oh I don’t want to meet anybody that is over 40 or 45, totally unrealistic or whatever. And we would click on the computer and put a beautiful woman his age there and he would say would you meet her? Yeah I would meet her in a minute. Well she’s 55. You’ve got to be kidding me.
People don’t understand that you ladies take great care of yourselves. You’re at the gym, you’re working hard, you guys are a great catch and the younger guys are figuring that out for themselves.
Linda: Paul I want to ask you a couple of questions that I think the women probably want to know. First of all, price wise is it 10 times more to do this thing then to be on an ordinary dating site? And then we’ve seen it on TV and we’ve heard about these matchmakers that charge thousands and thousands of dollars and they hand pick and really are kind of one on one and they arrange everything for you. Do you fall in the middle between dating and those professional one to one matchmakers?
Paul: Right we’re not $25,000 if that’s what you’re asking.
Paul: That’s the high end and they get bonuses for marriages and they only take women or only men.
Linda: Or millionaires or whatever.
Paul: Right. We are a mass appeal service. Now are we the same price as online? Absolutely not Linda and I’ll tell you why. People don’t work for $5 and $10 an hour anymore and the amount of labor we put in, the amount of service you get is huge. I’ve got a full staff working with you constantly to find you the right one. So yes cost wise it’s going to be more then online but way less then, it’s not going to be $25,000.
Linda: You get what you pay for.
Paul: You absolutely do.
Linda: What are the liabilities for online dating? You really have to protect yourself because if somebody goes out and gets into trouble then they’re going to send it back to you. How do you protect yourself?
Paul: As far as the online dating goes it’s the wild, wild west, it’s a different frontier. Unless the online service is doing background checks and stepping up and verifying that things are really what they are I mean it’s totally mayhem and there is no liability. So you’re on your own. I’ve seen the largest companies and they’ve taken shots at them but they say hey our obligation is for 2 people to match and they find each other and go on from there. Don’t blame us. So they kind of wash their hands of it.
Liability wise when you come to the Right One or Together we’ve got everything, we have everything from your social security number and right down the line. And there are consequences. If you are impolite you’ll get a strong letter saying hey listen be a gentleman and if you’re not the next time you’re going to lose your membership and your investment. And it’s a sizeable investment for them to be a member and we will take it away from them if they are not behaving properly.
Bonnie: I want to bring Mark Brooks on because we have 12 minutes left and Mark I know he woke up early especially for this because I know he’s still on jet lag time. And for the rest of the show, Linda do you agree that we focus on how cougar women best present themselves, especially in online dating? We’re probably still finding millions of women Paul and Mark who are doing online dating. And the important thing is how should cougar women present themselves? Do you have tips?
Mark Brooks welcome to the Real Cougar Women, good morning.
Mark: Hi Bonnie great to be here and thanks for having me again.
Linda: Welcome Mark this is Linda. Thank you for being on the call.
Bonnie: So Mark why don’t you take this one? And then we’ll get Paul’s feedback as well. What do you suggest real cougar women do to make sure their profile is taken seriously in online dating and that they’re not going to be “victimized” where men are going to say oh hey a cougar, baby my bedroom door is open and here is the key under the mat.
We’re not looking for sleaze, we’re looking for quality. So how would you coach women to position themselves? Mark do you want to go for that?
Mark: I think first of all they need to distinguish themselves from about 95% of the profiles on internet dating sites. They need to allow their characters to be more evident. A lot of people put together a profile and say I like to go for walks on the beach and someone who likes to sit by the TV in the evening and have hot chocolate. Those things are generic and just not interesting.
The trick is to be more specific. Actually how to do this is sit down with a friend and have them ask you questions and don’t write a thing down. Have them write down the answers and just have them throw questions at you. For one thing, they’ll know you better than anybody and ask them to throw you some left field questions. That is far more interesting then if you sat down and had to agonize through a profile.
So number one come up with something more specific and interesting and have somebody else help you with it and have them jot down your answers. The other thing is because you’re speaking it will be far more colloquial and friendly and so you’ll end up with something more appealing and attracting.
Bonnie: How do men know that you’re not looking for the sleazy side of what cougars used to mean, which is what Linda Franklin has been working so hard to do for the last year and going great guns in 2009 is getting credibility for the real cougar woman. And making sure people know we are a serious force to be reckoned with. We’re not just out there like Linda likes to say with the cleavage hanging all over but that’s not our mantra. It’s not to steal a young man off the barstool and take them home by ball and chain and have our way with them. That’s not the purpose of a cougar woman.
It’s a much more evolved level of pride and decency and interesting people wanting to get to know other interesting people who happen to be younger then we are.
Linda: Mark don’t you see it is the trend. I’ve been reading it online because that’s my business and that seems to be the number topic for young guys these days is cougar relationships. The pendulum is swinging.
Mark: One of the problems with internet dating is guys in their 20’s are often lost and they don’t get as much attention as a woman in her 20’s. So they’re feeling a little ignored and have to do a bit of work, specifically with the younger generation fellows. So the nice thing there is they would love to receive, they’re looking for emails. They would love to have those first winks and contacts. And once people click through then they should have a wonderful profile, they should have.
And photographs are another area, most people put up horrendous photographs.
Linda: Absolutely especially the men, men’s pictures are awful. But therefore do you think women in their 40’s and 50’s put the age range for the men they’re looking for start at 25 rather than 35. Is that your suggestion Mark?
Mark: Absolutely, why not. I’m big on being very frank online. I think people should be very clear on what they’re looking for, the age range they’re interested in. I should say I think Plenty of Fish has a very interesting way of dealing with guys who are really interested in just a casual relationship. They’ll segment the database to only allow people who really interested in longer term relationships to talk to people who are interested in longer term relationships.
Bonnie: I saw that.
Mark: Because people say I’m interested in this but they don’t really mean it. You’ll find a fellow who will sign up and say I’m interested in a long term relationship and then he’ll search for women interested in casual relationships. So there is a little bit going on in the background there where they’ll actually not allow women who are interested in long term relationships to talk to guys who have demonstrated that they’re interested by their searching in casual relationships.
E-Harmony similarly they don’t encourage search on age. I mean you can’t search on the site anyway but they are far more restrictive in the way the match people. They don’t seem to allow big disparages in age. That is another interesting stand out and anything more then 5 to 10 years and it’s tough to get a match.
Bonnie: Why do dating sites insist on up to the minute age? This is a question I’ve had for everybody and Paul can weigh in on this also. Why is it so important that your age be next to your name right at the top of the profile? I don’t get that.
Mark: It is a shame. There are some criteria that people have in their minds that we call show stopper criteria and those are the most important items like do you smoke, do you have kids? These sorts of things come up in people’s minds first. But in reality, you meet someone at a party and you click and have chemistry and get to talking and in reality it’s a whole different ballgame. Unfortunately internet dating sites don’t quite reflect reality and they just go with what is going to come up in people’s minds first.
Bonnie: The 2 of you are gurus in the online space. Do you have plans to change that? Is it possible? Paul you have so many companies and Mark you advise the CEO Friendster, Friend Finder, Cupid and True. I know you have an MBA and 20 years of experience branding consumer goods and dating services. And you have huge experience in the industry as does Paul. Are you two the agents of change who can take away the focus on age? That is my personal concern.
Mark: I don’t think sites are going to change on that criteria. Age is right there at the top of the list. I would like to see a niche site emerge that would better cater to the needs of cougars and the toy boys essentially and ToyBoy.com is a new site out of England.
Bonnie: Right I interviewed Steve last week so we know about Toy Boy.
Linda: Its funny that you say that because I just started on my site the Cougar Men’s Club, which is a men’s club just for men and what I’m doing on there is giving them a charm school. So in order to meet some of our women if they so choose to do that, they have to complete the charm school for a month, a tele workshop in order to be qualified in order to even put their foot in the door.
That is something we’re providing now because we find that a lot of the men aren’t ready for the challenge of a real cougar woman.
Paul: That is a great thing to do Linda. You have to educate these people on how to act. As far as the age thing goes, you can change the way people think. America as a society is a very superficial society. They want to see what you look like and they want to see how old you are, it’s important. If the shoe was on the other foot and a young guy was asking you out, would you want to know he was 27 instead of 19?
Linda: But Paul I think you’re onto something because of the nature of the real cougar woman. I must get solicited 5 or 6 times a week from come and join us we will put a dating site up for you with your name and customize it, etc. The mere fact that so much is happening there in the old way, meaning to me the old way is heading down. It’s too much, there is a glut. There has to be a new paradigm and it seems like you are creating a new paradigm because the old paradigm is not working anymore.
Paul: Absolutely. There are a lot of people in a bottleneck that are very unsatisfied and unhappy.
Bonnie: Yeah a lot of lonely people. I know a lot of women who have been on online dating for years now and have had a lot of first dates and just barely stomach getting through them and the men are pushing forward and pawing and just annoying and certainly not what was expected from their online profile and from the first email or phone call and the women are just absolutely disgusted. We hear too few success stories on online dating.
But I want to remind you both that we have two minutes left and up to the part of any parting shots for cougar women. Paul what do you suggest for cougar women in terms of 2009 and finding the love of their life or at least a satisfying social relationship with a younger man? What is your advice?
Paul: I strongly suggest that you put your best foot forward out there but be professional about it. A guy is not going to try and get away with thinking you’re ready to jump in the sack with him if he understands that you’re a business person and you want respect. It’s all how you put yourself out there. Be respectful of yourself and they’ll be respectful back.
Bonnie: Okay good point. And Mark what say you?
Mark: Well we talked about the profile and I think it’s even more important to put an accurate photo that is not a glamour shot but a beautiful and accurate photograph. The best way to do that is have a friend take a whole bunch of photographs, it’s a fun way to spend an afternoon and you’ll end up with pictures and put them up on hot or not and see which ones score the best.
Bonnie: Linda any comments in closing?
Linda: I just think in 2009 there are going to be lots of opportunities for the real cougar women out there. And I agree with both of these gentlemen it’s how you present yourself. If you present yourself and think, just present yourself in the best possible way and these guys are going to love you for who you are and that is very important. They just want you to be confident and stand tall in your own shoes.
Bonnie: Linda Franklin it’s been a pleasure having you co-host again. We’re going to face the New Year with great hope and energy for Real Cougar Women. Paul A. Falzone it was a pleasure getting to know you and I think we’ll have you on again. And Mark Brooks thanks for introducing us to Paul.