Business Tips to Learn From Patti Stanger

How Patti Stanger built her business through powerful branding

Daniel Maguire, Patti Stanger, and Vinny Ventiera
•••   Dia Dipasupil / Staff / Getty Images

How does a 50-year-old woman, who has never been married herself, become so successful in the matchmaking business that clients pay $25,000 to $50,000 for her services? Why do the wealthy and sometimes famous choose her services over other agencies when she is infamous for shredding the egos of even the hardest core singles (men, in particular)?

Simple: Patti Stanger, founder and CEO of the Millionaire's Club, knows business.

Regardless of whether you value relationship advice from single Patti Stanger, her business sense makes sense and we can learn a lot from her. She may epitomize the saying "those who can do; those who can't teach," but she grew her business in 10 years from a home office to a company employing more than 45 employees and now sells Millionaire's Club franchises (starting at $100,000) overseas. While she has not married a millionaire; her business skills have turned her into one herself.

Stanger adopted sound principles when she started and grew her business. She:

  • Chose something she is passionate and knowledgeable about;
  • Serves an existing marketing in a niche way, adding new twists on old standards;
  • Lived within her "means" during the formative stages of her business;
  • Does not underestimate the power of word of mouth referrals; and
  • Understands the power of branding and in separating yourself from the competition.

It is the last principle that Stanger excels at, and, would likely be nothing more than a struggling business woman without.

She Chose Her Passion as Profession

Although Stanger (who was once engaged, but broke it off over a disagreement about having children) is single, she loves the matchmaking business and was willing to put heart and soul and many long hours into building her business. She loves what she does and her enthusiasm for "love" (at least as she understands it) shines through.

Matchmaking runs in Stanger's family; her grandmother and mother were matchmakers; she already had a strong knowledge base about the industry upon which to build a business. Stanger once joked on an episode of her hit television show, "Millionaire Matchmaker" that she does what her mother did, only her mother accepted chickens for payment and she takes cash.

She Lived Within Her Means

Patti Stanger started the Millionaire's Club while she was still employed. She worked from home and did not take on a lot of debt. She cautions other entrepreneurs to "have a healthy savings account before they quit their day job."

She Understood the Power of Word-of-Mouth Referrals

For the first three years after launching her business, Stanger worked nights and weekends to establish the Millionaire's Club before quitting her job and diving in with both feet.

In the beginning, her budding business did not produce enough income for a large advertising budget so she worked hard to keep clients happy and relied heavily on word-of-mouth referrals.

During the early 2000s' online dating and matchmaking services had taken a strong hold, yet by "having a love affair" with her customers, she managed to find a niche, service it well, and establish her reputation solidly - without a formal advertising budget.

Patti Stanger - The Brand

Patti credits her mother and grandmother with showing her "the ropes," but she took the family skills for matchmaking to a new high by incorporating modern tools into her trade including the use of the media, videos, and the Internet. Stanger's mother has joked she taught her daughter "everything she knows but the cuss words."

If I had to sum up the 'brand' Patti Stanger in two words, I would say: brash and shallow. This may sound negative, but this combination has worked well for Stanger, who does not practice what she preaches and is quick to assert that all men pick women based on their looks above all other qualities.

On camera, she routinely cusses out her staff, her clients, would-be suitors who come in for interviews, and has even cut off her own mother on her show, while quipping to her father the best "oral" she ever had was with actor Randy Quaid (she was 23 years old at the time.)

She has skillfully created an artificial demand for her services by accepting clients, then kicking them out of her club when they break a "rule" or offend her. To become a client is not as easy as being wealthy and able to afford her fees ($25,000 to $50,000); Stanger limits her clients to ten per year.

Even after being accepted, to stay a client becomes risky if you do not follow "club rules" (which sometimes simply means not upsetting Stanger.) This game-like risk has separated her from her competition, branding her in yet another unique way.

Several former guests from season four have complained publicly about being treated badly by Stanger, who denied any wrongdoing (blaming any misrepresentation of her clients on the show's editors.) Despite rumors, Bravo was terminating its agreement with Stanger, in 2011 she inked another two-year deal. In season five, she has reinvented the show by adding "celebrity advisers" for her clients (Tori Spelling and Jenny McCarthy will be offering love advice to Stanger's clients.)

In 2010, Patti Stanger was named on the "10 Best Branded Women on Twitter." Stanger also uses Linked-In, Facebook, blogs, and a fan website to stay in touch with her following.

Business Tips From Patti Stanger

To grow your business, Stanger advises entrepreneurs to "extend their brand," something she has done herself. She launched an online clothing line in 2012 and offers high-end (and high-priced) peripheral services through her website including plastic surgeons, counseling, makeover services, chefs, and a host of other services to improve your appearance and enhance your appeal to the opposite sex. In addition to founding the Millionaire's Club, Stanger has written a book, produced a dating advice video, makes personal appearances, and exploits social networking.

Stanger's last bit of advice is something she does more by way of her colorful personality and sexist slant on love than by her matchmaking skills: separate yourself from the competition.