“I don’t ask my employees to be single for the sake of the company…”

With more than 30 million subscribers, Meetic is Europe’s biggest dating service. So how did CEO Alexandre Lubot get to be a matchmaker extraordinaire?

As CEO of Europe’s biggest online dating company, you could say that Alexandre Lubot is a man on a romantic mission. Yet, despite the ever-increasing complexities of modern love lives – not least for Meetic’s 30 million subscribers – the Paris-based former Procter & Gamble exec is all about keeping things simple…

Don’t complicate things “At P&G, they have a philosophy that anything can be explained in a single page of text. When you first join the company, they give you a subject and you have to get all the necessary details down on one side of paper. It’s like an initiation, and you might have to go back and forth to your manager 30 times to get it right. I felt stupid when I was doing it, but it’s a powerful technique that sharpens your mind.”

Don’t forget the details “I remember a case at P&G, when a skilled team developed a new bottle for a soap product. It was beautiful and tested well – it really was fantastic. The only problem was, when we actually took it to the stores, it didn’t fit onto the supermarket shelves. Again, this demonstrates the supreme value of execution.”

Know your customers “In a former role, we had an issue with a product that wasn’t selling. No one could understand it, as it we’d taken a huge surface-cleaner brand and made a version that was a fabric cleaner. It should have worked. I decided to go meet consumers and go shopping with them. What I learned was huge: they had seen our product on the supermarket shelf, but they had proactively ignored it because they thought it had been put in the wrong place and didn’t belong there. This gave me ammunition to write a presentation that eventually recommended the discontinuation of the product.”

Be ready to try new things “The previous example doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t take risks. Yes, we run dating websites, but a year and a half ago, we launched singles events across Europe – nights where you can meet people and know that everyone there is single. It takes the pressure off dating. There was reluctance in some parts of the company to go for it at first (it was seen as contradictory to online dating), but they are phenomenally successful in over 130 cities across Europe now and a major part of what we do.”

Live your brand “The only way you can truly know how your product or service performs is to live it. This doesn’t mean I’m asking my employees to remain single for the sake of the company, but it does mean that they might have to stay in touch with the consumers by attending events. I have gone along to these evenings myself and it was fascinating – I learned so much. I have a professional excuse to turn up, even though I am happily settled in my personal life.”

Have a strong identity “When you spend a lot of money on advertising, your customers have to recognise who you are straight away. People don’t expect to spend time working out if it’s you or not. I remember being in a meeting to evaluate all our different marketing elements prior to the start of a campaign – radio, online, TV, etc. Individually, they were all fantastic, but when you put them together, you wouldn’t know they were for the same company.”

Remain grounded “Since I joined Meetic, I have witnessed so much change, in every area from technology to regulations. And yet, despite all this evolution, the key thing I’ve learned is that, as long as you are still in business, you have never won or lost. You are either winning or losing. The phrasing says it all. Things are dynamic, so don’t give up.”

Pick your battles “In a former job, my management had to make an investment decision to either keep up with product innovation or improve our production line. We made the decision to put innovation on hold for a year, despite knowing we would get beaten up by the competition in the meantime. However, when we came back a year later, we overtook the competition. It’s like in Formula One when you stop to change tyres – you know you’re going to get lapped, but you return stronger and faster.”

This interview was carried out by SIM7’s Simeon de la Torre and first appeared in easyJet Traveller magazine. To read the latest issue (and the entire back catalogue of magazines), visit: http://www.ink-live.com/emagazines/easyjet-inflight