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FEATURE

A Place for Print

A Place for Print

January 27, 2004
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" As an experienced marketer, I realized that what was now occurring before my eyes was in need of study. What would cause a normally conservative (at least with her pocketbook) girl to buy porn? Especially when she knows she can get it for free? Sure, the magazine was of very high quality, with stunning photography, great layouts, and interesting editorial – but that wasn’t enough to make her want to purchase it. "

So what do a couple of pornographers do for entertainment after a hard day’s work? Visit the local 24-hour adult book and video store, of course! While your corner smut shop could hardly be considered the highest hall of academia, there are lessons to be learned there – if you know where to look…

They say that after Guttenberg published The Bible, the earliest printing presses went straight to publishing porn; and they’ve been at it ever since... While the advent of online pornography has taken a definite toll on the adult magazine trade, the variety of titles and genres available in today’s “girly mags” is still amazing.

Most noticeable to me personally is the huge change in the explicitness of the content displayed in some of these current publications: 25 years ago, when I was a hormone-crazed 15-year-old, sneaking a peek inside the ‘raunchiest’ rag of the day (according to popular, mainstream belief) – Hustler – revealed shocking hardcore action that by today’s standards might be more appropriate for display on a daytime soap opera, or a late night softcore sensation on Cinemax.

As we thumbed through a large selection of magazines at this particular shop, everything from explicit double and triple penetrations, to facial cumshots and watersports was on display – a far cry from the offerings of yesteryear. Of particular interest to us, magazines targeting the amateur market had also gone a few steps further than when last we looked, adding many hardcore photos to what historically had been the realm of poorly published Polaroid’s of the girl next door standing shyly in front of the camera.

“Things certainly have changed…” I said to myself, as I noticed a few very slick, high-end publications on the magazine rack. Quality photography, slick, glossy paper, and great editorial combining to deliver a top shelf product. As I started to flip through these higher-quality magazines, I noticed that my lovely wife Dawn had grown uncharacteristically quiet. While moments ago she was excitedly roaming the aisles like a kid in a candy store; her attention was now fixed on a magazine that she was carefully studying, slowly and deliberately turning one page after another.

Then something amazing happened: Dawn announced “I want this!” While I won’t comment on how she often fits the stereotype of her ancestry, suffice it to say that spending money – especially on unnecessary items for herself – is a very rare occurrence, and one which made me most curious. My curiosity turned to disbelief when I noticed the $20 price point on the issue of “Marquis” she was holding.

Professionally and personally, Dawn has visited literally thousands of adult sites, without ever considering spending even $1.95 for a three day trial (during which time we could use our high-speed connection and ‘Vampire’ software to download an entire member’s area – making the trial a great value), simply because that would be “A waste of money!” But here she was willing to drop $20 on a single magazine!

As an experienced marketer, I realized that what was now occurring before my eyes was in need of study. What would cause a normally conservative (at least with her pocketbook) girl to buy porn? Especially when she knows she can get it for free? Sure, the magazine was of very high quality, with stunning photography, great layouts, and interesting editorial – but that wasn’t enough to make her want to purchase it.

Could it be the content? Sure, the content hit her nail straight on the head, but it had to be more than that: Dawn knows where to find the content she enjoys online – all she has to do is go to Wasteland.com, and if she asked for one, I’m sure our friend Colin would hook her up with a free account. Wasteland is known for offering exceptional quality, and the finest fetish and BDSM material online, and in huge amounts – but that isn’t enough to make her join; so what could a single magazine deliver that a high-end, content-packed Web site couldn’t?

A perception of value because the product was tangible. The fact that she could recline comfortably on our big leather couch and casually study the pages of her new magazine made the difference. While we both own laptop computers, and frequently work with them ‘on our laps’ sitting on said leather couch, this is not the same as having a book that you can hold in your hands. Technology may be great, but it isn’t enough to make some folks justify a positive purchase decision. “Getting something for my money” is... While Dawn isn’t the typical ‘girl next door’ – anyone attempting to sell porn to women should consider this carefully, and anyone trying to sell porn, period, should take it into account.

Dawn noticed me studying her, and she knew what I was thinking: “We should do something with print!” Unrealistic? Hardly – but that’s a story for another day. As a side note, there were a few other lessons we learned at the porn shop last night, lessons which are still being digested. If you have a similar retail outlet in your area, check it out, and see how what they’re doing can be translated into improving what you’re doing. Stay flexible! ~ Stephen


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