Marketing as an Afterthought

Stephen Yagielowicz
"I built 10 new sites today, all in different niches, and now I need some link trades."

Statements such as this are (or were) commonplace in adult webmaster land, but they belie the weaknesses inherent in mass-produced cookie cutter websites, where marketing is simply an afterthought.

In order to be profitable in today's ultra-competitive marketplace, operators must view marketing as more than just advertising or sales — but as a fundamental ingredient to the development and presentation of any product or service — including those within the adult entertainment industry.

For example, how many webmasters have built and opened websites with no more "market research" than reading a message board thread about the latest "hot niche" for affiliates to promote — whatever it is?

For those webmasters wondering why their sales are not as good as they had hoped, one reason is that they do not understand their audience, its needs, or their own products as well as they think they do. They also may not understand that marketing encompasses all parts of a website, from its content offerings to its delivery formats, price points and payment policies, navigational structure and the ease with which users locate and view their desired material, along with the depth and freshness of that material.

Consider a real world example involving two sharply contrasting retail outlets that both offer the same products at the same prices, but one has attentive and polite staffing and a clean, orderly shop in a good neighborhood. The other has uninterested clerks that spend their time chatting among themselves and ignoring the few customers in their dirty storefront on the wrong side of town.

Where would you rather shop?

Your website and the user experience it provides are no different from that example: provide a safe and comfortable experience for your users and convince them that joining is the right thing to do. It is all a part of marketing — from the salesperson's smile to the brightly lit store containing everything you need — the question is, how do you transfer this to the digital realm?

Ponder all of this in context of the current online adult space, using VOD and Tube sites as examples. The former offers advantages over subscription-based offers, in that the customer only pays for what he wants, not for all the extra content that he was not interested in. This worked all fine and dandy; and for some affiliates, promoting VOD sites was an answer to sagging subscription site sales. Enter the Tube sites, offering the same "watch a little or watch it all" experience as the VOD sites, except these upstarts are doing it free. Compound this situation with the legacy systems used by some VOD sites and how they stack up in comparison to today's innovative Tube sites and you may find that the free product is sometimes superior to its premium priced competition.

Might better marketing, including more leading-edge offerings, allow established VOD sites to overcome the allure of free? That's a tough question with tough answers — but the future success of "pay for what you want" sites, and all premium content offers, hangs in the balance — and that question will not be answered as an afterthought.