Heritage Marketing

Kelly Shibari

The adult industry attracts the “newer, better, sexier, cooler” boundary breaking companies and websites.

In the content world, that concept is always prevalent — newer, younger, brighter-shining ingenues move to The Valley and push the established performers out in a continuous loop that almost always guarantees that 90 percent of all performers have an industry lifespan of no more than a couple of years.

In an industry that focuses on the younger, 18-25 demographic, it’s always important to remember that everyone gets older, but libido, sexuality and sensuality doesn’t stop at 25; not by any means!

On the other end of the spectrum are the veterans — those who have been in the industry for over five years (gasp!) — and the legends, who have been in the industry for over 10 years. Their particular draw is the appeal of guaranteed performance, an established track record of professionalism, and a history of a devoted fan base.

What has this got to do with marketing, and how can this be applied to both performers as well as websites, production entities, novelty companies and everyone in between?

In a phrase — heritage marketing.

Heritage marketing is the development of not talking about how new or forwardthinking you are; rather, it’s the concept of setting yourself apart from your competition by promoting your history as a reliable, trusted brand (and yes, performers, you’re a brand as well). It establishes you / your company as one that can deliver a quality product that is reliable and isn’t a fly-by-night operation, with a history of happy customers / fans / producers / co-stars.

Consumers who know what they want because of years of self-exploration oftentimes prefer a product made by a reputable company that they trust. The same goes for retail — even if it might be a new product, they trust the store they’ve been going to for years. Coca-Cola tried this and failed famously with their “New Coke” campaign. No one wanted a new version of something they loved and trusted.

Heritage is something that new companies want but can’t have right away — they want that loyal following. For companies that have been around a while, showcasing their history in the industry is tantamount to comfort, trust and long-term allegiance. If you’re a company that has any sort of history, flaunt it to the masses as part of your marketing strategy! Doc Johnson and the Pleasure Chest both recently showcased their history in the industry as a means to push themselves away from the pack of newbies in the novelty industry.

And what if you are a new company? Perhaps you can showcase your history in other aspects of life that brought you to the development of your new company or line. Do you have a founder who has been in another industry with any level of success? Do you have a performer / director / company attached to your product that can help gain credibility? What background can you bring that can help build the trust of the new consumer?

Highlight all of these and you’re sure to gain the interest of both buyers and consumers.

Performers might find they aren’t working as much as they used to because they’re no longer the new girl. Many decide at this point to quit, after months of agonizing over why they’re not being hired. What to do, though, if you really truly don’t want to quit your time in the industry? Answer: don’t be a one-trick pony! You weren’t just a performer before you got into the industry. Use your experience as a performer to develop new directions, and use your nonperformer experience to develop your own heritage!

What makes your brain juices flow. Politics? Music? Comedy? Writing? Interviews? Fashion? Work on whatever makes you passionate, and incorporate what you’ve learned from your time in the industry.

You can use your “heritage” as a performer in a way that isn’t negative. Show that you’re not just a pretty face! You’ll find that most of the legends in the industry have all branched out into other things, and performing becomes secondary yet something that fuels their passion. But you’ll also find that many of them still do use their tenure to fuel their standing in their new direction. Nina Hartley, Ron Jeremy and Ginger Lynn all are great examples of heritage marketing at work for performers.

In an industry that focuses on the younger, 18-to-25 demographic, it’s always important to remember that everyone gets older, but libido, sexuality and sensuality doesn’t stop at 25; not by any means!

Use your heritage — whether you’re a performer or a novelty company or any other adult industry entity — to cater to the people that prefer something/someone they know and trust, and I’m sure you’ll find that you’re not quite as “disposable” as the industry might make you think or feel (wink).

Kelly Shibari is marketing director for ThePRSMGroup.com, which provides marketing and PR services to membership sites and adult studios.