opinion

Doing More With Less

Q. Boyer

With relatively few exceptions, most adult entertainment companies that have a significant number of years under their belt are generating less revenue these days than they did in years past. As a result, many have scaled back their operations, some have simply disappeared, and others have divested themselves of assets, selling off pieces of their operation, or the whole enchilada, to other entities.

For companies determined to tough it out in the difficult market conditions currently facing the adult industry, the key to survival often boils down to an old cliché: “doing more with less.” That phrase sounds good in the abstract, but as a practical matter what does it mean to do more with less? How does one accomplish this feat?

In seeking ways to improve efficiency and squeeze the most return out of each nickel and each ounce of energy we commit, we have rediscovered the value of cooperative business-to-business efforts.

Pink Visual/TopBucks has not been immune to the significant revenue declines in the last several years, nor have many of our competitors and peers who grew to their peak in the same era that we did. We’ve survived the decline better than most, sure, and have solid reasons to be optimistic about the future of our company, but reaching stability and turning around the decline has not been without its excruciating moments.

We’ve had to make some hard choices in weathering the storm, including losing some highly valued, talented and beloved team members to layoffs. We’ve cut our costs in many areas, including by sacrificing some very popular employee perks. In short, we’ve cut back in ways that were inconceivable to us during the company’s heyday.

It hurt, but it all had to be done.

The good news is that in the process of scaling back and paring down, we’ve found strengths that we didn’t even know we had. Team members have buckled down and broadened their skill sets, finding ways to help each other and to support the company that have never been a part of their job descriptions. Employees who have never held leadership positions have stepped up and spearheaded projects for the first time.

It’s also true that we haven’t done it all on our own; in seeking ways to improve efficiency and squeeze the most return out of each nickel and each ounce of energy we commit, we have rediscovered the value of cooperative business-to-business efforts. It’s not that we didn’t engage in joint projects and collaborations prior to the last few years, but the scope and number of our B2B relationships has increased immensely.

The core of our new B2B strategy is establishing and developing relationships wherein the skills and traits of our company and those of our partners are complementary, rather than competing or redundant. A perfect example is our budding relationship with lesbian porn auteur Jincey Lumpkin.

Jincey’s expertise is in creating lush, beautiful erotic movies that resonate with a very well-defined audience that Pink Visual has almost no experience serving – namely lesbian, bisexual and bi-curious women. On the flip side, Jincey is not a website designer or developer, so working with an experienced web porn company like ours makes perfect sense.

In a matter of just a few months, our collaboration with Jincey has grown from the initial makeover of her site to include the development of mobile properties, distribution of her content on our cloud-based site PVLocker.com, the upcoming launch of an exclusive new content line and a new series of erotic eBooks. In other words, what started as a oneoff graphic design and website development project has evolved into an ongoing relationship that is transforming our respective brands, and pushing our companies into promising new territory.

From where I sit, these sorts of relationships and partnerships represent the best salve against the twin forces of market consolidation and market contraction that have set in on the adult entertainment industry over the last five-plus years. Not every company can build itself into a Manwin; most of us simply don’t have the assets or resources sufficient to go on an acquisitions spree of the sort that constructed that juggernaut. What we can do is find ways to work with each other that make sense, and that do not cannibalize each others’ revenue streams.

At Pink Visual/TopBucks, the ultimate outward expression of our new b2b strategy is the creation of our Top-Bucks Services division (see: http://www.topbucks.com/?action=partnerservices), and the soon-to-be-launched PluginFeeds Enterprise program, wherein we will create feed products based on the content of partner studios, lease those products out to new and existing Plugin-Feeds customers and share the revenue with the partner studios.

My point here isn’t that everyone reading column this should drop what he/she is doing and sign up to take on a b2b project with Pink Visual/TopBucks; there are plenty of other fish in the b2b sea, and our company might not be the best fit for yours, after all. The point is that in tough market conditions, it can be difficult to balance the need to keep costs down with the need to take advantage of the opportunities that come your company’s way. Having a b2b partner on board to share the workload can go a long way toward ensuring that when such opportunities crop up, you are in the position to seize them.

While newly proposed regulations and laws rightfully command a lot of the industry’s attention at the moment, it’s important to remember that most of the challenges your business faces are primarily a function of market conditions and your company’s disposition to the market. While Measure B grabs the headlines, things like the state of the economy, your company’s relative market-share, the breadth and stability of your revenue stream, and a host of other fundamental concerns are far more likely to be determinative factors in your success (or lack thereof).

In the war to survive the uncertain market conditions that currently stare our industry in the face, having good partners in the trenches with you could turn out to be the difference between life and death.

Q Boyer leads communications for Pink Visual, TopBucks and DMCA Force.

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