opinion

Modern Marketing: Cross Appeal

Kelly Shibari

Now that award season is upon us, and the new year is looming just around the corner, it’s a great time to take stock of the state of your current business. For many of you, that includes reassessing how your sites are doing, and how best to increase profits in 2014.

One of the most utilized methods by mainstream Hollywood, and one that’s not taken advantage of by the majority of adult industry production companies, is the concept of cross-marketing. From press junkets to panels at events like Comic-Con, Hollywood invites the performers used in projects to help propel buzz and increase interest in an upcoming film. They work to create alliances with corporate sponsors for product placement, which then turns into a wider net cast for publicity when those companies create tie-in promotions to help push the film into the customer psyche. With so many films and television shows being produced on a regular basis, this approach is particularly effective in a hyper-consumerism-based marketplace such as the U.S.

These days, with free porn available on tube sites, piracy, multiple adult conventions across the country, social media, and the sheer glut of performers available to work in our industry these days, it’s really become a buyer’s market.

So why aren’t adult companies approaching their marketing in a similar fashion? There could be a few assumptions being made that are thwarting that process:

• Performers aren’t necessarily interested in assisting with the promotion of a scene/DVD once they’ve showed up for the scene and been paid.

• Agents of performers aren’t interested in assisting with the promotion of a scene/DVD once their talent has been paid (and they’ve made their cut), unless there is compensation.

• Adult companies are under the impression that high turnover in the talent pool is exactly why the consumer base purchases memberships / DVDs (increased variety), so they feel there is no need to integrate performers into marketing campaigns.

These are assumptions.

Perhaps the understanding of the performer and consumer landscape is important to address here. During the Golden Age of Porn, and the subsequent couple of decades following, the number of performers who worked in the industry was fairly small. The number of production companies was limited as well. Add to that the fact that there was only one consumer event per year for fans to attend, and the lack of an Internet, and you have – pardon me, had – a seller’s market. Porn companies dictated when and where fans could not only watch, but purchase, adult entertainment. Performers could dictate when and where fans could meet them – whether it be at a convention, a strip club, or retail outlet at pre-scheduled events. Because of the funneled accessibility to adult entertainment, it helped with sales.

These days, with free porn available on tube sites, piracy, multiple adult conventions across the country, social media, and the sheer glut of performers available to work in our industry these days, it’s really become a buyer’s market. The consumer can pick and choose what he wants to buy (if he even buys at all). It’s affected the bottom line, obviously. However, there are ways to make your site or DVD stand out in the weekly onslaught of other adult products barraging the market:

Cross-marketing using Performers

• Encourage the performer to help promote through social media. You hired her because she’s either brand new and your product promotes the new girls in the industry to those who are all about variety, or because she’s an industry veteran with an established track record and fan base. In either case, you’re doing yourself a disservice if you don’t promote who’s in your update or in your new release. With performers themselves constantly wanting to make themselves stand out from the pack, suggesting that they talk about their upcoming scene is good business. Work with them – let them know when a release is going to go live or street. Tweet with their name in your post when a new release or update goes live; performers, much like customers, are regularly busy with the day-to-day, so reminding them when their new scene comes out will most likely get shared instantly with her fans, which will help with consumer interest.

• DVD companies – allow wholesale product to the performer. This is particularly true for DVD companies – you’d be surprised how many performers do not know that copies of releases they are in are available to them. By allowing performers to also purchase small-batch wholesale copies, you’re not only helping your bottom line (who wants 400 copies of a release just sitting on a shelf in the warehouse?), but will also allow the performer to take copies to conventions, strip clubs, and other signing events, which also helps with consumer interest in your brand.

• Paysites – allow discounts and/or promotional codes to the performer. Not only will the performer use the discount and promotional codes to run social media contests, but that added traffic from fans who may not have won the prize will certainly turn into signups.

• Encourage interviews, both by print/online and radio. Unless the performer needs to get into hair/makeup for the interview, or has to make a special trip to a radio station, most performers (and their agents) should appreciate the chance to use an upcoming release or update to increase their own visibility. Even consider give them a couple of copies of the DVD, or discount / promotional codes to your site, when she does the interview as giveaways. This is a win-win; the performer gets added buzz, which may result in increased bookings, which is good for both the performer and the agent, and your product gets promoted beyond your normal scope.

Cross-marketing using other market platforms

A producer I worked with in the past said it best: “Rape your own content.” While the use of the word “rape” is hardly palatable, it makes sense in a world of tube sites and piracy. Make your content available in as many different formats as possible. Many companies already do this – they take their website content and release comp DVDs, make the scenes available for download-to-own, streaming, in-room hotel buys, cable, video-on-demand, and more. By skipping any of these platforms, you’re denying yourself the opportunity to make that additional profit.

Cross-marketing using adult media

• Trailers, on-set interviews, promotional stills, and more are ways to help increase interest in your product before the scene goes live, or the DVD streets. In a time when YouTube marketing is becoming increasingly more anti-porn, utilizing existing adult media and their traffic is crucial. In addition, many media outlets, especially news blogs, are always looking for content. One hand washes the other, and you both win.

• Seeking out reviews by reputable reviewers in the industry, and then referencing those reviews either via a press release, social media mention, or reblogging on your own forum or company blog, are great ways to get consumers interested in purchasing your product. For DVD companies, sending copies is relatively simple. For paysite owners, making a one-week pass available should work. In either case, contact review sites and inquire as to what their criteria is to submit works for review. An added note: most critics do their reviews pro bono or at a relatively low rate, so be patient. A review is still a review, and you can increase the longevity of consumer interest if you’re able to put out a link to a review even if it’s a month or two after the release date.

• Submitting your scenes to adult film festivals may seen “indie” and counterproductive, but many, including those both in the US and abroad, will make your brand known to a larger audience who is already interested in adult content. The exposure is a great way to stand out from the rest of the crowd.

Cross-promotion and cross-marketing extend past these to include partnerships with novelty companies, increased media presence not just with adult media but with mainstream outlets, creative marketing blasts that target the mainstream, and more. In the current consumer landscape, it’s crucial to cast as wide a net as possible to attract the most number of buys from consumers, and it includes reaching out beyond your product’s regular marketing efforts to your “regular” consumer base.

With more and more consumers wanting to see an ever-increasing variety of content, it’s important more than ever to invite support industries to assist in your marketing campaigns. Make them a part of your overall strategy, and you should be able to see returns on your efforts with minimal financial outlay involved.

From her background in design and construction in mainstream film and television production to performing in front of the camera as the sexually-charged figure-head for chubby Asian girls everywhere, Kelly Shibari is a stereotype-breaking tour-de-force. Her branding consultancy, ThePRSMGroup, merges her mainstream and adult backgrounds; she has regularly contributed to multiple publications and directed panels and seminars at both mainstream and adult conventions. Originally from Japan, Shibari currently calls the West Coast her home and constantly confuses her colleagues with her old-fashioned, Eastern sensibilities.

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