While I had some very interesting private commentary on my recent “Stephen Goes Gay?” article, one of my readers publicly commented that “Gay isn’t a niche.” He is of course wrong, and to help those who do not understand the practical implications, I present the following:
My aforementioned article outlined some of the perceptual problems that ‘straight’ Webmasters face when contemplating adding gay offerings to their products or services – as well as some simple and inoffensive ways that these offerings could be incorporated into their current marketing mix. The idea was to illustrate how simple it is to break down the mental barriers that segregate and define market segments.
For instance, the practical reality of adding a ‘gay’ section to a link list, TGP, directory or other such site is no different than for adding a ‘mature’ or ‘tiny tits’ section. Promoting a sponsor who offers gay sites is fundamentally no different than promoting a sponsor who offers straight sites; the major exception perhaps being your source of traffic – but in this age of fueling sites with targeted PPC Search Engine results, only the selected keywords will be different.
Building ‘gay’ free, AVS, or pay sites is only different than building ‘straight’ sites in so far as the choice of content goes, and is thus no different than building a site targeting group sex, blondes, or teens – in other words, if content is the only practical difference between site ‘A’ and site ‘B’ then there is no real difference between straight and gay as far as the marketer is concerned. Attempting to somehow polarize the ‘straight’ and ‘gay’ segments of our marketplace is merely a ‘political’ or ‘emotional’ issue – rather than a realistic, technical or mechanical issue.
While some folks will not understand this, and will insist that “the gay market” is some mysterious entity that somehow defies the boundaries of traditional adult site marketing and that there is some ‘secret’ to reaching this market, I insist that this view reflects a basic misunderstanding of commerce. To develop this concept further, I shall resort to my favorite metaphor on this subject: the ice cream stand.
Who Wants Ice Cream?
Let’s forget about porn for a moment and pretend we all run ice cream stands. If we wanted to be successful, we would need to offer more than one flavor; and while I love vanilla, it would be wise to provide customers with as many options as possible. So from ‘Almond Joy’ to ‘Zebra Stripes,’ every flavor imaginable is now up on the menu – and available for sale.
But with so many new options, I now worry that I am unable to properly sell these many different offerings. I’ve only sold vanilla ice cream before: that’s what I know, and what I am comfortable with. Perhaps I’ll learn more about selling these different flavors; after all, cherry ice cream is very different from peanut butter cup!
But surprise! All of the information on selling ice cream that I can find is concerned with proper scooping techniques, energy-efficient refrigeration technology, labor management, and where to find the best cones at the lowest prices. Could it be that the flavor of the ice cream – while the most important consideration to the customer – is the least important factor for the seller? Of course it is!
The flavor of the ice cream does not change the mechanics of the selling process, and only marginally influences the presentation of the offer – as in a poster for a hot fudge sundae might expound on the sweetness of the fudge, the creaminess of the ice cream, and the freshness of the brownie underneath. Tossing this tasty treat into a bowl, sticking a spoon in it, and handing it to the customer is no different, however, than the process for making a banana split – even though the basic ingredients, and final product, are remarkably different. And the process is exactly the same whether the customer is straight or gay…
Contrast this reality with marketing to “the International market” – another example of a ‘mysterious’ new point of opportunity for adult Webmasters. This market is not merely a simple issue of taste, but one of very different considerations; involving alternate content mediums and payment mechanisms, legalities and price points, language issues and myriad other factors well beyond the scope of traditional Webmasters – and this article. In comparison, ‘gay’ is definitely nothing more than another ‘niche.’
The American Heritage Dictionary defines ‘niche’ as “A special area of demand for a product or service” and as such encompasses far more than the gay segment of the adult marketplace. At this point the really important thing to remember is that the flavor of your porn isn’t what matters, nor does it affect the way you build and host your Website – what does matter is that you give the customer what he or she wants! Good luck ~ Stephen