Connection Catalyst

When you’re trying to get the word out about your brand, there are a lot of different ways you can do that. Most companies focus on advertising, affiliate programs, and social networking, but there’s an opportunity you might be missing. Building relationships with sex educators and bloggers is one of the best ways to add value to your brand and get your products into the hands of new customers. CatalystCon is a great place to do that.

For three days in March, over 350 sex experts, writers, educators, therapists, bloggers, students, researchers, professors, coaches, and other professionals gathered to talk about the opportunities they see, the challenges they face, and the concerns their clients and customers bring to them. The attendees ranged from folks who are just launching their first blog to people who have been in the industry for years. Some of them have thousands of people following them on Twitter, Facebook, and on their websites. A lot of them speak to university classes, community groups, and other organizations, reaching people across the country. And many of them are opinion leaders in their professional communities.

Catalyst is different from trade shows because the focus isn’t on promoting products or appealing to fans. -Charlie Glickman, PhD

These are the people you want to build relationships with in order to build brand awareness because they’re the ones who help your current and future customers to have great sex lives. Not only does an endorsement from them carry a lot of weight with their clients, but they also help people navigate the many issues and concerns that make sex tricky. You might take for granted that a vibrator or a lubricant can enhance sex, but not everyone out there accepts that. And while lots of folks think of porn as a fun addition to date night, many people have questions about it. Sex experts give people answers and help them find the products that will bring them the most pleasure and happiness.

Catalyst is different from trade shows because the focus isn’t on promoting products or appealing to fans. And it’s different from sexological or university conferences because it doesn’t require an academic background to participate. There were presentations on body image, the DSM, Measure B, porn, “Fifty Shades,” sex-positive parenting, transgender experiences, disability, sex & aging, sex toys, and much, much more. I often say that everything in our lives affects our sex loves, and the conference organizers do their best to make the programming as diverse and relevant as possible. I’ve been going to sexuality events for a long time and I’ve never seen anyone else manage it so well. It’s easy for sexuality retailers and manufacturers to forget that these are the sorts of things that affect people’s sex lives, but as someone who’s worked in this field for over two decades, I can promise you that these all influence what products people decide to buy.

Even if your company doesn’t want to get involved with these topics, there are still good reasons to pay attention to Catalyst. The folks who attend it are the people you want promoting your products to their clients. With so many more choices than ever before, customers seek expert opinions to help them decide which ones will help them have amazing sex. Catalyst is one of the best places to reach those experts and promote your brand.

When I spoke with Dee Dennis, the event organizer, she said that the novelty/sex toy side of the industry is beginning to see the value in working with sex educators, but that the porn side hasn’t yet. With 12 sponsors and not a single porn company on the list, that seems to be the case. But I can tell you that I’ve had more clients than I can count who have questions about porn, are looking for their first movie, or are trying to decide how they feel about it. I know that many of my colleagues who attended Catalyst can say the same. And the fast-changing nature of the porn industry means that it’s easy for sex experts to be out of date unless they work hard to stay current. The easier you make it for them to do that, the more value they can bring to your brand.

There’s another reason to keep Catalyst on your radar. As an industry, sexuality retailers and manufactures are facing legal challenges from all sides, as are sexuality educators. There’s a clear connection between Measure B and, for example, university Sex Weeks losing funding over “controversial” topics. That means that there’s a natural alliance between these two fields, but there’s very little collaboration between them. Working together would be a big step forward.

This September, Catalyst West will be in Los Angeles. It’ll be an excellent opportunity for you to see for yourself how much value it can bring you. Come join in the conversation, and meet the folks who are helping your customers enhance their sexual wellness, pleasure, and relationships.

Disclosure: I was a presenter at Catalyst and two of the event sponsors also sponsored my book tour for The Ultimate Guide to Prostate Pleasure.

Charlie Glickman, PhD, is a sexuality speaker, trainer, writer, blogger and coach. He’s an AASECT-certified sex educator and has been working in this field for more than 20 years. Charlie is the co-author of The Ultimate Guide to Prostate Pleasure: Erotic Exploration for Men and Their Partners. Find out more about him at


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