Lessons from the Adult Industry

Fanny Tham

Fanny Tham

by Fanny Tham of CreativePeople@Work

The Adult Industry is a big industry. David Klatell, associate dean of the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism notes, “This is an industry where they exaggerate the size of everything.” In a report published by TopTenReviews Jerry Ropelato on 3rd June 2010, the Adult Industry pulls in USD $4.9 billion worldwide revenue. And that’s online alone. The industry also reaches out to consumers on other platforms such as publishing, photography, DVDs, VODs, satellite television and video games. Exaggeration or not, for an industry that has survived from the Victorian era, there is much we can learn from it.
Lessons the we can learn from the Adult Industry:

1.      Connect Directly with Customers

Adult entertainers are known to build a strong, loyal community of fans. They create the illusion they are communicating with them directly from direct engagement on Twitter to personalized emails. People like to feel as if they are unique customers and will receive special treatment from you. This personal bond creates customer loyalty. The adult industry knows exactly how to work this angle. No customer is undesirable if they want what you are selling. However undesirable it may be to associate with them in other areas of life, a client must always feel wanted and that your product was developed with them, and only them, in mind.

Most of us are freelancers here. We do not have account managers or customer relationship managers to help us manage our clients. But this can also be our strength. We are able to connect better with our customers and with direct communication with them, we can find out what they really want.

2.      Offer Content Sampling

The adult industry has mastered the art of converting users via offering free samples or previews. Giving a little to get something in return is a strategy that the adult entertainment business really understands, and is something that absolutely works. Offering customers a small but powerful taste of the content is something that may see much more returns. Remember, you may have created the next big hit but that means nothing if people do not get the chance to experience it. The more attractive and valuable the sample appears to be, the more interested consumers will be in the real product.

Can we throw in something for free? When our clients hire us to design a logo for their new setup, can we throw in the design of their name cards? In order to promote ourselves, can we give out samples of our past works for free?

3.      Focus on User Experience

For your consumers, it is always about the experience. During the time when most networks were showing low quality videos in Real Player on their online platform, the adult industry were streaming good quality, high resolution video content. Understanding the key focus of your product and providing the best user experience is something a lot of companies could learn from.

Getting the core work done is just half the battle won, we have to make sure the process is as enjoyable for our clients as it is for us. For example, during a makeover session, a makeup artist can provide snacks and tea to ensure the client is well taken care of.

4.      Fearless to Changes

The adult industry is a competitive industry with many adult entertainment companies rolling out new gimmicks and strategies to widen their slice of the pie. Many companies have seen their businesses come under threat from an explosion of ad-supported sites that offer free content. In order to respond, some companies are exploring additional services such as live video streaming and live chats in an attempt to build a new revenue stream as a flanker to their core business. This type of rapid change in response to emerging threats and market conditions is something many traditional companies could learn from. Do not sit back, make rapid changes when necessary.

Most of us are freelancers or independent professionals. The small size of our operations gives us the advantage to adopt changes rapidly. There are probably a thousand possible changes going around the world every single day. We hold the key to determine which changes we want to adopt – and that’s the creative freedom we’ll always have.

5.      Fearless to New Technologies

Revolutionary times happen in every industry as techno-cultural change happens. After being the first to use the Internet as a distribution medium for their products, adult entertainment companies are now looking to shoot adult movies in 3D in response to the success of 3D films. Within 24 hours of the iPad’s release, the first adult site specifically optimized for Apple’s new device hit the market. Adult content was one of the early pioneers in mobile video. The adult industry has its own version of Twitter, where adult entertainers upload galleries of photos of themselves to accompany their tweets. Another new technology from the adult industry is LipStream where consumers can call an adult entertainer’s number and chat with them for a per-minute fee. (The phone connection is actually an internet-enabled voice protocol.) The Lipstream service has widgets to allow voice chat on the entertainer’s personal websites, Facebook and MySpace pages. Whenever there’s a new technology out there, the adult entertainment industry immediately understands it needs to start playing in that space. The adult industry has historically been 2 to 3 years ahead of the rest of entertainment industry in terms of trend. What you see them do, you’ll eventually see go mainstream.

In the age when technology rules, we have to be keen to notice the changes around us, particularly in the area of work processes. If your client is based in a different country, what are the new technologies to communicate to him? Skype? IamVoip?

6.      Supply to Niche Demand

Assuming you have never watched adult before, there are thousands of categories, types and genres you can choose from according to your personal sexual preferences. No sexual taste is so abstract and bizarre that there is no adult entertainment company catering to it. Playboy Enterprises has built its Spice brands offering a complete range of offerings to satisfy many adult tastes. The answer to being successful with a business model is to be able to satisfy all of your client’s needs, no matter how unique or freakish they may be.

Never say no to any opportunities no matter how unusual they are. As long as you can do it, the uniqueness of the new opportunity may create a niche pathway for you as a freelancer or independent professional.

7.      Keep Trying

The genre of “amateur” adult content is a case of crap content that soon found its own market value. Remember that there is a need for everything. If something does not sell initially, it means that you have not been able to find the market for it. Try harder. There is nothing that is inherently without value, just things that you have not yet found a market for.

The market has its ups and downs. Unlike the employees with a regular income every month, we do have to fight to survive for our next paycheck. Do not give up. Take any job you can find and treat the job professionally. You’ll never know where it may lead to.

8.      Fake Enthusiasm

This is probably the only job description for adult stars. No matter how tedious your work is, make sure the clients always think you are having the time of your life. Nobody wants to be around people who are not enthusiastic.

Enthusiasm is infectious, as is spending money with enthusiastic people.

9.      Lure Your Customers

Never pitch the full version of something to a new customer. Lure them, get them interested and attached to your basic product first. Then allow them to find the drawbacks of the basic products before introducing the next version. That’s the power of attraction.

We are no advocating the submission of a sub-standard work to your client. As players of the industry, we may, perhaps, know how to make a project much better than what our client wants. Perform the duties that are spelt out by the client. After completion, you can suggest the advance/additional ways to enhance the project. Charge additional fee for it. That’s a repeat business.

10.     Understand Your Business Area

The first adult material commercially available to the masses is an erotic novel by John Cleland, Fanny Hill, in 1748. Since then, the adult Industry has transgressed to photos, videos, television, online platforms and video games. Each of the business area has different characteristics. After understanding that the online world is used to free content, the adult companies started giving out sample content for free. After networks began to offer online video content, the adult industry turned to User-Generated content. Understand your business area and it’s trends. Out-performed your competitors by reacting to the trends.

Who are your clients? What do they want? How do they want it? Constantly find out what they need will differentiate you from the rest of your competitors.

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