Sunday, October 5, 2008

The Clash Of The Sex Writers: Should We Stay Or Should We Go Now?

A further, even lengthier, response to Audacia Ray's The End of the Sex Writer?

Like myself, Audacia says she sees herself as an activist, an advocate; and that writing is the medium for her message. In that sense we have to accept that there will not be paid writing gigs ~ in fact, there really are no paid activist positions.

No, not because getting paid is becoming "a sell-out to da man," but because no one pays a person directly for their activism. (Unless you count lobbyists; but so far, I've found no one willing to back sex as an issue. Let me know if you have any leads and I'll give you my packet.)

You could start a non-profit; but in order to become paid you'll need to be the executive director (at the beginning, you'll be lucky if you can afford to pay for even that position). But then, because staff members are usually not allowed to be on the organization's board, you will lose ability to control the organization. (After several years in the nonprofit sector, I've seen how the, "Oh, but I've selected the board to maintain my vision," works out. That varies between "poorly" and "horrific," by the way.)

I've written before about having to decide if you're in business or an activist, so I'll refer you to that post.

Now, if you've opted for "business" (with or without a dose of "activism" or "cultural mission" to your branding) and refuse to monetize your own site(s), looking elsewhere for a paycheck, let's look at what's happening in the business of sex writing.

Sex is still a taboo. Those of us who work with/in/under/behind/through any issues of sexuality, legal or not, face discrimination (and I mean real discrimination, not the made up kind). There are less options in general and they come with higher fees we must pay, further scrutiny for services, and even bigger prices in terms of employment and social relationships. Audaica (who I swear I am not picking on!) has been running into these issues head-on recently, as noted by Chris in The Shrinking Public Square.

I don't mean to sound bitchy or condescending here and I'm certainly not trying to alienate myself from anyone, let alone anyone in the business of taking sex out of the closet and having it be a recognized & respected part of the human experience; but I've been talking about all of this stuff here, and here, and here, and ~ hell, pick a site, a post, as you'd like. It's been a decade of writing online, folks.

It's not that I'm whining that no one's listening to me (although, who doesn't like to be noticed?), but it seems that there's a huge gap in understanding. Maybe it's due to age & experience (I'm likely at least a decade older than most of these folks). Or maybe it's a failure to understand how publishing works ~ especially when it comes to mainstream publications and sex.

The fact is that these publications which were paying sex columnists were not in the business of sex education nor with a mission of sex positivity.

Be honest, dear readers, if you weren't following the authors involved here because you knew them, would you ever turn to Valleywag or Wired for your sex info?

Does anyone read Fleshbot? It's no literary journal; it's a smorgasbord of tits & ass for 20-somethings who don't know better (and for older folks who should know better). This is due, in no small part, to cranking out way-too-much content ~ as Audacia mentioned. That's not only a shame, but a failure on the part of the writer &/or activist who expects to be read at a site that pushes more pink bits than the eraser factories do.

Naked City ~ that blog was so clunky I heard things fall off when the page loaded. And don't even get me started on what's wrong with the Village Voice.

So, times get tough, advertising shrinks, and these publications decide to axe writers. It happens; in print, on the web, everywhere. It's tough for smart writers who know they had done nothing wrong, had nothing to do with the decision (nor any of the decisions prior on how to run their business), but that's the way it goes.

For all the "newness" of these Internets, business still has the same old model to follow: make profit. (And more than a few of them are missing the boat by applying the same practices that they mock print for; but that's for another time.)

Do I think sex writers were likely viewed as the first to go in these economic cuts? You bet I do. In fact, if I were sitting there, making the decisions, I'd likely have done the same thing. A) Sex is not representational of the companies' core missions, and 2) having sex on pages can will deter advertisers.

If these companies had committed more to the issue sexuality as a right and therefore an integral part of their publications, rather than posing as sex positive hipsters exploiting sex columnists & titillating titular to garner some eyeballs and a wink-wink-nudge-nudge mentality, then my call ~ and likely the publishers' ~ would have been different.

On one hand I am frustrated by a world which refuses to have sexuality be a part of legitimate conversation; I'd love to see sex included as an important, fundamental human issue for grown-ups period.

On the other hand, these places were only using sex as a loss-leader and they could no longer absorb the loss.

That was their bottom line talking.

And they had no sex positive mission to adhere to, remember?

Now, when it comes to "sex writers," we all have our choices to make. Not just, "stay or go?" but if we stay, how? Are we in business? Are we activists? Both? And if both, how will we blend the two?

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Saturday, May 24, 2008

Sex Worker How-Tos

In Reality Check: Dealing With Assholes, Radical Vixen answers the question, "How do you deal with asshole clients?" It's for phone sex operators; but there's gold for any business owner ~ working on the phone or not.

In Rant: Strip clubs are for customers, not dancers, the SEXhobbyist gives a reminder just who the business is for. Along with clues for strippers, there are reminders for bedraggled business owners to recall that they may run the business, but if it's to be profitable, it must be focused on the customers.

Last, but certainly not least, Emilie gives safety advice on Anonymous Blogging for Sex Workers. A must read for anyone working with on the Internet. (Via Courtesan Connection.)

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Friday, March 21, 2008

High-Five Fridays #10

High-Five Fridays
1) Copyright & legal issues for zines ~ including webzines ~ at ZineBook.

2) 50 Social Sites That Every Business Needs a Presence on: Naturally, I disagree that every business needs a presence on these sites ~ nor is is possible/polite to be there if you run an adult business; but it's another country heard from.

3) No wonder you're confused: Every Piece of Startup Advice is a Lie (including mine).

4) Preaching to the choir: Blogging: More Than Idle Chatter.

5) As if we didn't know this day was coming: Ron Jeremy Takes on Porn Pirates.

Want to give your own high-fives? Find out how to give your High-Five Fridays here!

The purpose of this meme is to give high-fives to 5 people, posts, blogs and/or websites you've admired during the week. I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 5 high-fives on Friday. Trackbacks, pings, linky widgets, comment links accepted!

Visiting fellow High-Fivers is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your High-Fives in others comments (please note if NWS).



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Saturday, January 19, 2008

Uh-oh, The Villagers Have Pitchforks & They Want Digg's Secret Editor List

OK, so maybe that title's a bit 'too much' in terms of link bait ~ becoming more like flame bait. But it seems to match the mood of Internet villagers upon hearing that Digg employs invisible editors.

I concede that nameless, icon-less, user-name-free persons (who are empowered to do more than dump the spam and protect kiddies from porn, but who can also edit submitted links/stories) could should be less invisible; folks should not only that someone has the access to edit, but know who it is, even if it's Monster814, so that users can take the issue up with them in the event they feel some censorship was at work. That would be 'transparency' vs. 'invisibility'. But is anyone honestly surprised by this?

Anyone who has ever moderated a forum, or their own blog comments, knows there must be some human involvement here. And if folks don't know by now that humans are biased creatures, with their own points of view, if not out-right agendas, well, that person doesn't understand how communities work, and, fundamentally, how Digg works. I'm not just talking about Internet communities, but real communities of actual lifeforms.

However, it seems to me the real danger or upset here is not that Digg uses editors, nor even that users cannot see/communicate with them, but that Digg doesn't seem to even understand it's own purported purpose.

If Digg is to be a democracy, where The Public of users, or members of the Digg nation if you will, determine the success and failure of Digg's gross national product, why don't the citizens have any control in the elections or evaluations of the public officers who over-see such things? Shouldn't the citizens have the right to know, address, challenge, or at least report on those who are in charge of citizen security (protecting them from public enemies #1 & #2, porn and spam, respectively), and who, due to access, shape public policies (editing for outcomes to suit own beliefs)? Where's the public accountability in the democracy that is Digg?

Some of you will likely counter with facts declaring that Digg is not a nation, but a business; &/or pick at some flaw in my (very brief & greatly simplified) civics comparison. But spare us all; the former because Digg compares itself to a great democracy, the latter because I've not been hired as your Civics 101 instructor.

What matters here is that in Digg's growth the mission has been somewhat lost, and as such it stands on shaky gound. It's not that it cannot adjust; it certainly could...

But while they are busy defending their need for invisible editors, the public sees shadowy figures in the dark. That's a PR problem. Domestic and foreign. When your GNP is based on user created content, you'd better be taking the matter of public perception to heart; those villagers with pitchfolks matter.

Meanwhile, as Digg founders are busy rationalizing, others are ready to exploit. If secret editors were intended to keep the country safe, the borders are now in danger.


I found this story at Scott's blog, along with the above image, and that's what I'll leave you with today.

You may now sort our your feelings, & write a response.

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Thursday, January 10, 2008

Thirteen Tips For Better Marketing



Thirteen Tips For Better Marketing


Do:


1 Find one community you enjoy, one where your target market is, and participate in it. Natural enthusiasm and interest go much further than anything else. And if you can't find a community which provides both your audience and interest for you, then why bother anyway? (Or, perhaps consider the need for such a community ~ if there truly is a need, perhaps you and your company should be providing it.)

Community defined as: Social Network (i.e. myspace, tribe, facebook), forum/message board, newslists (i.e. Yahoo groups, Google alt lists), social bookmarking (i.e. stubmleupon, reddit, etc.)

2 Get & read one marketing book or publication a month.

Do not avoid books which seem to be written 'not for you,' If you're a 'company of one' don't dismiss books which seem to be 'too corporate giant' in scheme and projection; you may have to twist what they are saying to suit your budget and other constraints, but hell, that's part of the point in critical reading.

Yes, I mean print. Reading from paper allows you to do the following:
a) unplug from sound-byte mentality and short attention span problems

b) research & study, make notes & resource lists (You aren't only reading to learn and agree; read critically and even you disagree, you'll at least have learned how to better take your stand.)

c) change in physical position and space creates changes in mental space signals 'this is new, pay attention!'
3 Get & read one industry publication per month. (Ditto details of #2.)

What are the trends? What's your competition up to? Any news in legal?

4 Get & read one non-industry publication per month. (Ditto details of #2.)

Example One: If you're an author or a product manufacturer, consider books on retailing so you can understand their point of view; you can really sell them on carrying your book/product when you know their concerns.

Example Two: What issues are other industries facing, and how might that affect you? How are are they addressing the issues?

5 Blog damnit. Blogging is a publishing format which converses (you talk, others may easily reply); don't resist it.

If your blog is separate from your main website (hosted on blogger, wordpress, etc.), make sure that your blog is part of your website's main navigation so folks can find your latest info as quickly and easily as possible.

6 Pay attention to the presidential candidates, and vote when it's time. Don't kid yourself that it doesn't matter; who ever is elected will affect you and your business.

7 When tired, take a nap. Not only does a 90 minute nap help speed up the process of long term memory consolidation, but when sleepy, productivity suffers. Not to mention you're more likely to be a grump ~ and that's poor customer service.

8 Get interviewed &/or get your product reviewed.

9 Check your stats (refer logs, Technorati Authority, PageRank etc.) daily. Not only do you need to see if marketing efforts are effective, but find out what others are saying about you -- and join the conversation.

10 Go one new place, eat one new food, drive a different way home, do one new thing. It not only is fun, but it keeps your mind alert ~ and who knows, maybe you'll stumble upon something or someone useful.

Don't:

11 Don't join a bunch of communities that do not fit, or which you cannot keep up with.

12 Do not waste time by checking stats or email more often than necessary.

13 Do not replicate your website/blog in 100's of places, it dilutes your brand by making 'home' less special.

Have tips of your own, be sure to post them!

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!



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Saturday, December 22, 2007

Someone Has To Say It...

Working At Home Mom posted 13 Ideas For Creating Finding Your Niche; it wouldn't be a bad list if she knew what a niche was, or at least knew a niche from a USP. This is clearly a list of USPs.

I'm sorry to sound rude about it, but I hate it when people spout about yet don't know what they are talking about ~ worse yet when they are 'educating' others. :snort:

But perhaps Working At Home Mom has unwittingly provided the real answer to the question, "Why do so many home businesses fail?"

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Today's Spam: Divert 1000's Of New Visitors

How would You like to divert 1000s of fresh new visitors daily?

Diverting visitors? Forget for a moment that as a piece of spam, I'm skeptical, at best, that you can deliver on anything... Forget that 'diverting visitors' sounds like dirty pool, like I'm a rancher stealing water from another rancher... Forget for a moment that some of the visitors I divert may scream bloody murder at being diverted to an adult site... But I won't forget that thousands, even millions, of "fresh new visitors daily" is meaningless if it's not targeted traffic.

Why would I want to divert a bunch of visitors who don't want to find me, my site, my product or service?

Playing a numbers game is one way to go about your business ~ I know of many 'successful' people (I've never seen their bank books) who claim they've used that model, and I've seen plenty of folks who clearly use that model ~ but for me it's not just lame, it's bad business.

Playing the numbers game is like the old saying, "Throw it at the wall and see what sticks," only this time the 'it' you are throwing isn't a business idea or product, but potential customers. I don't think I'll find prosperity throwing potential customers against a wall. Do you? You must if you think a numbers game is good business.

Those are people you're tossing about as if they don't matter. Diverting visitors, blasting folks with pop-ups & spam, this is annoying people and treating them as if they & their time just doesn't matter. Is that your message ~ that you just don't care about people, as long as they stick to your wall?

If you're not invested enough to cultivate the relationships, or the business itself, then don't go into business; just stay home and toss underwear against the wall.

I'm sure you'll find some that stick (and I wouldn't be surprised if it were at the same percentage too). But without any target, all you've got is some panties stuck against the walls.

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Thursday, December 13, 2007

All Things Equal? I Wonder...

The Internet has been touted as being the great equalizer; allowing the average man and small businesses to more readily (cheaply) access others. It was said that these smaller voices could carry as much weight as the big guys because the Internet (being 'virtually free') had leveled the playing ground.

But in the past few years, we've seen many sites gobbled up buy by the large corporations which would be their true competition in the first place, and buy by big media outlets which are already in bed with the corporate competition.

I ask you, how level is it now?

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Monday, December 3, 2007

Sexy Performing Arts, Anyone?

The Nonprofit Finance Fund has announced a grant of more than $15 million from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation to launch a national initiative called Leading for the Future: Innovative Support for Artistic Excellence.

The initiative will support up to ten leading dance, jazz, theater, and presenting organizations with grants of $800,000 to $1.8 million, plus technical and advisory assistance, in support of new programmatic, financial, and operational approaches designed to enhance their effectiveness, adapt to complex trends affecting the performing arts, and demonstrate what works to the broader performing arts field.

The largest performing arts grant in DDCF history is part of the foundation's new strategy in arts programming. While the foundation will maintain its commitment to contemporary dance, jazz, and presenting, as well as its national scope and strategy of awarding large, multiyear grants, it hopes to increase the flexibility of how its funds are used and will focus on bold new strategies and a holistic approach to how arts organizations operate.

"We hope that the approach of the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation will inspire others in the field," said NFF president Clara Miller. "Since the focus here is on innovation and experimentation at the 'enterprise level' of the arts, we hope we'll learn — and demonstrate — something valuable to all. DDCF's flexible use of funds, its approach of partnering with organizations pursuing new financial and operating approaches, and its focus on the role of transformational capital makes this initiative a truly important breakthrough."

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Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Feeling Like A Mad Hatter

Recently Mike Lynch was asked, "Can anyone make a living as a gag cartoonist?", and he thoughtfully replied with a blog post. Many of his points are applicable to anyone selling their wares, so gag cartoonist ~ any type of artist ~ or not, you can learn something.

Here are a few of my favorite points:
There is also the shark aspect. The idea that you keep moving your cartoons, keep seeking out new markets, carry your business cards with you at all times. And sometimes calling editors to ask where your cartoons are. Promotion, persistence, production! But this is something that is inside of you and something you have to decide to do every day, you know? It's easier just to have a "real job" and dream about it. Much easier.
Our dream jobs are often more work than any other job we've held. Hopefully we are motivated because we love what we do and we want to live the dream, but it's still more work than most realize. "Promotion, persistence, production!" Isn't that the damn truth.

Whenever I meet enthusiastic entrepreneurs, I do try to caution them ~ not dampen their enthusiasm, but alert them to the realities. But if my words dampen enthusiasm, or scare them off, well, perhaps that's just as well.

"Promotion, persistence, production!" is our battle cry, our workload, and without passion we'd barely make it to those pay days (however small and far between they are). You take a sick day, and since no one is there to do anything while you're away, you stumble back to work still less than par and with double or triple the workload. It can be daunting.

Lynch continues:
I was at a business function full of NYC business-types. This was to be expected since it was held on the fashionable edge of SoHo in a huge converted loft. One of the guys came up to me and asked what I did. I told him that I was the guy that did the cartoons for their Web site. He was intrigued, especially when I told him that that was the way I made my living. He told me, "It must be great to be creative all the time."

I smiled as pleasantly as I could. I told him that cartooning was a job. Cartoons don't flow out my hand like water from a faucet. They are work. But, like I always add, this is also a job I love.

Cartoonists can't just draw when inspired if hey want to make money. As for me, I have to produce marketable, salable work at a regular pace. I'm an assembly line, putting out good cartoons at a regular pace. I'm a marketer, aiming my product at clients large and small. I'm the R&D department, finding new ways to get my material out there. You wear a lot of hats, including that Mad Hatter one.

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Monday, November 12, 2007

Beware Branding Marks

The New Deal: Band as Brand:
Though [Paramore's] success is in large part due to smart pop songwriting and a fashion-forward frontwoman, music executives and talent managers also cite Paramore as a promising example of a rising new model for developing talent, one in which artists share not just revenue from their album sales but concert, merchandise and other earnings with their label in exchange for more comprehensive career support.

If the concept takes hold, it will alter not only the way music companies make money but the way new talent is groomed, and perhaps even the kind of acts that are offered contracts in the first place.

Commonly known as “multiple rights” or “360” deals, the new pacts emerged in an early iteration with the deal that Robbie Williams, the British pop singer signed with EMI in 2002. They are now used by all the major record labels and even a few independents.
While I post this as a bit of marketing news, I also can't help but wonder what this really means for the word 'artist'. Music is an industry, a business, and certainly celeb status helps push product (both their own product, music, and the products of others), I wonder what this means for those of us who want music. Real music, not 'a brand'.

It wasn't that long ago that 'world music' had appeal for some of these very reasons ~ we wanted music for music's sake, not some commercialized glut.

Admittedly, the panache of posh persons has always been a regular in the marketing and making of damn near anything and everything; but this open move towards acts signing these 360 deals seems to be counter-productive to the current age of transparency... Now we the consumers know what companies, acts and performers are the least artistic. For it's not about the music, getting it out there, but some sort of success measuring stick which must include marketability beyond the main product. In other words, bands are not to be signed unless they are great cash-cows ~ selling more than CDs to music lovers, but shoes, shampoo and heaven knows what else.

In the case of established artists, like Madonna, this is not so shocking. But what of the new artists? Who won't be signed because they either have no track record of being able to push other (non-musical) products at us or are viewed as not being able to reach such commercial status. Shouldn't recording artists be judged solely for their ability to sell records?

In an age of cynical consumers, such transparency could bite the hand that pretends to feed. I know when I see its be-jeweled fingers pushing, I'll certainly be suspicious.

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Friday, October 26, 2007

The Marketing Whore on Dominance Humping, Tact and Grace(ie)

One of the things I'm known for is being nice. Well, I'm also known for being opinionated and a former escort too. But most folks who know me, have worked with me, will tell you I'm nice ~ in that patient and tolerant way (which has led me into giving away lots of help and advice for free in many arenas). But sometimes...

Oh, sometimes, I just don't understand how people can be so rude. I can understand and accept ignorance. Ditto for a difference of opinion. But rudeness?

The example I'm about to share will not name names ~ not out of respect but because I don't want to give them any attention. They do not deserve it.

And while I'm on the subject of 'outing' people, or addressing the concerns of people's feelings, let me say that I'm not worried that they will visit here and notice themselves in the example ~ because people like this never see themselves in the bad examples or as the ones needing the corrections. In all my years of working with people this is the case. Meanwhile, those who would be mortified to make such errors ~ those who never do such things because they are people filled with common sense and decency ~ these kind-hearted people always fear these things are about them. Please don't flood my inbox with apologies or concerns; if you were the person who did what I'm about to describe, you'd already know of my displeasure. So no worries for those of you reading here.

Now, on to today's lesson.

As most of you know, my site Sex-Kitten.Net (NWS) has the Sex-Kitten Feed (NWS), which is a way to promote our friends and associates by helping to broadcast their blog's RSS feed (NWS). (The feed is featured on the home page of the site, on other blogs in the feed & with it's own page.) When persons submit their site and feed for such promotion, I always check to see that A) the feed is working properly and 2) that they have linked back (to either the feed itself or the main site). If they have errors or have not reciprocated with a link, I contact them.

Recently I had to contact several folks to tell them that I would activate their feed once they linked back and then contacted me to let me know they had done so. Usually one of two things happen: they apologize for the oversight and correct it, or they ignore the emails (and I delete the submission). But this week I had one of the rare fellows who reacts rudely.

His first response was to tell me to go ahead and drop his submission because he "never got a single referral from us". I calmly wrote back that of course he hadn't ~ due to no recip, he had never been activated. I'd be happy to remove his submission if he wished, but thought he should know why he'd never received any traffic.

At this point I expected an 'ah-ha' moment, followed by him placing the link and emailing to telling me so. Maybe even with an apology for not understanding... But no.

Instead I receive an email asking demanding me for my site stats. "How many unique visitors do you get per day?"

Now folks, there are several problems with this response.

First of all, asking a webmaster for their blog stats is rather like asking a person how much they make a year. Sure, some might not be offended; some might even give you the answer. But many people, in either situation, will be greatly offended. Generally, these matters are considered none of your business. So why risk offending anyone?

If you think that I owe this person my stats because we're doing business together, remember this: the SK feed is free. He's not paying ~ no one's paying ~ for this service; it's not advertising. I, the person offering the service, isn't asking him (or anyone) about their site traffic (or pagerank or anything). For him to go there is rather like your brother-in-law asking you what your salary is or how much your home cost. It's inappropriate.

Secondly, if this man feels he is owed this info in order to evaluate the opportunity, or if he thinks this sort of questioning shows that he is Mr Serious Internet Businessman, then he needs to get a clue ~ and some tact.

He, you, I ~ anyone, can do some simple research to get an idea of traffic on any website. It's not rocket science.

If he doesn't know how to do this, or is too lazy to do it and expects me to tell him, or if he has done his homework and is trying to 'test me' for my honesty and credibility, well, I'm completely unimpressed. And I'm not playing.

His inability to employ good old fashioned tact and common sense leaves me cold.

The lesson here is that when you approach someone, including to take advantage of their opportunity, mind your manners. Don't ask questions which are none of your business. And if you should think it is your business, proceed politely. Don't pose questions as demands.

In fact, after some research of my own on this man, his sites and business practices, I'm of the impression that this man was dominance humping. He read my polite, and perhaps somewhat girly closing (typically I sign-off all my emails, business and personal, "with much affection, Gracie"), and concluded that I don't know what I'm doing. He assumed that he could intimidate me with a hard-boiled-business-numbers response to make me sit back (with my pretty head spinning from all that thinky math!) and take notice of his manly knowledge so that he could negotiate some other situation for himself. (As in I'd really really want his link to 'me' and be willing to give him additional promotions &/or advertising to get it.) But all I noticed was his bad manners and lack of respect.

I had the offer, the opportunity; I make the rules. In this case, I was offering to promote his site for free and all I asked for in return was a link. Not only is this a nominal 'price' it's a normal one. If he didn't like the rules, then he can take a pass on the opportunity. No one is forcing him to do this. For him to mistake kindness and the patience to continue to explain how the opportunity works for a chance to negotiate terms, or worse, some weakness on part, is a huge mistake.

I'm not paranoid about the dominance humping; I run into this quite often. And I'm betting you other ladies do too.

Gender, as in femaleness, combined with tolerance and understanding is seen as weak and unintelligent. Ask any mommy blogger if advertisers try to undermine their credibility and the value of their blog ~ to get cheaper advertising. (If you and your blog were so crappy, why would they want to advertise there?) But in the adult industry it's even worse. We're just dumb girls who whore ourselves and our sites on dumb luck and boobs. (I guess they think we are what we sell.)

Since I don't expect yet another blog post on gender issues to affect any real changes by the men who practice dominance humping, the lesson here is really for the women.

Don't let dominance humping (from men or women) undermine your actions. Know your business and make your rules. Don't let them negotiate the non-negotiable.

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Monday, October 15, 2007

Q & A The Marketing Whore Way

Like a Magic 8-Ball!

Q: Can anyone be surprised that the adult entertainment industry, historically proven to take on any all technological advancements, would appear in/at a document posting service?

A: Apparently so.

Q: Does spam really work?

A: What would you say?. (PS: Thanks, Sara, for the link!)

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Saturday, September 22, 2007

No More Cookie Cutters (Unless You're Making Cookies)

Eros has a good post on cookie cutter paysites, including the 'hot sale' of EZA Cash, which Eros trashes critically reviews. I'd say it's a great post, but there's one part which sticks in my craw:
It's not dishonest or a scam, exactly, but it's a line of work akin to direct mail advertising; sell something cheap and almost worthless for quite a bit more than it's worth, pocket profits, work like hell to find new suckers because none of your one-time customers turn into regular customers, which as every businessman knows is where the money is.
Direct mail advertising doesn't equal scam. It's a valid method of sales and marketing for legitimate products and services. Even when it is akin to a scam it's the product which makes it (and the seller) scum.

I hate it when people lump things together in the bad apple barrel. (It's ironic on a post about cookie cutters too.)

But read his post anyway, because there's other good info there.

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Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Giving Away The Store, Part One

Giving away the store isn't all bad; in fact, it's even a lucrative business model ~ if you don't get in your own way.

At Infomercantile, Derek (who, in the interest of full-disclosure, is a 'boss') writes about one of our local free newspapers and their idiotic 'upgrade':
In early September 2007, the FM Extra further obfuscated access to their newspaper by wrapping the already difficult-to-parse PDF file inside a Macromedia-format "Flashpaper" Flash viewer. While Google and other search engines do have the ability to provide some searchability within PDFs, enclosing the PDF within a Flash viewer completely eliminates the world's ability to find the FM Extra without already knowing it exists. It is as though the FM Extra put all of their hard-copy newprint papers in an unmarked cardboard box, shoved it under a parked car somewhere in Hawley, MN, and only gave directions to people who explicitly asked where the papers went. One would think that a newspaper that places its print-copies in as many publicly-available places as possible would easily translate the same concept to the internet, but it seems to have slipped their and their webdesigners' grasps.
Not only did they put all of the papers in the box, under a parked car, only giving directions to people who ask, but access also requires a secret password or knock of some sort. This new flash viewer requires the latest version of Macromedia Flash and has officially no viewer for those of us who are Linux based (I should note here that I can view it, but it also freezes my entire Firefox experience and is thus noted as to be avoided at all costs), making all of their free papers unavailable to us.

Unavailable is contrary to their business model where the newspapers are paid for by the advertisers, advertisers who have paid the rates for the large circulation, so why remove online circulation? The purpose of FM Extra is to literally give away their product, and so their decision not to do so on the web is bad marketing (if not just good old fashioned crazy).

Unavailable isn't the only problem. Being found is also a problem. I've mentioned this before, so I'll let Derek at Infomercantile say it:
Newspapers and web-designers alike fail to realize that a large portion of website traffic comes from people who never knew the website existed before and arrive by searching for a term. Those searchers, in theory, are highly-retainable readers if their search results succeed in finding what they're looking for. The FM Extra, by hiring a web designer, spent what appears to be a significant amount of money to reduce their potential audience even further. The FM Extra might be exactly what an online visitor is looking for, but a huge amount of effort has been devoted to making sure those readers never find the FM Extra online.
Using flash means you are non-existent for many.

It's pretty hard to give away the store when you can't even be found.

FM Extra assumes, in the way that makes an ass out of themselves, that folks are going to type in FM Extra ~ and goes further up their behinds to believe that the all the people that do arrive at their site are able to view the free goods via this new gift of the technology gods, Flashpaper.

Given that their target market is the senior shopper who looks for quaint local (happy) news and deals, it seems absurd to imagine they have any interest in downloading the latest version of flash. FM Extra also publishes Memories, and their pitch to advertisers is, "nobody does a better job at reaching those 40 and over than Memories Magazine." We're not exactly talking the gaming or tech-gadget crowd here, especially as these folks are, by their own admission, looking to the past, not the technological future: "Memories readers are extremely loyal, and they love to read about a past they can connect with."

Removing the ability for 100% of their content to be Googled (also seemingly incompatible with other search engine spidering etc.) is dumb enough. But to further aggravate their core audience means the advertisers aren't being served either. The advertisers have paid for placement in publications which are free and available for all, and here they go and remove these possibilities on the web. (If I had paid for any ads, I'd be livid.)

If your product is meant to be read/seen or otherwise given away for free ~ and this includes blogs and websites which exist to promote products which are paid for ~ do not put in place methods and technologies which remove the possibility.

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Saturday, August 25, 2007

These Carnivals Are Made For Workin'

The post title sounds so much better when you are listening to Nancy Sinatra, as I am ~ but the information in these carnivals is good stuff no matter what plays in the background.

I'm listed in each of these carnivals but I'm not just sucking-up by posting links to them; there's really good reading & learning to be found in them.

As the carnival names say, these carnivals are made for bloggers:

! a make money blogging carnival. (The carnival host, SuccessPart2, is where I also found his:What Would You Do With $200? a contest where you could win $200.)

Carnival of Blogging Success (Eve of HomeBizBlogger is the host, and reading through her blog I found BlogBeat which is worthy of a mention too.)

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Wednesday, July 18, 2007

No Payola

One sure sign this pay per posting crap is way out of hand is that now we have "organizations" like DisclosurePolicy.Org which try to make this all sound ethical. As if this should sound ethical. :snort:

According to that 'organization':
By disclosing the purpose of a blog, bloggers are letting readers know more about the information they'll be reviewing. Bloggers retain the freedom to write original content, as well as select which advertisers they will represent in exchange for gifts or money. Any ethical concerns will remain where they've always been - on the individual level. Because it is a blogger's freedom to select which topics will bring them payment, he/she remains responsible for his/her own reputation.
I say those of who not only believe in transparency but in authority as well ~ those of us with ethics ~ band together and tell everyone that we don't, we won't, accept paid posts.

Post a button or banner at your blog or website to let others know that you just won't take part in payola.

I recommend that you link the button to your own policy or ethics page/post, and include a link here so that others may join us too. If you do post a link to Marketing Whore, post a link in the comments to show me (and to help others who may be unsure what to say about their policies). Or email me with the link. Either way, I will add your blog to the blogroll.

Please do not hotlink (steal bandwidth); if you need help with images, go here.

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Monday, July 16, 2007

Carnival of the Capitalists: July 16, 2007

I'm hosting Carnival of The Capitalists this week. Of the 34 submissions, these were my selections.

Experiences:

John Ingrisano asks Will An HSA Solve your Health Insurance Problem? And gives his thoughts on his experience. A must read for anyone without health insurance or investigating options.

Thank you for calling Playmobil, please set your clock back 20 years is one experience we can all relate to in some way or another. Do more than pray you don't do this to your customers ~ plan to avoid this mess.

Today's Women In Business reminds us that you can in fact use blog comments can build your personal brand. However, in Despite the PR pundits, there's not much to learn from the Whole Foods fiasco, Steven Silvers reminds us that you can in fact damage your personal brand with posts as well:
The entire business world is shaking its head about Whole Foods CEO John Mackey, who was exposed for an eight-year run of posting anonymous comments to Internet investing bulletin boards touting his company's stock and flaming his competition.
Because We All Should Know More:

Ecobrowser: Are your inflation expectations well-anchored?

Atlantic Canada's Small Business Blog: How would you get back from Mars?

Sox First: Six organizational pathologies

Charles H. Green: Leadership and Folk Wisdom

Basic Accounting Blog: Decide Your Success With Bookkeeping Outsourcing

Interviews and Book Reviews:

Wayne Hurlbert reviews Instant Income by Janet Switzer.

Jim Stroup reviews The Black Swan by Nassim Taleb.

Scott Allen interviews John Assaraf and Murray Smith.

Starting Out:

Don't Buy A Franchise with your Ego:
Some people chose a franchise because of their ego, and what The Joness will think. They buy a franchise because it sounds exciting or cool. They buy a franchise hoping to impress their neighbors or friends. Because of this, they look up franchises on the Internet and either include or reject them based on the cool factor. As a result, many overlook excellent opportunities of sold money-making opportunities, sometimes with a much better return on investment than famous brands.
Ditto on job titles, job descriptions, and daily activities. So many of us are seduced by what others think of what we do.

Related to this post is Is Freelancing Foolish? Perhaps it seems more glamorous, but is it more profitable? Are you suited for it? Remember...
Going to a freelance career is no different that starting your own business.
Personal Favorites:

I get asked about starting online stores a lot, so The Beef Jerky Blog's How to Start an Online Store is one of my favorite selections. Most notable is point 4:
Most people will do a search for "wholesaleing" or "Dropshipping," this is the 100% wrong way to search for your product of choice. In most cases you will come across a ton of MFA sites, competitors, Paid list company sites, and a ton of just random site that will waste your time.
Queer talk about corporate money discusses the success of the 2006 Gay Games. Corporate funds may be disliked, but to many their buy-in gives the stamp of legitimacy. While reaction to corporate sponsorship and commercialism may be mixed within the community, the sponsorship clearly marks further acceptance of a "queer market" by corporate America.

Jack Yoest's Management Training Tip #1, Office Politics won me for this bit:
The manager cannot simply demand or bark out an order for the support.

The manager must sell.
Honorary Mention:

Blog Carnivals: An Inexpensive Way to Promote Your Business Website gets a nod because it reminds you all to participate and to sign up to host a future edition of CoTC. *wink*

Next week's host is Small Business Essentials.

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Monday, July 2, 2007

Digging Ditches, Killing Your Dinner With Your Bare Hands

This figure is a diagram of web developer's mind.


Note, it doesn't show 'boobs' anywhere. *wink*

While I joke, this is rather my point. Change a few words around, and this was once my brain ~ my brain on HTML as opposed to real code. Change a few words around, and this is my brain on marketing. Working with the adult web, in the adult industry, isn't very different from mainstream gigs.

Sure, I talk with porn stars; but we're either doing an interview (a feature which is promotion like any other celeb with a movie to plug) or she's now in the business office and we're discussing my invoice due for DVD sales.

Yeah, I review erotica, pornos, sex toys etc., but they require the same dedication, honesty and evaluation as any other product reviewed.

Yup, I put up smutty pictures and write with dirty words, but it's all the same skill sets that any other webmaster, marketer, author &/or journalist uses.

A friend was laughing the other day about how exotic my life sounds ~ over the phone it does to many, anyway. But a bill to be paid is a bill to be paid; and about as much fun. An ad, either written or placed, is work. Everything is work. It may be more entertaining for me (hence my selection of this field) than working with some other widget or industry, but folks who imagine that the porn stars, erotica authors, sex toy manufacturers, and retailers of all the goodies are all sitting around having pre-sex pillow fights, well, they're just wrong.

We do talk dirty now and then ~ but it's about the f-ing jerk whose promised payments never show up; the slutty gal who promised us an exclusive then gave that same 'exclusive' to 6 other publications; bloggers & webmasters who never recip with links as promised (or pull them later); reviewers who never get around to actually publishing the reviews; servers which go 'thud'; writers, editors and others who go MIA in the middle of the night (some stealing funds with them as they slink silent into that night); deadlines which seem impossible in light of work load; and any number of other unethical or stressful business practices ~ not the number of orgasms we had last night.

It's work. It's a job. If you're self-employed or with a start-up, it's not even guaranteed or scheduled pay.

It's better than digging ditches or having to kill your dinner with your bare hands; but it's work.

To those who keep asking about the 'fast-track' to easy money with the adult industry, especially on the Internet, I beg of Thee, please read the archives here. Yes, and follow (and read) the links. And then read at other sites. If you're still under the impression that this business is all boobs, glamour and easy money, then I'm going to have to assume that you currently not only dig ditches for a living, but must kill your dinner with your bare hands.

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Courting Your Customers

Gongol hosts this week's Carnival of the Capitalists. Naturally, the Top 10 Ways To Trash A Brand caught my eye...

Especially these points on money:
2. Constantly cutting the advertising budget. Very easy to do. And it doesn't mean that the advertising budget shouldn't be monitored and adjusted. But if it's routinely done, especially with the rationale of saving money without considering the costs, it might hurt the brand.

6. Relying on customer loyalty cards to create customer loyalty.
Don't. Loyalty cards don't create loyal customers. What you get instead are promiscuous customers. Why? Because loyalty cards offer incentives and discounts that attract customers who want a "deal". The best loyalty cards are the ones that offer benefits and value-added services that will only be enjoyed by the most profitable customers.

7. Spending more on price promotions than advertising.
Price promotions should be a part of any complete marketing program, but they can't replace traditional brand-building activities. Price promotions can be a dangerous game. Consumers attracted to your brand by a price promotion are just as likely to be lured away by a competitor's price promotion. What happens next week when the promotion is over and consumers are surprised to find that their beloved item now costs more? The "deal" doesn't seem like such a deal any more. As a result, you might be left with a bunch of people who feel ripped off. The trick is to find consumers who love your brand, ones who don't need be enticed to buy with promotions.
For those that worry that they have no/cannot afford Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software, maybe you just don't need it:
10. Installing a CRM system and expecting that will do the trick. CRM aims to give businesses the means to provide preferred customers with "value propositions" that competitors can't match. From the consulting industry's point of view, there's the beauty of the system - it means more lucre for every management consultant in town flogging similar techniques to companies and their competitors. But the problem is that these systems are often installed without thinking of how the organization can use them to attract customers, and what internal behaviors the organization needs to change. Relationships cut both ways. The company might want a relationship with a high-spending customer; but is the customer looking for that sort of relationship? Subject an uninterested customer to new product offerings and telemarketing programs and things can get ugly. Even uglier when they get a letter from their bank telling them their credit card limit can be extended by $10,000 and another telling them their mortgage payments are still in arrears. A big part of the problem is that executives do not understood what they are implementing. They often just let software vendors dictate the terms of customer management or try to fit the strategy around the expensive technology. And what you have instead is a blunt instrument that stalks, rather than woos the customer.
And, perhaps my favorite:
4. Assuming you know what targeted customers value. A variation on the previous problem. So you know who your most profitable customers. But that's only half the story. Do you know what they value? What are the five most important attributes that see them coming back or referring other customers to you? Without the answers, all you have is a pile of data without insight.
Really, if you knew your customer, your CRM system wouldn't be a "blunt instrument that stalks, rather than woos the customer"; you wouldn't train customers to be price monkeys and sales hounds; rather you would court them as you both are.

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Monday, June 25, 2007

Monday's Reading List

Management Professor Notes II hosts the Carnival of the Capitalists, and these are my two favorite posts:

The Right Price
Is Traditional Publicity Dead?

Not part of the carnival, but definitely worth reading, is Blue Gal's post on blogging. (Note how some of her ideas contrast those of Bacchus.)

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Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Empower Women Now Offers

Empower Women Now has quite a bit of information (as well as honestly stated pitches for their publications etc.), so if you are male or we adult bloggers cannot participate in the networking, link swaps etc., the site is still worth some time to visit and read. Here are a few noteworthy tidbits:

Empowered Women Now has made a deal with PRWeb for a free release distribution valued at $200.

They currently have a contest with prizes. (Currently their contest entry method is a simple link to them ~ so I guess this means I might be entered. *wink*)

I found all of this out via one trip to this one post of theirs: LinkBait Experiment: Calling all women entrepreneurs and mom bloggers. I would have just posted that as a quick link, but honestly, I was really confused at first with what they were asking folks to do with their "linkbait request" and mentions of a contest. (Sure, all the info was in the post, or linked too, but it wasn't as clear as I would have liked.)

Again, I have no idea how welcoming Empower Women Now (officially, or member-wise) will be to 'our lot.' So proceed with caution when posting comments and networking.

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Monday, June 18, 2007

Things To Know: Views & News

Flickr responds and flickr explains moderated settings and boobies are updates to the ongoing saga of flickr "considered harmful" posts by Violet Blue. (It's nearly a damn soap opera, so I may have missed a few posts ~ but she's linked updates and whatnot, so you can try to keep up and follow along at her blog.)

Driving Traffic to a Blog by Blogsbywomen.org (which does allow adult/sex blogs in its directory, so check 'em out if you're a woman with a blog) is worth reading. As a side dish, see their post on Womens Interest in Porn.

The English Courtesan has posted a bit of info on Taking Payment As A Courtesan Or Escort. Even if you're not an escort (nor based in the UK), this is worth a read as she discusses things like privacy along with her thoughts on specific payment processor options.

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Leaders & Leadership Behavior

Wayne Hurlbert's Blog Business World hosts this week's edition of Carnival of the Capitalists.

Having hosted before, I have a new appreciation for what Hurlbert's work load was like. I know his task was neither simple nor easy, and he's selected some really fine offerings. As usual, I suggest you go there and read, read, Read.

***

My favorite post from this week's carnival is Non - Linear Leadership Thinking vs. Behavior, by Charles H. Green. Hurlbert describes this post as "how it seems the best leaders are sages, able to hold two contradictory ideas in mind at the same time, believe both, and reconcile them." (Which is far more succinct than I could ever hope to be, so I must use his phrasing.)

What's excellent about this post, what's so exciting, is that Green describes what every good salesman knows ~ and I'm speaking of real salesmen in the legendary ways of old, when the profession was deemed noble.

Once upon a time every good salesman knew that if you keep the customer's needs and objections in mind and at the same time know your products well enough you can find the solution to the customer's problems via a sale.

'Tis the same with my philosophy of marketing. You know you, your product or service can't be everything to everybody ~ but you know and believe that you, your product or service can be just the thing your customer is looking for. Help him to see how, solve his problems ~ and make a sale too. It's holistic, a symbiotic win for all. This is what Green is talking about in his discussion of leadership.

Since Green's left the salesmen and marketers out of it, perhaps many more will listen. *wink*

***

Which brings us back to Hurlbert (and other fine hosts of CoTC): They create lists of the best postings, points and pontifications for the rest of us to read. Hopefully, they are read and respected in return. Another win-win.

Next week's Carnival of the Capitalists will be hosted by Management Professor Notes II ~ if you want to enter, send the following information to cotcmail~at~gmail~dot~com:

Blog Name
Blog URL
Entry/Post Title
Entry/Post URL
Description of Post
Author Name

Also, consider hosting the carnival if you have a relevant blog.

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Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Ethics, Advice and Fencing

In the LA Times Karen E. Klein addresses the question of starting a new retail business.

Specifically the question is, "I'm working on a business plan for a lingerie store but feel overwhelmed about where to get information on economic trends. Can you please help?" But no matter the venture or location, the advice is still rather sound. Use the contact information in articles and advertisements to further your research, talk to suppliers but remember they are trying to sell you something, so take what they have to say with the old grain of salt, and attend trade shows:
Attending a trade show will give you enormous insight into your new industry, how it operates, who the big players are and where the niche opportunities exist. Finally, visit some companies that cater to the same market you will but don't sell products that will directly compete with your store. "Most small-business owners are more than willing to speak about trends in their own business -- as long as they are sure that you are not a competitor," Keane said.

Take willing entrepreneurs to lunch and ask about sales trends, locations, what to focus on (quality, price, service) and what problems they encountered early on. "Speak to as many people as you can and see what resonates with your own ideas for the business. Most of all, remain open to learning new insights," Keane said.
Anyone who has ever gone this route, either attending trade shows or otherwise trying to interview other business folks regarding their business, knows this isn't as easy as pie.

On one hand, you've got the sunshine blowers who want to make you happy by warming your bum as they blow their sunshine up your skirt. On the other, those who are so tight lipped you wonder why they ever agreed to talk with you. There are also those middle-of-the-roaders who tell you generic stuff, sitting on the fence as far as giving you the truth of where things (like sales volume) lie.

With any of these folks, the interview is more like a fencing match where your direct question is a thrust and they parry.

Oh, and don't forget the flat-out refusals. Some folks won't even bother to talk with you at all.

Why the fencing? Why the refusals? Because people zealously guard their shit.

Everyone is in competition with everyone. (Or after the interview they will be.)

It seems that the only folks will to be interviewed (or happy to have their brains picked) are those who feel they are helping a student with a school report. Then it's all blither-blather ~ at least until the savvy student asks a question which seems too intelligent. (You know, a question which contradicts something they've said, or one that requires an answer with real information. Oooh, that's scary and upsetting for the interviewee.)

You could ask all the questions in a submissive round-about way, creating the illusion that you are dumber than a box of rocks. Of course, this means you'll have to hope they think you're such an idiot that they let some info slip ~ but not a large enough idiot for them to become annoyed and cut the interview off ~ and that they aren't just messing with you for their own entertainment purposes (and noob stories to tell their cohorts later).

It would seem that the only way a person interested in learning the facts might obtain them is to lie and say they are a college student (or high school if you can pass for that). But even then, most of these people present their industry as the best one for students to enter (they are no threat at entry level jobs), which is hardly the information looked for.

I don't think it's ethical to lie about the nature of who you are or your fact-finding mission. But I also don't think it's very ethical to say you'll be interviewed or talk about the industry if you're not really going to dish. With a respectful nod to 'knowledge is power' and the fact that knowledge does have worth and should be compensated accordingly (hence my own fees), I do wonder why people guard their own shit to the point of their own detriment.

Yes, to their own detriment.

People, "Experts," lose credibility when they don't follow through, especially in the guise of mentoring. Professions suffer when ignorant people join their ranks. Businesses falter when folks plans and dreams are fostered on false facts. Blowing sunshine, shoveling BS, and, yes, even avoiding answering questions only leads to bad decisions. These lead to bad press, bad reputations ~ and entire industries suffer (i.e. one bad lawyer apple ruins the whole barrel).

I am a member of several professions &/or industries which suffer from the idiotic actions of its members &/or public perception. For example, the adult industry, publishing, and marketing (the latter likely holds 1st Place in general mistrust these days).

Not coincidentally, these are some of the industries and professions not exactly prized for their knowledge sharing (you could also insert the buzz-word "transparency" here).

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Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Carnival of the Capitalists

The Marketing Whore welcomes you to the Carnival of the Capitalists.

The good news: All posts which are safe for work reading. (So click and link away!)

The bad news: This post was delayed due to our server being down (still celebrating Memorial Day we guess). Sorry about that.

The next carnival, June 4, will be hosted at Spooky Action.

Now, onto the carnival.

Marketing:

Zenofeller.com smacks of rebellion (with a hint of lunacy) with The Failure of Marketing:
Historically, marketing is plagued by one fundamental, strategical failure. It fails to communicate the notion of "don't buy this shit".
Nope, that's not a typo. And don't let my hype fool ya, there's genius in this post. (Genius always has a hint of insanity.)

At Sox First the Six rules to avoid PR disasters are mandatory reading. I don't care if PR interests you or not; this is vital.

The Buzz Bin had a great post on Pitching Bloggers:
What's wrong is treating bloggers like traditional media outlets. New media content creators do not have any obligation to "report" or field inquiries. They don't have to write up a kind review of your product (even if you comp them something), and a great majority distrust traditional public relations tactics.
(This post is a follow-up to this post, Thinking Bloggers and Pitching Blogs, which I think he intended to be his first link in that post... In any case, I also recommend reading it.)

In Queercents says, God Made Me Buy It: The Virtue of Consumption. This line should make you go read it:
consumerism is consumerism... no matter what virtue or non-virtue is pushing you to buy something.
Gender & Culture:

The Epicurean Dealmaker poses some interesting gender matters regarding i-banking in Fingernails that Shine Like Justice. Also a delight ~ no, make that a riot to read.
I have witnessed and participated firsthand in sustained and determined efforts to increase the number of women recruited into investment banks, and it is true that the number entering each year in first-year analyst and associate classes has increased markedly from my youth. However, what is also true is that very few of these women stay. The ones I know who do genuinely seem to enjoy their work, and they can cut the balls off a charging rhinocerous (or CEO) with an indenture with the best of them, all the while making their doltish male colleagues think impure thoughts about their pantyhose. In other words, I am of the opinion that smart, aggressive women have a distinct advantage over men in investment banking. Why, therefore, aren't there more of them?
Phil for Humanity writes about The Size of Money. Those who cannot see and those who are new to the US have to deal with our funny money and it's time we started making more cents sense with our money.

Econbrowser writes on something we all are thinking about, fuel prices, with the current status of Arizona Clean Fuels' effort to build a new refinery, Who should pay this bill?

General Business:


Atlantic Canada's Small Business Blog compares Business life lesson - Business is a team sport. But don't mistake this for just the typical "No 'I' in "Team" talk; this is worth reading.

InsureBlog ponders health care in Margarita's & Medicine. As a self-employed person who knows many others in this same boat, I know we wonder what's worth paying for. Here's a perspective I recommend you read.
You can cough up the $40,000 or so to have your joint replaced (if you do not have insurance).

Or, you can jet to an exotic isle where the procedure is more like $6000.
hell's handmaiden discusses Supply, demand, behavior, profit ... and such like. With 8 points, she had me intrigued at the first one:
The law of supply and demand is not based on human behavior. It is assumed.
Small Biz Survival asks, What is an entrepreneur? I found the ideas for spotting and supporting them to be most interesting.

Wayne Hurlbert at Blog Business World has a book review of Run With The Bulls by Tim Irwin. Does Wayne give it a thumbs up or down? Go read and see.

Charles H. Green of Trusted Advisor says Far too many people are calling themselves "Trusted Advisors", and he's got some advice for you if you're considering joining them:
The two most trust-destroying words you can say are, "trust me." Never say you're someone's trusted advisor, much less say you want to be, much less build an ad campaign around it. It is inherently non-credible and insincere. (I try on my own website-- which of course uses the term -- to say "helping people become trusted advisors" -- and not to claim that I are one).
Businesspundit wrote What Tiger Woods Can Teach You About Running a Business. Even the non-golfers can follow the lessons. And we need them.
In business, I think we often know the things we should do, but instead we try to do the things we want to do. We like the random fun things. We want to plan, brainstorm, hold meetings, all the stuff that doesn't require any discipline or focus.
Can I get an, "Amen," from you all? *wink*

About.com Entrepreneur's Guide discusses Borrowing to Build Your Business. I know a few of you may be tempted to by-pass this post, but read this line and see if you shouldn't change your mind:
why would you want to borrow instead of getting investors? Simply put, borrowed money is cheaper than invested money.
Also, a few posts with neat resources:

The Alexander Report has a list of Apparel and Textile Associations and Organizations.

Prosperity Achiever has a CSS Tools Collection.

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Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Virtual Marketing, Real Money, And Moral Outrage

Playboy announces it will enter the virtual world of Second Life, and of course folks are talking about it.

I found this post from Susan Getgood over at Marketing Roadmaps the most interesting:
The porn industry is an early adopter of new technologies. First to video, first to the Web. And now among the first to virtual worlds. In part of course, because it keeps getting kicked out. Pushed out of movie theaters onto video. Filtered out on the Web by products like Cyber Patrol.. But also because it is pretty good at following the money. If the commercial pornographers are there -- if they think the audience will turn up -- virtual worlds absolutely have the potential to deliver returns for more conventional marketers. In fact, I'd bet on it.
I know next to nothing about gaming, including Second Life (me-guesses that since I deal so much with real people everyday, I have no desire to deal with pretend ones in my down-time), but I'm with Susan and the others who agree it's something to watch.

On the other hand, once Playboy moves in, be prepared for some to try to evict them. Even if Second Life is a virtual adult play land, we all know how tolerant adults in the real world are. (And since gaming is huge with kids, tweens and teens, if there's even a whiff of children being exposed, watch out.)

One imagines that as the virtual Playboy Mansion moves in and real profits go up, moral outrage (virtual or not) will ensue.

But then too, watching the adult industry make money, then be told to leave, is always an interesting battle. (I must find it interesting, or, alas, take to my bed with consumption.)

And isn't it strange that the largest outcry comes only when the industry proves profits... Profits mainstream wants, but didn't have the balls & ovaries to make, so they use moral outrage to limit competition for dollars and real estate as they try to follow the model the adult companies used.

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Monday, May 14, 2007

Clothing Number One In Retail Sales Online? Really?

Apparel sales moved into the top spot online, overtaking computers (but excluding travel) for the first time in 2006, according to a report from the National Retail Federation:
According to the first part of The State of Retailing Online 2007, the tenth annual Shop.org study conducted by Forrester Research, Inc. (Nasdaq: FORR) of 170 retailers, Americans last year spent more online on clothing than they did on computers for the first time in history. The report found the apparel, accessories and footwear category reached $18.3 billion in 2006 and is expected to hit $22.1 billion in 2007. This year, 10 percent of all clothing sales are expected to occur online.
No mention of adult retail sales... You know, porn movies, sex toys... I doubt very much that lingerie, costumes and the like counted as apparel, or pornos counted as DVDs either. Maybe they are...

And then what? The sex toys are then mixed in with travel? I know my vibe takes me places, baby.

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Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Marketing 'Sin' Becomes Scapegoat; Now That IS A Sin

In Sin City image repels corporate relocation, Brian Wargo reports that Las Vegas' sin marketing, "What Happens in Vegas, Stays in Vegas," may be good for tourism but it's an "impediment in luring corporate headquarters to Southern Nevada." This according to a white paper released by the Lied Institute for Real Estate Studies.

Unfortunately, it's not true.

I myself was intrigued by the idea of marketing gone awry ~ after all, targeting one market (in this case tourism) can negatively impact another, and heaven knows 'sin' and escapism isn't exactly a pull for corporate America. But once I read the article, it's rather clear that the issue isn't Vegas' tourism marketing efforts.

Let's look at what other issues/facts the article (and, presumably, the white paper) reveal:

* cost of living is currently at 110% of the national average

* housing is more expensive than 40 other markets

* "nothing" in the way of cultural amenities (such as theaters, performing arts and a good quality of life)

* "off the chart" crime

* continued increases in out-migration

* wages not keeping pace with the rising cost of living

* lack of decent schools

* transportation problems

* a lack of land for commercial use; land prices

* a lack of quality contractors and the casino industry, which outbids all competitors for contractors

What a list of concrete practical problems. Clearly the Vegas/Sin image isn't the problem here. At least not the only one.

While I am sure companies consider the adult playground image, it isn't as vital as asking employees to take a cut in quality of life and paying a decent wage for good employees. (In the article one executive is quoted as saying, "We have service employees coaching their kids to be valet parkers who can make $100,000 a year." That's got to affect your potential employee pool and the bottom line at hiring time.) Not to mention the problems with finding and building your physical location.

One of the round table members was correct when they said, "This is not an image issue, it is a reality issue. We can't keep talented people in the valley because there are no arts, no alternatives and no transportation." Though they should have added the other major problems to the list, at least they acknowledged that the image problem was not created by tourism marketing.

But I guess blaming sin makes for much better headlines. It sure is popular to point fingers at others, especially at the "haves" when you're the "have nots." And it must be easier to blame a successful marketing campaign than it is to create better schools, deal with your economy issues, your housing market, crime and transportation... But will this solve your problems?

The hysterical cries of sin as the wolf won't save your sheep.

Make no mistake, this article is obviously using the 'sex and sin' slant to sell copy. Look at the image they use ~ the quote reads: Exotic dancers freshen up in the unisex bathroom of Seamless Gentlemen's Club last year.

In doing so, the publication does a disservice to its readers. If a person just reads the headline, or stopped reading after the 4th paragraph ~ as many do because in standard newspaper format, all the info is at the top and the rest is just (supposed to be) details to back it up ~ they'd believe this pile of propaganda.

They'd believe that the marketing campaign to tourists was to blame for Las Vegas' corporate recruitment difficulties.

And that's false.

So here's yet another example of using 'sex to sell' ~ but in a very dirty way. They are not only luring folks with their lurid headlines, but they're intentionally misrepresenting the story, the issue. They are lying.

Along with misrepresenting themselves to readers this poor marketing attempt entirely misses the very readers who would have an interest in ~ ideas regarding ~ the real issues which face Las Vegas.

Talk about a repelling image.

As an adult industry professional, I am truly disgusted by things like this.

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Monday, May 7, 2007

Don't Make Me Talk About Web 2.0

First of all, I hate this "Web 2.0" frenzy. I hate it so much, that I wasn't even thrilled for being recognized as not blogging about it. But a few of you have asked about it and like it or not, it's 'news' so I'll get off my high horse and talk about it. (Rant is more like it.) And after I do this rant, I'll continue to talk about the so-called parts of Web 2.0, but I'll pretty much be banishing the phrase "Web 2.0".

Why do I hate it? Because it's based on a love of technology, not based on people.

I say this because social networking isn't really anything new. People have been contacting each other, sharing links and photos and doing all the same things before on the Internet via email, forums, news groups, websites etc.

This Web 2.0 hoopla is just a new way of doing the same old thing, which isn't bad ~ but so many rave about the marvels of it all when this technology for the most part hasn't taken into account human need and therefore misses the mark. It's provided us a new tool which may improve the way thing are done, but this bit of ease doesn't seem to be worth all the chatter. I say this because no one has really been able to monetize "Web 2.0" ~ and if you can't sell the tool, how much does the market need or want it?

From the point of the human consumer, the lack of interest in buying the tool speaks to the lack of fundamental understanding of the market it's supposed to serve.

(I know I may sound like I'm backtracking on my love of blogging, but I'm not. Blogging is one tool which offers something new ~ the ability to publish and converse in real time ~ and this is a case of a tool being useable. It's monetary value is still undecided. But we can prove blogging has value in that many folks pay for such things as the actual software and hosting, as well as the dollars spent in advertising. However, remarkable as blogging is, I do not consider blogging to be part of this "Web 2.0" talk. Blogs are, as I've said before, really a variation on website publishing, and as it lacks the embedded functionality of Web 2.0's biggest baby, Social Networking, I'm removing it from this conversation.)

Now I'd like to focus on Web 2.0's number one baby, Social Networking.

Many of you will point to this tool's profitability to say that is has value. I will in return point to the fact that there have only been two ways to monetize such sites: paid advertising and the sales of such sites.

The first is nothing new ~ paid spots on websites have been around for a long time and their merits/effectiveness are another conversation alltogether. For now, let's just say that applying the old advertisement to the new technology isn't a vote for the technology but just more realestate for advertising.

The second, sales of social networking sites, have proven to be for large sums of money. But if I were on the board of directors for a company who proposed to buy such a site I would ask, "Why should we buy this? What purpose does it serve?"

If the response is that "we'd get millions of eyeballs" I'd say there are two problems with that reply.

One, unless we are in the real estate or advertising sales business we should pass. For with such a purchase what we are in effect doing is buying the land the billboards are on and nothing more.

Two, let's scrutinize those "millions of eyeballs."

How many of these members are active? We hear the number of members bandied about, but we all know that not all members are active members. I myself have joined and then stopped playing there when I got bored (more on that in a moment). I'm still one of the masses, included in the count, but neither my body mass nor my eyeballs appear there any more.

Of those still active, how many are looking at and/or clicking on the ads? (I say 'and/or' because when it comes to the value of advertising many argue that being seen is as much the point as are the clicks. A whole other debate.) While we may not consider The Whore to be typical (subject to debate, I know) we can at least be assured that she is human and I will tell you that she is part of the skeptical, cynical consumer crowd. I don't like to be bombarded with ads and do not wait for them to load. I am the first to click on the 'skip this ad' option, and once familiar with where the ads are posted, I avoid looking there. All of these behaviors are easy to do and I daresay being done by "the millions of eyeballs."

So, if on the board of directors being presented with such a million dollar opportunity, I'd pass.

If the person(s) suggesting a buy-out of a social network had other ideas for such a purchase, I'd listen. But so far there are only two ways to make money off these sites, advertising and the sales of the site itself. You may think they are grand ways to make money, but keep in mind that members will not pay for memberships to these sites. So why buy one? What's the point of them as real entities?

But I know you all want to know about how to use them. You want to get the most of these millions of eyeballs looking at you. I'll go on and on about that next time. But remember, I won't be calling it Web 2.0.

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