March 27 2017

Marketing is Sex



When you think about it, marketing is very much like sex.

When it works, it can be so right, empowering and creative. When it’s wrong, it can be disempowering and destructive.

The relationship metaphor is often applied to marketing. The idea being that you go out and look for your prospects, or attract them to you, and then go through some kind of courtship that may take anything from moments or months. But let’s be honest — ultimately it’s about the consummation. (There’s a reason why we use the term “proposition“.)

When the chips are down, what really matters is, is this going to work? Is this a fit?

As I’ve said so many times, marketing is all about creating the conditions for a trade.

Anatomy of a mortise and tenon joint

In “The Secret of Selling Anything”, sales genius Harry Browne defined a trade as a transaction where two parties exchange something of theirs for something else that the other offers, each party convinced that what they’re getting is worth more to them than what they give up.

When we’re selling, it’s possible to have what seems like a great product and an ideal customer, but for some reason the trade doesn’t work. Maybe it’s timing, or maybe the communication is incomplete or inaccurate.

That’s just like relationships and sex. You can have two great people who look made for each other at face value, but the chemistry just isn’t there.

Male & female connectors in a VGA interface

Maybe it’s the wrong prospect, maybe it’s the wrong product, or maybe the proposition was badly put together or mis-communicated.

Whatever it is, that’s all marketing.

Marketing is about finding a fit between brand, product/service, problem/opportunity, and customer. The proposition is where those elements come together.

So as a marketer or businessperson, what you’re really doing is designing that fit. The “male-female fit” is all around us, whether you’re a carpenter creating a mortise and tenon joint, or you’re using a VGA connector to get a monitor to work with your computer.

So far so obvious. The real question this raises for each of us who’s in the selling business is…

[pullquote align=”normal”]What kind of marketing (sex) do you want? [/pullquote]

Just like sex, marketing can work for both parties, or can benefit just one side of the arrangement.

Are you looking for people who really need or desire what you offer, or will you take any sale you can?

Marketing can be consensual or non-consensual.

Are you committed to providing all the information a prospect could need in order to know for sure whether your offer is right for them, or are you prepared to withhold, misrepresent, or embellish the facts in order to get the sale?

Marketing can be a genuine two-way experience.

Are you willing to get intimately involved with your market? Will you listen to their needs and concerns so you can respond positively, or just keep pushing directly to get your immediate needs met?

Marketing can focus on building long-term relationships or single transactions.

Does your marketing activity filter your prospects so that you can concentrate on those who are likely to have a long-standing customer relationship, or does your focus stop at the first consummation?

It all comes down to the nature of the relationship you’re looking for. Depending on what you’re selling, you can choose to have an extended, friendly, consensual courtship so that your prospect really gets to know you, and wait until the time is right for them to say “yes” to you.

How was it for you?

You can choose to have your customers wake up the next morning with a warm glow, knowing they have been an equal and respected partner in the event.

Even after the transactions are over, you can choose to remain friends, giving your customers every reason to speak well of you.

I don’t know your business, and I’m not here to tell you what you should do. And there’s nothing wrong with quick, dirty, cheap marketing.

The ultimate question is, what do your customers expect from your brand? How do they expect to be treated? Answer that question, then you can choose the right way for you to proceed.

About the author 

Ben Hunt

My job is to look at the world and wonder... "How should we live?"

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  1. Ben,

    This is a great description of the “relationship” of marketing. I always regarded my client interactions as relationships with give and take on both sides. Done properly, it is a sort of intimacy. Good post.

    1. Thanks Mark. I don’t quite get how poka-yoke relates to the article, though. It seems to be about designing in error checks, rather than designing a fit between supply and demand/need. Perhaps I’m missing something?

      1. Sorry Ben. I may be a bit off on one… it was the male and female on the computer plug and socket that send me off point. Great article though.

  2. I am reading a book about how sex can make a man a better business man. Thank you for this article. It was a good one. The type of people I’m looking for, for my business, I’m will be loyal to my business and want to buy stuff later on down the road.

  3. Interesting take and angle on this. Can be long lasting, meaningful and memorable… or Quick and Dirty with no strings attached… I think most people forget that sometimes a no strings attached relationship can be best for both parties… And sometimes, a transaction or product requires or deserves nothing more than just that.

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