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Think like a marketer

by Race Bannon

Sexy men like these at the SF Eagle meet and mingle in the flesh, but often the actual erotic connections happen separately online. Photo: Rich Stadtmiller
Sexy men like these at the SF Eagle meet and mingle in the flesh, but often the actual erotic connections happen separately online. Photo: Rich Stadtmiller  

Recently a friend was bemoaning that he wasn't getting the amount of sex he wanted. For a host of reasons, he felt that it was difficult to connect. I often hear this same sentiment from others.

Why is it difficult for some to find erotic connections? I've talked to a lot of kinksters about this and a discussion point comes up repeatedly; the role online life has in finding play partners.

Being someone who's created marketing campaigns and sales collateral for much of my professional life, I thought I'd put on my marketing hat and offer what I hope is useful insight.

The reality of modern kinky life is that while we regularly socialize in groups large and small, many (most?) of our sexual connections are enabled through our online presence.

Online hookup and cruising sites add another layer of communication between us and the object of our attentions. Whereas in the past we might frequently encounter people face-to-face and size them up quickly through visual and verbal cues, now we often shop for sex and relationships much as we shop for stuff online.

At the risk of it seeming like pursuing sex and relationships is a cold, calculating process, I think it's wise for all of us to think like marketers.

When creating a profile, whether it's to find hookup sex, a regular play partner, or an ongoing relationship, there are tactics that improve your chances.

Imagery is a big part of marketing. In the case of online profiles, that means photos.
I shouldn't have to say this, but your photos should not be 15 years old. Keep them current. In the age of the smartphone, having old photos isn't acceptable. It's false advertising.

If you choose to not show your face, realize you're reducing the odds of connecting. We all like to see the face of the person we're cruising or sizing up for a date. If your profile does not include your face, then become comfortable that it's going to make connecting more difficult.

Photos should be clear and shot from direct angles. Cleverly angled shots might seem artistic to you, but the viewer might assume you're hiding something. Whether it's a photo of your face, body or private parts, the less forthright the photo appears, the fewer chances of a good response.

When it comes to profile text, do not write a tome. Effective marketing writing is concise. Your profile is you marketing yourself. Keep it short and pithy.

Two guys like these handsome men might meet at an event and want to play, but where do they go if neither can host? Photo: Rich Stadtmiller  

Also, remember that extensive specificity in your profile could narrow your options. If you're looking for people 25-40, you've automatically locked out the 41-year-old you might have otherwise found quite interesting. The same goes for overly specific sexual interests.

If you say you're only a top or bottom, that's the action you'll be getting. Don't be upset if no one suggests any other configuration.

If you list only certain sexual activities, don't be surprised if no one pursues you for anything else. The mind accepts the literal. When you declare you like A, B and C, the viewer has assumed that maybe X, Y and Z aren't on the menu.

Avoid arrogance. While this may seem to be a more prevalent failing among tops and doms, the truth is lots of switches, bottoms and subs display arrogance, sometimes without even realizing it. A reader might interpret "power bottom" as "I'll never satisfy them." Reel back the arrogance (overt or implied).

Demonstrate negotiability. Since no two humans are alike, their sexualities aren't either. Let the reader know that while you have certain preferences, you're open to finding common ground. All good sex is about finding common ground. All of it. Rigidity is a surefire recipe for erotic loneliness.

In short, when you're creating an online profile, think like a marketer. Ask yourself, if you were a stranger reading your profile, how would you react? Be ruthlessly honest with yourself. Edit for directness, clarity, friendliness, openness and flexibility and maybe you'll get laid a whole lot more.

One can have a great profile and generate interest, but it you don't have a place to play, it doesn't do you much good. If you can host at your place, consider yourself lucky. Many can't. I hear this complaint often. As one friend said, saying you can't host is often the erotic kiss of death.

As alternatives, there are local dungeons, play spaces, sex clubs and bathhouses (we need one in San Francisco, please!). Lots of private play parties happen, but you need to nurture your network to stay in the invitation loop. You can rent a hotel room if you can afford it. Or see if any of your friends would be open to loaning you their space.

In the Bay Area where many of us live with one or more other people, finding a place where we can comfortably play can be a challenge. Don't accept that you have no options. Create them.

Race Bannon is a local author, blogger and activist.

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