Sex sells, cars don’t.

“Our site is not performing well. We need to compare it pornography. Porn sites get you to exactly what you want right away, and on our site people have to find what they are looking for.”

This is honestly part of a discussion I had with a client last week about his website, a car buying website. It took me a while to try to convince him from the error in that comparison he just made, but I failed miserably. Maybe that is to be expected, once a man’s mind is focused on sex, it is not easy to snap it out of it.

But it is an interesting analogy that he made, which actually ties in to having an audience. Because companies often like to compare their sites and numbers with the most influential and high-grossing category of sites on the web; porn and erotica. But there is a major flaw in doing that.

First of all, don’t mix information up; yes, the erotic on-line industry makes billions of dollars. But on the other hand, if you check on an average, the income per site is not that amazing. Of course this is an industry where there is hardly any quality control and are literally millions of competitors. I actually wrote about this in an earlier posting here on this blog.

But it is not even that, it is about the subject. For most of the people, sexual scenarios and content are an immediate attention-grabber. And I am not even talking about explicit pornography, any sexual related matter simply grabs someones attention. Sex sells, it is simple as that.  A main part of that is that it is literally in our genes. The majority of people get aroused when they see anything involving sexuality or arousal of other people. And second of all, people like to be aroused. It pure biology. Even the most subtle hint of sexuality can attract immediate and precise focus.

Buying a car? Not so much. I mean, dealing with a car dealer who with his fake Colgate smile tries you to sign up for 7 years of monthly payments adding up to 5 times the actual value of the car. And most of the cars do not make you look cool. Car dealers, financial institutions to handle insurances. I love driving cars, I love cars, I hate buying them.

So, you have fun and arousal on one side, banks and car-dealers on the other side. Instant-satisfaction compared to 7-years of pain and misery. Do I really need to spell it out?

But also, sex makes us (and I will speak for the male part of the population) blind. Sure, it sounds like fun, but it is really true. This is a huge selling point. Why do you think you can rent a multi-million dollar movie on you on-demand from your cable provider for $4, but if you want to watch a couple-of-thousand dollar erotic movie, you actually have to fork over around $15. Strange? Not really. Sex sells, in this case, literally.

So, instead of just comparing your site with an on-line erotic site, keep in mind that most likely you are comparing apples and oranges. What it should make you think about is how you might make your site more tempting, more appealing to at least make it more pleasing for the visitors. But unless you want to own an adult site, do not compare your site to one. It simply is not that easy.

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