Online Advertising on the Cheap
December 12, 2003 7:36 PM   Subscribe

A company I work with has designed a rather tasteful/classy (IMHO) adult toys website ... but we don't have much of a budget left for advertising. Besides MeFi Adwords, of course, what is the best way to get the word out without having much (if any) of a budget?
(Note: Link to the site ommitted out of respect for no-self-linking. However, post a comment if you'd like me to link to it and I will.)

We're already doing google adwords, but we must not be attracting the right demographic, because we've had 8,000 click throughs and no sales from a google refer... any other ideas?
posted by SpecialK to Work & Money (16 answers total)

--press releases to all sorts of places, online and off
--a contest?
posted by amberglow at 8:03 PM on December 12, 2003

You could sell a sex toy that cleverly infringes upon some respected brand's trademark (e.g. iVibrator, The Colonel's Love Beads, etc.) and wait to be Slashdotted.
posted by rschram at 8:08 PM on December 12, 2003

Hold an essay contest and give away free merchandise, especially to A-list bloggers?
posted by anastasiav at 8:21 PM on December 12, 2003

Donate something to one of Dan Savage's next columns, or advertise on Spreading Santorum.
posted by gramcracker at 8:24 PM on December 12, 2003

smart mob? (hmm, maybe not so smart if it falls for this)
posted by MzB at 8:25 PM on December 12, 2003

Send it off to fleshbot, the porn blog?
posted by mathowie at 8:43 PM on December 12, 2003

Does the client have any offline PR resources you can take advantage of?
posted by majick at 9:09 PM on December 12, 2003

Response by poster: No offline PR resources that I know of -- it's a, uh, mom & pop shop. Quite literally. (Hey, if MY grandparents opened an online porn shop when they retired, I'D think it was cool...)

Fleshbot said, "No, we're not going to link to you, but we'll happily sell you an ad..." ;) Oh well.
posted by SpecialK at 10:10 PM on December 12, 2003

it's a, uh, mom & pop shop. Quite literally. (Hey, if MY grandparents opened an online porn shop when they retired, I'D think it was cool...)

that sounds like a really good story angle. sounds to me like you could get your local paper interested in a story . . . do you or anyone at your business no anyone at your local paper. business section or features would be best. if not, write a clever press release and send it to them (look for the editor's name for those sections), then call them a couple of days later and invite them over to check out the business.

this worked for me when i was trying to drum up interest in a software company me and my friends started.
posted by _sirmissalot_ at 10:20 PM on December 12, 2003

er, "know anyone at your local paper?" . . . woops.
posted by _sirmissalot_ at 10:21 PM on December 12, 2003

I hate to suggest this, but what about getting in contact with Howard Stern. Gran & Gramp selling sex toys sounds like the perfect story for him....
posted by anastasiav at 10:31 PM on December 12, 2003

I would say to start a blog with "success" stories and people's experiences with the toys and sex in general. Will draw good repeat traffic and improve your google rank, so searches on your products will turn up higher in people's searches.

People like Liberator Shapes (which sells foam blocks designed to help position you for sex) have e-cards with drawings of the shapes in use, which you can send to people, and those actually helped sell more of their products than the ads they had bought, according to their staff who bought ads on the site where I worked about a year ago.
posted by anildash at 11:24 PM on December 12, 2003

If it's a classy operation, Good Vibrations might be a good model to study to learn successful marketing techniques. I think they grew from a small shop. They take an educational approach to marketing. They also selectively advertise, build mailing lists etc.

You might build a blog page as an adjunct to the main site and feature new products, toys and relevant websites. If you did it well, I bet that would get a following and get linked in a way your commercial site might not. Or just add interesting, fun and educational content to your site. Good Vibrations gets tons of links back - study and learn why.

I don't see PR in local or mainstream press as being the best avenue to get the cash register to ring. Lots of people pursue PR because they think of it as free - I think of it as "earned." It is not as easy to come by (heh) as people think, and but for rare cases, it often has disappointing results in terms of generating immediate sales. The mom 'n pop angle might work, but you would need to hit something big to have an impact. Not that it couldn't happen, but when you go for "big" you have a lot of competition. I'm not saying don't do it - maintained people who think big often have great results. But don't pin all your hopes on that.

I wouldn't give up on ads. With paid ads, you control the message, the venue and the timing. Maybe instead of trying to make immediate sales on Google, you try to get people to sign up for an educational newsletter that features articles. Or maybe instead of Google, you research and test ads on specific sites or in print publications.
posted by madamjujujive at 11:32 PM on December 12, 2003

If you have something really novel (like the religious butt plugs,) the sprawling slash fandom might pick up on it, but that's not exactly a guaranteed way to get eyeballs. However, hold a short erotica contest (1000 words, f'rinstance) with a couple of good prizes, and we'd probably show up like locusts. regularly gets an influx of new members from fen when they do stuff like that.
posted by headspace at 7:33 AM on December 13, 2003

And okay, maybe no one else is curious, but what's the URL?
posted by headspace at 7:35 AM on December 13, 2003

Response by poster: We had a bug show up today that we're busy stomping (on the detail pages, images suddenly started stretching for some reason...) but (Need it be said? Past splash page, NSFW.)
posted by SpecialK at 12:17 AM on December 14, 2003

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