Why Sex Doesn’t Sell

"Are you a writer, or a flimflam artist?" – Robert Bruce

In his essay, “It’s Necessary for the Scene,” American playwright David Mamet explains why no play or movie he writes or directs include explicit sex scenes.

Mamet is no prude. He cut his teeth in the theatre, working in and around that last great institution of vagabonds and players, excess and fornication.

No, what he’s getting at here is something more important than a hopeless moral stance. It is a display of wisdom and restraint that can instruct both copywriters and content marketers.

“When we see the scene of simulated sex, we can think only one of two things:

  1. Lord, they’re really having sex … or
  2. No, I can tell, they aren’t really.

Either of the above responses takes us right out of the film.”

Sex doesn’t sell the story; it takes us completely out of the story.

Good copy and great content come from the humility of listening … listening to the conversation your audience is having and entering that conversation with an honest, clear, useful, and helpful story.

What “takes us right out” of that marketing story? Half-truth. Hype. Hard sell. These are the “sex scenes” of copywriting, content, and marketing, online or off.

Like so many impotent Hollywood producers who’ve derailed otherwise great films with unnecessary plot lines and scenes, dropping a little “sex” into your copy to punch it up will only cripple your efforts to tell the story.

And that’s important … telling the story. Yes, “sexy” copy will get you sales — maybe even a lot of them — but it will not get you the kind of audience who will stick with your story, and potentially buy from you for years to come.

Be patient and substantial enough to build (or market) something truly great, and then tell the story of that greatness honestly, directly, and clearly.

Sex doesn’t truly sell, because it’s ultimately just a cheap distraction, an attempt to veil the emptiness of your product or service.

Start marketing at the start, and you’ll find that the writhing, pushing, sweating bodies of hype are merely diversions that your business can’t afford, and that your audience won’t buy.

Image source: Pietro De Grandi via Unsplash.

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