Why Sex Doesn’t Sell

image of shadow of high heeled shoes

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.

“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.”

Good copy and great content come from the humility of being able to listen … to listen to the conversation your audience is having, and to enter 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 over the long haul.

And that’s important … the long haul. Yes, “sexy” copy will get you sales — maybe even a lot of them — but it will not get you an audience.

Be patient and courageous 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, service, or idea.

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

About the author

Robert Bruce


Robert Bruce is VP of Marketing for Copyblogger Media, as well as its Resident Recluse.

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