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I was scanning my local paper over breakfast yesterday. It’s that bastion of international journalism, The Manly Daily. I turned the page and came upon the classifieds. A couple of full colour ads stood out from the rest.

I must say, I’m always amazed at the size of the escort industry – if you use its share of voice of the classified ads as the reference point. There’s either a lot of married people spending time away from home, or a lot of singles who prefer to pay directly for services, rather than pay for the drinks, dinner, etc in the hope of services, so to speak. There’s certainly more ads for escorts than for tradies.

But I digress – slightly.

The ads reminded me of a wonderful presentation by UK marketer and publisher of The Directory, Patrick Collister. If you’ve ever used or looked into a public phone box in London, you’ll notice they are full of “calling cards” for prostitutes.

London phone booth

Patrick uses these in a marketing presentation describing positioning – that’s brand positioning, not physical positioning. As he explained, most of the calling cards promote the features of the ladies (and occasional gent) providing the service – they rarely promote benefits or position the individuals as any different from each other.

Here’s an example – be warned there is nudity in these images, so please don’t peer too closely if easily offended. Certainly the Brits aren’t – as the damn cards litter the sidewalk around every phone box.

Sexual ads in a public telephone box in Soho. London. UK

In most cases the ladies sell their features including appearance, physical attributes and the type of services they provide. But one card stood out for Patrick – and I found a version of it online thanks to Google. The card he referred to simply said “my name is Amanda and I love my job.” Here’s a similar one…

Londond prostitute I luv my work

Amanda understands benefits and the fact people buy emotionally. And she also understand the importance of positioning. In nearly every industry category, the products and services being sold are generic. The only thing that differentiates them is their brand and the positioning of same.

Amanda probably has all the physical attributes (generic features) of the other service providers. But she knows how to position her service differently from others in a way that makes the customer want to buy and probably not seek a discount.

Hypothetically speaking, whether it was a male or female offering their services and you had to choose between loads of ads full of features, or an ad that highlighted said benefit – my name is…and I love my job – which would you choose? My guess is for these services, you’d rather buy from someone who loves what they do for a living?

But back to the classifieds in The Manly Daily. There is a local service called “Desires“. I’ve checked a few back issues and they normally run this ad:

Desires 1 001

But yesterday they segmented the market and ran two ads – one offering Desires Cougars and the other offering Desires Kittens. I’m assuming they didn’t need BIG DATA or some other digi-magic to work this out. I’ll dare suggest they are doing it as a result of customer demand.

Desires 2

From what I can tell, the industry has long promoted itself on ethnic grounds eg Asian ladies, or physical specifications eg buxom blondes. But this appears to be one of the first full colour ads defining their services this way – and offering different locations with only a single phone call.

They obviously understand the benefits of positioning and segmentation to get a better response from their advertising. They probably charge according to the positioning as well. And they seem to be using customer language – which can be far more evocative. Kittens obviously positions the service differently in the mind of the customer to Cougars for example.

Or maybe these ads are just new to me so I assume they’re new to the world? I can only guess, as it’s one subject I won’t be personally researching.

Where’s today’s paper?