Explore behind-the-scenes of building a sex-positive career, and overcoming the challenges of marketing within the adult industry, when social media limitations and censorship have taken over. Casey Murphy, sex toy industry veteran of 18 years and digital marketing strategist for sexual wellness brands and sex-positive entrepreneurs, shares invaluable guidance on navigating the field and building a thriving sex-positive business.
Casey’s unique path from the music industry to the intimate world of pleasure products was not only a career transition, but a profound personal transformation. We delve into overcoming shame in our sexuality and emboldening our erotic expression, and as we build careers in the adult industry and create a path toward pleasure and success. We explore the power of embracing authenticity in personal relationships and our online presence, how to avoid burnout and prioritize self-care, and how our unique voice is essential in establishing successful business branding. We also explore how online communities, such as Instagram and Reddit, play a crucial role in crowdsourcing essential sex education, pleasure, and product knowledge.
Catholicism, Shame, and the Sex Industry
Casey: The adult industry has always had a stigma with it sex toys, sexuality, sexual health and wellness. There’s always this social perspective and perception that it’s taboo and it’s just been in the closet for so long.
And me being Catholic and jumping into the industry and being like, “there’s nothing fucking wrong with any of this,” made me want to prove this to not just to myself and my family but whoever else I could.
Lorrae: I love that so much. I also grew up Catholic and I feel like it was a huge part of why I went on this journey to talk about sexuality. There was this real programming when growing up thinking that it’s taboo and wrong and secret and shameful.
Then as I started to have sex, I carried a lot of that with me for so long, but the more that I immersed myself in sex positive media, people, experiences I learned there’s actually nothing wrong with this. It shouldn’t be taboo. It shouldn’t be everything that I grew up believing. And as I rewrote that for myself, I was like, I wanna be the resource that I wish I had growing up. That somebody could find my site or my Instagram. I resonate with these experiences and I feel less alone, which is just such a huge part of it from the heart and soul for me.
Casey: Yeah, and it’s not easy to be that person when, one, you have all this programming from what you knew as a child and adolescence and even adulthood, and two, to do that so early on in this movement, because you’ve been doing this for a long time.
Lorrae: Yeah, it’s been 12 years now. It was so taboo back then. And now we actually have so much more sex positive media and outlets, and it’s so great to see. But when we were both working in this industry to start, man, it was a battle.
I remember even reaching out to condom companies and say, hey, we’d love to work with you. And they were responding with, we don’t want to work with a sexy brand. And I’m like, “but you sell condoms. Who do you think’s using condoms?” It’s actually not the people that are in married monogamous relationships trying to have kids. It’s everyone that’s having sex.
Sex Positivity if the Internet No Longer Existed
Lorrae: There are so many limitations in censorship on social media now and it’s getting harder and harder to share sex positive information. How has that impacted you in many of the different aspects of your business whether as your own sex educator work, with your shop, or helping others in their marketing strategies?
Casey: So, for helping others in their marketing strategies, I just get honestly so frustrated because everyone is clinging to this idea that meta advertising is the be-all end-all for exposure and no one is really stepping out of the internet to realize that Interscope Records, grassroots marketing exists, communities exist online but also outside of the internet. Get in your local community.
If you’re a retailer, host a pop-up shop, cross promote with a bingo night or a bar. Find your people and get in their faces because if the internet just stopped existing overnight, like everyone’s fucked, you know? And so I like to remind people that if the internet didn’t exist or if it just disappeared overnight, what would you do?
Lorrae: Yeah, I do worry about that as well because my business is completely online and we’ve seen the issues with Facebook and Instagram. and then there’s so much digital marketing strategy that says have your email list, your SEO, your website but if all of that was gone, what do we do? And if you’re a certified sex educator and let’s say have a shop, that actually gives you more opportunities to be able to work with people one-on-one, in person, at a brick and mortar. So expanding our own entrepreneurial skill sets to be like, “okay, I’ve been doing, let’s say, sex coaching online forever, but how can I do that in my community?”
Casey: The beautiful thing is that we have so many resources available to us. Like if you wanted to get into products, you could easily do that. Or you could just build a blog website. I think there are so many ways to explore different business models in this industry and grow outside of just your digital presence.
The Evolution of the Magic Wand Vibrator
Lorrae: I know you recently partnered with Magic Wand to do a deep dive into Reddit and see how folks are talking about pleasure products online. And that’s just so amazing to me because we can use these online communities to share sex education and product knowledge and help each other navigate such a huge sexual wellness space by asking questions to fellow people and being like, what products are you using? What do you like? How do you use this? What are you doing? What insights did you learn and what trends did you see as you were going through all of that Reddit data?
Casey: Magic Wand wanted to do this Reddit project and be able to quantify the sentiment of what consumers were saying about them online, but not just like, what are they saying, who are our competitors? That was actually kind of last on their list. It was like, how do we combat misinformation of what people are saying? And who is coming to bat for us to combat misinformation and how much information on our product and the brand is accurate?
And so having a sift through not just subreddit Sex Toys, but Reddit After Dark and Ask Women Over 40 and all of the subreddits, I felt like a private investigator. It was just really fascinating to see the the Magic Wand stand the test of time. And it’s the same products, right? They’ve recreated, they’ve reinvented themselves with branding, coloring, packaging, sizes, charging connectivity, speeds, rechargeability. But they have their core product and they just keep improving on it and making it better.
When you think, okay, where are they gonna go from here? They’re like, “oh, we’re making one that’s the size of a key chain.”
Lorrae: I just heard about that, I am so excited. I can’t wait to try it. I’m literally gonna carry it around in my purse. I’m so thrilled.
Casey: Yeah, I know. And it’s just so funny because if someone already has all of the Magic Wands what’s going to make them purchase the next iteration, the next generation? And I fucking love things that are tiny and cute. You got me. So they’ve just been really smart about, obviously, their branding. And it’s just so interesting on Reddit, because consumers are doing the work.
Sex Education, From Reddit?
Lorrae: I use Reddit a lot to be like, what are the side effects of this medication that I’m being prescribed that my doctor doesn’t tell me that people are actually having? So, when I think about the idea of using Reddit or other types of forums and tools, to crowdsource that information for pleasure, how can we use these community resources to deepen our own experience as the consumer or somebody that has a question about pleasure or their partner or their relationship?
Casey: I think just going into it, knowing that there’s already a Reddit for that, that there’s no such thing as someone hasn’t asked my question before, is comforting.
So I had a hemorrhoid issue, which is something else no one talks about, like fucking depression and hemorrhoids. So where did I go? I went to Reddit and from reading about procedures where you know a professional a doctor is gonna say “that’s not gonna hurt” and it’s like, “okay well, should I believe them?” And then people online are saying, “no people could hear my screams.”
Lorrae: Oh yeah, like how an IUD is gonna be a little pinch. The IUD is not a pinch.
Casey: Your doctor is always pushing that on you. But Reddit is unfiltered, it’s raw, it’s personal. And there’s way more people who are providing really amazing, thoughtful answers and experiences as opposed to someone who’s like, “my girlfriend shouldn’t want to use a sex toy, because my dick is good enough.”
And as a sex educator and a content creator for small businesses, I go on Reddit every day and I learn something new every day. Or you can be a silent observer. You don’t have to participate in the conversation. You can just go at your own pace. And it’s just a great starting point.
Join us on this enlightening journey into marketing, authenticity, and growth within the pleasure products industry, with profound insights to empower your pleasure and a rare glimpse into an industry often shrouded in mystery, by tuning into the full podcast episode.
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