Is selling sex a good professional marketing strategy?

When did cleavage start becoming part of accepted business attire? I’m not talking young, buff, bikini clad bodies on the beach where such displays belong. It’s being subjected to sagging, wrinkly reveals from middle-aged women who choose plunging necklines to show off a little bit of crack as part of a white collar image.

Granted, I’m not a guy, so may not be in synch with half the population here, but still, find it hard to believe such exposure is considered attractive. Just as I don’t enjoy seeing my plumber’s exposed backside, I figure most don’t find this front side reveal alluring. Yet, these days, whether it’s a decision made by the individual or one encouraged by the boss, this seems to be a more common occurrence in professional settings than ever before.

Seriously, I can’t go to the bank, turn on a local newscast or attend a networking event without being subjected to a swooping neckline exposing parts that should be kept more private. Even television commercials and network programming seem to include a whole lot more exposure of bodies far from young, slim or tight than I ever recall. I get it if you’re that big, that sexy, that perky or that fit and are trolling for a mate, but these gals aren’t. No matter what age or shape you are – it’s distracting if you’re goal is to conduct business – and not in a good way.

Personally, I’ve never shied away from capitalizing on advantages. Well, that’s not entirely true. The first time my father arranged an interview with a colleague, I felt it was cheating. He instilled a philosophy in me that still serves me well today. The gist was, you’ll have to prove yourself worthy so there’s no shame in using resources available to you to get in the door. Still, there’s a right time and a right place to leverage your assets (or be cognizant of gravity’s effects over time).

Cleavage in professional business attire

Is what you’re projecting the message you want prospects and clients to hear?

I’m no prude, but really don’t get this trend toward letting it all hang out. If you’re trying to establish yourself as a credible, professional resource, sex doesn’t sell that message – unless, of course, you’re a professional model or an actor vying for an erotic role. For most seeking respect and credibility in business, though, this marketing tactic will only make the road to your goal longer and harder.

Creating a good entrepreneurial marketing strategy requires thought about your end goal. Be careful what you choose to lead with. If you want to be taken seriously as a consultant, provider or small business owner it’s probably not a good idea to expose too much in business environs.

Selling health club memberships, lingerie, personal training or products and services designed around creating or revealing better physiques might merit more skin, provided you have the personal goods to back up this claim. I know a gal who shows up to national conference meetings in a tank top and shorts. Her business is all about helping middle-aged women (her peers) look and feel healthier. She’s justified being proud about the body she’s built. While her attire choice was a bit shocking at first, it works as an effective marketing strategy for what she’s selling. She sure stands out in the crowd. Sometimes sex does sell when what you’re offering is closely related – not so much if it’s a stretch.

As with anything you develop in your small business marketing strategy arsenal, consider whether what you’re projecting is helping or hurting your success. First impressions count. Be proud of your body, but remember, wooing clients with your mind requires focus. If you’re encouraging prospects to fixate below the neck, you probably don’t their have attention on the assets you want them to notice.

What do you think about the cleavage movement? Am I off-base in the face of today’s personal empowerment and self-love directives? Do you find yourself looking but trying not to when faced with a view that provides too much information about the affects of aging? Please include your thoughts and experiences in the comments below and don’t forget to share with the icons provided to the left of this post.

Photo credit: katie cowden / Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND

Nanette Levin

Writer, author, marketer, public speaker and small business advocate with more than 25 years of experience. Check out some of our affordable introductory deals designed to make it fun and easy for new clients to test results with small projects.

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6 Responses to Is selling sex a good professional marketing strategy?
  1. Jan
    January 22, 2013 | 2:49 am

    I was chuckling right through this post.
    For years before working from home, I worked in very male dominated industries. I could be dressed in a boiler suit fastened up to my neck and someone would still talk to my chest. My cleavage, just the mere fact I possess one even if it was covered, had its uses!
    I do know what you’re saying about the plunging necklines. I’m not one for business suits or networking. On the rare occassion I venture to these meetings, it’s guaranteed there will be a handful of “here’s my cleavage” women. I’m not too sure what they are trying to prove or to whom. I have a sneaking suspicion that the cleavage look is this decades answer to 80’s power suits with giant shoulder pads.
    Jan recently posted..7 Reasons Why Using Free Blog Platforms Are Bad For BusinessMy Profile

  2. Nanette Levin
    January 22, 2013 | 3:07 am

    Geez – I hated those shoulder pads in the 80s, Jan. I’m broad there anyway plus muscled up enough I could pass for a linebacker (from work activities – not health club regimens). I really don’t get it (along with the youth these days – at least in the US – that are getting bigger and seem to think revealing a fat belly is attractive). Building business credibility, at least in my mind, anyway, has an inverse effect as you show more skin.
    Nanette Levin recently posted..Young horse training assistants can be fuzzyMy Profile

  3. Cynthia
    January 22, 2013 | 3:55 am

    Oh gosh, I have seen so many examples of this. The sad thing is, I work in a very conservative industry. I actually haven’t seen much of it in my workplace, but when I do it is frowned upon. It makes a woman look like she either has no clue of appropriate professional attire, or just has nothing else to promote.

  4. Caro Ness
    January 22, 2013 | 6:36 am

    I’m with YOU on this. What I can’t stand either is that often those who wear dresses split to their navels simply SHOULDN’T because their chests could clearly do with some support!
    Caro Ness recently posted..Five minutes with Tim MooreMy Profile

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