In my late teens and early 20’s, I was a stripper.
To put it bluntly, I use to get naked for money.
I’m not ashamed or embarrassed about it because I believe that I did it the ‘right way’ and I learned a lot about sales, marketing, human behavior, and also myself.
(FYI – holding the position in the feature photo of this post was a lot harder than it looks)
Demolishing the stripping stereotype
Before I go any further, I need you to get all those seedy thoughts out of your head.
I wasn’t being manipulated or forced to do anything against my will. I wasn’t surrounded by drugs and there weren’t any ‘extras’.
I am sure that there are probably clubs where this behavior is the norm, but not at the one where I worked. There were a lot of rules and a lot of security – both of which I am very thankful for.
At this point, most people have a lot of questions, so I’m going to clear up a few of them first before I get into the sales and marketing part of this post. This will also help give you more of an understanding of what it’s like to be a stripper. (Feel free to skip ahead if you prefer).
With the exclusion of the changing rooms and the customer toilets, the whole place was covered with CCTV cameras that were monitored live throughout the night.
There was also a higher-than-average number of security guards that worked the doors as well as the floor itself. If we even whispered that a punter had stepped out of line, that person was removed from the club immediately. There were no questions asked and no discussions. The security guards were always on our side.
After the club closed at 6am, myself and the other girls headed back into the changing room as the customers were cleared out. We weren’t allowed to leave the premises until the car park was empty and everyone else had left. At which point, we were escorted to our cars by the security guards.
At no point did I feel at risk or taken advantage of. I was in total control and could command the assistance of what felt like a small army if I needed to.
What did I actually do?
Well, I dressed up in lingerie and I stripped…
…although it’s not quite that simple. As you would expect, the club was heavily regulated and I had certain rules to follow.
For example, we were a no-contact club. Even though I got fully naked, there was no touching – the men couldn’t touch me, and I couldn’t touch them.
There was no grinding on laps or any of that nonsense. It was ‘look only’ – and even though I was totally naked, my most intimate parts were not allowed to be ‘on show’. (That means no bending over or spreading of legs without panties on.)
In that environment, it doesn’t take long before you are totally conformable with nudity and it became no big deal. It was just another day at the office.
The stripper sales funnel
One thing I learned quite quickly is that if you walk straight up to a table of guys and ask, ‘anyone want a dance?’, chances are that the answer is going to be no – or you may get the odd one if they feel sorry enough for you.
This is very similar to companies that are just screaming at you to ‘buy their shit’ (this ties in nicely with another post of mine, Why Are Marketers Trying to Have Sex on the First Date?) without providing you with any value first.
As with any business, you need to have a sales funnel – a way of transitioning someone from a stone-cold prospect to a regular paying client.
Here’s how I did it.
Step 1 – Provide value
In the center of the club, there was a large stage with two poles. All the girls were on a rotation and we would take it in turns to do what we called our ‘stage show’.
Even though we stayed fully clothed in our lingerie or dresses, we provocatively danced and spun around a couple of poles.
We didn’t get paid for this, we did this free of charge. This was our way of providing value to the men (and women) in the club.
All good sales funnels start by providing free value to your audience and followers without expecting anything else in return. This is usually done by providing some form of content such as a helpful blog post, an informative video, or, in my case, entertainment.
Step 2 – Build a relationship
The best time to approach a table is as soon as you come off the stage. You’ve already given them some value through entertainment so they’re more likely to reciprocate that value.
Again though, you can’t swoop in for the close. It’s more polite and natural to ask if they were out for any special occasion, find out everyone’s name’s and get to know a bit more about them. In other words, start to build a relationship with them.
This is similar to your social media. You’re getting to know your prospects and clients. Finding out more about them, what they like, and what they don’t. After all, people do business with people that they like – and that’s never truer than in a strip club!
Step 3 – Tripwire
In the digital marketing world, the term tripwire refers to a low-priced offer. Its goal is to convert a prospect into a customer.
In the strip club, our tripwire was a single dance. It gave punters the opportunity to dip their toe in the water, see what’s it was all about without risking too much in terms of investment.
Out in the business world, a tripwire might mean an e-book or your lowest priced introductory product.
Step 4 – Upsell
From the single dances, a percentage of customers would ascend to a VIP Package to extend their experience.
The VIP Packages took them off to a private area of the club for 15min, 30min or 1 hour+, often with a bottle of fizz.
It was impossible for any girl to dance non-stop for hours on end, so the time was usually spent talking and drinking. At this point, it wasn’t about the nudity, it was about the experience.
This is equivalent to your core products and upgrades – the ones that allow you to serve your customer the best way that you can.
Step 5 – Continuity program
After the VIP experience, it wasn’t long before you had your ‘regulars’ – the guys that came in every week and paid to sit with you in the VIP area until the sun came up.
The club rewarded its regular VIPs. They got free entry into the club and usually a few free drinks at the bar. The security and bar staff will go out of their way to acknowledge them and in extra-special circumstances, the club will even order-in food for them.
This is your membership program for the customers that have bought into your product, service, and community and are happy to pay you on a regular basis to remain part of that.
Sales funnels are a necessity for any business – including strip clubs. If I just walked out of the changing rooms and asked a punter if they wanted to spend £400 to sit and talk to me, the answer would have probably been no.
Similarly, if you bombard your cold prospects with adverts asking them to buy your product, the answer will probably be no.
Stripper sniper marketing
Many people mistakenly think that stripping would boost your confidence. The idea that men are paying to see you naked must be a big ego boost and must empower you as a woman, right?
Let me explain.
As a stripper, I had to understand that I was the product that I had to sell. I could dress myself up in different ways to try and appeal to the different fantasies that men have (for example I could be in black leather one moment or pink frills the next), but it was impossible for me to meet the desire of every man in the club.
It wasn’t uncommon for me to be told that they weren’t interested in me. Instead, they wanted a blonde, they wanted someone with bigger boobs, or they wanted someone more petite.
In any normal setting, if someone wasn’t interested in you, they’d find some easy and polite way to let you know. In the stripper setting, they just come out and tell you directly all the parts that they don’t like.
I would never get through a night without at least a handful of rejections.
It didn’t take long before I realized that not every person in the club was a prospect of mine.
“When you target everyone, you target no-one”
When I stopped trying to appeal to every punter and stayed true to myself and my style, I could then target the customers that were looking for someone exactly like me. And for this, they were prepared to pay a premium!
In another way, I created a niche, which in turn helped me to understand exactly who my potential customers were.
Similar to creating a customer avatar, I knew what type of clothes my prospects would be wearing, what they would be drinking, what type of crowd they would be hanging around with, and what age range they would fall into.
Instead of trying to appeal to everyone and spreading myself thinly, I could identify my ideal targets and concentrate on pushing them down the stripper sales funnel.
Previously, it was a struggle to get £20 for a single dance, but with my new sniper targeting system, it wasn’t uncommon for someone to pay £400 to sit in the VIP booths and talk to me.
I remember being sat at a table talking to a group of guys whilst a friend of mine was on stage. She was up there in a black dress dancing slowly and provocatively and all the punters in the club were admiring her.
The guy sat next to me turned to me and said, “Where do you girls come from? How do I find girls like that?” whilst he gestured to my friend on stage.
It was at this moment that I learned how important branding and positioning was.
I responded, “If you passed her in the street, you wouldn’t even notice her!”
Now, that wasn’t me speaking derogatively towards my friend, as the same could have been said about all of us working girls in the club that night.
If you’ve got a product that is dressed the same as every other, that blends into the background, it’s not going to get much attention. But if you dress it up, put it on a stage, shine some lights onto it and allow it to show off its features, suddenly you’ve got something that people desire.
Strippers are no different. We’re all normal girls that under any other circumstances you wouldn’t even look twice at. We were just packaged and branded to create a product that someone would notice.
As a stripper I was self-employed and I operated the same way as every other self-employed sales rep, except with one difference – I was the product.
As soon as I understood my niche, my customer avatar, my personal branding, and my sales funnel, I earned more money with less effort.
The more I learn about business, entrepreneurship, and digital marketing from the professionals, the more I realize how much I already knew from my nights as a stripper.
If you have any thoughts on this post (or any questions about being a stripper) let me know in the comments below and I’ll do my best to answer.