Marketing to the 7 Deadly Sins

When it comes to recession-proof businesses, vice is nice.

Sin is in. It's not just a clever little rhyme, because sin is always in. That's what makes it one of those bulletproof commodities that no one ever talks about. And among all the little things we do to misbehave, there are seven transgressions deemed throughout the ages to be worse than the rest--the seven deadly sins: pride, lust, gluttony, greed, sloth, envy and wrath. They've been immortalized in classic art and in modern pop culture, and they're also great foundations for a successful business. Here's a look at seven businesses that are making good on helping people be bad.

Pride: Spitfire Communications
They say pride is the sin from which all the other deadly sins arise. But for Olivia Fox-Cabane, it's both an art and a science. She's the founder and sole proprietor of Spitfire Communications, where she serves as a charisma-coach-for-hire to high-powered executives.

Justin Petruccelli"Imagine a CEO, how much more powerful he becomes if you turbo charge his level of charisma," Fox-Cabane says. "He becomes more influential, more persuasive. What we look at is everything from the most minute items of body language to small items of appearance to a strategy of manipulation--the complete aspect of how to go from zero to trust in 30 seconds."

Fox-Cabane, 29, has applied her background in research and behavioral science to business, and it's paying off to the tune of $500,000 in revenue for this year. She's spoken at Harvard, Yale, MIT and even the United Nations. Executives spend entire weeks training with her in New York before important presentations. It's enough to make a person wonder why pride gets such a bad rap.

"Charisma is a very hot topic," Fox-Cabane says. "Because we all have this inherent desire to be magnetic, as soon as we hear that it's actually possible to learn this, there's a natural, instinctive, primal desire to want to get that."

Lust: Life of Reiley
Justin PetruccelliIs any sin easier to sell than lust? Not likely. But Amy Reiley's not taking any chances. She has a master's degree in gastronomy from the world-renowned Le Cordon Bleu culinary academy, where she became an expert in romantic foods and aphrodisiac cuisine. After starting out as a freelance journalist and then moving on to speaking engagements, she combined her knowledge and enthusiasm for food and sex in her 2006 book Fork Me, Spoon Me: The Sensual Cookbook and has been sought after as an expert in the field ever since.

"We need to eat and we need to have sex in order to survive," Reiley says. "It seemed like a smart idea for that reason. I just really wanted to get people more interested in food and wine and making more interesting choices. How better to excite people than to get them excited?"

Reiley's website,, employs a stable of writers and works with up-and-coming culinary stars from Le Cordon Bleu's Los Angeles facility. She's also working on a new book as well as merchandising and television projects, and she's working with doctors to teach people how they can use proper nutrition to improve their sex lives and save money on expensive drugs in the process.

"People are never going to want to stop making themselves feel better," Reiley says. "What I do is cost-effective. I get to save people money and they have better sex. It's a good life."

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