I’ve now heard this secret mentioned by too many copywriters to count…Doug D’Anna, Bob Bly, Gary Halbert, Ben Settle, Scott Haines, Eugene Schwartz…
All of them advocate reading “junk” magazines like The National Enquirer. In fact, several have described this habit as their “secret weapon” to finding killer copywriting ideas.
First, it’s supposedly a great source of headline ideas. Tabloids (and other magazines like Cosmo) spend millions to test which headlines grab people as they wait in line supermarkets. You can, in theory, leverage this research to find the hot buttons which work in your market.
Second, for B2C markets especially, it’s supposed to help you better understand the mindset of the “common people” to better connect with them in your copy. This is also the reason why Eugene Schwartz suggested watching all the popular blockbuster movies, such as Transformers 2 or Iron Man 2.
I have to admit I’ve only read a handful of tabloids my entire life. In truth, I’m more curious to the crazy UFO headlines of The Sun or Weekly World News (and recent headlines like this: BAT BOY PUT IN CHARGE OF U.S. CYBER COMMAND).
What can I say? I’m just not into celebrity gossip. I’m also probably too much a snob in my reading habits.
But next time I’m at the grocery store, I’m going to grab a couple of tabloids to read through. Maybe I’ll even make it a habit.
So let me know, just between you and me: Do you read The National Enquirer and other tabloids? For copywriting ideas only, of course…
** UPDATE **
Turns out Sean McCool had an excellent post on this very topic a few weeks ago. Check it out now: “In Advertising Copy, Low Culture is Big Money”