Copywriting Experts Say Tabloids Teach You To Write Better

5 Writing Tips You Can Pick Up from the Supermarket Magazine Rack
I don’t care how sophisticated you are, if you have to stand in the supermarket line for any amount of time, your palms itch to reach out and find out about “Spacefaring Hillbillies Established a ‘Cletus Base'” or, for that matter, “77 Ways to Use Thanksgiving Leftovers.”
Here are five writing tips you can glean from the tabloid rack of your local supermarket:
1. Raise Curiosity.
Even when I know that the tabloid’s “bat boy” is a fake, I want to see how the pictures are doctored. If it’s something I’m really concerned about, curiosity can be the extra nudge making it impossible to resist the offer.
Obviously, your article has to deliver on its promise to solve the mystery or you will lose a reader forever. A mystery in the headline will drag your readers into the first paragraph, where you get a chance to hold them, line by line, to the end.
2. Know Your Audience.
A smart marketer — and every writer needs to be a smart market — knows the audience, the information that audience needs and wants, and how to snag their attention and keep it through the entire piece of writing.
One of my all-time favorite books is A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth. Seth, an Indian, knew he was writing for a non-Indian audience and crafted the story so that India’s festivals and landscapes were presented in more detail than an Indian audience would need and yet without ever seeming to say, “Now, reader, here’s what you need to know to understand the next scene.” He hooked me with his first paragraph and kept me reading through 1,600-some pages.
3. Numbers Count.
No matter what you’re writing about, count the ways, tips, steps, reasons, signs….
People are fascinated by numbers. I want to know how many pounds of potatoes, how much is this going to cost, really, and how many tips am I going to get if I read this article. Then, if you number them, the reader gets the additional pleasure of keeping track of progress.
If you can tell me 15 ways I can be more successful at something I want to do, I’ll be all over it. Help me solve a compelling problem — something that affects, health, money, relationships, or status — and I’ll come back again and again.
4. Promise a Story.
The only thing that fascinates us more than numbers is ourselves. The essence of story is a character solving a problem. Make me identify with the “character,” and I’ll stay with you through the whole saga.
If you tell me something amazing happened, like Rednecks capturing Osama bin Ladin in Missouri, I’ll be on edge until I find out how it happened. It worked for Alfred Hitchcock; it can work for your article marketing, too.
5. Have Fun.
The overall sense of reading the covers of the tabloids — and even more on the inside — is a breezy, irreverent attitude of play. Yeah, we writers out in the “real world” deal with serious subjects and dire consequences. We can still break up the tedium with humor. It may be that your subject is no laughing matter, but if that’s true, then make fun of yourself once in a while. We all deserve it, and your audience will like you better for it.
Study the Experts
Magazines that depend on their covers to drive impulse purchases hire master copywriters to write those covers. Whether you like the magazines or not, take a closer look at what they’re doing and how they work. If you find ways to incorporate those techniques into your own writing, you’ll increase your own reach with readers.
And if anyone asks why you’re reading it, you can say you’re just doing copywriting research.

No Comments Found

Leave a Reply