Why gossip magazines do so terribly well

The success of those dreary magazines you find in dentists’ waiting rooms used to baffle me. 


Use real, human stories in your marketing and keep your customers hooked.

You know, rubbish like Heat and Take-A-Break (is there any publication, apart from the Daily Wail, more depressing than Take-A-Break?).

The constant ‘news’ about the latest z-list ‘celebrity’ and their drunken shenanigans. The focus on politicians’ private lives, rather than the trivialities of running the country.

And the rise of reality TV *shudder*. (Yep: I’m a snob. Deal with it.)

But then I stopped sneering at it and actually thought about it: gossip columns are interesting to people because they’re about people.

No matter how much the population protests about the shallowness of the news, and how awful the focus is on trivialities, the readership figures stay really high. People crave gossip about other people.

The human element is paramount in films and TV shows, too.

Programmes like Buffy, Firefly (yes, I’m a huge fan of Joss Whedon), Inspector Morse, Bones, Spooks, House, Castle, Misfits, Sherlock – these programmes are about monsters, outer space, crimes, medicine and mysteries… except they’re not, really. If that’s all they were, we wouldn’t keep coming back week after week, month after month, year after year.

It’s the human stories tying the episodes together that keep us hooked. The mini-plots are just incidental.

How long would Inspector Morse have lasted if we never really learned anything about the characters? If the writers never revealed their hopes, fears, motivation and joy?

Not long, I’ll wager.

The writers of these TV shows are master storytellers. They weave a tale about the people, pull you in, and keep you hooked.

That’s what you have to do in your marketing. Your product or service isn’t about your product. It’s about people. It’s about how people use it, benefit from it, and live with it.

Think about the most effective charity ads. They’re the ones featuring real people telling their real stories. The Diet Coke ads, with their focus on people’s behaviour. The Nescafé ads with their ongoing storylines.

I go into this kind of storytelling in my book, Business For Superheroes. Looking closely at how to construct a compelling storyline, the language you use, the emotional hooks that keep people reading.

Have you bought your copy yet?

So click here and give it a whirl. You won’t regret it.



Vicky Fraser is a copywriter, author, and entrepreneur. She really did run away with the circus… but when she’s not swinging from a trapeze, she’s showing other copywriters and small business owners how to work with better clients, make more money, and stop missing bathtimes, first words, and dinners with angry partners. In fact, she wrote the book on it. Get your copy here.

PS You can learn something else from tabloid papers and gossip magazines, besides the fact that stories about people are king. They are brilliant at headlines. They have to be, or they don’t sell their publications. Remember ‘Freddy Starr Ate My Hamster!’?

So steal their headlines. Steal them and adapt them.

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