As I ate my lunch at the kitchen table this afternoon, I read the February 2014 issue of Golf Magazine.
At least, I thought it was Golf Magazine.
Upon closer inspection, I realized it was a cache of blog-post ideas with viral potential, all tested by Time, Inc. (which owns Golf Magazine).
Let me explain.
Each month, Golf Magazine includes roughly two dozen golf tips. These are the same golf tips that Golf Magazine has been writing about since it began publishing in 1959.
In order to make the content feel fresh, Golf Magazine puts a new backspin on the how-to advice: the layouts are changed, the golf pros giving the advice are new, and the headlines are tweaked. The subterfuge must be working, because I’ve been getting Golf Magazine for more than 20 years and each month I eagerly read every page, knowing I’ve seen it many times before.
(Golf Magazine isn’t the only publication that tests and recycles content; any mass-market, self-help/DIY publication worth its bulk-rate indicia does it, too.)
How does Golf Magazine get away with serving leftovers? It’s easy: golfers’ problems haven’t changed since Old Tom Morris was a teenager.
Time, Inc. spends a fortune testing headlines for its publications. Especially important are cover headlines, because they must sell the magazine at newsstands.
Here’s a sample of cover headlines from two recent Golf Magazine issues. Note how all the headlines make promises. That’s the key to success.
NEW POWER SECRET
Your Longest Drives Ever:
Get 20 Extra Yards Now With Gary Woodland’s “Wide to Wide” Swing
Learn Lefty’s 5 Easy Moves to Shoot Your Lowest Rounds Ever
Best Advice of All Time:
Charge From Behind, Thrive Under Pressure, Hit It Pin-High
7 Hot Hybrids & How to Drill ‘Em
The cool thing about these headlines is they give you a blueprint for new blog posts. And it’s not a static blueprint — each new magazine issue is the result of updated research.
(For example, do you remember when every magazine cover was filled with headlines that began with a number? I just looked at more than 20 consumer magazine covers from January 2014 issues; numbers are being used very sparingly in cover headlines, if at all. That tells me the use of numbers in cover headlines wasn’t working anymore.)
All you have to do is substitute the customer problem in the Golf Magazine headlines with problems your customers face. Here’s how the posts from above would look, if applied to my audience.
NEW MARKETING SECRET
Your Best Response Rates Ever:
Get 20 Percent More Leads With Larry’s “Inbox to Inbox” Method
Learn His 5 Easy Moves to Get Your Best Conversion Rates Ever
Best Advice of All Time:
Close More Deals, Conquer Stress, Write Facebook Ads That Actually Work
7 Hot Productivity Tools & How to Deploy ‘Em
Isn’t that cool?! Note these are the ideas for your blog posts; they aren’t necessarily the headlines you’d use for the posts.
For more blog-post ideas, go through a magazine’s table of contents. From Golf Magazine:
• A New Grip For Straight Shots
• Release the Great Putter in You
• How Good Is Your Backswing?
• Add Some “Sling” to Your Swing
• Catch It Clean In the Waste Area
• Pure It Under Pressure
Once again, swap out the golf problems with the challenges your customers face:
• A Simple Process For Faster Collections
• Release the Great Marketer in You
• How Good Is Your Landing Page?
• Add Some “Zing” to Your Tweets
• How to Reduce Your Odds of Being Audited
• Crush It In All Your Sales Presentations
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