National Enquirer’s 10 Content Marketing Lessons

While most of us wouldn’t want to get caught reading the National Enquirer, we furtively scan it while waiting in line at the grocery checkout. Despite its lowbrow positioning and outrageous headlines, the National Enquirer provides useful lessons for digital marketers.

Here are ten lessons content marketers can learn from the National Enquirer.

  1. Use your front page to draw in prospects and readers. No one will read or buy a magazine if its cover isn’t interesting. Is your content languishing unread because it’s not positioned to attract your audience’s attention? Are you leading with your hottest story? Remember that your best stories are going to generate the most traffic and engagement. It’s critical to use them as bait.
  2. Use titillating headlines. The National Enquirer spends time crafting highly effective headlines to hook readers into their lead stories. Are you doing this for your content? Marketers may find this challenging to achieve. As an exercise, give a group of employees a few gossip magazines and have them brainstorm equivalent headlines for your market.
  3. Focus on guilty pleasures. The National Enquirer covered the celebrity and gossip market before PerezHilton and Gawker. As a marketer, how can you present your content to make it more appealing to your target audience? Can you attract more attention by repositioning your information differently?
  4. Concentrate on hot topics. The National Enquirer focuses on the stories that most of its readers want to know about. But, by covering a broad range of stories, they also attract readers to the dominant stories of the moment. The same holds for marketers. Witness the extensive coverage that the Old Spice campaign has garnered.
  5. Choose photographs to enhance story. Photographs (and their accompanying captions) are used to extend the National Enquirer’s reporting. Marketers need to remember that a picture is worth a thousand words. Today’s time-crunched readers may not have time to read all of your content. Compress your information into a visual infographic to get their attention.
  6. Boost your stories talk-worthiness. Long before social media emerged, the National Enquirer was creating content that its readers wanted to discuss and share. As a marketer, think in terms of stories about your products that consumers want to share with their social networks.
  7. Pitch content to the lowest common denominator. The National Enquirer contains easy-to-read content with a lot of photos so that readers don’t need a strong command of the language. This helps to expand their potential market. For marketers, this means eliminating marketingspeak.
  8. Conduct strong research. Contrary to public perception, The National Enquirer does do its research. It was able to break the story of John Edwards’ love child through dogged investigative journalism. Does your organization have research that can arouse public interest? Can you use PR to extend that reach?
  9. Succeed despite the competition. The National Enquirer has a broad array of competitors from magazines such as People and Us and from an assortment of less reputable tabloids. For marketers, consider how to position your organization to differentiate it from the competition.
  10. Pay your writers well. The National Enquirer is known for being one of best paying publications. By contrast, many marketers overlook this and try to get the least expensive content available. Or, they hope that someone will write the content in their “spare” time. Writing, editing and positioning content appropriate for a specific audience requires talent, which often translates to investment.

To put these suggestions to use, I recommend that you bring a copy of the National Enquirer to your next content strategy meeting and use it as the basis for brainstorming. It can help reshape your content giving you new insights for your offering.

What do you think of this comparison? Have you tried to up your firm’s content marketing by using some of these tactics?

Happy marketing,
Heidi Cohen


Related link: National Enquirer editor appears on The Colbert Report — http://www.colbertnation.com/the-colbert-report-videos/350638/august-17-2010/barry-levine

Photo credit: http://www.magazine-agent.com/the-national-enquirer/magazine

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  • http://www.emilybinder.com/ Emily Binder

    Eye-catching images, titillating headlines, and good research are the best takeaways for marketers. You’ve extracted the tactics the National Enquirer uses to be fascinating (in the Sally Hogshead sense of the word). Good or bad, to succeed, content must capture the audience’s attention by pulling a trigger. The best brands do this. Every ad should trigger fascination, otherwise no one is compelled to pay attention.

    Re: The exercise you suggest in #2: Have five employees peruse gossip magazines then brainstorm headlines for your brand. I’m going to do this tomorrow.

    • http://riversidemarketingstrategies.com/ Heidi Cohen

      Emily–You have to love gossip magazines and websites because despite being guilty pleasures they lure readers in. Love to hear how your experiment turns out. Happy marketing, Heidi Cohen