John Jantsch’s Dirty Little Market Research Secret

I was reading a book by John Jantsch called Duct Tape Marketing (Amazon Affiliate Link) and came across a pretty brilliant strategy for discovering where our collective head is at by reading People magazine. Especially if your target-market is US wide and between 25-54 years of age.

You might not care what Paris Hilton or Olsen twins are up to, but your potential clients do.

You might not care what Paris Hilton or Olsen twins are up to, but your potential clients do.

People has been the most circulated magazine for the last 20 years. This presumably gives us a glimpse into our collective psyche.

A cursory scan of People while enjoying a cappuccino at your local Barnes and Noble might suffice to get into the heads of your prospects. And this could prove to be tremendously useful in devising your marketing strategy.

Interesting fact. You might think of People as a magazine for women. Turns out, 33% of its readers are men- about 12 million)

By reading People you might be able to:

  • Get the feel for what the majority of Americans want to fight, find, lose, gain, give, embrace, etc.
  • See design and copy that is easy to scan, read and digest. (Note: “Copy” is an industry term for any piece of advertising text.)
  • Uncover story angles that could apply to your organization’s PR.

Bullet points taken directly from Duct Tape Marketing (Amazon Affiliate Link).

What do I think about this?

This rings true to me. Especially given the fact that it’s the most circulated magazine in the last 20 years. However, this “secret” is completely irrelevant if your target is a very narrow niche.

Does it ring true to you? Are you one of the people that reads People? Will you give it a shot now that you know about this little research nugget?

I know I will.

Related Posts:

What Makes People Buy: Identification

Fear: It’s Whats for Dinner

What Makes People Buy: Trust

What Makes People Buy: Benefit of the Benefit

What Makes People Buy: Your Father’s Genes

I recommend these books for further research.

(Amazon Affiliate Links)

Cashvertising by Drew Eric Whitman is quick, easy, jam packed with great info.

The Culture Code by Clotaire Rapaille is in depth, well researched, head and shoulders above the other books in the similar vain.

Buyology by Martin Lindstrom Like the story of Goldilocks, this one is neither too quick nor too in depth but it’s just right for anyone who wants to have a really practical understanding of what motivates buyers. It rounds out the set nicely.

Dino Dogan

Global Force for Badassery | Founder of Triberr | Refugee from Bosnia | Writer for Technorati | Speaker | Lousy Martial Artist | Pretty good singer/songwriter | Hi 🙂

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  • Julie Nutter

    Definitely never read that. I always thought it was a teenybopper magazine. o_o
    Really? That many people read it!?!?!

    Holy cow.

    I think, actually, that you could take a lot of lessons from that and apply it to a niche. Just take the cover of that one on your blog – pretty girl, bad girl, and a tell-all, as the main eye-catcher.
    Now, put an adorable (albeit BAD) dog on the cover and include a gossipy-tell-all. (Would be an AWESOME shelter magazine! ;])

    Hmm. Now I just have to make someone do it and see if it works. I think it would. Be. Adorable. =]

    And as tempted as I am to skim that to see what people look for in a magazine, I’m not about to rush off to the store to pick one up. Yeeeuck.

    Although… I think the doggy niche kiddos could do with a little learned marketing. The big organizations could take a lesson in actually interesting their readers to read their magazines if they put it together a little better. Just the layouts – I’ve seen them – in People direct your eyes to where the people who made the layout want them to go.

    And so on. But you knew the points before I said any of them. Because, loathe though I am to admit this about anyone – you’re smarter than I am.

    • Dino Dogan

      Thnx for the compliment but Im not nearly as smart as I think I am 🙂

    • Elisa

      Wow I think your idea for the shelter/rescue magazine is a great one! Let me know if you happen to do it, or I may take your idea and use it for St. Louis Senior Dog Project :).

  • Elisa

    Very interesting post :), and sorry guys but I am one of those millions of people that read People magazine (or similar magazines from Mexico! shame on me!). I had not thought of using a magazine in the way you propose, as a way I guess of figuring out how to connect with more people or make your content more relevant. I love Julie’s idea about the shelter magazine that would be a great way to catch the eye of more potential adopters/donors and more! 🙂
    Thanks as always for great info

    • Dino Dogan

      Youre so welcome Elisa…Julie is on twitter and very active, maybe you two should talk 🙂

  • Wilson Usman

    I never read it, but I do grab it while waiting on the register, how can you avoid their catchy headlines, it’s irresistible..another good magazine to get ideas is cosmo. I know I’m not being the most manly man but, it’s hard when your girlfriend get tons of these magazines.

    Great pointers here. I didn’t know about the percent of men that read it, but it doesn’t surprise me…we’re guys we look at sexy women, right?

    • Dino Dogan

      You know…I never even gave it a thought. My taste in magazines is waaaayyy off the beaten path. But reading John’s book it did made me realize the tremendous value in picking up People or Cosmo.

      And yes..those numbers do pacify the rational brain and give credence to the information, dont they? You humans are a peculiar species lol

  • Paul Flanigan

    Do you remember that scene from Men In Black where Tommy Lee Jones (Agent. . .I can’t remember) is walking by the newsstand and picks up the tabloid to figure out where the aliens are?

    Same thing. I love surfing through magazines when I travel or am out for coffee. I pick up little tidbits of info all the time. And I’m not too concerned with my own status to worry about what others think. Cosmo, People, Nat’l Enquirer – doesn’t matter. I always pick up something that I can share out or learn.

    Interestingly, in the world of niche marketing, especially online, it’s pretty remarkable how much we don’t learn by narrowing our focus too much.

    • Dino Dogan

      I believe he said that Nat’l Enquirer (with the bat boy on the cover) was the best investigative reporting around 🙂

      • Paul Flanigan

        HA! Right! Too funny.

  • Don Power

    Hey Dino!

    I never read People magazine before. At least now when the supermarket cashier asks what I’m doing with that magazine in my hand I can reply “research”.

    Cheers mate!

    – Don

    • Dino Dogan

      Why arent you in triberr yet? Im sending you an invite right now.

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  • Kat Caverly

    Thanks Dino. I will never look at PEOPLE in the same way again but now that you mention it I totally see that it is an easy to read lense on the pulse of Americans.

    • Dino Dogan

      It is, isnt it? Plus you get a built in excuse for reading trashy mags 🙂 “oh…I was just doing research” lol

  • MorganBarnhart

    It absolutely rings true to me. I think doing research outside of your industry, such as reading People magazine, gives you a heightened sense of understanding when it comes to people in general. It can also open your eyes to a lot of different strategies and ideas you had never thought of before. Cools beans article, Dino!