My Dirty Little Marketing Research Secret

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Look, this post is hard for me to write. I like to think of myself as an NPR kind of smart guy, but I have to tell you that the one place I turn to keep myself rooted in how the world thinks and buys, you know, marketing research, is PEOPLE magazine.

I know, not exactly what you were thinking I was going to say.

Personally, I don’t really care what Mary Kate Olsen’s next big move is, but for about 20 years running, more people turn to PEOPLE than any other magazine and that speaks volumes about what the editors at People have got going on. A tough thing for some small business owners to swallow is that it doesn’t really matter what you like or dislike, what matters is what your target market likes or dislikes. If your target market is Men and Women, age 25-54, then People magazine is a gold mind of research for your target market. (Think it’s a woman’s magazine? – 33% of People readers are men.- about 12 million)

So, what we’re talking about here is research. Read (or at least scan) People magazine to:

  • Get a feel for what the majority of Americans want to fight, find, lose, gain, have, give or embrace.
  • See design and copy that is easy to scan, read and digest
  • Uncover story angles that could apply to your organization’s PR
  • Feel better about yourself (okay, that last one was my Public Radio snob coming out, but sometimes watching billionaires suffer is good sport)

If you already read People, maybe you have a sense of what I’m talking about, if not, carve out an hour, go to the library and grab about 10 issues and start looking through the pages with this new view in mind. You might find some real nuggets. Plus, now you can tell your friends that you only read People for research purposes.


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