I once wrote an article listing a selection of sex tips Cosmopolitan offered its readers. These included:
- Grinding black pepper over your partner’s face as he climaxes.
- Painting your nipples with sparkly purple lipstick.
- Sticking his penis through the hole of a glazed doughnut.
- Covering your vagina in pennies.
- Doing it in a sleeping bag in your backyard.
- Wearing Mickey Mouse masks.
You can’t shun the journalists for their lack of imagination – that’s for sure.
But, long before it featured often humanly impossible sex moves, ’The Cosmopolitan’ actually began life as a literary magazine in 1886. Without a clear-cut target audience, critics labelled it BLAND and BORING.
That was, until Helen Gurley Brown came along as chief editor in 1965.
She reimagined and remodelled the magazine for modern single career women. For more than 30 years, Brown transformed Cosmopolitan’s image, values and brand marketing.
She knew what women wanted and which topics were being gagged, then grasped the opportunity to tap into her dream reader’s deeper need. Brown’s ‘devout feminist’ personality was clear on every page – she used the magazine as an outlet to stop the stigma around single women not just having sex, but having fun with it.
She knew who she was, she knew what her vision of Cosmopolitan was – and HELL YEAH she got that message out there loud and clear and on purpose.
Brown was attacked by critics, but worshipped by fans.
Those women who the magazine resonated with mattered. The critics did not. And that’s why Cosmopolitan remains the largest-selling young women’s magazine in the world (despite its back-breaking sex moves).
As tech advances, Cosmopolitan’s outlets for brand marketing are expanding. Today, its Snapchat stories are read by more than three million users daily. Meanwhile, the publication’s tone of voice grows more sexually progressive. It’s 2020, babes. We don’t give a fuck. Get that purple lipstick on ya nips.
Cosmopolitan also made history in December last year by printing a first-ever ‘non-female cover star’ – non-binary Queer Eye star and living joy that is Jonathan Van Ness.
With his chocolate locks and peach gown, the LGBTQ+ activist served up an aesthetic the magazine coined ‘pre-limousine prom queen meets sexy cult leader’…
First non female cover star in 35 years 🏳️🌈💗 thanks for having me 🏳️🌈💗@CosmopolitanUK showing more variations of beauty for young LGBTQ+ people YAS QUEEN photo by @Rachell_Smith pic.twitter.com/oSXbDHaK51
— Jonathan Van Ness (@jvn) December 2, 2019
This is the magical power of a strong AF brand. To maintain a sustainable identity, its expression must keep up with social consciousness over time.
If your client’s values and circumstances are changing – you need to keep pace. For business owners who’ve put in the hard work to truly understand their brand’s soul, audience and values, this will be an easier task than trying to reimagine that shallow ‘brand marketing pyramid’ of random adjectives I see so many agencies conjuring.
You might think you know your dream client and have your brand marketing nailed – but I think you can dive deeper. So, here’s your task:
Imagining one, specific person you’re writing to, think about the psychological, real-life feelings they’re having.
These are not always things your client tells you – or even says out loud. They’re invisible forces that may lie on a subconscious level.
Dig beyond the obvious and into the basic categories of human motivation – think spiritual faiths, everyday accomplishments, self-awareness, self-acceptance, their sense of making a difference in the world.
Then ask yourself this:
What real-life, unsolved yearning is still niggling away at my dream client?
Whether you’re selling magazines or mentoring programmes, nail extensions or nappies – the most effective messaging anchors a product or service with a meaning that’s both true to the soul of your audience, and has an actual benefit.
Fake this and your brand marketing will be seen as unauthentic, unconvincing and – at its crappiest – completely ludicrous.
My online copywriting course The Copy Maven will show you how to tap into these universal feelings and instincts, gaining true brand meaning and more money, without resorting to lazy, shallow brand marketing tactics. Because that’s not what builds larger-than-life business personalities.
I can’t offer any weird and wonderful sex tips, but I can promise introductory offers for The Copy Maven, which is set to launch in the first quarter of 2020. Pop your email in here to be first in the queue.