April 2013 Cosmopolitan MELTDOWN (Add These Headlines to Your Swipe File)

They’re at it again.

I was at Walgreens the other night picking up some healthy food chocolate and something caught my eye on the magazine stand.

A fresh new copy of an April 2013 Cosmopolitan.

Despite my overwhelming masculinity, I couldn’t help but be sucked in by the glossy cover, the irresistible headlines, and Kim Kardashian’s “Steve Urkel” shorts.

If you haven’t seen it yet, here’s a copy of the (U.S.) front cover:


Shorts so high they make bellybuttons (and pregnancies) invisible!

Pretty slick, right?

Wait a second.  Something seems . . . familiar.  Sure, the face changed and the words are different, but this month’s issue follows the same template as last month’s.

Miley Cyrus . . . Kim Kardashian . . . what’s the difference, really?  Those people over at Cosmo are about as predictable as the lunar cycle.

And that’s exactly why I’m copying the headlines on this month’s covers and adding them to my swipe file.

They don’t win any points for creativity.

But they’re loaded with the timeless principles that get people reading.

Principles you can customize to fit your specific business, IF you take a second to look them over and internalize them.

Got a minute for my lightning-round analysis of why they’re so lethal?

Here we go:

“The Sex Move That Brings You Closer: #BestNightEver”

The genius in this headline lies in its lazer-focused benefit.  It takes something that already interests the typical Cosmo reader – dating and relationships – and hones in on a specific problem.  It doesn’t promise the world (which is important to maintain credibility), but it does promise a desired benefit: emotional intimacy.

The hashtag is a not so subtle nod to the average age of the Cosmo demographic . . . and it gives it some hip points among the social media crowd.

“Why Guys Pull Away (and What to Do When it Happens)”

Another headline that stays in the “safe” dating and relationships territory.  But I love this one.  It entices the reader with a combination of curiosity and implied benefits that make headlines so great.

It offers insight into the mysterious male mind.  Why do guys distance themselves emotionally from me?  And how can I stop it from happening . . . now and in the future?

The reader can have both of those answers, IF she just flips open the cover and reads on.

“The Money, The Man, The Baby . . . “Get What You Want” By Kim Kardashian

This one’s subpar, and it might be the weakest of the month.

It does tap into the independent spirit of the typical Cosmopolitan reader.  After all, she wants her life to be a satisfying balance of the professional and the personal.  And she sure doesn’t want to compromise on either of those aspects.

This headline reassures the reader she can do just that.  And of course, relying on Kardashian’s celebrity status does add some credibility.

But I think the implied benefits here (essentially, Kim Kardashian’s version of a perfect life) are way too broad for their own good.  They neglect the indivuality – and varying preferences – of the Cosmo readership, which waters down the appeal.

How to Talk Dirty . . . Without Sounding Ridiculous!

Relationships, relationships, relationships.

And another pretty good headline.

First there’s the implied benefit.  The appeal – spicing things up in the bedroom – has a strong pull because Cosmo readers are eager to improve their relationships and learn more about them.  Even if the relationship’s already great, there’s always time for a new insight.  There’s always room to “spice things up.”

The evil genius part of this headline is the “without sounding ridiculous” part.  Wait, the reader thinks, how does someone sound ridiculous in the bedroom?  Am I doing something to sound ridiculous?

And so, the reader rushes off to read the article after this subtle injection of curiosity.

Naturally Gorgeous: Sexy Hair & Pretty Makeup

Improving one’s appearance is another tried and true “Cosmo appeal.”  Just like with relationships, it doesn’t matter how beautiful  things are already.  There’s always room to improve how you look . . . and you don’t want to miss out on a new way to do that.

This headline doesn’t stray far from the beaten path.  It relies on two distinct implied benefits: 1) looking better; and 2) doing it naturally.  Going the natural route hits a psychological nerve on those Cosmo readers who are adamant about doing things their own way.

Finally, notice the subtle pairing of “sexy hair” and “pretty makeup.”  I think it touches on the je ne sais quoi that the Cosmo reader is desperate to achieve: a juxtaposition of sexy and classy.

Go For It!  247 Hot Looks – New Jeans, Miniskirts & Bags

This one’s . . . fine.  I mean, it’s not terrible but it doesn’t really blow you away, does it?

It promises the reader a typical implied benefit of looking better.  Which is good.  I mean, I challenge you to find a Cosmo reader who wouldn’t want to look better.

The best part about this one is, just by choosing the words “hot” and “new,” it adds an element of novelty.  Now, there’s time pressure to take advantage of that implied benefit.  You should take advantage of these hot new looks while you can . . . before you miss your chance and those clothes go out of style!


Score Your Dream Job: Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg on How to Kick Ass at Work

Solid . . . really solid.

It offers an implied benefit a lot of Cosmo readers care about: thriving in their professional lives.  And it does this in the context of a successful woman, who just happens to be working at one of the hippest companies right now, doling it out in the form of personal advice.

A Cosmo girl doesn’t just want to “do well” at work.  She wants to do more than that.  She wants to show her family, her friends, and anyone who ever doubted her that she wan do it.  She wants to “kick ass.”

This headline picks up on that.  It shows how well Cosmo understands their readership.

P.S. The Sexiest Thing You Can Do on a Date

If you’ve read any of my other posts (or you keep reading this one to the bottom), you know I have a soft spot for using “p.s.”  You don’t see them so much anymore in our email-centric world.  

And that’s a shame.  I think they’re a nice personal touch.

Cosmo capitalized on this here.  The “P.S.” acts as a last-ditch effort to grab the reader and pull them in.  Just in case all the other headlines didn’t get the job done

When I read this one, I picture a friend getting ready to share a secret with me.  It feels like she’s talking to me directly.  And I want to know… what is the sexiest thing I can do on a date?!

We already know where we can find the answer.

We just have to pick up the magazine and open it.

P.S.  What did you think about the April 2013 Cosmopolitan cover?  Which headline is your favorite, and why?  Which one was the worst?  Leave me a comment and let me know.  I’d love to hear from you.