Cosmo Bullets - Quickly Picked Apart & Examined To Discover Their Most Powerfully Persuasive Properties - Part One


“Why bother paying attention to the bullets on the cover of a Cosmo magazine?” I thought to myself, “I’m not in the women’s entertainment business.”


Oh, naivité. Thy name is Paul. (That’s me, by the way.)


You see…


When you look at the cover of a popular magazine (in particular the ones that you can find on the rack at the supermarket checkout counter) you’re getting a glimpse into what the most motivating sales appeals and emotions are for the particular market the magazine is targeting. 


But! – It’ll tell you so much more than just what applies to that particular market.


These snippets of copy (bullets, as they’re called — and I’ll get into what that means exactly in a future post) are designed to be impactful. To speak to the market as accurately as possible. With the highest degree of emotional connection, stimulating their desirous “greed” glands to the max.


In short, they are designed to sell.


So sit back (or at the edge of your seat, perhaps) while we explore some marketing power moves from the brilliant copywriters who worked at Cosmopolitan Magazine over the years.


Now… On to the bullets!


From the cover of the June 2015 issue:


  • Sex So Hot You’ll Need To Crank The A.C.! 

Of course, sex is one of the most powerful appeals there is. It’s a surprisingly sophisticated appeal. It encompasses an emotional spectrum far beyond mere pornography or hedonistic behavior. It’s that heart-fluttering excitement when you first meet someone special. It’s the slightly-guilt-ridden thrill of eavesdropping on (or being completely exposed to) the details of someone else’s personal relationships. It’s the taboo of the physical expressions of love – no matter how “open” the society you live in, there is an inherent taboo nature to reading about other people’s sex lives that is, to most people, slightly thrilling.


So why wouldn’t the writers of Cosmopolitan, an entertainment and fashion magazine for women, take advantage of this naturally intriguing appeal? The answer is not only do they take advantage of it, but you’ll notice the appeal to sexuality in almost every bullet they feature on their covers. (If not explicitly, it’s almost always present implicitly.)


Beyond the outright appeal to the subject of sex, this bullet – “Sex So Hot You’ll Need To Crank The A.C.!” – inspires a vision in the reader’s mind that they can relate to even if they are as chaste as a disinterested nun. That vision takes advantage of an experience most people have had on an average mid-August day… being hot, sweaty, and wanting to crank up the air conditioning! That feeling is common enough that almost anyone who doesn’t live in a subarctic climate can relate to it, and it’s being used (hijacked even) in this instance to give you an almost visceral glimpse into what kind of amazing sex you could be having if only you knew what was between the covers of this particular issue.


Buying decisions are made based on emotions. 


If you can inspire visceral feelings with your copy, you have a better chance of creating strong emotions in your reader’s mind that are tied to those buying decisions. Visceral feelings are created by using the type of language that is understood on an emotional level. 


Consider if we completely “neutered” this bullet, and changed it instead to:

  • Love-making done so that your body temperature will rise by over 2% relative to room temperature. 


Technically the same offer. Emotionally dead. 


And emotional death is the death of persuasion.


To apply the technique this bullet uses in your own work, emphasize an element of your product or service by using a visually powerful and/or emotionally playful description or analogy, and mix it with a strong appeal (like sex, if it applies).




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a free, daily, quick-to-consume email newsletter for copywriters, business owners, and entrepreneurs, to help enhance their skills of persuasion, written by Paul Morrison based on a word he made up