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December 12, 2012

Marty’s Content Curation Secret: Women’s Magazines

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Allure Magazine CoverWhat Women’s Magazines Can Teach Content Curators
I have a secret. I learned how to curate content, at least partially, from women’s magazines. You remember those colorful monthly blasts of perfume samples and 8 Ways To Shock Your Lover? Idea-starved, we would hit Barnes and Noble and pick up $100 worth of magazines such as Elle, Redbook, Vogue and Cosmo. Women’s publications know how to SINK a hook, such as these recent hooks from Allure:

* 31 Party Hairstyles (note seasonality).
* 10 Sexiest Fragrances Right Now.
* 12 Beauty Gifts Under $50.
* 3 Beauty Tips To Survive Hangovers.

Source Segmentation
Here is how we learned to think about our sources:

EDGE: Cosmo




Lessons Learned
Here are just a few of the lessons we learned from women’s publications:

  • Seasonality – riff on what is happening NOW.
  • Creative Tie-Ins – to 3 macro themes: sex, health and love.
  • Numbers – 8 Things To Do To A Naked Man is less exciting without the number (lifted from Cosmo, of course).
  • Personas – Women’s publications are geared to certain personas.

It’s hard to understand how personas work in a vacuum. Here is an example of  very general personas for a women’s publication:

Gail, 20 – 29
Single, works hard, plays hard, dating and social. Cares about fashion, friends and romance despite cynical, tough exterior. Highly connected via mobile and social. Health-conscious and competitive. Not wedding obsessed, but has been to The Knot a few times and has ideas for the big day even if no one is on the horizon yet.

Pam, 30 – 40
Married and either thinking of having children or a mother already. Pam is also tethered to mobile and social but for different reasons. She coordinates much of her busy life via apps, friends and her iPad. Wants to keep spark in her relationship or marriage, but time compressed, not getting enough sleep and working hard. Some of this cohort may be working and managing a family, while new mothers may be working part time or focused on family. Some women make the lion’s share of the household income, so they may continue to work while dad stays home to raise children.

Rachel, 41 – 50
Children are established enough now that some of this cohort will return to work (if they left). Women who stayed at work want to achieve as much as possible in these years.

Paying for education and making sure she and her husband can retire is beginning to become a priority. May be on 2nd husband by now and managing an extended and combined family (some of his, some of hers). Not as restless or unsure in this period, worrying about fewer things but bigger things.


Personas are critical because they form a framework for your content curation and storytelling. Rachel needs different stories than Pam or Gail. Each persona is an archetype, a macro definition of characteristics shared by large portions of the cohort.

Age is a poor way of segmenting, but, as Passages author Gail Sheehy showed, we experience different things at different times in our lives. If you have buying data, you could form cohorts based on buying patterns.

You could also form cohorts on behavioral data. Basically, you can form a cohort, a segment or a persona on any data you have as long as there is some meaningful value. There is some argument that we live in a one to one time, making segments, personas and cohorts passé.

I disagree. We aren’t there yet. Soon we will be able to manipulate websites in real time (or near real time) based on predictive analytics and what is happening now. Until that day, personas help align marketers with customers, and women’s magazines teach the many tricks and secrets of content curation and content creation.

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