Tag Archives: persona

Old MacDonald’s Method for Creating Engaging Content

Okay, previously, the discussion was around the differences between “Big C” (Content Marketing) Content and little c content – how focusing on customers’ higher-order needs helps to ensure that communication is relevant, engaging, and will be acted upon by customers.

Like many mysteries in life, there’s both an art and a science to creating engaging Content.

First, the science:  all Content must serve objectives.

Great, you say; I need to create reach or consideration, or increase sales or referrals – just show me how Content can help me reach my objectives.

But here’s the  twist in the science:  content (small c) may help in achieving your objectives, but Content (Big C) is created when you focus on serving your customers’ objectives.

Customers’ Objectives?

Yes.  Your Customers’ objectives – while they map back to your overall brand marketing or business objectives, it’s important to place these objectives in terms of customers and their points of view.  No customer goes out to ‘increase reach’ or ‘increase sales’ – but they do need to become aware or gain a sense of reassurance.  C.A.R.E. ™ — Customer Acquisition and Retention through Engagement, a proprietary strategic framework from Nutlug, maps the stages a customer goes through in her journey with a brand, and as a basis of viewpoint, pairs marketing objectives with corresponding customer goals.

If content is created to address customer goals (Objectives), then it’s well on the way to becoming “Big C” Content .

But there’s more.  Just because content is geared to address Customer objectives doesn’t mean it’s necessarily engaging.  Customers have to enjoy it, learn something from it, be motivated by it, shown how to do something by it.

Short of market researching absolutely every blog post, every upload, every bit of “small c” content you create to gauge its likelihood to engage your customers, there is a simple checklist passed down from folksong lore to serve as a litmus test of sorts, to make sure your content is on the right track.

It’s called Old MacDonald’s Method for Engaging Content.

And here’s how the little ditty goes:

First and foremost, your Content needs to be ENTERTAINING.  This might seem logical, but in the scope of the world wide web, there’s a glut of customer options containing a flood of content that isn’t.  There’s really no sure fire formula for creating something that’s entertaining (or viral, for that matter), but it’s safe to start with placing oneself in the customer’s shoes and determining what’s entertaining to him or her.  Knowing your audience and creating robust customer personas is a good first step.

Next, check to see if your Content is INFORMATIONAL.  Allow your customers to experience the breadth of your knowledge on the subjects and topics that likely have drawn them to you in the first place.  This is really the key to in-bound marketing – creating Content that informs your customers in the higher order need areas they require.  Thought leadership is built around informational Content.

The other E in the “methodology” is EDUCATIONAL.  Yes, this is indeed different from Informational – it takes information to the next step by explaining and showing your customer how-to with your Content.   Some of the very best B-to-B Content is focused on being educational.  There is always an underlying fear of offering too much education to customers that they won’t need to purchase your products or services; do your best to ignore this irrational ghost.  If a wireless router manufacturer provides a three minute video on how to set up a wireless router, I’ve been educated…but will still need the product (and likely the services to have someone do it right for me!).

The other I stands for INSPIRATIONAL.  Often the overlooked element to Big C Content, persuasive storytelling goes well beyond ‘selling’ – along with offering entertaining content that informs and educates, Content also gives the pep talk, the slap on the back, the kick in the rear that urges the customer to do something.  Case studies play well in this sandbox – showing how another small business owner leveraged social networking to increase referrals, for example, can lead to inspire others to follow.  Inspiration’s muse is often emotional, but founded in rational Content, particularly when it helps achieve the aforementioned higher-order needs.

It doesn’t stand for okay (as in ‘Okay, I can see where you’re going with this E-I-E-I-O thing, Keith) – but it refers back to the Customer OBJECTIVES discussed earlier.  Efforts can be entertaining, informational, educational, and inspirational… and still not be Big C Content.  Adhering to customer objectives (and yes, they do tie in with your brand’s objectives as well) is the key note in our tune.  Otherwise, it’s just E-I-E-I….

So don’t forget the O.  It’s the basis of Big C.

That’s what MacDonald says, anyway.

Have you met Joe, yet?

Meet Joe.

Joe Kennedy (no relation) is 27 years old, lives in the Boston area (just a coincidence) and drinks beer (also a coincidence). 

He is making his way into middle management at a software company and earns around $ 60,000 per year.  He has an undergraduate degree from BC, and is a real sports nut.  While he is a self-admitted ‘homer’ (dyed-in-the-wool Red Sox fan, big Patriots lover, Celts, Bruins, and his alma mater), he enjoys all types of sports and is knee-deep in his Rotisserie baseball league (AL-only teams) and is currently gearing up for fantasy football ’09 (has been caught with his pre-draft rankings Excel sheets open at the office during work hours.  By his supervisor.  Twice.). 

He watches a variety of sports channels (Comcast SportsChannel, ESPN, local news, MLB channel, Golf Channel, NFL Network, and so on).  He played high school baseball and football, and secretly wished he had pursued a D-3 school so that maybe he could have walked on and played throughout college. 

Joe dates on and off, and has been seen out with a young lady from his company’s HR department (even though she knows better).  His friends that are girls (but some who wish they were more) describe him as ‘hot,’ though he has little clue.  Weekends (and some weeknights) mean bar-hopping with buddies from both high school and BC. 

Joe is frugal, but not necessarily a saver yet.  The youngest of five from a middle-class family, he’s held a job all of his life, even throughout undergrad.  He rents downtown, rooming with a college classmate; friends, but not buddies.  Drives a used, ’02 Toyota Camry. 

Meet Joe

Meet Joe


ESPN, the Brand, would like to have Joe choose their services solely, capturing greater share of Joe’s time spent, mind, and wallet versus having him spread all amongst ESPN and their competitors.  Furthermore, ESPN would like Joe to select ESPN as main Sports Information source across all channels, upselling him to The Magazine, and maybe even ESPN 36o.



“Hi, my name is Joe.”

“Hi, Joe!”

“It’s been six days since I became a persona….”


The class of grad students I teach as an adjunct lecturer at Northwestern University’s Medill School created “Joe.”  For many, it was their first stab at a persona. 

It seems the persona has become all the rage amongst social media strategies…but has been utilized for some time now by content marketers, and even longer (I’d reckon) by traditional agencies (we were using them at Burnett back in the mid-80’s, though I don’t recall labeling them as personas at the time….).

The key today, of course, is to utilize the persona for above and beyond solely the creative target.  Ideally, personas are created for all customer segments, and used in new user profiling, content testing, and to lead discovery in the listening phases of social media planning. 

Personas provide more robust targeting and segmentation, above and beyond demographics, psychographics, and even transactional behaviors.  By bringing your target to life, you bring your marketing to life.

Have you met Joe yet?