Nov 212014
Ann Handley's Everybody Writes

image courtesy of Ann Handley and Marketo

Last week I registered for a webinar featuring Ann Handley, Chief Content Officer at MarketingProfs and best-selling author. The presentation was a distillation of her new book Everybody WritesAn unexpected client issue prevented me from attending the webinar, but thankfully Ann (and Marketo) sent the presentation to us no-shows.

I’ve known Ann a long time. Back in the dawn of the dot-com boom she and the late Andy Bourland launched ClickZ, which became the place to go for information and best practices in the brand new field of online marketing. I was at at the time, and Ann always struck me as generous with her time and expertise. I cheered when she and Andy sold ClickZ for millions to, right before the downturn in 2000.

Ann’s new book is a how-to on taking advantage of content marketing, the seismic shift in B2B marketing. The presentation slides are a good read, and I’ll summarize them below for you. But I urge you to click on the link above and buy her book – it’s worth it.

A big point Ann makes is that we don’t need MORE content, we need BETTER content. (This reminded me of the content shock debate earlier this year).  She sets the stage with some powerful stats — 70 percent of B2B companies are producing more content than they did a year ago, yet only 38 percent are confident their content is effective. To produce better content, Ann proposes the equation shown in the graphic above. Your content marketing should connect emotionally with the reader, provide value and demonstrate passion for what your organization does.

To get there Ann presents seven habits for great content marketing (my description, not hers).

1. Know Your Mission – she likens this to the Five W’s of journalism — Who, What, Where, When and Why.

2. Think Thanksgiving, Not Tapas – a clever way to say reimagine existing content, don’t simply recycle it.

3. Be Different – if your story isn’t, how can it be interesting?

4. Be Useful – keep asking yourself how your content benefits the visitor/prospect/customer/partner.

5. Mind Like Water – inspiration is all around you, if you don’t see it slow down.

6. Hone Skills and Build Dream Team – keep learning, but also recognize not everyone on team needs to do it all.

7. Tell Better Stories — good old writing is at the heart of content marketing, and story telling is like a muscle — just keep doing it.

These are great reminders of what I need to keep clients focused on to keep their content top drawer. Quality content marketing requires commitment, and there is no one better to listen to than an already successful and veteran B2B publisher like Ann.




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