In my last “Getting Social With…” post, NewsCred’s Michael Brenner mentioned that one of his favorite sales/marketing influencers to follow on Twitter is the one and only Ann Handley. As such, I thought it fitting to interview Ann, Chief Content Officer of the incredibly popular MarketingProfs, for my next Q&A of the series.
Ann Handley is a Wall Street Journal best-selling author, keynote speaker, and the world’s first Chief Content Officer. She speaks and writes about how you can rethink the way your business markets, and is cited in Forbes as the most influential woman in Social Media and recognized by ForbesWoman as one of the top 20 women bloggers. Ann currently has more than 260,000 followers on Twitter and writes about content, marketing and life at the highly entertaining AnnHandley.com (subscribe to check out her posts!).
So, without further ado, let’s get social with Ann Handley…
Favorite Sales/Marketing Influencer to Follow on Twitter: I can't say I have just one. But one favorite is @avinash. I'm a fan for a lot of reasons, and to say that I'm thrilled to have him as a MarketingProfs B2B Forum keynote this fall is a colossal understatement!
Your Philosophy (Life or Professional) in 140 Characters or less: Life's a party rock your body. (Kidding!) Actually, it's this: Avoid mediocrity. (What is that? 17 characters, including punctuation? BOOM.)
#1. Around this time last year, you wrote the article New Year, New You: 3 Things Every Marketer Should Be Doing in 2014. Your focus was on real-time relevance, video, and voice and tone of content. Looking back on how 2014 played out, is there something else you wish you could go back and add to the list?
I'd probably expand voice and tone to include writing and brand story more broadly. At the time I wrote that article in January 2014, I was aggressively procrastinating writing "Everybody Writes." (So I was avoiding thinking too much about the very thing I should've been focusing on! Weird? Probably. But true.) I'd also probably include two more things: 1) Pathological empathy for your customer; and 2) thinking more broadly about marketing, to include any customer touchpoint or interaction.
#2. I recently attended a webinar you gave on your latest book, Everybody Writes. Your message was that “We don’t need more content. We need better content.” Do you think effective writing has become an overlooked part of content marketing?
Aww. Thanks for the softball. Anyway: Unequivocally YES. Good writing and a solid story is the backbone of effective marketing, and it's often the thing that's undervalued in any content marketing program. My mission is to help all marketers be able to write and communicate more effectively -- both internally as well as with any external audiences, and to inspire the writer within us all. It's important for marketers especially, because good writing is ultimately a reflection of good, empathetic, customer-centric thinking. And it's the foundational block of any solid content marketing program -- no matter the form that marketing ultimately takes: an infographic, video, blog post, ebook, Facebook post, Instagram feed... or whatever.
#3. If you had one piece advice to share with content marketers on how to become better writers, what would it be?
The difference between good writing and terrible writing is the amount of time the author spends editing. So, give yourself permission to write badly first. Barf up that Ugly First Draft -- with zero concern for grammar, spelling, readability, or even that you're using full sentences. Then, walk away. Have a slice of pie. Go for a walk. Get some distance between you and your ugliness. Then, when you get back to it, spend time on the rewrite to slap it into something you can show the world. "Write with the door closed; edit with the door open," as Stephen King says.