11 Content Marketing Tips from Ann Handley, MarketingProfs

09 Jun 11 Content Marketing Tips from Ann Handley, MarketingProfs


I attended the Vocus DemandSuccess conference on Friday specifically to hear Ann Handley, Chief Content Officer of MarketingProfs.  She has a new book coming out, Everybody Writes. Your Go-To Guide for Creating Ridiculously Good Content, and she shared some of her insights on writing and content creation.

As most marketers know, content marketing is hard – surprisingly hard considering all the buzz on the topic.  According to the 2014 B2B Content Marketing Report, 93% of marketers are creating content and 58% are increasing their content budgets.  Brands like Oreo and Red Bull are totally killing it (and they are trotted out all the time at marketing conferences as examples of success).  However, only 44% of marketers have a content strategy, and only 42% of marketers say their content is effective.


One of the refrains at this year’s Vocus conference was the amount of bad content that’s floating around.  Ann used this as an opportunity to share her formula for successful content.  According to Ann, great content must focus on empathy, relevance, inspiration and ultimately be useful.

Traditional publishers aren’t necessarily the ones to emulate for a successful content program. Ann shared her list of publishing strategies that we can both learn from and improve upon.

6 Things We Can Steal from Publishers

  1. Have a mission: Who do you want to reach and why?  What do you want your readers to do next?
  2. Have pathological empathy for the reader.  What kind of content can you create that your audience will thank you for?
  3. Tell stories about people, not just your products and services.
  4. Develop a subscriber model.  Encourage your readers to rely on you for regular, useful information.
  5. Think content ecosystem, not content campaign.  This long-term approach is the best way to be true to your mission and provide consistent value to your readers.
  6. Publishers tell true stories well.  Words are currency, don’t squander them.

5 Ways We Need to Go Beyond Publishers

  1. Think experience, not just narrative. Use many forms of content (e.g. Website, email, digital signage in your office, corporate presentation, etc.) to create an experience that the visitor will remember and act upon.
  2. Empathy hack: Use “You” as compared to “Us” or “We” in your writing. Don’t tell your customers, show them.
  3. Innovation is relative.  As Seth Godin once said, “Innovation is often the act of taking something that worked over there and using it over here.”
  4. Experiment: Place lots of small wagers.  Content is not a sure thing.  Try new tactics and see what works.
  5. Real-time.  Look for timely topics that no one else is talking about and relate them to your brand (or as Ann likes to say, “be big for your niches”).  For example, on the first day that medical marijuana became legal in Colorado, Ben & Jerry’s tweeted, “We’re hearing reports of stores selling out of Ben & Jerry’s in Colorado.  What’s up with that?”

Ann concluded with a good reminder for us all, “Innovation is more about brains than budget.  Don’t forget to be awesome.”

Did you attend the Vocus DemandSuccess conference? What did you think about the sessions as whole or about Ann’s session specifically? Sound off below. As for me, I’m already looking forward to next year.

– Katie Hanusik

Katie Hanusik
No Comments

Post A Comment

Where'd we go? Speakerbox is now REQ. Find our new, awesome content here.