6 Lessons from Ann Handley to Help Anyone Write Better Content
I’ve said it time and time again. I’m a huge f-Ann girl.
I adore Ann Handley and practically everything she does in content.
As a best-selling author, speaker, and Chief Content Officer at MarketingProfs, Ann is one of the leading voices in writing for the digital age.
Her latest book, Everybody Writes: Your Go-To Guide To Creating Ridiculously Good Content, is the first I read as moved into this role at IMPACT, and it remains one of the highest on my list for anyone looking to improve their writing.
From your grammar and writing process to storytelling, Ann sets you up with all of the tools to need to start creating powerful content for your organization.
Now, a summary couldn't really do it justice, as every page is overflowing with useful insights, but in this article, I’m going to cover six of this book's biggest takeaways to help put you on the road to creating "ridiculously good content."
1. Have a Strategy
Simply put, your content strategy is determined by answering five questions: what, who, when, where, and why.
What’s your goal? What are you trying to achieve with your content?
You’re not writing for the sake of writing; you’re writing with a purpose. That’s what separates general writing from content marketing. Figure out what your company want to achieve from its content.
Who are you writing for? Do you have buyer personas?
Writing for everyone that’s willing to read isn’t strategic. You need to write specifically for your ideal buyer persona in mind.
When can you provide the most value to your prospects?
Prospects have a purchasing cycle that starts with researching your industry, product, and company. Handley stresses the point of identifying the right time in their purchasing cycle when you can provide the most value with your content and creating unique content for each point in the cycle.
Where do you want prospects to go from one piece of content to the next?
You should provide many paths to conversion for your prospects because they will find your content from a variety of sources and at different stages of the purchasing cycle. Make it clear to your readers where you want them to go with calls-to-action.
Why does your content matter? Why is it needed?
According to Handley, you must find the story that only you can tell. Give your readers a reason to care.
She gives the tip of repeatedly asking “so what?” over and over until you’ve drilled down exactly why your message is important.
2. Think of the Big Picture
Emails, blog posts, and tweets aren’t one-off pieces of content -- they are small strokes of a larger painting.
Inbound marketing gives you the power to control the conversation about your brand, everywhere online. However, it’s your responsibility to make this intentional by delivering a consistent message.
In addition to controlling the conversation, you always want to become the authority on a particular topic.
As a thought leader in your niche, your brand automatically has a higher perceived value and you become the go-to source.
3. Use Flexible Storytelling
According to Handley, you need a brand story to build a great brand. That story is the heart and soul of your content.
You’re constantly telling and retelling the story of your brand. The challenge is finding new ways to tell the same story. Handley suggests you steal ideas from yourself by turning a tweet into a blog post or taking the message of an old eBook and adapting it to an email campaign.
Storytelling builds a relationship with your readers (customers). Your content should reflect the values of your brand and be presented in a voice that’s unique from your competitors, while being relatable to your buyer personas.
In my full synopsis, I'll go into three more of the biggest lessons from Ann Handley's Everybody Writes and what they mean for content marketers. You'll explore:
- Helping and Inspiring Your Readers
- Writing to One Person
- Always Improving (with Ann's Writing GPS)
To start diving in now, click "keep reading" below.
About Ramona Sukhraj
As Content Marketing Manager, Ramona approaches marketing not only as a profession, but as a creative outlet. She has a passion for all things artistic and strives to create content that is educational, yet quirky and entertaining as well. With a B.S. in Marketing from the UCONN School of Business, Ramona is a frequent contributor to the HubSpot blog and a nonprofit consultant. Outside of IMPACT, she is a design, movie, and pop culture buff, and a fierce advocate of free hugs.