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Talking Content Marketing – With Ann Handley

Ann Handley. The ID Group, content marketing Bournemouth, DorsetTalking Content welcomes another world respected influencer, Ann Handley.

Ann is author, speaker and the world’s first Chief Content Officer. She makes a stoic stand for eliminating mediocrity in online content. She is also one of the 100 ‘must follow people’ on Twitter in 2014 (from the Huffington Post).

We talk to Ann about how a content marketing approach needs to be adopted for success in todays business.


Is a change of mindset, more important than a change of direction?

I think the first eventually begets the second. Once you embrace content and story as a cornerstone of your marketing – not as a one-and-done campaign, but as a commitment – you can’t help but set the necessary processes and plans in place to plan for the long-term craft and distribution of (and customer engagement with) that content. In other words, you become a media company.

That’s not an easy transition to make, I know. But here’s the truth: We are already all media companies. The question is: “How well are you using that access and power”?

In the UK in 2013 business start-ups increased to 526k new businesses (up from 484k in 2012). For businesses to now achieve longevity is it about telling a better story than the competition to build an audience who listen and trust you?

Content Rules. The ID Group, content marketingYes, in part. Story is definitely important as a foundational element. But as I’ve written about in our book Content Rules, the best content isn’t storytelling. The best content tells a true story well.

It’s a subtle difference. But the creators of the best content of 2014 contemplated not just what story was worth telling, but how to tell it. Companies need to think about:

1) How to tell that story really, really, well – with utility, brevity, customer empathy and inspiration;

2) How to reach audiences that need to hear it; and

3) What happens next: Building relationships by becoming an ongoing resource.

One genius example of storytelling is from Skype. Skype is a technology company, of course. But its story is about how its technology helps people. Click here to read. 

The B2C & and B2B Content Marketing Report (Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs) highlighted that both sectors clearly have a content marketing approach. Is success for both based on being normal again and an understanding that people do business with people (by being interesting)? 

I think the opportunity of social media is the ability to connect directly with the people you want to talk to. But being “interesting” isn’t necessarily the goal. Better is to add value to the lives of those you want to serve.

CMI sing the praises of Slideshare. Is there a platform that you champion, that will build even more relevance to marketers?

It’s not a specific channel, but video is a tactic that I think should be part of any serious content marketer’s plan in 2014 and beyond.

What brands do you admire? Who do you think does it right?

I love this question! So many companies do it right, but some of my favorites are Saddleback Bags (click here to read) for never wavering from its story; and Cisco (click here to read), for making a so-called boring technology come alive, time and again. In that example, my friend Tim Washer does an tremendous job infusing that brand with humour.

Content Rules is such a highly regarded book for new thinking and how to approach. As the world moves at such a pace, have you planned a follow up?

First, thank you.

Second, I’m actually working on a new book right now. But I’m not ready to talk about it yet. That’s a bit of a tease, isn’t it…? LOL. Sorry. I’ll make sure you’re among the first to know when I am ready though… deal?


A massive thanks to Ann for here response and time. When the new book is ready, you know where you’ll hear about it!

To find out more about Ann and to connect, here’s where you can find her.

Twitter: @MarketingpProfs

Content Rules: buy here click here click here

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