Finding Your Voice And Using It To Make Ridiculously Good Content

Finding Your Voice And Using It To Make Ridiculously Good Content written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

Marketing Podcast with Ann Handley

Martha McSally, a guest on the Duct Tape Marketing podcastIn this episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast, I interview Ann Handley. Ann is a Wall Street Journal bestselling author focused on helping businesses worldwide escape marketing mediocrity to ignite tangible results. Her work has appeared in Entrepreneur, the Wall Street Journal, NPR, Chicago Public Radio, and the Financial Times. She’s the Principal at MarketingProfs and the author of Everybody Writes: Your New and Improved Go-To Guide to Creating Ridiculously Good Content 2nd Edition.

Questions I ask Ann Handley:

  • [2:30] Why did you feel called to write an updated version of your book?
  • [6:26] What in the 8 years since your first book was released has changed the most about content?
  • [13:33] How does somebody find their voice, and how do they use it well?
  • [17:56] Would it be safe to say that if you are going to try to decide on a direction to go, the voice of the customer is always the best direction to go in?
  • [19:30] Who would be your writing twin or someone that has a similar style as you?
  • [24:38] What would E.B. White think of your advice?

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John Jantsch (00:00): This episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast is brought to you by Outbound Squad, formerly Blissful Prospecting, hosted by Jason Bay. It’s brought to you by the HubSpot Podcast Network, the audio destination for business professionals. Jason Bay is a leading sales expert, and he talks with other leading sales experts to get you the information you need. I’ve recent episode, he talked about how much time you need to spend prospecting. Really, really eye opening. Check it out to listen to the outbound squad, wherever you get your podcasts. Hello and welcome to another episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast. This is John Jantsch. My guest today is Ann Hanley. She’s Wall Street Journal bestselling author focused on helping businesses worldwide escape marketing mediocrity to ignite tangible results. Her work has appeared in Entrepreneur, the Wall Street Journal, npr, Chicago Public Radio, and The Financial Times. She’s also a principal co-founder at Marketing Props, and the author of Everybody Writes Your New And Improved Go-to Guide to Creating Ridiculously Content. Oh, that’s the second addition. And welcome to the show. Thank

Ann Handley (01:17): You so much. Wow. That was a very, very long introduction, but I appreciate your

John Jantsch (01:22): Intro. Oh, and, and that, and that was half of all the brilliant things I could say about you. Hey, I listen to Weight, weight, don’t Tell me, uh, frequently. That’s Chicago Public Radio, isn’t it?

Ann Handley (01:34): Yes, it is. Yeah. That wasn’t the show that I was on, but yeah, no, it was a, I was on a political marketing show. They were, it was, they were looking at political campaigns and had me on as like a, a commentator. So, um,

John Jantsch (01:46): How do you, not political marketing, how, how do you use TikTok for political campaigns now?

Ann Handley (01:50): Oh, yeah, that’s actually, yeah. Well, this TikTok it was video though, so

John Jantsch (01:54): There’s that. Okay, so you were on for everybody writes the like old and unapproved version. Yeah. Um, and , sorry, I, I actually love that you added something to the subtitle instead of just like, new edition. Well,

Ann Handley (02:09): I’m gonna start calling it that old and unapproved version of the book. Oh, you have that one, the original. Oh, it’s old and unapproved

John Jantsch (02:15): . So, so I think it’s fair game to ask an author, and I’m sure a publisher says, well, why in the heck would anybody buy a second edition of this? So, what was your justification, I guess, and you probably didn’t need it cuz your, your publisher loves you, but what was your justification for the need to write a an updated version?

Ann Handley (02:31): Yeah, it’s, it’s funny because I actually did get pushback from my publisher. Maybe not in the way that you think, but because she said, you know, this book, it’s, it sold a hundred thousand copies. I mean, it’s not nothing. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Um, and she said, it’s already, it still sells briskly. The book is eight years old, but it still is, you know, it still sells really well. She

John Jantsch (02:56): Said, I don’t, and theoretically the comma still goes in the same place. Right? Yeah. I mean, it’s like, nothing’s changed.

Ann Handley (03:01): Yeah. And so she said, why do you wanna do this? And the reason why I wanted to do it was because there, I just wanted to update a few things in the book. There were some examples that were dated. There were some references that just don’t really apply anymore. And so I thought, yeah, you know what? I, I kind of wanna just go through it. And I thought I would do the equivalent of, you know, running the vacuum around the pages and maybe just do a little light dusting, spray some for breeze so it smells nicer, smells fresher. That’s what I thought I was going to do. And then I got into it and I started reading it and I thought, you know what, most importantly, John, my voice had changed. My voice had really changed as a writer over the past eight years. And my thinking had changed.

(03:47): So when I dug into it, I realized I didn’t talk about a lot of things that I think are important now in marketing in 2022. So, things like email newsletters, things like understanding how to write a good speech description. You know, when you think, well, I’m not a speaker. Well, a lot of marketers are supporting executives who do give speeches. So how do you get them on the main stage? That kind of stuff. How to write with humor, thinking about how to write short form video, how to write captions, you know, all of that kind of stuff. Like, uh, photo captions, visuals. And so there’s a lot of things that I just wasn’t really on my radar eight years ago that I thought, I really wanna dig into it a little bit more. So as a result, what I thought was gonna be a light vacuum, some dusting and some ry spraying turned into, we’re gonna take this right down to the studs and we’re gonna rebuild it from the ground up.

(04:37): I added a bunch of new stuff to the book. That’s why it says completely revised and expanded, because I added a bunch of pages, but I also cut a lot of things. I cut a lot of the boring stuff, is the way that I thought about it. Like, if I read it and I thought, God, who, who would read this? Like, if it put me to sleep, I was like, yeah, we’re cutting that one right out. So for example, there’s a whole section on readability in the old version, in the Old and Un Improved in your vernacular version. I cut that right out. Cause I was like, you know what? That’s, you know, no one cares about that, so let’s just get it right out. I moved a little bit of it, of it to the tools section at the end, but, but yeah. But more than that, I really wanted to give a, a fresher look at writing in 2022.

John Jantsch (05:22): Well, and, and let’s face it, every author would benefit from, here’s a whole bunch of my books. Everybody go read ’em and then come back and tell me what you think. Right. , I mean, I’m sure that some of it was just based on what news stories, but also what people told you resonated, didn’t work. They, you know, made you think about something differently. I mean, it’s kind of a gift to have that, and you don’t often get that and the chance to do what you did.

Ann Handley (05:46): Yeah, yeah. It’s true. Actually. I didn’t really think about it in those terms, but yeah, you’re absolutely right. You know, I mean, I’ve been out talking to marketers over the past eight years, and so I have a good sense of, you know, what, what they love about it, what they don’t love about it. I had the benefit of that sort of ground research, I guess, but also looking at review sites like Good Reads and like Amazon, and, and trying to understand, you know, what works for people and what doesn’t. Yeah. So all of that really helped too.

John Jantsch (06:12): So, I mean, on the surface, everybody writes, you know, sounds like a book about writing, and of course it is a book about writing, but you, because of your world of being in content and marketing, I mean, a lot of people that have purchased this book have purchased this as a content marketing book as well. So what in the eight years has changed the most about content marketing?

Ann Handley (06:36): Oh, that, wow, that’s a big question. I think

John Jantsch (06:38): A lot. Oh, I got, I got bigger ones, so go ahead. Oh, wow. I

Ann Handley (06:40): Love this stuff. Big stuff. John. A lot has changed over the past eight years about content marketing. You know, when I first wrote this book, I wrote it on the heels of content roles, which came out four years

John Jantsch (06:52): Previous, CC Chapman,

Ann Handley (06:53): Ccr, my Good Friend Cici. And, you know, we published that book at a time when content marketing was, was nascent. You know, it was kind of a thing that some people were doing, but not very consistently. Yeah. So four years later, when the, the old and unapproved version came out, it was at a point in time where 2014, where people were starting to take content marketing pretty seriously. It was starting to, to be embedded within an organization, but they were still trying to figure out, you know, well, how does it fit with, with marketing and where does it live within an organization? And so here, fast forward now to 2022, new book comes out, and I think that there’s a lot of things that have changed operationally within organizations. But the most important thing, and, and really one of the, the driving factors behind the new edition is that, you know, writing content just to play the SEO game is right.

(07:47): Not gonna cut it anymore. Google has gotten very, very smart about figuring out whether something is valuable or not. And so they keep releasing updates that will surface the great stuff. So what does that mean? It puts new pressure on marketers and businesses generally to produce the kind of content that is actually going to be valuable to the people who are going to access it. So I think that’s, that’s one big thing. And so it puts new pressure on the kinds of stories that we tell and the way that we write to engage an audience. And, and when I say, right, I mean, it could be the way that we produce to engage an mm-hmm. Scroll back to top

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