7 Tips from Ann Handley on How to Create Ridiculously Good Content

Do you ever wonder how you can write better, or better yet, how to hate writing less?

How do you create engaging content that is truly going to drive business for your organization?

I recently saw Ann Handley, renowned author and content marketing thought-leader, in the flesh at #MeshCon (I'm a huge fan of MarketingProfs). As the day's keynote speaker, she opened up the Meshmarketing conference with a topic that really gets to the content marketing matter and that is to create ridiculously good content.

Here's what Ann has observed over the past couple of years:

There is so much stuff being created. Producing engaging content has consistently been the #1 challenge for the past 5 years and we are competing for attention in a way that we have never before. So how do we create content with more meaning and sense of purpose?

Below are 7 ways Ann Handley creates better content.

7 ways to create better content

  1. Be strategic and find your content marketing mission

As Ann comes from a journalism background, she brings up an industry best practice, maybe some of you know it? It's called the 5 Ws. They are as follows:

Who - Hone in on who you're trying to reach.

What - What are your goals?

When and Where - What value can you deliver at any given stage of the buying cycle or journey?

Why - Why does it matter?

Answer these questions and one last important question: what do you want them (your customers, your prospects, etc.) to do next?

  1. Think Thanksgiving not Spanish tapas

Ann borrows an example from Jason Miller of LinkedIn to depict how he thinks of content as a big Thanksgiving turkey. This helps us imagine our content strategy as a big hunk of meat that can be sliced and diced into different content types. Basically, your content is not just a one-off. Think of it as a whole.

  1. Tell a different story

We hear this all the time: "We don’t have a story to tell”, especially from B2B companies. Ann challenges us to look at other parts of our life, think outside the box and be inspired by our lives, to bring the inspiration back into our content marketing development efforts.

  1. Be useful!

Ann absolutely believes that utility is the cornerstone of effective marketing. Make the story about the customer, be ridiculously useful. Here's some food for thought: if your content was gone, would people miss you?

  1. Mind like water: content moments everywhere.

Keep your mind open and follow this "mind like water" approach where water will always find its place in a crevice. So stay open to the idea. There’s always a story to write.

  1. Hone your own skills, build your dream team.

We need a broader tool set at our own disposal. As marketers, we need to be more in social. People who are active in social tend to be proficient in social and understands how it can work with content. Also, we need to get great at conent and writing, and have a basic grasp of SEO. We need to be good at analytics so that we are able to communicate back to team, especially with the C-suite.

  1. Be a better writer: tell better stories.

Becoming a better writer is becoming a better marketer. It’s all about better stories, and that starts with better writing. A lot of times, people think writing is an art where only a select few can do it well. Ann believes that writing is actually a habit, not an art. Writing is the heart of content marketing.

And lastly, Ann leaves us with these wise words: "Words are your ambassador, don’t squandor them."

For more amazing tips on how to create ridiculously good content, check out Ann's new book. You can get a sneak peek of 'Everybody Writes' here: bit.ly/everybodywritespreview

Tags: write better, ann handley, content marketing, engaging content, General