How to Create Ridiculously Good Content
By Daniel Murray
There are few guests with as stellar of a resume as today’s. That’s why I am so stoked for you to meet her.
A digital marketing pioneer, writer, and speaker Ann Handley is a content LEGEND.
I had the pleasure of sitting down with Ann and diving into ALL of her content tips, so that you and I can create RIDICULOUSLY good content.
So let’s jump into it and hear what Ann had to say on The Marketing Millennials Podcast, in her own liiiightly edited words.
1. How to think about great content:
“The best content contains 3 specific attributes.
Number one: it is inspired in some way by data or creativity.
Number two: the content has pathological empathy for the person you are trying to reach. It looks at the world through their eyes, not yours.
Number three: It has some element of usefulness (tangible tips your audience can grab from your content).
Some argue those 3 elements only apply to B2B brands, since B2B is often focused around education and thought leadership, which is useful content.
But this applies to B2C content too. If something is funny, it is useful. We still value it in some way.
2. Getting into the mindset of your audience:
You can’t get into the mindset of 97 people at once. What you can do is understand the world from one person’s point of view (THIS).
There’s this notion in marketing that we have to create everything from the mindset of our audience, that’s true on the surface.
But that’s a really hard thing to do and you’d much rather solve a problem for one person.
When you think about how you can help one person, it ultimately will apply to many (*takes notes*).
Think about one person, get to know them, think about the world through their eyes, try on their skin. It will become a lot easier to create content that is truly useful to them and will loosen up your voice a little bit.
It allows you to think about communicating with one person at one time instead of an audience.
This applies especially in an email newsletter, but to content as well.
There’s only one person reading your content at a time, you’re not performing on a stage doing a live reading of your blog post (that would be the worst – LOL).
3. This has changed in Marketing:
It’s imperative in 2023 to build trust with your audience.
Consumers won’t buy from you unless they know and like you.
Content has become much more central to business. Just playing the SEO game with content doesn’t work anymore.
Instead we need to truly use content as an opportunity to build relationships.
It’s not about the number of followers or subscribers you have, it’s about the quality of those people who are connected to you (YES).
Those ultimately will be your best buyers, especially in B2B.
4. All of us in Marketing need to do this:
Increasingly what all of us in Marketing need to do is be in service to the audience, not just thinking about how to sell our products and services.
Yes we’re in marketing because we want to sell our product.
But the truth is that the more that we serve our audience, the more we are incredibly useful to an audience, the more that they will want to build a relationship with us.
And a byproduct of that relationship is trust and that’s when we can sell our products and services.
5. The best way to store content ideas:
I keep a list in a notebook that’s specifically for ideas (I use Notion for this!!).
Things that I’m thinking about, half baked ideas that I might explore in some fashion.
(Half baked is the best Ben & Jerry’s flavor btw.)
Maybe as a speech, blog post, newsletter, or tweet. It can be any of those things.
Those ideas come from conversations I’ve had, emails from subscribers, and other content I see on my timeline.
Then I put that into a spreadsheet and move them around depending on what my plan is with them.
Sometimes I’ll build them out with notes next to them or ideas that connect to one another, then from there I’ll just decide where it best fits, either as a long form piece of content or short form.
6. What Marketing is really about:
I used to think about marketing as being a broadcast trying to break through, get into the minds, and get in front of the eyeballs of people.
When in reality it’s more about building an audience and trust.
7. Writer’s block is a myth:
Writer’s block is not a thing (👀).
When we say we have writer’s block, it’s usually because we’re putting too much pressure on ourselves for that first draft.
The way to get past that is to produce an ugly first draft. Just get it out of your head and onto the page.
It doesn’t matter if you’re writing in complete sentences or if there are typos everywhere.
Very often we expect too much on the first go ‘round.
We expect it to come out and be great. Write something ugly, write it dirty, just get it out (ok so like I will be trying this ASAP).
That’s how you get over “writer’s block.”
8. Quick newsletter tip:
The key to an engaging email newsletter is to worry less about the “news” aspect and more about the “letter”.
Brands tend to think about the news much more than they think about the letter and that’s where they go wrong.”