This is Episode 09 of This Old New Business weekly business podcast with Jeff Korhan.
Ann Handley is a household name in the world of business marketing, especially with respect to creating valuable content that engages customers with a business or brand.
Using her new book as the foundation of our conversation, we bring writing down to a ground level, first by discussing why people have a complicated relationship with writing – and how to get over that.
We then explore the practice of writing, especially storytelling, and how businesses can use it to enhance their presence online.
Whether you are writing to express yourself in an email or on social media, or writing sales or marketing copy to grow your business, your happiness and success depends on your ability to write well.
So, join me and Ann as we discuss how to tell your business story.
Our Featured Guest: Ann Handley
Ann Handley is the Chief Content Officer of MarketingProfs, a training and education company. In addition to being named by Forbes as the most influential woman in social media, she is also a monthly columnist for Entrepreneur magazine, a member of the LinkedIn Influencer program, and the co-author of Content Rules – the all-time best-selling book on content marketing. Her new book, Everybody Writes: Your Go-To Guide to Creating Ridiculously Good Content, will help your business tell its story.
Every Marketer is a Writer
Everybody that sends a text or email is a writer, but marketers in particular are responsible for using written words to convey a message to their community.
In both circumstances, Ann says it’s important to think before you write. What are you trying to say and how can you convey it in a way that is unique to you?
Our words are a stand in for who we are as individuals and companies. Therefore, it’s smart to build the habit of writing. Ann provides a simple formula for getting over any ideas you may have about your writing capabilities that may be holding you back.
- Show Up
- Do the Work
Focus Your Story on the Customer
Storytelling is not so much an art as it is a practice of telling a true story well. In a business context, Ann says this is best accomplished by putting your business in the background and focusing on the customer.
Make the customer the hero of your business story. Tweet this
Your business story is not what your product or service does, but what it does for others. Therefore, the focus has to be on the customer. Consider the following for story ideas.
- How does your product or service help people?
- How does your product or service shoulder their burdens?
- How exactly does your product or service exist in the real world?
Keeping your company in the background will help you tell your business story from the perspective of customers, and that helps potential buyers envision their circumstances within that story.
Choose Your Storytelling Channel
There are media channels that allow your business to tell its story in writing, video, audio, photos, and combinations of all of them, such as infographics that marry text with images.
Whether your business is large or small, it has to choose the preferred channels of the community it serves. If your target audience is male adults from ages 18-34, YouTube is for you. That’s a recent statistic.
Do your research to determine the best channels to tell your business story. You’ll find lots of tips and advice for doing it well in Everybody Writes.
Lighting Round Tips and Advice
Ann’s Top Marketing Advice – Create content as the cornerstone of your marketing to tell your business story online.
Her Favorite Productivity Tip – Get up an hour earlier every morning. It’s a great time to write when your mind is fresh and there are no distractions.
A Quote that has Inspired Ann’s Success – “A writer who waits for ideal conditions under which to work will die without putting a word on paper.” E.B. White
- Think before you write, but when in doubt just plunge in and start writing.
- Forget about marketing as you know it. Just tell better stories that make your buyer the hero and they will tell your business story for you.
- You can connect with Ann on Twitter at @annhandley or at AnnHandley.com where you can sign up for her newsletter.
- Learn more about Ann’s new book at EverybodyWrites.com
- Visit Marketing Profs to learn more about this marketing education and training community.
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How is your business telling its story to engage customers and new buyers?
About the Author: Jeff Korhan, MBA, is the author of Built-In Social: Essential Social Marketing Practices for Every Small Business and host of This Old New Business podcast.