B2B Marketing Spotlight: Ann Handley on Being a “Badaxe” Marketer #mpb2b

Interview Ann Handley
Twelve years ago I had the good fortune to connect with Ann Handley, Chief Content Officer at MarketingProfs and she’s been a positive influence to me on what’s possible in content and B2B marketing ever since.

I’m not alone.

During that time, we’ve both grown as marketers. Well, maybe I’ve grown, but Ann has exploded. She regularly fills keynote rooms at conferences, draws long, long lines of people to get one of her best selling books signed and her company MarketingProfs has attracted over 600,000 subscribers.

Ann Handley is a marketing influencers’s influencer or more creatively, she’s an Annfluencer.

Since Ann is the very first Chief Content Officer ever, a multi-book best selling author, international keynote speaker and who I like to call, The Khaleesi of Content, we’re pretty fortunate to share the following interview. And after recent events in Toronto, you call also call her a “badaxe” marketer.

In the video below Ann and I connected through Zoom to talk about a range of topics including a game of “hot or not” with content marketing tactics, examples of B2B brands doing it right, how she’s achieved meteoric success with her newsletter growth and of course, the upcoming B2B Forum conference happening near Washington D.C. on October 16-18.

Enjoy!

On Axe Throwing and Marketing Metaphors:

“In Toronto for an event I went ax throwing with a bunch of other speakers and attendees at the event. I mean the obvious analogy would be that in marketing it’s all about hitting the target, but I actually think it’s a much richer analogy than that. The analogy that I drew, or where I see marketing and writing reflected in ax throwing, is that sometimes it’s just enough to hit the target, you know? It takes a lot of practice. It takes a lot of courage to stand up there and actually try something. And I think that’s probably why in B2B marketing, it’s so much safer to not throw the ax, to instead just sort of sit behind and do what you’ve always done.”

“And so the analogy is that some days it’s just enough to hit the target, and that it is scary and it’s dangerous, and it can feel uncomfortable to try new things. But I think it’s incumbent on all of us in B2B marketing, whether you are a writer, or a marketer, or whatever role you play in an organization to take some risks, and just get out of the box and throw an ax at that target.”

On B2B Marketing Trends for 2020:

“I’ve been all in on this for a while, and it’s so old school, but email newsletters have made a such a comeback. So many brands are really missing the opportunity with email. They’re so focused on trying to get really great ads, at voice activated applications. You know, what should I … what’s our Alexa strategy? It’s like, why do you have an Alexa strategy? Why are you even thinking about that, when your email newsletter really needs help over here? The email newsletter I think is it’s, it’s vastly undervalued.”

On the Most Common Marketing Questions Ann Gets Asked:

“People ask me a lot about writing, and here’s kind of the funny thing about when people ask me questions about writing. It’s usually preceded by an apology like, ‘I’m sorry, I’m really nervous writing to you, because I’m worried about grammar’. And that’s sort of the problem right there. It’s like, I don’t care about grammar, necessarily. I mean yeah, you want to sort of know the grammar rules more generally, but you can always get some help. You can always fix that later, fix it in post, right? And so I don’t think about great writing the same as great grammar. They’re very different things.”

“When someone expresses some anxiety right off that, ‘I feel so awkward writing to you, because I’m so worried that it’s going to have a mistake.’ I mean, number one, just let go of that judgment, you know? It’s like the ax throwing analogy again. Just stand in the pit and throw the ax. Don’t worry about it.”

Thank you Ann!

B2B Forum
Bound for B2B Forum: For more information about imagining what’s possible in B2B, check out the MarketingProfs B2B Forum conference including agenda, list of speakers (including Ashley Zeckman and myself) and many other fun facts on the website here.

If you’re in marketing, I can’t recommend Ann’s Newsletter, Total Annarchy enough. You can subscribe and see back issues here.

Follow Ann on the Twitters here: @marketingprofs & @annhandley

Calling All Content Marketers: Sound Off in Our Content Marketing Planning Survey!

2018 Content Planning Survey

We’re all in this together.

Granted, it might not always feel that way. The current environment we operate in as marketers is a competitive one. But we do have the power to collectively drive our discipline forward, toward greater efficiency and productivity. This begins with sharing knowledge, and improving our understanding of the most prevalent challenges and obstacles being faced.

In this spirit, we’ve partnered with our clients and friends at DivvyHQ to whip up a new 2018 Content Planning Survey, and we’d love your input.

What’s Inside the Survey

The idea is to gather data from a wide range of marketers in efforts to form a clear and accurate picture of how today’s content teams operate and where the key opportunities lie.

“One thing marketers can do to improve their content planning is stop planning each piece of content. The key to an effective editorial plan is committing to a publishing cadence.” @brennermichael Click To Tweet

Topics covered in this quick, five-minute survey:

  • Content planning processes and tools
  • Content team structure and collaboration
  • Content marketing tactics and metrics

Insights Content Marketers Will Gain

The more responses added from pros in the trenches like yourself, the more useful the results will be. Among the enlightening findings from DivvyHQ’s 2017 Content Planning Report:

  • 64% of respondents cited “developing a comprehensive content strategy” as a top challenge
  • Only 10% identified “creating clear defined objectives” as a successful aspect of planning
  • 58% of respondents said they were “too busy” to collaborate with peers
  • The most utilized content marketing tactics were email (89%), blog articles (88%) and video (80%)
  • 28% of respondents said they do not conduct regular content planning meetings

“There is such a thing as a bad slow in marketing. But there is a critical need for a good slow, too.” @annhandley Click To Tweet

So please, add your voice by filling out the survey. The best part? While you aren’t required to provide an email address, if you do, you’ll receive exclusive early access to the report generated from the aggregated information.

A Fresh Look at Content Planning for 2018

What’s changed this year? Where will we be able to identify trends and prevalent changes in focus? By submitting your own survey, you can be among the first to find out.

Armed with these insights, you’ll be able to better assess how your team measures up against the content marketing world at large, helping to guide your strategy onward and upward.

Together, we can take content to new heights.