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Ann Handley, #MKTGgenius: Write On

I was lucky enough to catch up with one of my favorite marketing geniuses, Ann Handley of MarketingProfs. Ask any marketer who their top marketing crush is and it will be Ann. She’s a humble, funny and smart resource on all things marketing. Read her Q&A below and be sure to check out her perfectly-titled session The Secret Sauce in Your Content Barbecue on April 14 at 4:30pm if you are heading to Marketo’s Marketing Nation Summit.

What is the secret to your success in marketing?

Writing well. When I was in college, my professor told me that the most powerful skill in any career was learning to write well. The most successful people, he said, are those who can communicate their ideas in a way that ignites others. Writing is more about thinking clearly and communicating your ideas well.

I don’t carry a lot of advice or aphorisms around with me, but that one I’ve found to be true.

You can certainly be a writer without being a marketer. But I don’t think you can be a marketer without being a writer—or you can’t be a very good one.

Side note: it’s funny that you frame me as a success. I can’t say that’s how I view myself—if only because that suggests a kind of pinnacle reached or end-game concluded. I have had some success, but I don’t know that I’d call myself that.

(Then again, calling yourself a “success” is akin to calling yourself attractive. Or a good parent. It means little when you call yourself that. It means way more coming from other people.)

What’s something you wished you learned earlier in your career?

I just paused at this question for an inordinate amount of time, fingers hovering over the keyboard. I can’t think of a single thing I wish I knew earlier, because every mistake or error or stupidity ultimately helps shape me and you into exactly who we are supposed to be — assuming that you take a bigger lessons away from those mistakes and errors and stupidities. So would I wanted to have not made those mistakes? I don’t think so.

What is one marketing technology (or capability) that you can’t live without? Why? 

I could live without all technologies. But would I live as well? Probably not. Honestly, my favorite marketing technology is any flexible content management system. Because content should be the heart of your marketing. Any marketing technology is only as good as the story it helps us tell.

In your time at MarketingProfs, what’s the #MKTGgenius project you’re most proud of?

I’m most proud of the geniuses on our staff. I would group hug them every day, if HR wouldn’t write me up for it. (I’m kidding. We don’t even have HR.)

If you could write a haiku about marketing, what would it be?

I love haikus.

Marketers must think:

What will people thank me for?

That’s content’s sweet spot.

Know another #MKTGgenius? Who would you nominate?



Written by

Amanda Maksymiw
April 10, 2015