Ann Handley – One Bad Ax Marketer!

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So how did this shy, introverted little girl turn into an ax-throwing, trendsetting, Forbes Most Influential Woman in Social Media winner? She wrote. And wrote some more.

If you’re not already following Ann on LinkedIn, or one of her 420,000 Twitter followers, then you may not know of the power behind this remarkable woman. Let me share…

Ann had a typical middle-class background. Boring, as she tells it. So she changed it.

Here’s a great story from her past that illustrates this point perfectly.

If you’re of a certain age, you may remember an International Pen Pal program. Elementary schools were encouraged to have their students link up with an international student and start a letter-writing correspondence.

By this time in Ann’s life, she was already a prolific writer – writing almost every day. Here was her chance to have an audience. Unlike other girls who kept a diary (hidden from all), she knew that writing was a communication tool. So communicate she did. Ann not only picked one international student to converse with but at one point, had up to nine pen pals!

Here’s where her boring background gets in the way. After describing (in detail) her daily life to her first couple of pen pals, she quickly ran out of interesting stories. She needed a broader background from which to share. She needed better content. So she made it up!

Always the creative one, she developed several personas. She once was a triplet, or the oldest of nine, or the owner of two mischievous puppies, or had an older brother who played in a rock band.

If you follow Ann’s writing, you will see that to this day, Ann brings a lively creative spark in all that she writes. No wonder she has 420,000 Twitter followers!

ann handley

Fast forward several years from the creative elementary student researching amazing places (where she claimed she lived) and incredible activities (which she claimed she did) and send her off to college. What career does she choose? A journalist, of course!

So begins the young career woman. Ann wrote for magazines, newspapers, edited some books, got married, and had kids. Pretty typical, right?

Enter the Internet…

Ann’s life began to explode when she co-founded ClickZ and started learning about how the Internet would change the world.

Then, after selling ClickZ, Ann worked with some cutting-edge folks at MarketingProfs.

One day, they came to her and asked her to start writing a blog.

To which she replied, “A what?”

When she learned that a blog was a communication tool in which you can frequently post articles, get feedback and trackbacks, AND build a community – she was all in!

It was like Pen Pals on steroids!

Blogging was as comfortable to Ann as riding a horse was in one of her personas. After all, as she likes to say, she invented blogging.

For what was she doing with her Pen Pals if not building a community? The Internet just makes it so much easier!

But Ann is not only a blogger. She is the author of one of the most influential books ever written on copywriting: Everybody Writes: Your Go-To Guide to Creating Ridiculously Good Content. And since it’s been on the Wall Street Journal’s bestseller list, you know it has lasting value.

In addition, Ann co-wrote Content Rules: How to Create Killer Blogs, Podcasts, Videos, Ebooks, Webinars (and More) That Engage Customers and Ignite Your Business with C. C. Chapman.

So when Ann gets on stage, as she often does, she has a great deal to share with her audience.

She has…

  • education and experience from which to inspire, encourage, and instruct,
  • humor to entertain her listeners while they are being educated,
  • connections in the writing world from which to share,
  • and wonderful stories that drive home her objectives.

So, if you’re ever lucky enough to get a chance to hear Ann speak at a conference, you’ll want to take advantage of this wonderful opportunity – you’ll enjoy her wealth of knowledge, her humor, and her nurturing.

And if you can, ask her to tell you about her ax-throwing experience. As she likes to share, it’s a great metaphor for marketers: “hitting the target.” But really, the better way to look at it might be – take a chance, learn/do something new. And in marketing, it might even be easier to try something new than what it takes to step into a small box and throw an ax.

But who knows, you might hit a bullseye!

Read more about this incredible marketer and amazing woman at:


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