« Back

Meet Ann Handley – An Interview with our Upcoming Guest Speaker

January 9, 2018

Meet Ann Handley, Chief Content Officer of MarketingProfs, LinkedIn Influencer, keynote speaker, and best-selling author.

This February she’ll be joining us as our guest speaker in San Antonio. Take a look at what she has in store for us!

TBE: We’re really looking forward to seeing you at our winter conference! You are a content marketing pioneer – and, as the world’s first chief content officer, you really elevated its role in driving a company’s strategic direction. Where did that knowledge come from? Did you have any sales or marketing mentors early in your career?

Ann: To me, the best marketing positions the product as a solution to a problem. It helps people live better or become more efficient. If you do it right, the product almost sells itself.

David M. Scott changed the way I thought about marketing. He wrote The New Rules of Marketing & PR (as well as the foreword to my book). His book taught me to put the needs of the audience first. After reading it, I put my background as a journalist and my work as a marketing editor together. I wouldn’t be in marketing without it.

TBE: Speaking of your book, you wrote Content Rules: How to Create Killer Blogs, Podcasts, Videos, E-Books, Webinars (And More) That Engage Customers And Ignite Your Business in 2011. If you were to write it now, would you give different advice?

Ann: Actually, I have a bit of a scoop for you – we are updating it and putting out a second edition in 2018. Content marketing has matured. Now, we have a better idea of how to measure content with KPIs and know that it’s working. Also, the number of content platforms and techniques has really blown up. There are new opportunities that didn’t exist back then.

TBE: What brands excite you today?

Ann: I’ll give you three content marketing examples that we’ll be talking more about in San Antonio. One is the Humane Society of Silicon Valley. They do a great job as a nonprofit. Also, Blue Bottle Coffee – I love what they’re doing. They were just acquired by Nestlé. On the B2B side, take a look at Gusto. They’re an HR benefits company. I like their tone of voice and the way that they position themselves as
“human” human resources.

TBE: There’s been so much talk about millennials and Gen Z. Do you suggest altering your content marketing approach to reach them?

Ann: Not really. They’re said to be always glancing at their phones. But I’m on the phone all the time, too. Everyone’s attention span is getting shorter and shorter. What that tells me is that we have to stay relevant in the middle of all of that noise out there. Speak in a way that’s real; be valuable.

The next frontier is literature. Companies are starting to hire book authors for product placement. If that’s true, then more snackable content isn’t the answer. People are looking for more substance.

TBE: At the conference, we’ll be asking everyone about a ‘wow’ that they created or experienced. What would you say was your biggest ‘wow’ moment of 2017?

Ann: I tap danced on stage in front of 1,000 people at a B2B marketing forum in Boston this past year! I challenged marketers to step out of their comfort zone so I wanted to walk the walk. I watched a couple of YouTube videos and took a couple lessons. (P.S. You can watch Ann dance here.)

TBE: As a frequent flyer, do you have any travel tips?

Ann: I get made fun of for this but my biggest travel tip is that I travel with my own food. I pack a snack bag of nuts and dried fruits. My biggest pain point is the horrible food in airports and on planes. This has also saved me. When I went to Brazil, I got in really late and everything was closed. My only other option was to raid the mini bar for Pringles, knowing I’d feel icky the next day. Instead, out came the raisins and nuts. You can’t do anything about weather delays or missed connections. The only thing you really can do is be good to yourself and stay as healthy as possible.

TBE: Is there any place you like to go in San Antonio?

Ann: I’ve never been there before so I’m really looking forward to it. Whenever I’m in a city for a meeting or speaking gig, I try to carve out time to go to an art museum or a park. I think the best way to get a feel for a city is to get out and walk. I also try to connect with friends on Facebook beforehand to see what food places they recommend. It’s no fun to just fly in and out. I like to spend some time and talk to people.


Ann Handley is a veteran of creating and managing digital content to build relationships for organizations and individuals. Ann is the author of the Wall Street Journal bestseller  Everybody Writes: Your Go-To Guide to Creating Ridiculously Good Content (September 2014, Wiley) and co-author of the best-selling book on content marketing, Content Rules: How to Create Killer Blogs, Podcasts, Videos, Ebooks, Webinars (and More) That Engage Customers and Ignite Your Business (2011, Wiley). She is the Chief Content Officer of MarketingProfs; a LinkedIn Influencer; a keynote speaker, mom, and writer.  She’ll be speaking at 10am on Friday, Feb. 9.

About The Brand Establishment

The Brand Establishment perfected the first contemporary brand development process specifically for small to mid-sized advertisers more than two decades ago. These tools and procedures have been utilized by companies in virtually every business sector – hundreds of times.