The Customer Experience Podcast
The Customer Experience Podcast

Episode · 2 years ago

5. The Holy Grail of Connecting With Customers w/ Ann Handley

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Your content IS your customer experience.

So says the queen of content marketing, Ann Handley, Chief Content Officer of MarketingProfs and author of the best-selling Everybody Writes: Your Go-To Guide to Creating Ridiculously Good Content and Content Rules: How to Create Killer Blogs, Podcasts, Videos, Ebooks, Webinars (and More) That Engage Customers and Ignite Your Business.

Listen to learn:

  • Measuring your content by your brand message
  • The biggest improvements come from the most basic principles.
  • Who is your inspiration?
  • What brand has inspiring customer service?
  • Putting the content customer experience into practice

Email is vastly undervalued, I think,by most companies out there and to me it's really the holy groll right. It'sthe ability to connect directly with a person in a personal space of theirinbox you're. Listening to the customerexperience podcast a podcast dedicated to helping today's growing businessesrestore a personal human touch throughout the customer life cycle, getready to hearhow sales, marketing and customer success, experts, surprise anddelight, and never loose sign of their customers, humanity, Hereis your host,Ecan Baute. Thank you so much for clicking play on this episode of theCustomer Experience Podcast, I'm so excited that you're here, but I'm moreexcited that aunt Hanley is here and Hi's had such a significant impact onymy career when she wrote content rules with CC Chapman, it dramaticallychanged the way I thought about what I was doing. Every day everybody writesas a such a practical and fun read. I encourage everyone to read it becauseeverybody writes and Hanley welcome to the customer experience podcast. U Somuch Eit, and that was very generous. So thank you. I appreciate that yeah Imean y Wewere just chatting before we hit record about. You know you use theword gift and so much of what you produce really is and has been for me.I think a lot of people who are doing work or seeing the world like. I do so.I thank you so much for erything you produce and share, and and thanks forjoining me today. Well, I'm I'm delighted we could make this work, so I always like to start because youknow one of my motivations for starting this podcast. I think customers is sone of those words and concepts that everyone says. Yes, I know what itmeans, but everyone has a different understanding. So part of my owncuriosity, how do you regard customer experience when you hear the phrase? U,how do you think about it? What does it mean where some of his characteristics,that is buzswordy? Isn't it? It is yeah it's one of those words likeauthenticity that everybody is like that you know. Marketers are alwaysohsure. Of course, we know what that means, of course, we're authentic, ofcourse, we're roviding, a good brand experience or customer experience. Youknow to me it's everything that a customer experiences with us. You knowand I think in marketing we tend to think of the customer experiences, onlythe things that we can control. But to me it's everything it's the way.Somebody answers the phone, it's the email that goes out. If you have astorefront, it's how they're greeted when somebody comes through the frontdoor. It's the way that t that your website functions. You know it's all ofthose things, it's so many things, so it involves not just marketing, but itinvolves you know the front lines in a retail experience and involves customerservice hugely hugely involved. Customers serevice an in Wela sales,it's all across the organization. So it's not just a thing that marketing Ithink can affect, but I think marketing can selt the tone as well right. Do youhow how deep in the operations I should have mentioned that you're, the chiefcontent officer, marketing props and be...

...been involved for many many years there?Are you involved in operations enough to speak to customer experience like?Is that a is that a concept inside the organization you talk and think inthose terms or or are you even upstream from that? Both I mean we're, not a massiveorganization. You know we're not Amazon or apple or ISO, I'm very much the faceof marketing props. I guess the chief content was our malsor a managingpartner, so it's not solely mine, but I also have a sort of I don't knowoutsized role, I guess compared to to some of my colleagues so yeah. I thinkabout customer experience all the time, even with the things that are,especially with the things that I'm directly responsible for you know like,for example, I own the twitter handle right, I'm at marketing prosss ontwitter, which is kind of unusual. I don't know very many other business tobusiness frands who actually have a person who's, an actual shareholder ofthe companywhos representing the company on a major social platform.Right, I mean M. maybe they exist, I if they do, I thet. I could count them on.You know two fingers right right right, and so I'm very aware, like in thosesituations that you know I'm representing a brand and that everybodywho comes into contact with me there is is, is experiencing something about marketingprops. You know they have some notion of what marketing PROC is based on justa quick interaction with me. You know so so. Yes, I think about all the timeI think about it in terms of the business tha, the Bauby Forum, that werun every year, this Shar it's in DC in October, so the experience that we'recreating there that's something we spendt an enormous amount of time on,because there are a million marketing conferences. Thatr people can spendtheir dollars at that you can go to, but we try to create an experience thatfeels different like I want everybody who walks into that hotel in nationalharbor this October Ti to sort of you know, I want their shoulders to dropand I want them to go okay. This feels different. This doesn't feel like anevent that can be put on by anybody else. So so, yes, I think of the thingsthat I touch personally and then I also think more bradly, just across theorganization, you know, how are we interacting with people our customerservice person, for example, a woman by the name, is Shelly Ryan, she's,fantastic and she's. She woul call her the customer service, an Inja, becauseshe has a sense of what people need before they evenneed it and she's Ca Asibl over there. Let's go yeah puts on some face andChshe does that no she's, amazing and so yeah. We think a lot aboutexperience because for company our size, it's a different chater. That's great,obviously, content, which is your expertise, I would say I think youmight say the same thing and by the way to the twitter handle. I knew you firstas marketing proffs before I us Ana yeah. I have both true yeah well withnot I'm just in my experiencing the brand and then coming to understand whoyou were and your rolling and all that...

...as a content expert, what you speak alittle bit to contents role in that experience. Obviously, you know youdescribed it from the beginning. Through the end, you talked about alive experience as part of the brand. You talked about. Social contentobviously plays all the way along there. BCAN YO speak to the role of content inserving and building up in characterizing the customer experienceyeah. So e content isn't a separate thing fromany of those things right. It's Aright Evereexperience, so it I mean contentis the the twitter handle content. is the the programming at bb? It's all ofthose things. It's the way that somebody experiences the articles whenthey come to our website, which is why we have an editor who's, actuallyediting. The the articles that are paire on the website have a news lettereditor, because we care about even things like in Ow Lake Typos andheadlines. We want to make sure that it's Christo clear what the what thevalue is, and so all that to say all of those things Ithink of is content. I don't think of content just as things that fit in abox like a needbook or a white paper, or a blond post ordinographic right. So that said, you know so the role thatcontent plays. The way that I think about it is that it's always in serviceto the customer in one way or another. And yes, it represents the Brando Right.Yes, ther represents our point of view, but it should be communicating thatpoint of view that perspective to the customer in a way that's valuable tothem, and so I know that's a lot of sort of words, but when I and I believethat and when I play it out across all the different ways that we are touchingcustomers all across the customer experience, if you will, you know,that's truly what we're trying to do. So. We want to make sure that thearticles, for example, that we run out our website in our newsletter thatappeared on newsletter, the opographics, the podcast that my friend carryGorgoan House. All of that is furthering the brand, but it's alsoon the other side, providing value to the person, who's, reading or listeningor coming to our events or interacting on twitter right and so there's thosetwo things that I think you need to be aware of. As a marketer, you know whatis it doing for your brands, but then what is it also providing for thecustomer when those two things Shit and when they actually when actually are inservice to both? That's to me, is really the essence of great content.That's great, the you got to their. You said brand acouple times and even used. I interchangeably, and that is part of myyou know part of my discovery process here over the course of you know dozensand dozens vepsos. What's the relationship, there are theinterchangeable. You talked about perspective and point of view acrossthese various touch points in a cross area media. What is what's behind thatfor the marketing PROFT team? Is there a brand mission? Is there a set ofstated values like Ow? How is everyone, even though you describe Os a smallorganization? How is everyone operating...

...from and kind of, breathing out anddelivering kind of a shared perspective like? How do you all think about that?Do you have anything formal around that, or is that just something that happensorganically because you're a tight group in a smaller group yeah, you knowfor us it's a little bit of both. We don't have a binder on the shelf behindme here. You know that has our brand attributes and then a you know wecommunicate in this kind of voice mean we have all of these things, but in away, but I think for us, it's a lot more organic. So, in terms of you know,hiring people who we feel like really do fit with us culturally and whoreally can understand our perspective? An our point of view. You know that'spart of it, but in terms of like, what's the thing that knits usaltogether like as an organization we relaunched marketing props in tSeptember of two thousand and eighteen so six sish months ago. I guess nowthat I'm talking to you five months. I guess I mean like that around the ideathat learning can change your life and we don't mean that, as you know, thissort of pie in the Ky kind of thing you know we are in training an educationcompany. We have been educating marketers since two thousand I joined in two thousandand two, and so we've been on this trajectory for a very long time, ut,we've kind of cotified what we do not around this. This notion of learningchanges live, so it's not just about a random web and art. It's not just aboutan article over here that helps you do something! That's not just about. Youknow the set of tools that you might be able to access here. It's really likethe bigger story that we're telling, if you will like a bigger ecosystem, thatI think we all are functioning under and that knits all of those thingstogether is the idea that when you stay curious, you know when you are leaningforward. When you are looking to constantly be leveling up, it willchange your life and yes in a marketing proce context that relates to marketing.But it also relates to almost anything that we do right in our lives, and sothat's really the the I don't know. I guess the brand story or what was theword that you used it was you know, what's the the thing that that sort ofholds all of us together our mission or our perspective? That's ours, yeah,that's great, and you mentioned hiring team members, I'm going to assume thatthe better part of your last round of hires whoweer, however, that's paced,probably came out of the community, O, already know who you are and whatyou're about often. Yes, that is true yeah, it's funny, because you knowwe're not a massive organization. I think we're twenty twenty four. I don'tknow something like that, but yeah like a good example, is carry your gon right,carry hosts our podcast. She is also heavily involved in our trainingprogram, so she' she's on the training side, she's only content, side, she'ssort of embedded throughout the organization does a lot of hosting forus like on Webbinars and so on, she's also a good friend of Gying. I knewcarry you know back when she was...

...teaching at Fullsale University inFlorida when she lived in Florida, and so she and I interacted quite a bit onsocial, for example. I got to know her and then ultimately you know she cameon as the as the parttime post or the contract host of the podcast and theneventually you know we figured out a way to hire her so yeah. That kind ofstuff happens happens a lot and even like what I'm trying to think. Like ofour last tires. It doesn't happen exclusively, but that's a good exampleof the kind of person who I think tends to do really well at marketing props,because you know we're a virtual organization and it's not for everybodyworking out of your Home Office, where I am right now or sometimes I work outof my tiny house, ootess. Of course it's too snowy and cold right now. SoI'm sticking upstairs in this little atticky looking looking place, but you know it's not for everybody,and so I and and it's it's hard to get a feel for culture when Youare adistributed team. Like we are, and so the ability to be able to you know sortof vet somebody and have have a relationship with them before they comeon board. I think that's hugely valuable yeah and it's a great wayagain. Just the point that we went off on there is to maintain this continuityof a brad and experience a let's switch gears a little bit. You've reallyhelped define content, marketing and best practices over the past. You knowyou said two thousand and two with marketing props yeah. What are some mistakes that use thatyou still see being made that you and other folks your kin have beenidentifying, is like, let's, let's put these practices to the side for yearsthat are still that are still in a fact like for someone, that's listing likewhat should we stop doing thats happen. You know, you've had your eye on it foreight years now, you've been talking about it openly for six, and yet it'sstill something that you see out there. You know where some practical thingsomeone can take away here. Yeah know heason, I hate being nagative Eihate going negative. So to what are some of these people can improve theoaz mono. I gues is question a lot Im peaking of that the spring, for example,and they wanted me to talk about future trends in content, which is pretty muchthe the worst topic for me to talk on, not because I'm not aware of what'sgoing on, because there's so much stuff, that's already available. That's outhere now that we're not taking full advantage of it we're not fixing or notdoing right or well or well enough. You know, and so the idea of talking about.What's coming, whether it's like you know voice or Vr the way that I iye isan around like what like come on. Man, let's like like fix your emailnewsletter like yes, there, you know or the other question I get. You know,what's the oncoming social channel, what social channels should our brandbe on, which one should we be all in on it? It's like none to stop just stoplike fix your email newsletter rightright,...

...and I'm not saying that has to be justthe email, liser but but email is vastly undervalued. I think by mostcompanies out there and to me it's really the holy groll right. It's theability to connect directly with a person in a personal space of theirinbox. Most brands are using it as a distribution strategy and I'm using airquoting Ho Lik hate using air quotes, but that's how they're using it rightand so, instead of actually respecting. That is a place. That's special! Youknow they. It's emails disrespected because we'vemade it a disrespected property, and so like that to me is a one thing thatpeople are still getting wrong. That's so frustrating to me yeah! I I love your newsletter. I mean we'vetalked a lot about marketing props, but I just wanted everyone. WHO's made it into this pointof the episode and Hanleycom subscribe to the newsletter. It's total anarchy.It is fortnight Lee which, for those o who that don't know what that means,and what? How do you justgr? How did you land on Fort Nightley? Obviously,it's a fun word to say and probably to type, but why that why that cadence so Fort Nightley is for those of youwho don't know it' every other week, and the reason I don't say by weekly isbecause by weekly has two interpretations right: it's eitherevery other week, orwards twice a week so right, I will not overwhelm you withan email twice a week, but every other week is the catens. Fortnightley isbecause that's the only word that describes exactly every other week, soI gues. I don't think that was your question, though what did o? What didyou choose? The word fortnightly was more of the cadene right, yeah yeah,either right I just want to through your newsletter I've seen youspeak. I've heard you on other podcast, it's a very consistent experience. It'ssmart, it's witty without being too Sassy, clever an expert, and I thinkwhat you deliver I feel like is really who you are, whether it's an instagramwhich is more personal and fun, whether it's in the newsletter, which you writevery very personally to people to anyone that wants to see how tomanifest a great, consistent experience across channels and a cross media,encourage you to follow an in a personal way, yeah and enclosing. You Know Bombambin,and here on this podcast, we significantly value relationship. So Ialways like to end by giving you a chance to thank or mention some who'shad a really important role or valuable role in your life or in your career anda shout out to a company. That's doing customer experience or brand reallywell. Oh Man Geez, I don't know, had to prep forthis. It's Ay feeling right now. What am I feelingright now and 'll? Tell you like the person whohas had the from a for a marketing standpoint, it's going to sound alittle Cliche, but I love what Teth Goden has done for his entire career. Iam consistently impressed with him because he does so many things right,but he also does things wrong and...

...that's part of who he is right, he'salways challenging himself and experimenting. That's really what Iwhat I strive to do as well. He also he writes every day and that'sincredibly important to him, and that alone is is, is admirable and it's something that Ireally admire. I guess I just said that twice I realhiges fire Jily. What at that right? You know he values, he values. Writinghe publishes books, but he also, you know is, is trying new things. You knowin terms of training programs and he's putting any branches out of he'spranched out of marketing a little, but he just launched he the business of food kind of trainingprogram and so ihave a lot of respect for him and it does sound a littleclichet. I guess to mention you know this ort of Bi Kond of marketing, butyou know I got a I have to because he's truly the person who has inspired me,probably the most from a marketing standpoint in terms of what o otherquestion- Oh Brans, yeah, company or brand or you know, could be a smallshop in your town or it could be international brand. Hmm because reallyinspite me from an experience perspective, whe's doing it really well.Wi always leaves you with that feeling like man, these people really get er. I mean it's a small company, but Ithink there's a lot of lessons that we can learn from it. It's a companycalled baking steel, they're located in cohescent Massachusetts, so just southof Boston about an hour from me because I'm north of the city there south myfriend Andreslonston, is the owner and he only became my friend because I gota baking steen, which is a flat piece of metal. I got it for as a gift one year and as a result, I sort of you know, lookstarted looking into Andress. I followed him on Instagram. I startedreading his blog. I started watching his videos because I like what do I dowith this flat piece of metal? I mean I love to I love to cook. I love to youknow Cook for people, but it's like what can I really do with this thing?How is this different from the from the clay? You know pizza stone that Ialready had it turns out. It was massively different and the only reasonwhy I know that and why Iam such a fan of this company now and what I havebought three other baking steels as gifts for other people, which, by theway is a very generous gift, because these things are hundred and nineteendollars. Okay, I've spent you know, and now I'm into this company, for you knowwhat were figures, easy ll, say: Yeah Stu, four hundredlars personally out ofmy own pocket and then as well as you know, an Aso Ot Little Ninnie, makingsteel so so yeah. So the reason why is because Andres is authentic? You knowthat word that I is so tough to to really codify, but I think when you seeit in know it, he also provides a really consistent customer experienceacross everything. So you know you mentioned my instagram in my newsletter.It's exactly the same way with Andres. You know you feel him. You feel hispersonality. You feel like it's him. Writing it's him posting on Instagram.It's him showing you this breakfast...

...pizza that he made on Easter morningfor his family. You know, and it's fantastic e, also does an in personexperience right. He built a test kitchen in his backyard, jest my sisterand I went down and we did a pizza making class on a Thursday night withhim. He invited us to come in. He assembles you know eight or ten peopleevery Thursday and with the objective to just make pizza and he's just likehe's fantastic he's, just such a great example of how to do it right,combining online and in person and using personality using voice, whichyou really didn't talk about. But you know it's another big thing of mineusing voice to great effect. Not just on his video, but it matches how itreads on Instagram, you know and it matches the blog and the site andeverything else so that consistent experience is woven through everythingundersdoes and I think, there's a lot that any size brands can can reallylearn from that. That's excellent! I love both of your answers and agree with you on Seth Goden forSomeofe Tha, someone who bypast or like Oh everyone says that I'm Goingna goYEHI'M gonna go deah Ye, but it is important to recognize what's greatyou're great, I really appreciate your time so much he folks that want to godeeper on the variety of things we talked about your website, yournewsletter, your social marketing proces. Where would you send someone marketing pros? You got a marketingPROCOM. We send out a newsletter twice a week. We also have training programsabout everything from email to content. We've got in person. Events in Octoberthis this October. Sixteen tour eighteen,something like that, but you know that off the top of my hand, I'm justblanking on it. We got that clear in Washington DC. Yes,exactly national harmor B T and then, if you want to subscribe to my personaleaseletter, which I would really appreciate, ats t Ann hanleycomnewsletter and and yeah. Thank you for having methin. This was a lot of funyeah. Thank you. Learning can change your life, it's agreat teame and I feel like you live it, and I appreciate your time so much ayou have a great rest of your day and a wonderful week at thehead. Thank youall right, tax on yeah. Thank you. You are listening to the customerexperience podcast, no matter your role in delivering value and servingcustomers. You're intrusting, some of your most important and valuablemessages to faceless digital communication. You can do betterrehumonize. The experience by getting face to face through simple personalvideos, learn more and get started. Free at Bombomcom. You've beenlistening to the customer experience podcast to ensure that you never missean episode subscribe to the show in your favorite podcast player or visitvombomcom. Thank you so much for listening until next time.

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