Understanding How to Become a Better Writer
Digital Advertising 11.28.2022

Understanding How to Become a Better Writer

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How do we attract the audience enough to pay attention to our marketing content? Today’s guest, Ann Handley, discusses her writing process and the steps for marketers to connect with their target audience. She explains the GPS framework and how it helps in turning your ideas into feasible steps that are both useful and memorable. She urges marketers to identify the goals of the marketing content and to focus on one person when delivering the message.

About the Guest

Ann Handley is a Wall Street Journal bestselling author focused on helping businesses worldwide escape marketing mediocrity to ignite tangible results. Her work has appeared in Entrepreneur, the Wall Street Journal, NPR, Chicago Public Radio, and the Financial Times. IBM named her one of seven people shaping modern marketing. More than 50K people subscribe to her popular email newsletter.

She is the world’s first Chief Content Officer, a principal at training and education company MarketingProfs, and a regular speaker at events globally.

Ann is also a mom, dog person, and writer. Her favorite food is kale salad. But don’t hold that against her.

Connect with Ann Handley

Key Takeaways

  • Sound real and intimate in your marketing by focusing on one person and delivering what is specific and relevant to the audience.
  • Think about the goal and why it matters to the customer before starting to write, as well as identify the steps needed to get there.
  • Walk away from the content to give it time to breathe and mature on its own. This process allows for more creativity and flexibility as areas of improvement are identified.


“The secret to great marketing is that the more specific you are to one person, the more universally, you’ll appeal. And that’s because you’re telling the truth to one person, and your voice becomes much more authentic and real and intimate.” – Ann Handley

Highlights from the Episode

Can you tell me a bit about your background and career?

Ann Handley started her career as a journalist and then saw the potential of the internet. She is co-founder of ClickZ.com, which was one of the first sources of information on how to market on the internet. She also wrote a book called Content Rules with C. C. Chapman and then the first and second editions of Everybody Writes.

Why did you decide to write a new edition of the book and what’s changed?

Ann Handley decided to write a new edition of the book to stay relevant and popular. It needed some new examples, fresh insights, and updated information. She also felt that she had changed since writing the first edition and that her communication style had evolved. The new edition is a completely different book, with some of the same foundational pieces of the original. It is more useful and specific to tasks and approaches in marketing in 2022 and 2023.

When you write, for example, in your book and your newsletter, you write directly to your subscribers. Why is that so important?

The secret to any kind of content is making it feel like it’s specific and relevant to the audience. When writing, for example, in your book and your newsletter, write directly to your subscribers. This is important because the more specific you are to one person, the more you will appeal. By telling the truth to one person, the voice becomes much more authentic and intimate. 

In the book, you discuss the GPS framework. Can you explain what that means?

The GPS framework is a method of creating logical steps from one’s ideas and thoughts. This includes seventeen steps. Some examples are identifying the goal of your content and realizing its contribution to organizational targets, pinpointing why it matters to the customer, and finally, stepping away to discover more insights and realize improvement.

Can you describe what The Rudolph Action Framework is?

The Rudolph Action Framework is a way to teach stories in a way that is easy to understand and implement. The framework is derived from the story of Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer – Rudolph, representing the product, becomes a catalyst to the success of the hero, Santa Claus, in serving children worldwide. This makes it easier for marketers to understand how to make their customers the hero of the story.

Is there a book, blog, newsletter, website, or video that you would recommend to our listeners?


Christopher Penn – Co-Founder and Chief Data Scientist at TrustInsights.ai

Ashley Zeckman – VP Strategy & Customer Success, North America at Onalytica

Katie Robbert – Co-founder & CEO at Trust Insights

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