Ann Handley delivered a momentous keynote at CMC 2017. The crux of her speech was an invitation for brands to put themselves out there with a “BIGGER. BOLDER. BRAVER.” approach to content.

As we listened to her speak about the companies she believes exemplify this attitude, we wondered about the role writers should take when it comes to encouraging business owners to embrace this trifecta.

As professional writers, we build relationships with most of our clients. Knowing about the spunky Pomeranian that keeps our mergers and acquisitions client awake at night.

Being aware of the plumbing supply contractor’s teenage daughter who is currently experiencing a myriad of adolescent struggles gives us better insight into the challenges and motivators that shape the perspective on the other side of the “Save and Submit” screen.


Where to Draw Inspiration

When Handley mentioned she only decided to watch the two-hour plus Skillshare course on brewing the perfect cup of coffee to mock Blue Bottle Coffee’s Director of Training – many were shocked.

Turning to gauge the reaction of other attendees, a fellow marketing enthusiast sitting nearby was grinning from ear to ear. “I would TOTALLY do that!” she whispered.

Those few seconds taught us the first of many things we learned from Ann Handley.

What we perceived as mocking was born out of genuine curiosity and more so out of admiration. Therefore not a waste of time, energy, or resources.

Secondly, we were fortunate to realize that if our focus had been too narrow, we would have missed a whole new world of opportunities to connect with fellow attendees and absorb takeaways from their very different perceptions.


Turn Readers Into Fans

Ann explained that by watching the video lessons she learned some important things about coffee making, and most importantly about the brand.

She became a fan willing to invest $18 – way more than she’d pay for grocery store brands – for a bag of Blue Bottle coffee to become part of a bigger story.

Since the conference we have challenged ourselves to look for bigger stories, be braver marketers, and find and speak with bolder voices as we go about our daily lives.


Look Deeper For The Story

Recently, a family member relayed she was going to visit a friend who claimed to make the best oatmeal in the world. She laughed as she said everyone made fun of him because he spent 30 minutes each morning preparing his specialty.

We asked if it was worth the wait, how special can oatmeal really taste, right? She said she had never tasted it, but was going to find out, and would let me know. As it turns out, Jeff – who, by the way is a retired financial expert – makes delicious, worth-waiting-a-half-hour-for oatmeal.

She described how he meticulously measured the water, steel-cut oats, and salt. How he set a timer to make sure the grain cooked precisely three minutes, and rested another 3 minutes as a pat of butter slowly melted and soaked into the cereal.

While waiting for the oats to cook and rest, Jeff carefully prepared a selection of local fruit and nuts as garnish. He didn’t just drop them in, he made sure to mash some of the berries and dice others to deliver bursts of flavor with varied textures.

Three nut varieties were sliced, chopped and minced – then, carefully folded in so each bite offered a slightly different savory experience.

We don’t know much about Jeff, except that he was a successful portfolio manager. This story made us believe however, that he was probably an excellent financial advocate. If he paid so much attention to every detail while preparing his daily breakfast, he probably considered every aspect of an investment before making recommendations to clients.

We would probably want him to manage our portfolios if he was still practicing because we believe he would take all of the time necessary to fully understand our financial goals and risk tolerance before he put together a plan of action.


Stop Playing It Safe

Another thing Ann Handley said that impressed us (there were too many to count) was that the biggest missed opportunity is playing it too safe.

It can be hard to be bold when writing about plumbing supplies, paper clips, or construction tools while financial and medical articles deserve a certain level of professionalism and seriousness.

But Ann inspired us to be bolder in helping clients, family, and friends share their own personal stories.

Think about the questions you can ask to gain insight to help others tell their story in a bigger way that will resonate with their own individual audiences.