Just a Book, Part 1 – Everybody Writes

Welcome to the 2017 Just a Book blog series!

Over the next month, we’ll take a closer look at Ann Handley’s bestseller, “Everybody Writes: Your Go-To Guide for Creating Ridiculously Good Content.” Check in on Mondays to learn new writing tips and get a taste for what our Just a Book Club for marketers is all about.

For our first week, it’s only appropriate that we cover a few of the guiding principles Ann outlines in her book. Whether you want to call them rules, philosophies or something else entirely, here are some of our favorite strategies that help lay the foundation for better content.

  • Writing Is a Habit, Not an Art

    “The key to becoming a better writer is, essentially, to be more a more productive one. Or more simply, the key to being a better writer is to write.” (Page 17)

    Writing isn’t a pursuit reserved for English majors, and we can all establish habits to improve the quality and impact of our content. That process starts with simply showing up and making writing routine. Set aside time to write – whenever works best for you. Then stick to that schedule. Worry less about how much you’re writing, and instead focus on how often.
  • Embrace the Ugly First Draft (TUFD)

    “As painful and depressing as it might be to write badly – at least you’re writing, you’re getting the mess out of your head and onto the screen or paper.” (Page 41)

    TUFD isn’t an invitation for bad writing, but rather a step we should allow ourselves along the path to that perfect final draft. Getting your thoughts on the page – no matter their quality – is a simple way to overcome writer’s block and build early momentum. Then you can walk away and come back reinvigorated to turn your TUFD into something brilliant.
  • Show, Don’t Tell

    “In a business-to-business scenario, specific details can help put flesh and blood on the dry bones of a so-called solution, making it real and palpable to the people you are trying to reach.” (Page 66)

    Remember that B2B decision makers are people, too. At the end of the day, they just want to know how a product or service relates back to them. Conveying this starts with details – content that explains, in human terms, how buying your product adds value and makes life easier. A good barometer for if your content is hitting the mark? Ask yourself – it my content personable?
  • End on an I-Can’t-Wait-to-Get-Back Note

    “It can be useful to leave something undone – to give you a reason, and the courage, to start again the next day.” (Page 84)

    We don’t always have control over deadlines. But when time allows, leave your writing in a positive place. Simply stopping writing when things are going well gives you with the springboard to dive in head first the next day – setting up your future writing self for success. Conversely, stopping writing at a point of frustration decreases your energy-and-enthusiasm tank for tomorrow.

To read the full list of strategies, check out Pages 11-87 of “Everybody Writes.” Or watch our video on the first section of Ann’s book. Next week we’ll build upon these principles and explore Ann’s thoughts on grammar and storytelling.

For more tips like these, join Just a Book 2017! And mark your calendars for Oct. 23, which is when Ann will be joining us in office for a meet and greet and Q&A session. Reserve a spot here – space limited!

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The American Writers Museum opens to the Public in 2017

At Walker Sands we’re built on three pillars, learn, support and do, which is why we’re big fans of the newest museum to open its doors in Chicago, The American Writers Museum. The new museum speaks to our mission in three ways. By encouraging learning in their state of the art immersive exhibits. By supporting the literary community in Chicago and beyond. And by motivating visitors of every walk of life to enrich their lives through all forms of reading and writing.


Before their doors opened in May 2017, the museum and its stakeholders persevered for many years to see the vision through. In fact it took nearly seven years of planning, funding and writing for the exhibits to come to life. Since opening, USA TODAY ranked the museum #1 in Readers’ Choice awards for Best Illinois Attraction. Songs of praise don’t stop there, Bustle, The Boston Globe and Simcha Travel among others have cited the American Writers Museum as a must visit Chicago attraction.

We had to see what all the excitement was about and on a recent visit to the museum I was wowed by the beautiful exhibits that were not only informative but eye opening as well. The museum honors and celebrates the whole gamut of writers, from reporters and politicians to musicians and novelists, everyone is a writer and on display. Their vision, “to engage the public in celebrating American writers and exploring their influence on our history, our identity, our culture, and our daily lives” is reflected in each and every exhibit.


Of the twelve permanent exhibits, my favorite was the word waterfall, an audio visual immersive experience. Picture words cascading to forming well known and not so well known snippets of literature and writing while being bathed in narrative sounds that make it hard to look away!

Experience the word waterfall and other interactive exhibits yourself by planning your next trip to The American Writers Museum here.

Additionally, Walker Sands is excited to be partnering with the American Writers Museum to host our annual Just a Book club. If you’re a marketer based in Chicago and want to learn more about the book we’ll be reading and the event we’ll be hosting in the museum, check out the Just a Book landing page here.

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How Marketers Can Join The Bitcoin Conversation

Change is nothing new to the FinTech industry – a seemingly endless list of technologies have come into the picture over the last decade alone. Like clockwork, the industry is being transformed by yet another new innovation: Bitcoin.

Created in 2009, Bitcoin has since made headlines due in large part to its dramatic volatility. Growth of more than 300 percent in 2017 alone has piqued interest among potential investors and financial services companies.1 Still though, there’s no telling what the future holds for the much-debated cryptocurrency. While some expect Bitcoin to become the sixth-largest reserve currency by 2030, others aren’t as optimistic.2

Even if Bitcoin never meets sky-high expectations, the idea of decentralized cryptocurrency is sure to leave a lasting impact on a number of different industries – including digital marketing. This is why marketers should familiarize themselves with Bitcoin and all of the change it stands to bring.

Here’s a look at two ways marketers can make sure their companies benefit from learning and talking about Bitcoin.

Embracing innovation

Want your company to be remain on top of all the latest trends in FinTech? Bitcoin is a good place to start. Getting the conversation going about cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin can help demonstrate that your organization is in the loop when it comes to industry innovation. While your thought leaders may not be Bitcoin experts just yet, sharing their insights on how Bitcoin is impacting the space can prove to be valuable.

To help draw attention toward your brand and raise awareness among a new audience, try speaking openly about new developments or trends related to Bitcoin, including:

  • Bitcoin Cash
  • Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs)
  • Cryptocurrency exchanges
  • Digital currency security

Keeping security top of mind

One of Bitcoin’s most compelling features is the technology behind it all. Commonly referred to as the blockchain, this technology consists of a distributed ledger that stores a record of any and all transactions within the Bitcoin network. But since the data is anonymized, consumers don’t have to worry about sensitive information falling into the wrong hands.

Highly-publicized data breaches have tarnished brand reputations while also inflicting severe financial damage. Companies can avoid such such fallout and gain a leg up on the competition by positioning themselves as a knowledgeable source on secure innovations in FinTech, including blockchain. Even if your brand isn’t leveraging Bitcoin now, simply discussing its impact on financial security can show your organization’s commitment toward exploring and understanding new security measures.

Here are some interesting talking points when it comes to blockchain and its impact on financial security:

A blockchain-based security model may help decrease the risk of cyberattacks and data hacks
Switzerland and Japan accept Bitcoin as a legal method of payment
Blockchain is being taken more seriously by financial institutions due to its independence, security and transparency

Much has been made about Bitcoin in recent years. From aiding billions of unbanked adults around the world to shoring up data security, Bitcoin promises to fundamentally transform the FinTech industry. Therefore, marketers have plenty to gain from discussing its potential impact in blog posts, whitepapers and other thought leadership pieces.

Ready to Talk Bitcoin?

If you’re interested in learning more, but aren’t sure where to start, check out a few Bitcoin resources we’ve pulled together. From a six-part series on Bitcoin and the blockchain to an in-depth look at how the blockchain could change finance as we know it, these resources can help put you well on your way toward developing a better understanding of Bitcoin and the blockchain.3 4

Stay tuned for additional blog posts and analysis as a part of our three-part series.

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[Video] Walker Sands Launches #ImAnEngineer Campaign for Newark element14

Newark element14 presented Walker Sands with the challenge to alter the stereotype of their largest customer base, engineers. Engineers are a diverse set of professionals, and to gather more information we surveyed the dynamic experts. Data collection allowed us to better understand the challenges that affect their day-to-day work and develop a campaign that would resonate with the community.

Through the launch of original stories, customer profiles, video interviews and insight reports about issues modern engineers care about, we launched the #ImAnEngineer campaign to engage engineers everywhere and foster conversations on social media and beyond.

The #ImAnEngineer campaign was a success, outperforming expectations and igniting real world conversations. Most importantly, the campaign was able to tell and share the unique stories of engineering professionals.

Watch the #ImAnEngineer Case Study video to learn more about the execution and success of the campaign:

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Video: Demand Generation and Websites at Walker Sands

A strong web presence and brand awareness on the right platforms can be make or break for companies in a digital age. Walker Sands Digital offers demand generation services that drive awareness and impressive results for B2B technology and professional service companies.

Check out the Demand Generation at Walker Sands Video, to hear our VP of Digital Marketing John Fairley, and Senior Digital Account Executive Katie Donabedian, explain how our paid, social, SEO and content teams collaborate to create thoughtful SEO programs. Watch the video to learn how the team utilizes relationships formed with clients and B2B lead generation tactics to drive quality leads:

Adopting a good SEO program is half the challenge of generating quality leads. In conjunction with personalized programs, we create websites that align with our clients’ business goals. Through the strategic integration of cognitive UX, visual communication and content, our teams work creatively to deliver a user experience that is intuitive and optimized for conversions.

In the Websites at Walker Sands video, our Senior Director of Digital Marketing Matt Brown, and Design Lead Jillian Kent, discuss how we work together with open client communication to bring web projects to life.

Today’s digital landscape demands an effective digital lead generation program coupled with a compelling website. Talk to us about your business goals and learn how Walker Sands Digital can work with you to reach your B2B business goals.

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Visit the Walker Sands website. We specialize in PR and marketing services for technology solution providers and B2B companies. Walker Sands Digital offers a wide array of digital marketing solutions and helps firms to get the most from their online presence.
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