Mary Ann Chang is a veteran when it comes to writing marketing copy. She got her start as a key-account manager, working in consumer product sales. From there she migrated to marketing, where she got the chance to write. “The longer I worked in marketing, the more I enjoyed writing,” Mary Ann says.
Projects under Mary Ann’s belt include campaigns for large corporations such as Procter & Gamble, Brunswick, Midmark, The Iams Company, Evenflo, MeadWestvaco, and Jergens. She’s written newsletters, brochures, instruction manuals, marketing style guides, and even a full-length book on the history of a local hospital. For the past six years, she’s helped the Dragonfly team with numerous writing projects.
A lasting influence
Although not all of the assignments Mary Ann works on are sales-focused, her marketing background remains a powerful influence on her writing. “Successful marketing efforts are based on understanding the audience,” she says, “and it’s the same with writing.” Mary Ann strives to write in plain language and keep messages simple. “People are resistant to reading. So I try to write with that in mind.”
This approach has worked for Mary Ann. She recalls an internal communications project she was once called upon to write highlighting the enterprise-wide IT initiatives a large corporation. “There was a lot of technical information to take in—and I’m not a technical person.” Yet when Mary Ann’s communications began to circulate, the mystifying, tech-y projects that no one else had ever really understood suddenly didn’t seem so complicated anymore. Mary Ann heard back from the president of the corporation: “Now I finally understand what IT is doing.”
Flexibility and fun
Mary Ann’s marketing savvy has enabled her to work freelance, allowing her to mix up her workdays with other hobbies. When she and her husband aren’t cooking and entertaining family and friends, they may be enjoying a movie. Mary Ann also works on her core in Pilates class—sometimes as its leader. “I started taking Pilates for fitness, and I just got hooked,” she says. A couple years after her first session, a course instructor asked if she was interested in becoming certified to teach, and Mary Ann jumped at the opportunity. Six months later, she was leading her own classes. Now (after a cross-country move from Ohio to Arizona), she substitute-teaches when the regular instructor is away.
Mary Ann enjoys the flexibility that comes with working freelance, as well as the pleasure of work well done. “It’s extremely gratifying for me to know that my writing accomplished what my clients wanted and that they feel good about their communications,” she says.
Mary Dixon, a recent graduate of The College of Wooster in Wooster, Ohio, and an intern with Dragonfly Editorial, is writing a series of profiles of Dragonfly writers and editors.