[Step-By-Step] Optimize your 2021 content strategy

A simple, 5-step process to solve challenges and obstacles in your 2021 content strategy

You already have a content strategy in place. Whether fully documented or executed on a more ad-hoc basis, your brand already produces and distributes content.

It is present on social networks and has built an audience over time.

(If your brand does not produce content or is not present on social networks, download our content strategy workbook to build a well-defined framework on how your brand can stand out in the marketplace by leveraging content marketing).

However, do you feel that there are different elements of this strategy that could be improved?

Many of the clients we work with already had a working process, an approach in place in terms of strategy, production and distribution of content when they called us to optimize their content strategy.

The key is to define which improvement and optimization projects should be implemented.

In his book Principles, Ray Dalio presents his 5-step process to achieve the desired results in every aspect of life, in a philosophy of continuous improvement. It may sound a little esoteric to say it like that, but it is such a simple and powerful method that it can be applied to all aspects of our daily lives, including your content strategy.

Basically, the process can be summarized into 5 key steps:

  1. Have clear objectives
  2. Identify problems or obstacles
  3. Diagnose problems and their root causes
  4. Build a plan
  5. Execute the plan

This is exactly the right sequence of thinking to follow when you want to improve and optimize your content strategy.

 

 

You can download our 2021 content strategy optimization template to help you.

Download your Excel template on content strategy optimization

 

 

1. Have clear objectives for 2021

The first step in any plan is to know the destination, the objective. Be able to know why we do what we do.

Does your content strategy have clear objectives?

The first step to improve it is to make an inventory and list of these objectives. What are they? Are they measurable and quantifiable? Are they S.M.A.R.T.?

The first chapter of our content strategy workbook is entirely dedicated to developing objectives and performance indicators for your content strategy.

If your current strategy does not have well-defined objectives, now is the time to do so. These are the objectives that will allow you to know if your actions and initiatives really serve your brand.

If you are already working with objectives and performance indicators, list them and ask yourself the question, for each one, whether they are still relevant, whether they should be eliminated, or whether they should be replaced by a new objective.

Your business, your brand is constantly evolving, and so should your objectives.

 

2. Identify problems or obstacles in your current strategy

At this stage, the aim is to build a list of problems and barriers in your content strategy.

With an up-to-date list of objectives, you are thus able to evaluate what prevents you from achieving them and to have a 100% effective content strategy.

You can build your list in 4 steps:

  1. First, list all the content initiatives you do each week, each month, etc. You should be able to associate each initiative with one of your objectives. If not, mark this initiative as problematic and add it to the list of problems and barriers. It does not serve your strategy, because it does not bring anything to the destination you want to reach.
  2. Next, review your list of objectives and evaluate those for which you do not have any specific initiatives that contribute to the achievement of this objective. Again, record these situations (if you have any) in the list of problems and obstacles.
  3. Then, for each objective with associated initiatives, assess whether you believe it is possible to achieve the objective using the tactics listed, if not, add this objective to the list of problems and obstacles, noting that the efforts made do not seem sufficient.
  4. Finally, note in your list any issues you have identified in the current execution of your content strategy. These can be at the organizational level (lack of resources for example), at the process level (too long delays, approval complexity, quality issues, etc.) or even at the creative level (lack of ideas, for example).

At the end of these 4 steps of analysis, you will find yourself with a list of problems, obstacles to solve, entirely based on your core objectives.

 

3. Diagnose problems and their root causes

With a list of problems, it can often be very tempting to find an immediate solution and start executing as quickly as possible.

However, it is necessary to take a short pause and for each problem or brake identified in the previous step, analyze its cause, its root, its actual source.

One problem can often hide another and solving an issue too quickly could in fact only be a band-aid to a deeper problem.

So at this stage, for each item on your list, note the real cause of the issue, the problem, the obstacle.

In many cases, this will be quite obvious, but in some others, you may find that the root cause of many problems is the same cause to be addressed.

 

4. Building a plan for 2021

Now that you know each issue in your content strategy, it is possible to create a plan to address it.

Will you have to publish on new channels in order to reach new audiences?

Will you have to work on new content in order to support your consumers in a stage of the user journey that was not considered by your content strategy until now?

Will you incorporate a new performance indicator into your monthly reports to better measure the impact of content initiatives that have a significant impact on the company’s five-year plan?

You should be able to have a fairly clear idea of what needs to be done to improve and optimize your content strategy. It is time to define what will be different in the coming weeks and months in your daily life.

 

5. Execute the plan

In some cases, your plan will be quite large and will include many projects to be implemented.

Not everything can be done on Day 1, it’s very often almost too obvious.

It is time to set priorities and place each element of the plan in a time frame.

We have worked with clients where there were so many improvements to be made that it could have been scary and seemed like an insurmountable mountain of tasks to implement. But by prioritizing and accepting that not everything will be resolved by the end of next quarter, everything seems feasible.

 

Conclusion

This continuous improvement loop, you should always keep it close to you and go through its steps again and again on a regular basis. The more often you use it, the less steps you need to take to improve and optimize your content strategy.

Download our Excel template on optimizing your content strategy today:

 

Download your Excel template on content strategy optimization

 

And if you want to go even further or need inspiration, download our content strategy workbook!

Happy optimization!

 

Content and Artificial Intelligence

AI is the talk of the town. Is it ready to be implemented in your content marketing strategy?

These past few years, artificial intelligence has been a big trend in anything digital.

How will it impact content strategies and content creation?

We’ve started seeing ventures into AI writing articles but we’re not there just yet. This is something that for a certain time will still need a strong human touch. Same goes for video scripts and photography (of course).

But in all tasks that make a successful content strategy and content marketing program, what are those that can be helped with the use of AI?

A MarTechSeries article by Abhishek Talreja does a great job in showing examples where AI, in 2020, can assist some of the roles in your content marketing team.

From optimizing conversion to landing page analysis, along with personalized content distribution, the article shows how existing platforms like Atomic Reach, Curata, Adobe Spark, Keywee, ContentStudio and Rasa.io are currently building tools that leverage AI to help content marketing team members.

AI, in the short-term, can be of great help to manage large datasets, automate repetitive and/or manual tasks (think about all those A/B tests you’ve always wanted to deploy and analyze).

AI will not create content for you, but it can help alleviate your calendar so that you can spend more time creating allthat great, engaging content.

Want to explore which tools your content program could benefit from? Contact an expert at Toast and schedule a consultation with our experts today.

The Future of Content Marketing

Joe Pulizzi has been at the forefront of content marketing in the past 10 years, and has 7 laws for what content marketers need to think about in the next 10 years.

Content marketing has existed for decades, if not more than a century now.

But in the past 10 years, things have changed and evolved at an extremely high pace. Digital and social media are the key drivers behind this, along with the changes they’ve brought to consumer behaviour.

In that time, Joe Pulizzi has positioned himself, as the founder of the Content Marketing Institute, as a great thinker on the subject, with a keen eye on the current state of things, but also on where we are going as an industry.

In his 2019 Content Marketing World keynote, he revealed a list of 7 laws that are at the core of what will make content marketing programs successful in the next 10 years.

Of those, many have slowly been building up in the past 10 years, but are now so true that any content marketer needs to consider them and adjust their thinking on governance, revenue and beliefs.

Here is the gist of the 7 laws he describes:

  1. Always be selling internally.
  2. Plan for multiple lines of revenue.
  3. Buy before you build.
  4. Do one thing great.
  5. Stay away from content campaigns.
  6. Plan for the end of social.
  7. Have conviction in the practice.

I strongly invite you, as a marketer and content enthusiast, to read the full article or watch the 18-minute keynote.

It is a deep dive into the foundations of content marketing, where we come from, but most importantly, where we need to head.

If you would like to discuss the future your content marketing program with us let us know and schedule a consultation with our experts at Toast today.

When content marketing stops being joyful

Whenever a brand launches their new and shiny content program, it’s all smiles and fun, until it’s not.

So you’ve just put the final touches on your content strategy and everybody is happy and smiling at the prospect of finding new ideas, writing and producing videos, watching metrics grow and rise, objectives being crushed.

But that last only so long.

Content managers need to be on the lookout of the inevitable pitfalls that will come flying in as weeks and months go by.

In a DivviHQ article, Danka Jankovic outlines four common problems that arise within content teams:

  • Lack of support: Does the team have the right tools? The right internal buy-in from management? These are essential to making sure the content engines run on all cylinders. This will be a constant element to monitor and correct when needed.
  • Unrealistic Goals and Outcomes: The metrics all point in the right direction at first, but some of them always end up having been improperly forecasted. As Ray Dalio explains in his book Principles, never hesitate to evaluate and redesign when KPIs head the wrong way.
  • Thinking There are Shortcuts to Happily Ever After: It’s a classic expression: Content marketing is a marathon, not a sprint. Don’t try to shortcut your way through it.
  • Silos Can Form Without Constant Communication: Content teams work horizontally, often with most of the departments in your organization. Is this reality being properly communicated and backed by management? You don’t want your content team to work by themselves without being in constant communication with internal stakeholders and experts.

Being on the lookout for these pitfalls, or any other speed bumps that might come up, is key in making sure your content program is properly set-up and monitored.

If you would like to discuss your current content processes let us know and schedule a consultation with our experts at Toast today.

The Guide to Choosing a Content Agency

Nearly 86% of B2C companies and 91% of B2B companies say they use content in their marketing strategies.

Of these, 62% (B2C) and 56% (B2B) use external resources for certain content marketing activities. Content creation, content promotion, performance measurement and strategy are just a few examples of activities that are regularly delegated to experts outside the organization.

However, in more than half of the cases, the internal team is composed of a single person serving the brand as a whole. One can guess that this person has to wear several hats! … and may have to deal with burnout in some cases!

The choice of which external resources to hire becomes very important, especially with the speed at which the content marketing landscape changes each year.

This article aims to help you in your decision-making process towards the choice of the best content agency for your brand.

We will cover the following topics:

  • Agency or freelancers? 
  • Category experience of content agencies
  • Niche content agency vs digital agency
  • The breadth of services offered
  • Auditing the internal services of a content agency
  • How to evaluate the price 
  • How to evaluate an agency’s clients
  • The final selection

Once you’ve gone through our recommendations below, don’t hesitate to also read our articles on:

Agency or freelancers?

The first question you have to ask yourself is: Do I need an agency?

If you are currently experiencing one or more of these challenges, an agency may well be needed:

  • Lack of time to create content
  • Produce a wide variety of content
  • Produce truly engaging content
  • Measure the effectiveness of content initiatives
  • Develop a solid content strategy

But first, let’s define what we mean by content agency.

In our view, a content agency is a group of experts dedicated to content, working with a varied client base by providing them with one or more of these services: content strategy, production, publishing, distribution and amplification.

What is very important to us is the notion of a dedicated content team. A content department within a traditional or digital agency may not be your best ally. You will be better served by an agency with deep expertise in its field, content in this case, working together with your agency ecosystem including creative agency, digital agency, media agency and PR agency.

Experience has shown that trying to combine all these capabilities under one roof rarely results in a happy outcome. There is real relevance in entrusting different expertises to different agencies.

The birth of content agencies

The term content marketing agency has only been around for a few years now.

We see this situation as a repetition of what happened in the early 2000s with digital agencies.

When having a website became a necessity for any self-respecting brand, the traditional agencies tried to integrate this new service into their offer by hiring teams and developing internal expertise (programmers, integrators, etc.).

However, over the years, many brands came to realize that they had poorly performing digital properties, which were all too often copies of traditional TV campaigns (for example).

That’s when digital agencies came into being and became an essential part of any marketing manager’s life. A digital agency dedicated to the evolution of the different e-commerce platforms, user experience (UX), user interfaces (UI), and so many others.

That’s why nowadays, you will often see a creative agency working together with a digital agency.

And we believe the same thing is happening with content.

We are currently seeing several advertising agencies trying to integrate content expertise into their teams, sometimes working with the same creatives on both direct response promotional campaigns and content initiatives.

And as you can guess, in many cases the process is arduous, the result does not live up to expectations and so on.

The relevance of a content agency thus becomes more and more meaningful each year, with different teams than what the other agencies have (our employees come more often from journalism and television rather than advertising) and different timeframes (we work with content programs, year-round initiatives that medium- to long-term, rather than ad hoc content campaigns).

A question you should ask yourself before any agency search process is what structure you want to set up. What positions are to be filled internally, which positions will be outsourced, etc.? This topic has often been covered in various media, and we have also published an article on the subject.

Working with freelancers

One option chosen by many brands is where the internal team manages a list of freelancers, hiring them based on initiatives and needs.

This approach is interesting because it ensures great control over costs, allowing a lower average hourly rate than what you might get working with an agency.

By working with freelancers, it is possible to have a team that can cover a very broad spectrum of expertise, without the weight of managing a full-time internal team.

However, you should be aware that by working this way, you may find yourself working without a net. If a freelancer gets sick, takes a vacation, works on a different mandate than yours, you’ll have to deal with it on your own.

These are things to consider in the workload of the person who will be responsible for freelancers in your organization. This type of management can sometimes quickly become a coordination task, far from strategic thinking.

Several platforms allow you to find freelancers in your area, depending on your specific needs. Upwork is one of the platforms often mentioned for finding freelancers anywhere on the planet. Although the hourly rates offered by these freelancers are sometimes tempting, be careful, quality is not always a given. Be sure to offer test mandates before you entrust a major project to a new freelancer. Learn to know the resources that will be part of your address book.

Working with an agency

Working with an agency can have several advantages.

In many cases, the range of services offered by your agency will ensure consistency between the strategy, production and deployment phases of your content. You will be assured of the continuity between each step, obtaining a solution that can be very close to turnkey.

Your input into the process can thus be at the level of overall direction and strategy, without having to coordinate every step of the mandates in detail.

Working with an agency also allows you to be assured of consistency in service and depth from their team. If a team member leaves the agency or gets sick, you will be assured of continuity and a constant capacity of work.

However, these advantages also mean that an agency’s hourly rate is higher than that of a freelancer.

The questions you should ask yourself when choosing an agency are:

  • Does the agency have any experience in my category?
  • What services do they offer?
  • Are these services provided internally or via partners outside the agency?
  • What is the agency’s rate card?
  • Who are the agency’s clients?

All these factors mean that when you make the decision to change your content agency or find your first one, you must take care to make your choice in a thoughtful and structured way. There are a very large number of content agencies in Canada and elsewhere, making it all the more difficult.

Ask yourself whether you have the internal capacity (and desire) to manage freelancers, or whether the concept of a turnkey approach from an agency is what you need.

Category experience of content agencies

You know the sector and industry in which your brand lives. Is it in a highly regulated sector? In an industry where legislation has a strong hold on marketing and communication opportunities?

If this is the case, it can obviously be interesting to call on an agency with experience in your category. However, it may become a hindrance to innovation, with ways of doing things that are based on other customers who may not have been as innovative as you are.

As we have seen in the previous section, by using an agency, you free your internal teams from the coordination of projects, while allowing them to be able to work with your agency at a strategic level.

By default, you are also the ones who have the most intimate knowledge of the legislative framework in which your brand evolves. This gives you the opportunity to work with your agency as it navigates your category, while opening the door to innovative and unexpected ideas.

However, the comfort of an agency that has made its teeth on former clients similar to your brand may be what you are looking for and it is in such cases that it can make sense to pay particular attention to the category experience of the agencies you will consider.

Assess whether your industry is so specific and unique that it requires more experience from your marketing partners. In many cases, your own internal experience will be sufficient to guide and direct your external partners.

Niche content agency vs digital agency

One thing to always consider is if the agencies you are considering working with are specialized and experts in content marketing or if this is part of their larger digital service offering.

Many traditional agencies have started building content teams inside their organization, but make sure you do your homework. In many cases, these teams are actually composed of a couple content strategists that outsource a lot of the actual content work to subcontractors.

While it can be relevant for you to work with an existing partner that has an in-house content team, ask yourself if it could be relevant to integrate an expert content agency.

Working with a wider-offering digital or traditional agency can be relevant in many cases, but for some brands, existing partners might not have the processes or internal experts to support an always-on content program.

The spectrum of services offered

You have an internal team, you have developed specific expertise and your objective is to get support from an agency that can handle a certain number of expertises that you do not have in-house.

An important step in finding the ideal agency is to make a list of the services you will need. What internal capacities do you have? Which ones do you need?

Also, remember that while a member of your team may be able to take on a task, it does not mean that it should be done by that person. You may wish to delegate this task to your agency so that you can develop new expertise in-house.

At Toast, we divide all content-related tasks into three broad categories:

  1. Content strategy
  2. Content production
  3. Publication, deployment and amplification of content

These three categories comprise a series of tasks.

Content strategy

Content strategy is the initial step of your content program. The one where you define the tactics that will be put in place, the initiatives that will be implemented.

However, content strategy is also a series of tasks that must be present throughout your program, which allows you to constantly adjust and adapt the content produced according to the results and performance you achieve through the deployment of it.

Here are the main elements to consider when evaluating your agency in terms of content strategy. Assess whether the agency is able to accompany you on the following areas of expertise:

  • Analysis of business objectives
  • Establishment of performance criteria (KPI, ROI)
  • Market research and analysis of your audience
  • Audit of existing content assets
  • Development of personas
  • Editorial calendar planning
  • Definition of the tone and manner of the brand
  • Accompaniment in the hiring process of internal content teams

These services allow you to establish your content strategy, but also manage it along the way.

Content production

If you are one of the companies that have a single person serving the entire organization in terms of content, it would be very surprising if that person could manage strategy, write content, shoot video and make the media buys necessary to amplify what is published.

Content production is by far the type of mandate most often delegated to external resources.

Here are some examples of what may be needed in production:

  • Writing team (editors, journalists, copywriters, etc.)
  • Light shooting crew (for the production of simple digital videos, where you shoot 5-10-15 contents assets in one day)
  • International film crew (if your content needs require you to meet with foreign experts in your field for example)
  • Shooting crew for premium video content (these pieces of content you produce only a few times a year, at a higher budget)
  • Product photographer
  • Photojournalist
  • Translation team for the languages in which you operate
  • etc.

Your goal in the search for the ideal agency is to ensure that it will be able to provide the services you need. The idea is not to have to hire freelancers again for some of the services you need on a regular basis.

Publishing, deploying and amplifying content

Once the content is produced, it needs to be distributed to your audience.

A function often delegated to an external agency is the management of social media. This approach ensures that a team is responsible for adapting and publishing the content produced for the different platforms where your brand is active.

But this deployment stage may often require additional initiatives to ensure that content performance is met and results are measured and aligned with the performance indicators of your content strategy.

You could use an agency for the following services:

  • Content performance measurement (KPIs, analytics)
  • Social media management
  • Community management
  • Native advertising
  • Social Media Marketing (SMM)
  • Search Engine Marketing (SEM)
  • Influencer marketing
  • Real time listening
  • Consultation on brand command centres

It is up to you to evaluate the different types of expertise you need, those you wish to keep internally and those for which you need support.

To properly evaluate your needs and the requirements of your future agency, build a table where you will make a list of the capabilities that you will need (you can use the three lists above). For each capability, indicate whether it will be performed internally or externally. The list of external tasks will be key in your search for the ideal agency.

Auditing the internal services of a content agency

Another important factor to consider when choosing your agency is whether the services they offer are performed in-house or whether the agency itself uses external partners and resources.

If, in the end, you end up using an agency that outsources all its services, there may be very little added value for you to use it instead of hiring an additional internal resource.

However, even an agency that outsources some of its services does not mean that you could recreate everything in-house as well. It may have developed processes with its partners, allowing it to be very efficient, thus offering you a significant gain on the challenge of creating the same structure in-house.

Ask the agencies you are considering what services are done in-house and which ones it uses partners or freelancers. Visit their offices, their facilities, meet their team.

How to evaluate the price

An important factor (often considered the most important) in choosing an agency is its price.

Where is it on the price scale? Is it rather high-end or does it focus on producing lower-cost, simpler content?

At Toast, the founders have been stressing for several years the importance of covering the entire budget spectrum for our customers. Thus, we are able to produce simple content assets where a single videographer can do the work, up to more complex productions, internationally with a team of 15-20 people. The same is also true for editorial content.

The best way to evaluate the price of an agency is to ask for a formal proposal. However, much like the production of a website, the same considerations can be done in several ways, having a significant impact on the overall budget.

What we often recommend to our customers is to give us a comparable, existing production, and ask us to price the cost of production of such a deliverable. The idea is to respond upstream to several production considerations by using a finished product and thus being able to establish the cost of production more precisely.

This can come from your own existing content assets, but it can also come from an example you want to reproduce.

This method makes it easy to establish the price range in which the agency works. This approach also simplifies the work of the agency team when pricing your example.

This method is not infallible, but it can allow you to easily obtain different proposals from different agencies, knowing that they will all have based their budget on the same level of production and work.

By asking an agency to quote on one or more existing deliverables, such as strategy, production or deployment, you will have better assurance that the price provided can be compared to other proposals you receive or even the price you paid if it was a production for your brand.

How to evaluate an agency’s clients

The logos on a site and its portfolio are only part of what is important in an agency’s history.

Ask to contact some of the clients of the agencies you are considering. Obviously, just as in the references provided for a CV, they will only be positive.

But when talking to these clients, ask them the following questions:

  • How is the relationship with the agency going? Are there several contact points or is it a key person who manages the account?
  • How does project management work when a resource is on vacation or on leave? Does the agency ensure depth in their service?
  • Are there any services on which it is particularly strong and others on which it is less strong?
  • How long have you been with the agency? How has the agency evolved during this period?

You can also consult this article from the Content Marketing Institute, which details a number of other questions you can ask the agencies you are considering, particularly when it comes to evaluating their performance.

By talking to existing clients, you will gain an overview of the relationship you may have with the agency. When working with an external agency, your goal must be to build a long-term relationship and the past can be an excellent indicator of the basis on which your future relationship with it will be. 

The final selection

In the end, you will likely find yourself with a list of three to five agencies you would like to work with.

A good way to make your final selection is to build a scoring system, weighing the importance you will place on each element that may influence your decision:

  • Category experience
  • Spectrum of services offered (be careful to distinguish their capabilities in strategy, production and deployment)
  • Auditing internal vs. external services
  • Price
  • Customers and their relationship with the agency

You may decide to give twice as much importance to the services offered (and what is done internally at the agency) as to the price, knowing that you will get value for your money. You are free to give more or less weight to each element in your calculation.

By creating a scorecard, you will be able to compare each agency in your shortlist against established criteria, a more formal approach to help you make your choice.

In conclusion

Throughout this process, also keep a little space for your instincts. In the end, it is you and your team that will work on a daily basis with the teams of the chosen agency and your instinct can often dictate what seems to be a good fit for you and your brand.

You will find many other articles on the subject, but we hope to have covered most of the factors that may influence your decision in selecting your future content agency.

At Toast (you can find us on DesignRush), we often find ourselves at the heart of a content agency selection process and appreciate marketing departments that take the time to evaluate an agency as a whole, not just on the basis of its online portfolio or a summary evaluation of their website.

So don’t hesitate to evaluate us, to include us in your scorecard, to ask us to talk to our clients, to come and visit our offices!

Why you should think like an entertainment company

Entertainment companies are constantly monitoring upcoming content formats. You should do it too.

In the words of a Netflix executive: “We compete with (and lose to) Fortnite much more than we do with HBO.”

Netflix has 149 million subscribers. Fortnite has 250 million.

Any entrepreneur will tell you, competition can sometimes come from a blind spot that you hadn’t planned to explore.

The same can happen in the content formats that your brand produces, publishes and distributes.

In an article in Harvard Business Review, Mark Purdy and Gene Reznik explain how companies should look at how the entertainment industry is evolving so that they can keep a constant watch on how consumers’ and customers’ attention is captured and kept.

They highlight the notion of convergence of content, gaming and interactivity.

From Starbucks to L’Oréal and Walmart, many brands are exploring, monitoring and testing new content formats such as virtual reality, augmented reality, haptic technologies, the Internet of Things and the development of in-house content studios.

If the beginning of the 20th century saw the convergence of text, sound and images, the 21st century will be at the heart of a new phase of convergence that will be even more complex and important.

Far be it from me to suggest that your brand should go all-in into virtual reality, but what is happening in this specific stream of production and development (and the others mentioned above) will surely set the stage for the next great advances in content and storytelling.

How do you keep your teams well informed of upcoming content developments? How does your brand ensure that it has a pulse on the next major trends that will capture and maintain the attention of your customers and consumers?

If you want to develop a monitoring strategy for your brand, contact us and schedule a free consultation with our experts at Toast today.

The Morality of Content

Marketing is often accused of creating needs, of fooling people. What about content?

When asked what Toast does, I regularly explain the notion of branded content, its impact on the relationship between an organization and its consumers, the value that content can bring to these consumers, etc.

It also happens regularly that this same person with whom I am discussing the subject shares with me the time when they watched video content, or read an article, to discover at the end that the content was actually produced by a brand that wanted to sell them something.

It is in this context that I found Niraj Dawar’s article “The Morality of Marketing” very interesting, published on the Branding Strategy Insider website.

He describes some of the issues that marketing (in the broad sense) faces in the context of its power to influence individuals.

To what extent does it create needs that did not exist? To what extent can one influence a person to take an action, to buy something that is not morally “correct”?

And the same question is as relevant with regard to content.

Do we always produce content that brings real value to the person who will view/read/hear it? Does this content really take into account the different options on the market or does it only focus on what would be beneficial to the brand behind it?

All these questions are not new. But they deserve to be asked… and asked again.

One of the quotes really caught my attention in the article:

“The morality of marketing resides not so much in the tactics of influence, as in the goals of those tactics.”

Where does your brand stand in this discussion? Take a few minutes to think about it and explore approaches you could take to bring even more value to your audience.

If you would like to explore the potential of your brand in terms of content a little more, contact us and let us know about your current projects and we could help you in your efforts to implement a new dimension to your content strategy.

Content and boring industries

An industry is not boring for those who need it.

Sometimes, at Toast, it happens that at first sight we have the impression that it is impossible to create interesting content for the industry of some of our customers.

However, if there is one thing to remember, it is that we are usually not the audience of our client, who himself is not his own audience. The person concerned by the content that is produced needs it, he wants it.

Who else but you could publish on the subject of spray foam insulation or best approaches for deploying heavy vehicles in hard-to-reach areas? Believe me, whoever owns these vehicles is very interested in this information!

The industries that could be considered boring are not for the audience that it is intended for. Let’s keep this in mind.

In an article from a few years ago published by GrowthHub which I came across, Stephanie Casstevens explains why she likes to write for these types of clients and industries. It is an interesting piece for all those of you who sometimes have difficulty motivating yourselves to publish on a terribly specific subject.

Is your industry boring? Do you need support in setting up your editorial calendar and the topics to be covered for your audiences? Please let us know today!

On the importance of not depending on other people’s platforms

How digital media company Defy went from a funding round of $70M to $0 in a very, very short period of time.

What is the proportion of the effort you put into producing and deploying content on platforms that do not belong to you?

Your Facebook subscribers, your YouTube channel, your Instagram community, they do not belong to you. It will not happen, but those to whom they belong could decide to put an end to all this overnight, and they would have the right to do so.

Your content hub, your email lists, those are assets that belong to you.

In the 6th section of the workbook on content strategy we recently published (see below in this email), we address the subject with a series of questions:

  • Is your portfolio of platforms balanced between the platforms you have 100% control over (your website, for example) and so-called “influencer marketing” platforms, where the platform has control over the distribution of your content (Facebook is an excellent example)?
  • Are your audience growth tactics balanced between audiences and communities that already belong to you (mailing list, for example) and those that don’t (subscribers to your Facebook or LinkedIn page, for example)?

The essential part of spending time thinking about this is not to structure your content strategy solely around “owned” platforms, but to be aware of the relevant value we attach to each of the distribution channels we use.

For example, this article discusses Defy Media’s recent history and how, in less than 2 years, they have gone from 75 content series in production to none.

Their fall is not entirely due to the fact that they relied heavily on YouTube and Facebook, but that contributed greatly to it.

This text is therefore intended to make you aware of the importance of balancing your content platforms, to ensure that you keep in mind what belongs to you and what does not belong to you.

In the end, also make sure your social media agency partner is properly helping you navigate this reality.

What is the state of content marketing in 2018?

“Creating a relationship, regardless of the product, is key” – Joe Pulizzi.

I have often mentioned the Content Marketing Institute in recent years and Joe Pulizzi, its founder. Joe is undoubtedly one of the greatest evangelists of content marketing, having started using the term in 2001, when we were still only talking about custom publishing.

Last year Pulizzi sold the organization and withdrew to take advantage of a sabbatical year.

Recently back in the media, he gave an interview to Tony Silber from Forbes where he gave his opinion on where content marketing stands in 2018 and what brands to watch for, what trends to observe.

The whole article is aligned with what we see at Toast, both in terms of practice and brand perception of content.

The pressure on marketers for tangible results is very strong. Most content marketinginitiatives are short-term, in the form of campaigns lasting a few weeks, or a few months at best, not in terms of years as they should be.

What do brands that are successful in content do? Brands like Arrow Electronics, Kraft and General Mills focus on creating an audience of subscribers who see value in what the brand sends them.

“That’s the true power of content marketing, building loyal audiences through content and then monetizing those audiences in multiple ways,” Pulizzi adds. “The fastest growing, most innovative companies in the world are focused on building loyal audiences in this manner (Amazon, Facebook, YouTube, Disney).”

I highly recommend reading Forbes’ article. Following your reading, write to me by replying to this email or on Twitter telling me what you thought.