Books: The essentials for content marketers

Any good content marketer should consume content. That is a no brainer. Here are great book recommendations for any content aficionado.

As content enthusiasts, most of us like to read.

A lot.

No matter if you are working on informative, educational or branded entertainment content, there’s something in your reading list that really keeps you on the edge, with a brain firing on all cylinders.

Of course, we read a lot of articles.

A lot.

But books allow us to take a step back from the crazy pace of our content programs and strategy.

The Content Marketing Institute has published a round-up of great books that were published in 2019, books that content marketers will find great interest in.

They range from books dedicated to content marketing itself, but many also dive into the current state of our digital lives and our social interactions.

So dive into this list, pick a couple, a get reading!

Would you like to dive deeper into your content strategy with us? 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.

A one-day masterclass on content marketing

A one-day training on content marketing, a conference like no other.

Strong from our new partnership with David Beebe, I can finally tell you about the first initiative we will do together: the one-day Content Decoded masterclasses.

It is a full day of presentations and workshops on content marketing, branded content and brand studios.

This is not your usual conference where you just listen to people talk, salespeople pitch you their products, and you leave with little to no real-world insights to help you do your job.

The objective David and I have is that you can leave with realistic initiatives and actionable benefits for your brand’s content strategy.

Here is a list of themes we will touch upon during the day:

  • The State of Content Marketing + Brand Storytelling
  • The Creative + Creatives from Brand Films to Webisodes to Always On Social Content
  • Influencer Marketing
  • Measurement + ROI
  • Platforms + Technology
  • Distribution + Channels
  • Content Studios
  • Brand Command Centers
  • Real Time Creative + Content Marketing
  • Marketing Orgs + Talent

The day will be intense and seats are limited as we want to keep this fairly intimate so that we can contribute to the content strategy of all participants!

If you don’t know David Beebe, he has been a key expert on content marketing for many years. In the past few years, before we developed this new partnership with him, he was over at Marriott where he built their Content Studio that I’ve told you so much about.

Declared by AdWeek as a “branded content master who makes it OK to love marketing,” and named by AdAge as a Top 40 “forward thinker, risk-taker, and rainmaker in marketing,” he is an Emmy-award and Cannes Lions winner. He also founded and led the Disney/ABC Television Group Content Studio and the Vin Bi Bona Content Studio.

Not a bad C.V. don’t you think?

To know dates and cities David and I will visit, visit our masterclass on content marketing page to learn more.

We also offer this one-day formula customized for corporate marketing teams. Contact Alexandre Gravel directly to learn more about this excellent way to train your team on content marketing.

The History of Content Marketing

A documentary of the history of content marketing and how it has become the “new marketing”.



Content marketing is a subject that spans our entire discourse here at Toast because as a content agency, we believe it is essential that brands integrate content into their global marketing strategy.

The Content Marketing Institute, reference in the field, produced a 43-minute documentary on the subject. From John Deere’s “The Furrow” publication launched in 1895 to Marriott and Red Bull today, experts chime in on the reason why content is a must for any marketer.

The summary of the documentary explains very well why branded content is so relevant today:

Technology has changed the game. Consumers can ignore advertising and marketing at will. To break through the clutter, brands need to tell remarkable stories worth listening to and become the media in the process.

I invite you to get comfortable and take an hour to watch the entire documentary. And as a sidenote, it is excellent content to recommend to anyone who is less familiar with content marketing and wants to understand why it is so relevant and where it comes from.

The 10 rules of content marketing (e-book)

10 principles to apply in all your content strategies.

For many years now, at Toast, we are building the content agency of the future. We produce content for multiple large brands and through time, we realized that there are certain principles that apply to each and every content asset we create, each and every tactic we put in place.

There are 10 of them.

It is with this list that we wrote the “10 rules of content marketing” e-book that we recommend you grab today.

Downloadable for free in PDF version, the 17 pages of this document contain the basic rules that we consider being at the source of “great content”.

You will not be in uncharted territory when reading this, you will see that these 10 principles are directly linked with what I email you about every Monday morning. The importance of distribution, the importance of finding common values between your brand and your audience, the importance of being useful, etc.

I invite you to download your copy and, if you have a minute after reading it, to tell us your comments and what you though about it!

How branded content is becoming king

For advertisers and publishers, sponsored content is becoming king in a Facebook world.

I talk a lot about sponsored content in this column, and there’s a reason for this. With Toast, we are creating the next generation content agency that specifically focuses on producing high value, business-oriented content for brands.

There is a need for a content agency that can not only produce content, but also ensure an independant distribution strategy that focuses on the audience a brand wants to reach or build. Sure, large publishers are creating branded content studios, like the New York Times, The Atlantic, Slate to name a few, but they are realizing that high-return distribution might not always go through their own channels. This is the reason some of them are starting to open up and act as pure agency players and producing content that will not necessarily be published on their own platforms.

Isabelle Fortier, TV producer here at Toast, sent the team a great article on the current state of sponsored content and how not only large publishers are adapting, but Facebook, Snapchat and the like are also creating new offers directly for brands and advertisers, bypassing those same large publishers.

One of the things advertisers are requesting and that the newer players are providing more and more: transparency.

In the past, the real cost of media, or running an ad campaign, was pretty much hidden in a cloud of smoke, and advertisers could never be sure what was really happening with their dollars and investments. This is changing with newer models, new partnerships and a new structure in how content campaigns are created, produced and distributed.

Things are evolving at a very fast pace. Not only from a publisher’s perspective, but also from an agency perspective. I strongly invite you to read this New York Times article to get a clear view of the situation.

Brand storytelling, the new king

A product or brand must have a better story to tell that its competitors.

In the 60s, Roser Reeves introduced the concept of USP (Unique Selling Proposal). At about the same time, around 1955, David Ogilvy was developing the importance of the image of a brand. Later, Bill Bernbach started talking about how advertising could have a lighter touch, be closer to entertainment.

This natural evolution all happened in media contexts that were very different from what we live in today. Technologies were different and the consumer’s experience at the moment they might be faced with advertising was also different.

This is why today, I wanted to share an article by Jack Trout, a veteran marketer that, in 2000, started hammering the importance of brand storytelling in the advertising process.

Trout, a specialist in the positioning theory, explains in his article how the evolution of advertising leads to an era of storytelling. An era where brands cannot interrupt anymore, but must rather integrate themselves into the consumer’s experience.

I’m not teaching you anything with this and I’ve had this discourse for a while now, but it is always interesting to read it from a veteran.

And this is where content becomes so relevant. A brand must be able to be integrated and relevant to its audience and currently, in 2016, we believe at Toast that video is an excellent way to do it. 

The 10 Commandments of Content Marketing

Thou shalt follow basic best practices with content marketing.

When I came across today’s article, “The Ten Commandments of Content Marketing”, I did a quick search as I thought I had already seen a list like this.

Well, it’s not the first. Fast Company, Social Media Today, Contently, pretty much everyone has done its own version of the ten commandments of content marketing.

I thought about not sharing the article, but comparing its list to the others like it, I liked its line-up of basic guidelines it contained.

This article was published over at the Grammar Chic blog. I copy each commandment here, but I suggest you also click the button at the bottom to read more details about each.

Without further ado, here they are:

  1. Thou shalt esteem quality over all else.
  2. Thou shalt serve thy customer, for all thy days.
  3. Thou shalt sell without selling.
  4. Thou shalt not market without a strategy.
  5. Thou shalt post new content regularly.
  6. Thou shalt write like a human, not like a corporation.
  7. Thou shalt not overdo it.
  8. Thou shalt not rush it.
  9. Thou shalt review thy content marketing plan on a monthly basis.
  10. Thou shalt not forsake data.

So, if you had to continue this trend of “Top 10 Commandments”, do you have an idea what your list would be?

He had nailed everything about content

New York Times’ media columnist left behind reading material for an entire generation.

Last week, David Carr passed away.

If you didn’t know him, he was known for his reporting and analysis of publishing, television and social media (for which he was an early evangelist) at the New York Times.

Often, reading David Carr was like looking into the future.

He will be missed. He left behind a lot, and it is one of those things that I wanted to share with you this week.

Last August, he joined Boston University’s communications school to teach a course he named Press Play. A course that, as he puts it, “aspires to be a place where you make things. Good things. Smart things. Cool things. And then share those things with other people.”

Everything about this course was web-based, on a platform called Medium. So much that even the entire course syllabus was published, publicly, on it.

If you are exploring content, or even if you swim in it daily, reading the syllabus is a must. He had nailed exactly how to approach, at 10,000 feet, content strategy, production and distribution.

The post on Medium is separated into the course’s 14 weeks, each filled with details of what would be discussed, but most important, what students should read before coming into class.

That is the true value of this, for anyone who did not attend Carr’s classes.

Here is a selection of some of the weekly themes:

  • Choosing Targets
  • Collaboration
  • New Business Models for Storytelling
  • Distribution Models
  • Beyond Clicks, a Look at Reader Engagement
  • Telling Stories in a Visual Age
  • Imagine the rest.

I invite you to take the 15 minutes required to go through the syllabus. And get your bookmarks ready, you might well end up with an additional 15-20 articles you will absolutely want to read.

Farewell, Mr. Carr.

Read the entire Press Play course syllabus, including links to must-read articles (14-min read)

The 3 V’s of Content Marketing

There is a lot of noise when publishing content, and you need to find a way to stand out.

You often hear about the 4 P’s of marketing (Product, Price, Place and Promotion), but have you heard about the 3 V’s of content marketing?

Today, I wanted to invite you to read Michael Brenner’s article which discusses this new trio.

They are: Volume. Variety. Value.

Value is based on what you will provide to your audience. Publishing content and promoting like there’s nothing better on the planet will fall very short of your objectives and affect your brand if it doesn’t bring value. Publish content that is useful. It is key.

Next up is volume. How often will you post? Don’t give yourself too big a contract from the get-go. Start with something doable and possible. If it works well, you will see the return on your content and find the time necessary to do even more. And remember, if you publish too often, you will lose on value!

Finally, variety. Of course, not everyone who will come in contact with your content will be a hardcore follower of your brand, but for those who are, it is important to make sure you are not publishing content that is too predictable. Mix it up, images, text, short bursts, longer copy, etc.

All in all, the 3 V’s don’t make a recipe for content marketing success, but they are sure to be part of any successful strategy.