From the Technical Director: Book Review Epic Content Marketing
By Morgan J. Hurley, P.E., FSFPE | Fire Protection Engineering
This is the first time that a book review has appeared in the
Technical Director’s column. And, the review is of a book that has
nothing to do with fire protection engineering. So, why review this
book? For one, the book describes a fundamental change in modern
marketing techniques, and many fire protection engineers are involved in
marketing in some way.
The book was written by a former managing editor of Fire Protection Engineering
magazine (who made a cameo appearance on the cover of the Spring 2000
issue). And, Fire Protection Engineering magazine is highlighted in the
book as a successful content marketing case study.
Epic Content Marketing
by Joe Pulizzi defines "content marketing” as "the marketing and
business process for creating and distributing valuable and compelling
content to attract, acquire, and engage a clearly defined and understood
target audience – with the objective of driving profitable customer
action.” What’s "content”? Think technical information. Content
marketing is a way of showing customers and potential customers that you
know how to solve their problems.
book is divided into five parts. Part I provides an overview of content
marketing. It provides definitions (including the one quoted in the
previous paragraph) and a history. Content marketing is not new; when a
food ingredient manufacturer provides recipes on their packaging, that’s
an example of content marketing. This solves the buyer’s problem (what
to prepare) while selling more of the product (if the recipe is good,
they’ll buy more). Part I also presents a business case for content
marketing, which is essentially to attract and retain customers. Lastly,
a business case is provided, which is to earn customers’ trust as a
valued source of solutions to their problems.
II describes finding a content niche and strategy. The first chapter in
this section notes that there is no content marketing silver bullet,
and there is no right or wrong way to approach content marketing. There
is only more right or less right. The next chapter defines the six
principles of "epic” content marketing: filling a need, consistency,
being human, having a point of view, avoiding sales speak, and being the
best of the breed. Helping to discover and set content marketing goals
(e.g., brand awareness, lead conversion and nurturing, customer
conversion, customer service, customer retention, upsell) is also
addressed in this section.
goes on to describe audience personas, which are characterizations of
the types of people to whom the content is targeted (e.g., architect,
facility manager, developer, attorney, etc.). The next chapter defines
the engagement cycle, recognizing that potential customers may want
different types of information depending on where they are in their
buying process. The penultimate chapter in Part II assists readers with
defining their content niche, while the final chapter pertains to
writing a content marketing mission statement.
III of the book provides information on managing the content process.
It starts with building an editorial calendar, which is a planning
document for what content will be published when. The next chapter
provides guidance on managing the content creation process – whether the
content is created internally or outsourced. Content types are
described, such as blogs, videos, e-newsletters, and even magazine
articles! Additional chapters provide suggestions on repurposing
existing content and getting employees to contribute new content. Part
III closes with chapters on selecting online content platforms and
creating an action plan.
explains the need for and creation of a marketing story – or helping
people find content that might be of interest to them. One could create
great (or, as the book says, "epic”) content, but if potential customers
don’t find it, it’s of no use. The first chapter describes how social
media can be leveraged to distribute content. Alternative promotion
strategies are also addressed, including search engine optimization. The
final chapter guides readers on how to leverage social influencers –
people that already have a large online following within the targeted
Lastly, Part V is about
making content work. The first chapter addresses measuring the success
of content marketing and the return on investment. The book closes with a
chapter that summarizes content marketing success stories, and uses Fire Protection Engineering magazine as a strong example.
marketing serves to educate the reader, and a knowledgeable customer is
a better customer. Since in most engagements, fire protection engineers
have expertise that their clients do not have, fire protection
engineers generally educate throughout the business engagement.
people want to know who can solve their problems and give them the
information they need. A lot of people just want to trust an expert to
take care of them. So, content marketing is a tool to create action with
that very busy prospect who just wants to trust the expert vs. figuring
it out themselves.