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Book Review Epic Content Marketing
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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.

The 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.

Part 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.

Part II 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.

Part 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.

Part IV 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 audience.

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.

Content 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.

Busy 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.

Since the book provides a link for Fire Protection Engineering magazine – we will return the favor – http://bitly.com/epic-fpe.


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