Canadian Consulting Engineer

E-books can help promote your niche practice

April 17, 2012
By Canadian Consulting Engineer

Successful engineering is all about finding solutions and making them available to your clients. You’re not just performing a function -- you’re solving a problem.

Successful engineering is all about finding solutions and making them available to your clients. You’re not just performing a function — you’re solving a problem.

One of the best ways to show this ability to your current clients, and the clients you want to have, is through publishing information helping them solve a problem.

There are many formats for doing this — white papers, articles and videos among them — but an increasingly popular way to do this is through an e-book.

The term e-book can mean an electronic version of an ordinary printed book, formatted for an e-reader such as a Kindle or iPad. In a business context, an e-book is much like a technical or scientific paper in that it provides useful information.

But it’s written not in the tone of “Here’s what we think,” but rather, “Here’s a solution to a problem you may be facing.” It’s readable and visually appealing, not just dense pages of text.

The trend seems to be towards a document that is more like a slide show than a book. However, an e-book must contain substantial useful information.

One of the best examples of an e-book is “The e-book e-book,” by Jonathan Kranz, a leading guru on all things e-book. His website,, is a great place to start learning about e-books. David Meerman Scott, one of the gurus of the Content Marketing movement of which e-books are a part, hosts several examples on his site at

E-books are a good medium particularly if you want to be known for a niche practice — maybe assisted-living housing, historic building restoration or deep geothermal energy.

For example, one of the issues with deep geothermal is environmental permitting, particularly around the potential for near-surface groundwater contamination. If your firm has learned something about how to manage that, it’s good content for your e-book. Pipeline and valve clogging is also an issue because of dissolved salts and minerals in the deep-underground water.

So, if you want to be known for deep geothermal expertise, consider an e-book, “Overcoming the 10 most common challenges in deep geothermal projects.” If you were a property owner wanting to build green, wouldn’t that title spark your interest?

Effective e-book development starts with thinking about problems and challenges faced by your clients and prospects. It could be a new technology, new regulations or legislation, or something else that will affect them. Then, develop some text around your recommendations, incorporating effective keywords so that someone searching on that topic has a chance of finding it. Plan some graphics.

Unless you’re a skilled graphic designer (and others agree) it will likely be best for you to bring in a professional designer to render your ideas in an appealing way. The resulting document should be published as a PDF. It can be distributed by e-mail, through Twitter, as a link on your LinkedIn profile or on your firm’s website.

The result is that you become seen as a subject-matter authority, interested in helping people in your market succeed.

Carl Friesen, MBA, CMC, is Principal of Global Reach Communications Inc., based in Mississauga, Ont..
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