Know Your Audience: Stan Berteloot speaks on content marketing at TigerLabs on Thursday, February 7.

Content marketing is essential for any business whether it be a global pharmaceutical company or a local bakery shop, says Stan Berteloot, ambassador with the Princeton chapter of Startup Grind, a global community for entrepreneurs.

Today buyers have done 70 percent of their research on their own before speaking to a salesperson, he says, and the content they consume influences their decision to select one product over another.

Berteloot will speak about content marketing as a strategy for entrepreneurs to grow their business on Thursday, February 7, from 6 to 9 p.m. at TigerLabs at 252 Nassau Street. Tickets are $5 for the public and free for Tigerlabs members. Learn more and register

Berteloot defines content marketing as the production of information on a given topic. The content can be delivered as an article, blog post, infographic, video, or other formats.

When deciding what content to present you need to consider who your audience is and whether there is a match between what your potential client wants and what your product or service can deliver. While this may seem obvious, Berteloot finds that many business owners don’t consider different kinds of markets. Talking about the same product in a different way could quickly open opportunities for your business.

The benefits your product offers will vary for different people based on their individual interests. The CFO will be interested in the return on investment, and the procurement manager will want a product that is not too pricey. Therefore, you need to determine what various markets are looking for and how your product will serve the needs of those particular markets. Your value proposition is at that intersection.

Consider a product as simple as a snack bar. One person will be drawn to a bar that tastes good, so your message to him will focus on flavor. Another will be drawn to a bar high in protein, so your message to him will focus on nutrition.

Distribution — knowing where and how to post content to reach your target audience — is another key factor to consider. It is a matter of researching and understanding the kinds of media your desired audience reads, watches, and listen to. This is all part of the process of market segmentation, which Berteloot will dive into at the seminar.

Being able to identify trends will increase your ability to know what to say to whom, and thereby create valuable content for your audience. Berteloot offers several suggestions:

Trade shows and seminars: By reading the event agendas, you can learn about topics that matter to attendees.

Online platforms: The web is your friend if you know how to use it, says Berteloot. Online platforms provide insights on what people are thinking about and problems they are trying to solve. Berteloot suggests checking out Quora, Reddit, Twitter, SimilarWeb, Google Trends, and Google Ads, among others.

Google My Business and Google Local: Having a presence on these platforms increases your online visibility. Posting customer reviews of your business on these platforms is a great way to show credibility and to boost your SEO (search engine optimization) ratings.

Marketing Automation is a software solution that can streamline your research and content delivery. “It can be very complex, but in a nutshell it delivers the right information at the right time to the right person,” says Berteloot. It makes use of a scoring mechanism based on the action a person takes in response to your marketing content. Points are applied if a person opens an email, clicks a link, visits pages on a website, fills out a form, or downloads a PDF or an eBook.

Each action contributes to an overall score, and at a certain point the score will indicate that the time is right for a salesperson to call. When the prospect has been informed about your products and services, she is likely to welcome the contact because she has been reading your content and has shown an interest in possibly making a purchase.

Automation allows you to compare one marketing effort with another. For instance, if you produce a white paper and also produce a webcast, the data can show which effort yielded the best result. You might find that you received a good return on investment with the webcast but a low return from the white paper you posted. Knowing the results of different approaches helps you make better decisions about the best way to move forward.

Using Social Media is a great way to distribute your content and should be used to develop sort of a “tribe” around your product and services. Berteloot finds that one mistake companies often make on this platform is being too removed from the audience. People don’t want to talk to a corporation but to a person who can share his own experience and expertise in a way that is friendly and approachable.

A mistake people often make in publishing content in any format is being too pushy and salesy. Berteloot sees nothing wrong with promoting a product you believe in, but your presentation won’t be well received if it sounds like an advertisement.

Berteloot grew up in France, living in Paris and also on the west coast of the country. His father worked in the insurance industry and his mother worked in real estate. His family loved reading and traveling, which sparked his curiosity about the world and the profession of journalism. He studied in the U.S., first in Iowa for his senior year of high school, and then at the University of Maryland, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism. After his studies, he moved back to France but later returned to the U.S. where he now lives in Princeton with his family.

Berteloot is a consultant with the Atlanta-based marketing agency Dots & Lines and currently serves as vice president of global growth for VisaHQ, an online visa and passport application solution.

During his career spanning more than 20 years, he co-founded Talkus, a company providing help-desk solutions. He led initiatives at KDS, a company providing a cloud-based B2B travel and expense management solution, now part of American Express Global Business Travel. He led communications at the French-American software company ILOG, which later was acquired by IBM.

Berteloot, who has written for the New York Times, Financial Times, and the Wall Street Journal, has found that journalism is not that different from the work he does today when he creates content and thinks of what will interest his audience. He emphasizes that a key to content marketing is to learn as much as possible about the people you intend to reach.

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