Every business owner strives to market their business in the best ways they know how. From the tried and true to the latest trends, no matter the avenue, most savvy business owners are willing to test out a new marketing tactic to improve their business.

Content marketing isn't exactly new, but many businesses haven't yet given it a go. Traditionalists or those unfamiliar with how content marketing can boost business may not realize the benefits of this industrious type of marketing. But what is it exactly?

By definition, Content Marketing Institute describes content marketing as, "a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action." Therefore, "Instead of pitching your products or services, you are providing truly relevant and useful content to your prospects and customers to help them solve their issues." Advantageous for both the business and the consumer. Seems like a winning solution!

As per Vertical Measures, 61% of customers are more likely to buy from a company which publishes custom content. Here's a look into some of the effective ways content marketing can work for you…

Get and Stay on the Radar

There are many companies to choose from in nearly any field. Content marketing can help make your company stand out from the pack. Simply placing your products or services on your website with descriptions and pricing isn't enough to make you memorable anymore. You need to be unique, interesting, and engaging. Content marketing is a favorable way to do just that.

As per YFS Magazine, "Every company has a niche. Talk about that niche, and your business can stay relevant. Consistently provide interesting content. Maintaining a company blog is one of the most common and simplest means of content marketing. However, you can go further and boost authority by publishing an industry newsletter or magazine." Create awareness and gain new clients and customers who are seeking more from a business than a quick transaction.

As Vertical Measures puts it, "Content marketing has been called the "new branding" as it consistently reaches your potential and current clients and reinforces that promise." Show your customers what you have to offer - and that's more than a product or service. It's who you are and what you value as a business owner, which is far more memorable in the long-term.

Build Trust

According to Vertical Measures, "If you publish frequently, your content will build trust not only with your potential clients but also with the search engines. Search engines want to deliver the very best content possible to the audience using their engine." According to Content Marketing Institute, "Search engines reward businesses that publish quality, consistent content." In turn, the customers will find you and look into using your business for their needs. They want who's on top of their game, and content marketing done well will put you there.

Customer trust is something businesses have always valued, and SEO and ranking in search engines is the modern way people find businesses they deem trustworthy and the one to ultimately choose. "This translates into increased traffic, which can lead to more people linking to your websites; creating a positive feedback loop where people will remain interested in your business as long as you continue to create value," notes YFS Magazine.

The more content you provide, the more educated and involved your clients and customers become. Make sure your content is not only sales-focused, but relevant to an array of aspects of your field and helpful to your readers even if they're not making a purchase at the time. This shows that you are invested in their well-being beyond the sale. Knowing you have their interests at heart will have them returning to you the next time they need your product or service. As per Vertical Measures, "A well-educated client is a better, more long-lasting client. In order to build customer loyalty, provide additional value through your content long after the sale is done."

Keep at It

As per Content Marketing Institute, "Content marketing increases sales and brings better customers who are loyal to your brand." Be sure to regularly update content on your website and social media feeds. Send emails with not only salesy information, but benevolent information and updates as well to keep your customers engaged and informed. Keep on target with your company's values and morals and use a tone that reflects your businesses "personality."

See what consumers are reading and hone in on that type of content. See what people are "liking" and "sharing" and give them more of what they enjoy. If you link out to calls to action in your content, make it relevant and natural to the subject matter. You'll find that customers will appreciate honesty and integrity.

Now it's time to boost that content and get it out there! If you need help getting started, check out Content Marketing Institute's guide to developing content for marketing.

Extra, extra… read all about YOUR business!

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Developing further skills can boost your career at any stage.

Whether you are looking for a new job or trying to grow in your current one, getting a certification can be a great way to improve your skills.

Anyone can put that they are proficient in a computer program on their resume but having a certificate can help you stand out amongst the competition and give credence to the strength of your skills.

But what's the best way to invest in yourself without breaking the bank? Some certification programs can cost hundreds if not thousands of dollars. We are going to walk through six of the best certifications you can get for $100 or less.

Tableau

Tableau's data visualization capabilities are comparable to Domo and Power BI.

Who is it best for: Those who work with analyzing and presenting data.

Cost: $100 for Tableau Desktop Specialist; additional certifications are available for a larger fee.

More companies than ever see themselves as data companies. Being able to understand data and use it to guide decisions at your company is often critical to taking on a leadership role. Not to mention, being able to present the data in a clean, attractive, and compelling way can help get buy-in from others in your organization or clients. That's why Tableau is a great tool to have in your toolbox.

Tableau allows you to create interactive visual analytics dashboards. In layman's terms, you can take data; create graphs, maps, or charts; and then allow end-users to interact with these graphics to better understand the information. It's a fantastic tool allowing non-technical users to gain insights for data-driven decision-making.

Tableau Desktop Specialist certification starts at $100 and has no expiration date. There are many videos on Tableau's site to prepare for your exam as well as Tableau Starter Kits allowing you to play around and learn the different capabilities of the program. Tableau offers a 14-day free trial as well as free license for one year for students.

Additional certifications after Desktop Specialist are Desktop Associate and Desktop Professional. Those working with a Tableau server may also be interested in a separate certification as a Server Associate or Server Professional.

The Federal Reserve sets the guardrails for the federal funds rate, and through that helps control the money supply for the nation.

When you take out a loan for a car, charge something to your credit card, or get a personal line of credit, there is going to be an interest rate that applies to your loan.

A lot of different factors go into what you will be charged, including your own personal credit score. But even those with flawless credit still see a minimum charge that they can't get around. That all goes back to the Federal Funds Rate.

One thing consumers rarely realize is that all of our banks are lending money to each other every night. Banks are legally required to maintain a certain percentage of their deposits in non-interest-bearing accounts at the Federal Reserve to ensure they have enough money to cover any withdrawals that may unexpectedly come up. However, deposits can fluctuate and it's very common for some banks to exceed the requirement on certain days while some fall short. In cases like this, banks actually lend each other money to ensure they meet the minimum balance. It's a bit hard to imagine these multibillion-dollar financial institutions needing to borrow money to tide them over for a bit, but it happens every single night at the Federal Reserve. It's also a nice deal for those with balances above the reserve balance requirement to earn a bit of money with cash that would normally just be sitting there.

The Federal Reserve The Federal Reserve


The exact interest rate the banks will charge each other is a matter of negotiation between them, but the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) (the arm of the Federal Reserve that sets monetary policy) meets eight times a year to set a target rate. They evaluate a multitude of economic indicators including unemployment, inflation, and consumer confidence to decide the best rate to keep the country in business. The weighted average of all interest rates across these interbank loans is the effective federal funds rate.

This rate has a huge impact on the economy overall as well as your personal finances. The federal funds rate is essentially the cheapest money available to a bank and that feeds into all of the other loans they make. Banks will add a slight upcharge to the rate set by the Fed to determine what is the lowest interest that they will announce for their most creditworthy customers, also known as the prime rate. If you have a variable interest rate loan (very common with credit cards and some student loans), it's likely that the interest rate you pay is a set percentage on top of that prime rate that your lender is paying. That's why in times of low interest rates (it was set at 0% during the Great Recession), a lot of borrowers should go for fixed interest rate loans that won't increase. However, if the federal funds rate was relatively high (it went up to 20% in the early 1980's), a variable interest rate loan may be a better decision as you would be charged less interest should the rate drop without the need to refinance.

The federal funds rate also has a major impact on your investment portfolio. The stock market reacts very strongly to any changes in interest rates from the Federal Reserve, as a lower rate makes it cheaper for companies to borrow and reinvest while a higher rate may restrict capital and slow short-term growth. If you have a significant portion of your investments in equities, a small change in the federal funds rate can have a large impact on your net worth.

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Whether you're leaving a job involuntarily, departing for something new, or just want to prepare for the unknown, it is smart to understand all your options regarding your 401k.

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