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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Over the past month, both Haiti and Afghanistan have been pummeled by tragic disasters that left devastation in their wake.

In Haiti, a 7.2 magnitude earthquake erupted, leading over to 2,189 deaths and counting. A few hours later, in Afghanistan, Kabul fell to the Taliban just after U.S. troops had pulled out after 20 years of war.

In many ways, these disasters are both chillingly connected to US interference. The United States invaded Haiti in 1915, ostensibly promising to restore order after a presidential assassination but really intending to preserve the route to the Panama Canal and to defend US creditors, among other reasons.

But the US forces soon realized that they were not able to control the country alone, and so formed an army of Haitian enlistees, powered by US air power and intended to quell Haitian insurrection against US controls. Then, in 1934, the US pulled out on its own, disappointed with how slow progress was going. Haiti's institutions were never really able to rebuild themselves, leaving them immensely vulnerable to natural disasters.

Something similar happened in Afghanistan, where the US sent troops and supported an insurgent Afghan army – only to pull out, abandoning the country they left in ruins, with many Afghans supporting the Taliban.

In both cases, defense contractors benefited by far the most from the conflict, making billions in profits while civilians faced fallout and devastation. While the conflicts and circumstances are extremely different and while the US is obviously not solely to blame for either crisis, it's hard not to see the US-based roots of these disasters.

Today, in Haiti and Afghanistan, civilians are facing unimaginable tragedy.

Here are charities offering support in Afghanistan:

1. The International Rescue Committee is looking to raise $10 million to deliver aid directly to Afghanistan

2. CARE is matching donations for an Afghanistan relief fund. They are providing food, shelter, and water to families in need; a donation of $89.50 covers 1 family's emergency needs for a month.

3. Women for Women International is matching donations up to 500,000 for Afghan women, who will be facing unimaginable horrors under Taliban control.


4. AfghanAid offers support for people living in remote regions of Afghanistan.

5. VitalVoices supports female leaders and changemakers and survivors of gender-based violence around the world.

Here are charities offering support in Haiti:

1. Partners in Health has been working with Haiti for a long time, and they work with the Department of Health rather than around them, which is extremely important in a charity.

2. Health Equity International helps run Saint Boniface Hospital, a hospital in Haiti close to the earthquake's epicenter.

3. SOIL is an organization based Haiti, "a local organization with a track record of supporting after natural disasters." They are distributing hygiene kits and provisions on the ground to hospitals and to victims of the earthquake.

4. Hope for Haiti has been working in emergency response in Haiti for three decades, and their team is comprised of people who live and work in Haiti. They focus on supporting children and people in need across Haiti.

via Tiffany & Co.

When the new Tiffany's campaign was unveiled, reactions were mixed.

Tiffany's, the iconic jewelry brand which does not (despite what some might be misled to believe) in fact serve breakfast, featured Jay Z, Beyoncé, and a rare Basquiat painting in their recent campaign.

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Road trips can be a lot of fun — but they can also drain your wallet quickly if you aren't careful.

From high gas costs and park admission fares to lodging and the price of eating out every night, the expenses can add up quickly. But at the same time, it's very possible to do road trips cheaply and efficiently. Without the headache of worrying about how much money you're leaking, you can enjoy the open road a whole lot more. Here's how to save money on a road trip.

1. Prepare Your Budget, Route, and Packing List in Advance

If you want to save money on a road trip, be sure you're ready to go. Try to count up all your expenses before you hit the road and create a budget. It's also a good idea to plan your route in advance so you don't end up taking unnecessary, gas-guzzling detours. And finally, be sure to pack in advance so you don't find yourself having to buy tons of things you forgot along the way.

2. Book Cheap Accommodations — Or Try Camping

All those motel rooms can add up surprisingly quick, but camping is often cheap or free, and it's a great way to get intimate with the place you're visiting. You can check the Bureau of Land Management's website for free campsites. Freecampsite.com also provides great information on If you don't have a tent or don't want to camp every night, try booking cheap Airbnbs or booking hotels in advance, making sure to compare prices.

Camping camping road tripConde Nast Traveler

If you're planning on sleeping in your car, a few tips: WalMart allows all-night parking, as do many 24-hour gyms. (Buying a membership to Planet Fitness or something like it also gives you a great place to stop, shower, and recharge while on the road).

3. Bring Food From Home

Don't go on a road trip expecting to subsist on fast food alone. You'll wind up feeling like shit, and it'll drain your pocketbook stunningly quickly. Instead, be sure to bring food from home. Consider buying a gas stove and a coffee pot for easy on-the-go meals, and make sure you bring substantial snacks to satiate midday or late night cravings so you can avoid getting those late night Mickey D's expeditions.

Try bringing your own cooler, filling it with easy stuff for breakfast and lunch — some bread and peanut butter and jelly will go a long way. Bring your own utensils, plates, and napkins, and avoid buying bottled water by packing some big water jugs and a reusable water bottle. Alternatively, try staying at hotels or Airbnbs with kitchens so you can cook there.

4. Avoid Tolls

Apps like Google Maps and Waze point out toll locations, so be sure to avoid those to save those pennies. (If it takes you too far off route, you might have to bite the bullet and drive across that expensive bridge).

You can also save on parking fees by using sites like Parkopedia.

Road Trip Road TripThe Orange Backpack


5. Save on Gas

Gas can get pricy incredibly fast, so be sure that you're stopping at cheap gas stations. Free apps like GasBuddy help you find the most affordable gas prices in the area. Also, try going the speed limit on the highways — anything faster will burn through your tank. Be sure that you don't wait till you arrive at touristy locations or big cities to fill up.

6. Get a National Park Pass

All those parks can get really expensive really fast. If you're planning on visiting three or more parks, it's a great idea to get an America the Beautiful National Parks Pass. For $80 you can get into every National Park for one year.