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How to use your blog to keep people coming back

(BUSINESS MARKETING) Blogging has become an essential part of marketing, but it is now so much more than just a broadcasting tool. Let’s discuss how to best leverage today’s tools.

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Putting your blog front and center

Part of what defines today’s economy is an emphasis on luxury – those customers with the most money are the target market for a vast array of products, but the cost of quality is only a small part of what these customers pay for. Rather, the biggest reason that luxury product consumers pay more is because of the level of customer service they receive. Customers pay to be catered to and brands spend big to provide an experience.

Of course, not all brands boast luxury as part of their customer experience, but every brand should boast product expertise for the benefit of their customers. And for brands that are competing for the larger middle-income market, expertise can be the added value that helps sustain customer loyalty. You can demonstrate that expertise in a powerful way on your company’s blog.

Show what you know

Before you jump in and start posting blog content, you need to assess your audience and their background. If you’re speaking to an audience that’s already knowledgeable, they won’t be interested in 101-style posts. Rather, they’ll want something more. This is the strategy Kuhlman Cellars took when building up their winery; knowledgeable customers didn’t want a show, but wanted to know that staff members knew the industry.

On the other hand, if your customers are just looking to get their feet wet, you’ll need to target your content using lay language, rather than industry lingo that might exclude newcomers. You don’t want to be using tech jargon with people who are just learning to send a text message – leverage what you know, but do it for the audience you have, not the one you imagine.

Be a guiding hand

Another way to make your blog work effectively as a forum for your expertise is by offering a guiding hand in the purchasing process. This is one way that a mid-range business can compensate for not being a luxury brand. While a luxury brand might assign a shopper to guide each client through the purchasing process, a mid-range brand can build product guides that serve a similar purpose.

This is how Mattress Clarity uses their blog, taking products beyond their basic specifications and describing them by using shopper-friendly categories, explaining what a mattress feels like rather than just what it’s made from. A blog isn’t a personal shopper, but for most buyers, this guiding hand is enough to make the shopping process easier.

Monetize your content

When we talk about blogs as value added, we mean that brands can charge a little more for a product because there’s more to it – the expertise present on the blog is the added thing they’re paying for. But one alternative to this is to specifically monetize certain types of content that really expand on your industry or product expertise.

Consider, as an example, a brand that sells cookware. Product guides that help buyers choose the right kind of pots for their kitchen might be a value added feature on that site. But what if the brand also produced a cookbook? Publishing an eBook like this is a great way to separately monetize internal expertise. Because the book is a type of product, customers will buy it, with the additional expectation that it adds to their other purchases. The same goes for webinars, music, and other downloadable products.

Be ready

Finally, your expertise has the most value when it’s available at a moment’s notice. Delays can cause you to lose conversions or negatively impact customer relationships. That’s why you need to set up your mobile devices so that they let you post and respond to customers while on the go, sending you alerts when a customer reaches out. Now, more than ever before, customer service is expected to be a 24/7 business – or at least have extended hours.

More than any product, you and your industry expertise are your company’s best asset. Make the most out of this! A product may be a one-time purchase, but expertise will keep your customers coming back.

#blogging

Larry Alton is an independent business consultant specializing in social media trends, business, and entrepreneurship. When he's not consulting, glued to a headset, he's working on one of his many business projects. Follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn.

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Business Marketing

Pay employees for their time, not only their work

(MARKETING) Yes, you still must pay employees for their time even if they aren’t able to complete their work due to restrictions. Time = Money.

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pay employees for their time

The COVID-19 pandemic has inspired a lot of insightful questions about things like our healthcare system, worldwide containment procedures, and about a billion other things that all deserve well-thought answers.

Unfortunately, it has also led to some of the dumbest questions of all time.

One such question comes courtesy of Comstock Mag, with the inquiry asking whether or not employees who show up on time can be deducted an hour’s pay if the manager shows up an hour later.

From a legal standpoint, Comstock Mag points out that employees participating in such activities are “engaged to wait”, meaning that – while they aren’t necessarily “working” – they are still on the clock and waiting for work to appear; in this case, the aforementioned “work” comes in the form of the manager or supervisor showing up.

In short: if the reason your employees aren’t working is that the precursor to completing the work for which you pay them is inaccessible, you still have to pay them for their time.

Morally, of course, the answer is much simpler: pay your employees for their time, especially if the reason they are unable to complete work is because you (or a subordinate) didn’t make it to work at the right time.

Certainly, you might be able to justify sending all of your employees home early if you run into something like a technology snag or a hiccup in the processes which make it possible for them to do their jobs – that would mean your employees were no longer engaged to wait, thus removing your legal obligation to continue paying them.

Then again, the moral question of whether or not cutting your employees’ hours comes into play here. It’s understandable that funds would be tight for the time being, but docking employees an hour of their work here or there due to problems that no one can control may cause them to resent you down the line when you need their support in return.

The real problem with this question is that, despite most people knowing that the answer should always be “pay them”, the sheer number of people working from home in the wake of worldwide closures and social distancing could muddy the water in terms of what constitutes the difference between being engaged to wait and simply burning time.

For example, an employee who is waiting for a meeting to start still fits the bill of “engaged to wait” even if the meeting software takes an extra half hour to kick in (or, worse yet, the meeting never happens), and docking them pay for timecard issues or other extenuating factors that keep them from their work is similarly disingenuous – and illegal.

There are a lot of unknowns these days, but basic human decency should never be up for debate – especially now.

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Business Marketing

Cooler temps mean restaurants have to get creative to survive

(MARKETING) With winter approaching, restaurants are starting to find creative and sustainable ways to keep customers coming in… and warm.

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Outdoor eating at restaurants grows in popularity.

Over the last decade we have seen a change in the approach to clientele experiences in the restaurant business. It’s no longer just about how good your food is, although that is still key. Now you have to give your customers an experience to remember. There are now restaurants that feed you in the dark, and others who require you to check all your clothes at the door. Each of these provides an experience to remember alongside food that ranges from good to exquisite, depending on your taste.

Now, however, the global pandemic has rearranged how we think about dining. We can no longer just shove people into a building and create a delectable meal. If you’ve relied mostly on people coming into your restaurant, you may struggle to survive now.

The new rules of keeping clients safe means setting things up outside is the easiest means of keeping large numbers of them from crowding inside. Because of this, weather has become a key influence in a company’s daily income. Tents that were a gimmick before, only needed by presumptuous millennials, are now a requirement to keep afloat. People are rushing to make their yards into lawns that bring some in some fancy feeling.

The ties to the sun in some areas are so strong that cloudy days have been shown to drop attendance as much as 14% for the day. This will become the more apparent the colder it gets. For me, I always mention hibernation weight in the winter, when all I want to do is curl up and eat at home. Down here in Texas we are already finding cooler weather, drops into the 70s even in August and September. We are all assuming a cold winter ahead. So, a bit of foresight is finding a means of keeping your guests warm for the winter ahead.

San Francisco restaurants have started with heat lamps during their cooler evenings. Fiberglass igloos have also been added to outdoor seating as a means of temperature control. A few places down in the Lonestar state keep roaring fires going for their outdoor activities. While others actually keep you running in between beverages by encouraging volleyball matches. This is the new future ahead of us, and being memorable is the way to go.

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Business Marketing

Canva is catching on to content trends, launches in-app video editor

(MARKETING) Canva launches an in-platform video editor, allowing access to their extensive library of assets and animations to create high-quality videos

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African American woman working on Canva Video Editor Desktop in office setting.

Video content consumption is on the rise, and the graphic design platform, Canva, took note of it. The $40 billion Australian startup has entered the video business and announced the launch of its video editor, Canva Video Suite.

The end-to-end video editor is an easy-to-use platform that anyone, no matter the skill level, can create, edit, and record high-quality videos. Best of all, it’s free, and it’s available on both desktop and mobile platforms.

The tool has hundreds of editable templates that you can use to create videos for several online platforms like TikTok, YouTube, Instagram, and Facebook. Some templates can be used to create workplace and business videos, while other templates are perfect for personal videos. There are playful themes you can use to create that spooky video just in time for Halloween or make a laugh-out-loud video to send to your best friend! With a wide range of selections, in no time you’ll start creating your very own video masterpiece with Canva.

Caucasian man holding iPhone showing Canva video editor on mobile.

What else does the video software offer and what can you do with it? Well, let me tell you:

Collaborate in real-time

Having everyone on the same page is important and Canva’s video suite takes that into account. To collaborate with others, you simply send them an invite, and together you can edit videos, manage assets, and leave comments to give your input.

Video timeline editing and in-app recording

Similar to building presentation slides, Canva’s scene-based editor simplifies video editing by using a timeline approach. With it, you can quickly reorder, crop, trim, and splice your videos. Also, users don’t need to leave the platform to record that last-minute shot; within the app, you can shoot and record yourself from a camera or a screen.

Library of assets

The video editor is filled with an array of watermark-free stock footage, icons, images, illustrations, and even audio tracks that you can choose from – but if you really need something that is not on their platform – you can upload your own image, video, or audio track.

Animate with ease

Although still in the process of being released, soon you will be able to add animations of both text and visual elements in just a few simple clicks. Among others, animation presets that fade, pan, and tumble will help you transform your video and take it to a whole other level.

Overall, Canva Video Suite is very intuitive and has all the essential things you need to create a video. And by streamlining the video creation process, Canva is ensuring it enters the video marketplace with a bang.

“One of Canva’s guiding principles is to make complex things simple, and our new Video Suite will allow everyone to unlock the power of video, whether that’s to market their business, make engaging social posts, or express their creativity,” said Rob Kawalsky, Head of Product at Canva.

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