When preparing for a trade show, promotional products are often at the top of the list for things to order. From pens and brochures to displays and banners, you might think you have it all covered when stocking up for your event.

But did you know that there are even more opportunities to use promotional products to maximize your ROI on your trade show exhibit? 

Here at Quintain, we like to get creative and take advantage of every opportunity to make an impression on a lead from a trade show. It's not just about ordering some stuff with your logo on it; it's about being smart and strategic about what promotional items you choose and when you use them. 

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Using a request for proposal (RFP) to hire a marketing agency is common practice within larger companies. Actually, RFPs are pretty common for large procurements across a range of industries and when used properly, they can result in cost savings, eliminate bias in the procurement process, and deliver greater overall value to the organization than a sole source procurement. 

I'm a big believer in the benefits of a well-designed competitive bidding process. In fact, prior to forming Quintain, I was an international development consultant and specialized in advising developing country governments on structuring competitive bidding processes (and writing RFPs!) for outsourced management of water and wastewater utilities.

What does that have to do with marketing? A lot, actually, but that might be a story for another time...

In the last year, we've been receiving more RFPs for both web design projects and marketing retainers and I have to admit, I think they are a bad idea. I know, I know...I'm biased given my position as a marketing agency owner. But I really do have good reasons for saying RFPs are a waste of time when it comes to procuring the services of a marketing agency.

Why shouldn't you use an RFP to hire a marketing agency? Watch the video (just over six minutes long - but totally worth the time!) to find out...

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Your strategy for a trade show or event should never be created in a vacuum. It should always be a part of your larger marketing strategy and feed directly into your business goals. So, when planning for a trade show, make sure you're incorporating all of the channels which are a part of your normal strategy.

I've already talked about about incorporating inbound marketing and video into trade shows, so now let's talk about how you can make the most of social media at a show.

Just like any marketing strategy, your plan should be directly related to your goals. When deciding how to properly use social media to meet those goals, think about your funnel. Specifically you need a plan in place for reaching prospects at each stage: awareness, consideration, decision and even for current customers.

Now all you have to do is match your approach to your prospect's stage!

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The Guide to Creating Mind Blowing Content

Let's face it, there is a lot of content out there. How do you get yours to stand out? Simple, make it mind blowing.

42 pages full of ideas for creating awesome content that converts visitors into leads and leads into customers!

Promotional products rock. They not only attract new clients, but they keep your current ones happy and increase brand recognition simultaneously, taking your business to a whole new level. Like I said, awesome.

Some people may think that promotional products cost a lot of money, but it’s totally an investment worth making. Year after year, they have been proven a fun, cost-effective way to market your company without (a) breaking the bank, and (b) exerting too much brainpower and time.

What I want to convey today is the importance of not just picking a product and giving it away. It’s about a bigger picture: developing a comprehensive promotional strategy in mind designed to produce results you can measure.

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In the last year, video has gained attention as one of the most effective mediums for marketers. In fact, more than 93 percent of marketers are actively using video content, and more than 50 percent believe it has the best ROI among all types of content. 

Here at Quintain, we work with lots of companies and just about every one of our clients has expressed interest in creating more video. The number one thing standing in their way is cost. I hear it time and time again. They're sold on the idea of video but don't always have the budget to bring in a professional crew.

The good news is that you can create video on your own and it doesn't require a big budget. That's just what I did this week in our brand new, in-house video studio.

Want to know how we built a professional-looking video studio for under $100? Watch the video (just over two minutes long) to find out...

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As Quintain's dedicated content manager, I spend as much time creating content as I do reviewing content created by others. That means I have a front row seat to all of the editorial quirks and idiosyncracies of my fellow Quintain team members, our clients and... well, myself. (Alas, I am not perfect.)

Then, a couple of weeks ago, I noticed something that almost everyone was doing - once again, including yours truly.

Most content creators - whether you're a marketer, or you're burning the midnight content oil for your own business - make wimpy word choices when framing their ideas or offering advice based on what is often years of experience. They play it safe and use apologetic language that undermines their authority and the power of their content. 

For those of you sitting there saying, "I'm not 100 percent sure what you mean, but I am not the kind of person to be a wimp about anything," I get it. In person, you stand behind your ideas. In meetings, you speak with conviction and confidence. But who are you once you get behind a keyboard?

You'd be surprised by how many seasoned industry pros succumb to apologetic writing, no matter how much of a rockstar they are face-to-face. What's worse, they don't even realize they're doing it. 

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