Last fall, as I was perusing the lineup for speakers for #INBOUND16 and assembling my schedule, there was one session that immediately caught my attention:

"Could a Robot Create Your Content?"

Within seconds of mentally processing the title, I knew I was registering for it. I also muttered in a rage to myself that if the presentation was anything other the phrase "ABSOLUTELY NOT!" projected onto a screen for 45 minutes straight, I was going to completely freak out.

Because I'm a rational adult and a professional who never overreacts about anything, ever.

Of course, there was much more to the presentation than that. (In fact, it wasn't even close to my anti-robot vision.) And, as you might have guessed, the answer to that loaded question has many layers to it. 

That's why this week, after forcing Shelby to watch the recording of the session I attended (linked above), we're talking about robots. Are they nefarious, dark overlords who will ruin my life, as well as content and marketing forever? Or, are they like automation, where there may be a time and a place? 

One thing we know for sure is that we're in a new era of rapidly-evolving technology; that means it's time to start tackling these questions before the 'bots take over. So, grab your tin foil hat and listen in on our discussion... 

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A professional colleague of mine recently turned me on to an article called Change or Die, which talks about the effectiveness of different strategies for getting people to change their behavior. The authors focused on behavior change as it relates to health care - a great place to start, given that changes to behavior can increase longevity and, put simply, avoid death.

But the concepts they discussed and the conclusions they reached have powerful lessons for the worlds of marketing and sales.

In this week's video (just over seven minutes long, but I've added chapters so you can go right to the parts that you're most interested in), I'm picking apart what really makes people tick and how understanding this can dramatically improve the results you get from your marketing and sales efforts.

There is a lot of data in here about health care marketing and antismoking campaigns. But trust me, it is very relevant to you if you're a marketing or sales professional. (And if you want to skip directly to the stuff about marketing, click on chapter four, and it will take you right to the good stuff.)

If you're a cyber security company, you should definitely check out chapter five, where I talk specifically about how to apply these lessons to selling cyber products and services. Although, while this is about cyber, the concepts apply to any company.

Check it out...

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Our work culture thrives on people telling others – coworkers, bosses, friends, spouses – how busy they are.

Really though, we love to say it. Don't tell me you never feel just a little bit of pride when you tell your friends that "No, I can't go out on Wednesday night. I'M BUSY."

But busy-ness becomes a dangerous trap. It's so easy to just say "I'm too busy" and to move along from one task to the next, checking things off your list without really putting your full brainpower into any particular item.

So when we feel like everything is on fire, and out inboxes pile up with endless newsletters and emails, how do we – as marketers, content creators, and designers – keep our creativity flowing and continue to think outside the box?

In this week's episode, Liz and I dive into the tools and techniques that we both use day-to-day to get ourselves out of the "check-the-box" mentality. We share how we push ourselves to keep thinking creatively, in order to fuel the passions that we both have for what we do, and to continue to produce higher-quality work.

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If you've spent any time reading Quintain's blogs, you know that we are a HubSpot partner agency (we joined the program in 2012). Often, the companies that reach out to us for marketing help are looking specifically for a HubSpot partner agency that can help them get the most from their HubSpot subscription. Many of them struggle with how to determine which HubSpot agency is right for them, and how to evaluate the various agencies that they come in contact with. 

In this week's video, I'm picking apart this issue and going into detail about what the HubSpot partner program is, how a partner's tier status is determined, things to consider when choosing the right HubSpot partner, and whether you really need a HubSpot partner at all. 

There's some really good stuff in here, but the video is 10 minutes long.

Now, I realize you may not want to watch all of it, so I've added chapters in and you can click the chapter title to jump right to the part of the video that you are most interested in. 

Check it out...

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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!

This week, we're taking a break from debating content and design to talk about something we think everyone can relate to - whether you own your own business, or you're a marketer just getting started: 

The challenges of networking.

For so many, networking events (trade shows, conferences, happy hours, industry meetups) are considered a necessary evil. Unfortunately, it doesn't matter if you're getting out there to mingle with prospects or to connect with other professionals in your field, knowing how to work a room effectively can make or break you in those situations.

So, inspired by a recent talk I attended, I decided to go digging for some of my favorite tips and tricks to help others feel more confident in networking situations. And, of course, Shelby brought in her own unique perspective, as well as a few things I hadn't even thought of...

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Let's begin with an old tool to explain difficult ideas: a car analogy.

When you buy a new car, you also have to think about the car insurance you're going to buy along with it. Insurance coverage varies—there are a number of different types you can purchase, from plans that cover the costs of repair after an accident to comprehensive plans that also cover losses such as weather damage or theft. In addition, purchasing insurance doesn't give you a license to drive as recklessly as you want just because you know that your insurance company will cover the costs if you get into an accident.

Similarly, just as car insurance isn't a one-size-fits-all solution, cyber insurance is not the panacea to all of a company's IT problems.

Unfortunately, developing effective cyber security marketing strategies around cyber insurance is challenging because your audience generally doesn't completely understand what it is that they're purchasing. Many companies think they can just get cyber insurance, and it will cover all of the damages if their IT systems are attacked or breached.

This attitude, however, represents an extremely naive view of what cyber insurance is and the threats that companies face from holes and vulnerabilities in their cyber security practices. In order to successfully market cyber security products or services to companies without a deep base of IT experts, you need to emphasize the following three points.

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Individual page conversion rate optimization is all about improving the percentage of users who meet a specific goal on a specific page of your website. One of the hardest parts of conversion rate optimization (CRO) is deciding what to change and test on a page. There are literally a million different choices and possibilities for what you could choose to adjust. And there is no point in randomly changing things just to change them.

Change for the sake of change is pointless and wastes time. So, in your CRO journey, there must be a reason behind each action you take, as well as a measurable outcome you are looking to achieve.

Step one is to make sure you truly understand and define the goal of the page you are working to optimize. If you don't know what you want the page to ultimately do, how are you ever going to try and improve the pages ability to do that thing?

So, how do you go about making the decisions on what to optimize or what tests to run?

You need a framework behind your decision making process. Each and every test you run should be based on attempt to answer one of the following questions.

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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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