We've talked about the importance of style in your content before - on this very podcast, on our blog and in one of our webinars from last year.

But this week, I came to the proverbial podcast mic with something specific on my mind: the importance of tone in your content.

You see, early last week, I was having a discussion with an account manager about a case study. We had received some feedback from a client regarding the potential inclusion of an element that, in my mind, would have dimished the power of the final product. 

Why?

Unlike a blog post, an eBook or a webinar, case studies are supposed to be results-focused, because readers don't want to be burdened by mounds of editorializing and exposition. In fact, the more fluff you try to put into a case study - no matter how noble your intent - the more you may undermine or water down the actual point of your success story.

This is just one example of how tone and message choices matter, when you're creating content for your business. So, that's what we're talking about this week.

Because, as we all know, often it's not just what you say, but also how you say it.

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There is a black hole in design projects. It's this realm right between the development of the creative brief and the presentation of those first few design concepts.

Sure, the client knows is that their designer is hard at work – brainstorming, ideating and being as creative as possible in order to deliver the most fantastical design concepts imaginable. Obviously.

But where exactly does the designer go? Do they trek through the mountains of Tibet in order to find inner peace and bolster their creativity? Do they flee to an uncharted island to perfect their focus?

Most project managers and clients probably couldn't say what goes on during this time. And it's problematic because then, when the first rounds of designs are reviewed, designs come out of left field and no one is quite happy with how it all came out.

Goals and expectations were not established, and feelings get hurt.

Mood boards are like a lifeline back to the mainland. They bridge this gap that we all struggle with, whether you're a designer or not. And they run both ways, helping both designers and clients communicate better with one another.

In this week's episode, Liz and I discuss my own process for using mood boards in design projects. I talk about the tools that I use to brainstorm design concepts and build out mood boards. In particular, I share how they help me communicate better with my clients and ensure that we are both on the same page regarding their needs and desires.

Flipping this concept around, Liz also shows how marketers and noncreatives alike can use similar tools to talk to their own designers. 

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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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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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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!

Trade shows are a lot of work. It’s not enough to have an engaging booth and giveaway strategy; you need to have a strong action plan that extends from before you arrive at the event to when you return home with pockets full of business cards.

Whew. As an inherently lazy person, just reading that last paragraph made me tired, and I’m sure I’m not alone. But before you crawl to your couch to try to recuperate from the exhaustion of thinking about planning your next trade show with 11 seasons of Forensic Files on Netflix, we need to talk about content.

More specifically, we need to talk about how if you don’t have a clear trade show content strategy for your next event, you’re going to be putting in a lot of literal and mental elbow grease with little to show for it.

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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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A few months ago, I posted a question to Inbound.org, asking users to tell me how they would rate their own company's logo, on a scale of one to 10, and why. The responses were all very positive, each a rating of nine or even 10, and I enjoyed reading the reasons behind the ratings, all of which were varied and completely subjective. 

But it got us thinking. What is it that really makes a logo so great?

How can you, someone in charge of your company's branding, make sure that your logo and other brand elements aren't outdated or missing the mark?

In this week's episode, Liz and I explore the way people critique their own brands, and how they reach out to others for feedback as well. Ultimately, we find there is a balance between you taking charge of your brand, as someone who truly knows their own business, versus bringing other knowledgeable stakeholders into the discussion to really make sure your logo and brand are achieving the goals they were designed for.

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