It seems like we blinked and another fruitful, exciting year at Quintain flashed before our eyes - and as we shared in the past, we had a lot to be thankful for in 2016. However, as we look ahead to 2017, we find ourselves prepping for the embrace of new ideas, strategies and opportunies.

(And we all know the best way to figure out where you want to go is to first reflect on where you've been.)

So, before we say goodbye to this year, we're taking this moment to share with you what our professional resolutions are for ourselves, as well as our advice to others looking to make the most of their upcoming marketing and sales goals in the coming year. Enjoy! 

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Welcome to our second minisode! This week, our graphic designer, Shelby Clarke, joins me as co-host in Jessie-Lee's absence. (Long-time listeners will remember her from our episode about brand style guides.)

But this time, our topic wasn't one of our choosing. Instead, it came from one our awesome Creator's Block listeners, Frances (Hi, Frances!), who writes:

"How about a minisode on how to pick stock photography? I listened to the episode about why you prefer not to use stock photos but there are times when there aren't other options. I have one of those projects coming up. We need to 'refresh' the HR section of our website but our employees scatter whenever they see a camera. It's like everyone is in the witness protection program!"

As someone who prefers being behind the camera, I empathize with her employees. But as a content manager and marketer who leverages stock photos every single day as part of my job, I also understand her challenge - and so does Shelby.

So tune in to hear us unpack this topic. We share our best practices, pro tips, favorite tools and absolute no-no's, when it comes to stock photography.

And if you have a question you'd like us to tackle on a future episode, let us know in the comments!

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“Design Is Not Art.”

That’s what the title read, displayed in big, bold letters on a screen at an INBOUND 2016 session run by Austin Knight, senior UX designer at HubSpot.

I think my favorite thing was how Knight acted like this was news, right from the moment he began his talk. Or, that his audience would be astounded and shocked. Did he expect to hear gasps of outrage across the room?

I can’t speak for the other attendees, but really, this wasn’t anything I hadn’t heard before, and others didn’t seem taken aback either. This is because, despite sharing many similar traits, design and art are not one and the same. They don’t have two different names "just for funsies."

But where exactly does that leave design then, and what does it have to do with inbound marketing?

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We're back with one of our full-length discussion episodes. And if you can believe it, a brand new year - 2017! - is only a few short weeks away. 

But before we say goodbye to 2016, we're pausing to reflect. Jessie-Lee and I - in addition to starting this podcast - have learned a lot this year, through projects, conferences and experiences, within our walls, with our clients and beyond. 

So this week, we're taking a deep dive into what content and design trends you should be focusing on in your marketing efforts, as we look ahead to the New Year. From video and the importance of having a "context mix," to flat design and mobile-first approaches, we've got all of the insights you need to start the year off right.

...and there may be a rant or three, thrown in for good measure. 

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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!

What Inspired This Episode?

On this very special episode, we're getting ready to celebrate one of our favorite holidays: Thanksgiving! Both personally and professionally, we have a lot that we're feeling thankful for this year - from family and friends, to professional milestones and favorite tools that help us do our job better.

So whether you're currently trapped in traffic, as you travel toward your Turkey Day destination, cooking up a storm in the kitchen or still at the office, we hope you'll join us for this episode.  

...especially since there's also a pretty big announcement. But you'll have to listen in to find out what!

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Do you ever feel like you have too many blogs to read, but too little time? I do. And as a result, I tend to skim blog headlines to make sure I don’t miss out on important marketing and design topics or hacks to help me do my work even better.

Today, however, was a different story.

When I saw a post from HubSpot entitled “The Rebel's Guide to Design: 16 Rules You Should Break," I immediately clicked the link - more out of concern more than curiosity. To my horror, it led to a short blog featuring a third-party SlideShare covering why you shouldn’t follow certain design rules, and why it’s rebellious and cool to break these rules. SIGH.

This is an awful thing for a marketing blog to teach their audience (even if the SlideShare wasn’t created by them), and here's why...

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Critique can be a scary word for many people. 

And by people I mean designers.

And by designers I mean me.

In marketing, it's often easy to get into a sort of groove with many of our day-to-day tasks and those clients we feel we know like the back of our hands. We get comfortable – we know how all the cogs move and what we have to do to make the clock keep ticking. 

But then someone comes along – probably a client, maybe the boss – to really grill us on why we made a certain decision for a project. And while it sometimes makes me uncomfortable, I want you to know, this is a wonderful thing. Really!

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With the growing popularity of content management systems (CMS) as marketing tools, web design skills are becoming a must have across the marketing industry. Now that you don’t need coding skills to edit the company website, employees from all different backgrounds have the ability to contribute to the company website. While this is great from a content perspective, it can leave designers cringing. Nothing is worse than delivering a perfectly designed website to a client just to see it go a little further downhill with each and every edit by a well-meaning layperson.  

While the ability to have anyone edit a website is an added convenience for companies, most of these website editors don’t have an understanding of best practices. The good news is, you don’t need a degree in design to keep the company website up to a designer worthy standard. Keeping these seven tips in mind will not only save your designer a headache, but they will contribute to your thinking on any future design related project that crosses your desk. 

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