Expert Interview Series: Dustin Brackett of on Careers in Digital Marketing

Dustin Brackett is the CEO and Founder of HIVE Digital Strategy, a leading inbound marketing agency.

We recently checked in with Dustin about career opportunities in Digital Marketing today. Here’s what he shared.

Can you tell us about your journey into digital marketing? What drew you to the profession?

I started in digital marketing on the client side. I was managing an internal marketing team and it became very obvious that our best ROI was in digital marketing. I focused exclusively on digital marketing for two companies on the client side and then decided that I wanted to help more businesses in that arena and started my agency. I’ve always been intrigued by the constantly changing digital environment which always provides new challenges and opportunities.

What excites you today about being in digital marketing? Why has it been a worthwhile career choice for you?

I never have two days that are the same and that is something that I absolutely love. There are always new things to learn, fires to put out, and opportunities to have. Digital marketing gives me an outlet to express both my creative and technical sides. It’s NEVER boring!

How has digital marketing grown as a profession? What do you think the future looks like for the profession?

It’s no secret that marketing is moving digital. The lack of analytics, tracking and ROI of traditional methods are making those tactics outdated and they’ll continue to be utilized less and less. I think the profession is evolving into an industry where we’ve got to be helpful before being sales focused. With the amount of people already doing research on their own (about 57 percent of the sales cycle is actually complete before someone ever reaches out to a salesman), we’ve got to focus on helping consumers make the best decision for them, whether it’s with us (hopefully) or not.

What are the most important skill sets someone interested in a digital marketing career needs to obtain?

I think the skill that I’d hire for first is the ability to critically think. We pride ourselves on not being “order takers”. We don’t just have our clients tell us what they need and then we produce. We actually tell them what we think their best path is and we’ll push back when a client wants something that we don’t think is going to be beneficial for them. It’s taken us some time to understand that telling a client no is actually very important. As for a more concrete answer, the ability to code well is indispensable. A good coder is worth their weight in gold. Learn to code, especially if you’re a woman, and you’ll have your pick of jobs.

What skills would you love to see more digital marketers have? What skills will they need to survive in the profession in the future?

I’d love to see more well rounded marketers. In the world today, coders are coders, designers are designers, strategists are strategists. The people that can code, design and strategize are like unicorns. Sure, it takes a special kind of personality and talent to be able to do all of those things, but if you’ve got that kind of bandwidth, you’re a huge asset in this world.

What are your favorite resources for growing your skills or knowledge in digital marketing?

I love reading business books, really anything that resonates with where I’m at at that particular moment. Start With Why by Simon Sinek is one of my favorites as is The Compound Effect by Darren Hardy. We are also a HubSpot Partner Agency and they provide an amazing amount of training on various inbound marketing topics and we’ve tried to take them up on every piece of education that they offer. There are even some that are available to the public at

What are the most important lessons you’ve had to learn as a marketing professional?

I think the hardest one to learn was to say no to a client that was a bad fit. There are many businesses out there that have never worked with an agency and don’t understand the dynamic. There are also clients that simply aren’t a good fit to work with. Taking on clients for the sake of adding a new client will get you into relationships that you don’t want to be in. Turn down bad fits. Not everyone is going to be a fit for you and that’s OK.

What’s one piece of advice you’d offer adult learners who are interested in pursuing a marketing career today?

You have to get educated. If you’re not familiar with the digital landscape today, you’re miles behind. Learn everything that you can and always investigate the newest and hottest trends. Not all will pan out, but with the ones that do, you’ll be at the forefront.

Follow Dustin’s advice on ongoing education. View open courses.

Simple Tips for Working with Difficult People

Sometimes you can form a positive relationship with a difficult co-worker with a little effort.

Unfortunately, difficult people exist everywhere, and sometimes you encounter them daily while doing your job. While you’ve undoubtedly done your best to deal with difficult people in the past, there are some tried and tested techniques that can help.

1. Avoid complaining to co-workers about difficult people.

It can feel satisfying at the time to vent to your other co-workers about that difficult person who is driving you crazy, but it won’t take long before your complaining will get you labeled as difficult yourself. Even if everyone agrees with you, complaining will often leave a bad taste in others’ mouths about you, and may be perceived as picking on the co-worker.

2. Decide ahead of time how to handle the situation.

While you shouldn’t get caught up in complaining at the office, getting input about how to handle situations with difficult people can be important at times. Once you’ve gotten some advice, you can make a plan for how you want to proceed ahead of time. Deciding in the moment how to deal with a difficult person can lead to impulsive, emotional reactions that you will later regret. It’s best to plan ahead.

3. Confront them when you are calm.

When you are worked up and irritated is the worst time to deal with a difficult person. You are highly likely to say something you will later regret and make the situation even worse than it already is. When the difficult person provokes you, walk away if possible. Then, when you’ve completed number two above, you can calmly implement your plan.

Your team can work well together when you deal with conflicts effectively.

4. Use facts to reframe the situation.

Difficult people often exaggerate their complaints and try to make it look like things are horrible rather than just unpleasant. When a co-worker says that so-and-so is “always” behind on their work or “never” on time, you can point out the facts of the situation. Although you may not change their point-of-view, you may at least make them less vocal about their complaints or get others to see things more realistically.

5. Don’t hide behind your feelings – be honest but tactful.

When you do confront a difficult person, it’s important to say your piece as directly and honestly as possible while still being tactful and respectful. This sounds easier than it is, but it will produce the best results whether the person responds to your attempts to communicate or not. You can’t expect the person to change if they don’t know how they are impacting others or what they are doing “wrong,” and if you need to escalate the situation, you can feel secure that you did the right thing in your initial attempts to deal with it on your own.

6. Know when to take other action.

If you have tried repeatedly to correct the problem with grace and tact but are getting nowhere, you may need to go to your boss or other superior to get the situation taken care of. It’s probably time to do this if you or others are under prolonged stress and the person refuses to acknowledge the situation or change their behavior.

CCSU Continuing Education courses help you navigate the workplace, including difficult co-workers. View open courses to see what topics will be covered in our upcoming programs.

Change Your Sales Training – Change Your World!

Sales training will help a sales team generate more leads and sell more.

Sales training used to be fairly straightforward: there were leads to generate or locate, and a funnel to get those leads into so that eventually, a sale could be made. Listening skills and gentle persuasion were important, and a salesperson was often an educator that could use facts and information to create a perception of need.

In today’s business climate, every employee should attend sales training, because with our educated customers, it is all about customer service!

In the last decade or so, society has changed in fundamental ways that have disrupted the traditional methods for making sales. Thanks to the internet, customers have access to detailed information about a product (and alternatives) before talking to a salesperson. People don’t answer their phones anymore unless they know who’s calling, so making phone calls to leads isn’t nearly as effective.

Additionally, technology has advanced, so salespeople who want to maximize their effectiveness need to know how to use online tools and mobile apps to help them make sales. Sales training received 10 or 20 years ago will not be sufficient to achieve sales success today. It’s also important to know that everyone on your team can benefit and contribute to the bottom line with these skills.

Rolling With the Changes

It might be possible to eke out a living using old sales techniques, but up-to-date sales training will help salespeople reach their potential in this new environment. Here are some new tools that salespeople need to learn about to succeed.

Inbound Marketing Software

Software is now available from several sources to increase lead generation, sometimes exponentially. Some research has shown that using inbound marketing software not only generates more leads, but that those leads often make larger than average purchases, too.

Sales training of years gone by may not be as effective as it was.


There are many different ways to use LinkedIn, from forming relationships with “friends of friends” and joining groups to providing content and answers to questions through LinkedIn Answers.


Having a blog with frequent content posted will give you credibility and help potential customers find you when they are looking for help in purchasing a product.

CRM Tools

CRM (customer relationship management) tools allow detailed record-keeping on leads and prospects so that you’re not starting over with each contact. CRM tools can also provide lists of leads to give you an idea of who to follow up with first for your best chance of conversion.

Video Messages

Putting video messages and links in your blog content, in email marketing, and on your website can give a more personal feel to your overall sales efforts. Video content can be posted to YouTube or you can use a professional video hosting site to have more control over your content.

Email Tracking

Tools are now available that can track how many of your marketing emails are read and how many attachments are opened (and even by whom they are opened.) Now you can see exactly which prospects are most interested in your products and their level of engagement.

As you can see, sales training has evolved in major ways over the last decade. The Office of Continuing Education will be offering a new Sales Certificate this Spring! Come to our Professional Development Fair on January 11 to learn more! Call or email Christa Sterling; or 860-832-2277. If you are interested in learning more about the latest and greatest techniques, join our mailing list for opportunities to update your sales training.

The Professional Benefits of Knowing How to Write Well

Being able to write well can help you advance in your career.

Most jobs require writing skills – eventually, if not right away. If you are promoted at your job, you will eventually find yourself in a position that requires good writing skills. This applies to even the jobs people think of as most unrelated to writing. Construction foremen and park rangers need to write reports and memos, and restaurant managers need to write personnel reports for annual reviews. There’s no escape from the need for good writing skills if you expect to excel in your chosen field.

A Consistent Professional Voice

Think about times when you’ve had to read another person’s writing, like office memos, email or even social media. What goes through your head when you see obvious mistakes? Maybe you are charitable and understanding, reasoning that the person is writing informally and not expecting a grammar check, but chances are, you begin to question their expertise and credibility when their writing contains errors in grammar, punctuation and spelling.

When you write well, you won’t give your colleagues and superiors at work the opportunity to question your expertise and credibility. And because not everyone recognizes the importance of being able to write well, you will typically set yourself apart from your peers when you have good writing skills.

Writing well will give you a consistent professional voice. If you are well-spoken in person and in professional settings, then you should also have good writing skills so that your supervisors and colleagues will see you as the complete package.

Rising to the Top

Having good writing skills helps you rise to the top of your career field or company. If you have the ability to write clear and concise materials like how-to manuals, press releases, and corporate reports, you will naturally be in a position to lead others and will increase your value to the company.

Good writing skills may open up opportunities like being a social media or website liaison or spearheading a company newsletter. The more job responsibilities you have that the company considers important, the better your job security will be.

Most careers will involve writing if you advance far enough.

Gaining Writing Skills

Unless you paid very close attention to your high school grammar teacher, you may not even realize you are making writing mistakes or that your skills need help. Taking a course will give you the opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of the English language and all its strange and quirky rules so that you don’t break them.

Additionally, a good writing teacher will go beyond simple correctness and teach you how to get your point across clearly and simply.

CCSU is offering a one-day workshop on writing skills at work that will lay the groundwork for developing these important skills. Although the instruction takes place in only four hours, the course also includes six weeks of feedback and help with work-related writing so that you can practice and reinforce the skills learned using real-world work situations. View all the open Continuing Education courses for more options to meet your professional needs.

6 Reasons HR Certified Employees are an Asset to Their Employers

Human resources has become a complex field requiring a great deal of knowledge.

Becoming certified by the Society of Human Resources Management (SHRM) is an important step for HR professionals. Here are some reasons that HR certified employees become an asset to their employers.

1. Certification demonstrates knowledge of HR best practices.

Certified individuals must pass an exam based on SHRM BoCK, the SHRM Body of Competency and Knowledge. This standardized body of material is accepted all over the world as representing best practices for HR.

2. Certification prepares HR professionals for any situation.

HR has become a complex position that involves many different areas, including workplace rules, benefits, discrimination complaints, talent acquisition/hiring, and employee engagement, among others. Certification ensures that HR professionals are aware of these many areas and that they have developed competencies to manage them all.

3. Certification prepares HR professionals to lead the company in HR matters.

Employers can feel comfortable about the organization of the HR functions of the company when their HR professionals are SHRM-certified. SHRM is on the cutting edge of HR education so that companies can have confidence that their HR functions are following all the latest rules and guidelines as well as having a high level of competency. Certified HR employees will not only be able to lead the HR department, but contribute to the strategic direction of the company as well.

HR staff and the entire company can benefit from certification.

4. Certification shows experience in the HR field.

To sit for the SHRM-CP or SHRM-SCP exam, HR professionals must have experience in HR for at least one to four years (three to seven years for SCP) depending on their degree. Employers will know that their HR professionals have not only the competencies taught through the exam preparation, but also have practical, hands-on experience in HR roles.

5. Certification will make HR staff well-rounded.

SHRM certification covers all the different aspects of HR management: organization, people, strategy, and workplace competencies as well as ethics, communication, and leadership. From risk management to how employees learn best, certification covers it all so that the company will be well-equipped to handle any situation presented.

6. Certification will keep skills up to date.

Certification is not a one-time process, but leads to opportunities for ongoing education to keep up with the constant changes in the HR field. The process of maintaining certification will ensure that HR professionals are up to date with new information, and keep the company looped in on the most current developments in HR.

CCSU’s Office of Continuing Education is offering a SHRM-CP and SHRM-SCP Certification Exam Prep Course for HR professionals who want to prepare for these rigorous exams. The course is taught by a SHRM member who has been through all levels of certification and remains active in the organization. Email Christa Sterling at or Join our mailing list to get notifications about this and all future continuing education courses.